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A chance at stardom

Four Tosa East juniors take their tunes to the stage for alternative music competition

April 4, 2012

For select high school garage bands throughout the state, including one from Wauwatosa, participating in the Launchpad music competition is all about the journey.

The Wisconsin School Music Association selected 15 bands from four regions for the eighth annual statewide alternative music competition. The goal is to reach students involved in music outside the classroom setting and provide bands with the opportunity to perform in front of a large audience, said Kevin Thays, communications director for WSMA.

Each band submitted an audition CD for the alternative music contest.

"We found the majority of bands just love the ability to take the stage, to use a professional sound system, and the ability to learn from other bands and network with them," Thays said. "It's the whole experience."

On Friday, four juniors from Wauwatosa East High School performed three of their original songs at Chilton High School before their biggest crowd ever.

The garage band Satire - Nick Mace on drums, guitarist and vocalist Andrew Hubert, guitarist Alex Brannan and bass guitarist Tom Hocker - was chosen as an alternate for the state competition slated for June 9 in Madison. Should one of the three bands selected Friday drop out of the contest, Satire will have the chance to compete against the other finalists for a gig at Summerfest and a professional recording session.

Fast friendships

Satire was conceived three years ago when the four boys were freshmen. When they discovered each other's love for music, they became fast friends.

"All four of us have really differing, unique personalities and we're all very different, but it blends together so well when we're playing music that you can't really tell," Brannan said.

Brannan, who has played instruments since he was 4, said Launchpad is a learning experience for the band.

"It's really nice that we get to play on a bigger scale than we're used to, with other bands, and get our music out there and get judged and critiqued on it so we know how to progress," he said.

Although Mace said they don't stick to one genre - their influences include Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan - their sound is predominantly rock.

Brannan said the band had an eclectic song list to choose from for Launchpad. Satire performed "Don't Even Joke About Bernie Mac," an instrumental jam written by Mace; "Adding Machine," which Hubert wrote, and a song called "Mr. French."

"The first time we played them we knew it worked and flowed really well, so right off the bat we knew they were the ones we liked playing and we think other people like hearing," Brannan said. "They seemed right from the beginning."

Artistic outlet

Although competing in Launchpad is a unique opportunity for the band, Mace said the teens originally formed Satire as an artistic outlet.

Mace, who has been playing the drums since he was 10, said they are now trying to branch out and book gigs to share their music with local audiences. "There are many kids out there playing music in different ways and learning in different ways, so Launchpad gives them an opportunity to show what they've learned in a special way," Thays said.

For information on the competition, visit LaunchpadWisconsin.org.

Members of Satire

Nick Mace: drums

Alex Brannan: guitar

Andrew Hubert: guitar and vocals

Tom Hocker: bass guitar

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