Early-arriving BottleRock fans have, over the past couple of years, become accustomed to getting their faces melted off—not from overcooked quiche and other brunch menu items, but by a group of head-banging kids called The Helmets who were equally as good covering the likes of Metallica as they were composing their own thrash metal tunes. The Helmets included the 10-year-old son of Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Tye. Last summer, Tye Trujillo left The Helmets, instead touring the country as a member of Korn. The Helmets also parted ways with singer Bryan Ferretti (11), and reformed as The Alive.
The new band, which singer-guitarist Bastian Evans described as not much of a thrash metal band as the predecessor but nearly as hard, also includes The Helmets’ 13-year-old drummer Kai Neukermans, and his 10-year-old brother Manoa Neukermans on bass.
The Alive members have been friends since they were much younger, of course. Like their former band mates, they loved to surf and skate together. But this new band leans more in the direction of classic rockers like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, ‘90s alt rock bands Nirvana and Tool and older punk influences like Bad Brains and The Meters. The Alive plays its first BottleRock as a new band next week, so we chatted with the Neukermans brothers, Evans and his dad Chris, the band manager, about starting for a second time at such a young age.
RIFF: You guys have been playing together for a few years, and had some success as The Helmets. Why did you create this new band? What have you guys been doing over the last year?
Bastian Evans: We started this band because we wanted to keep playing music after The Helmets. That was it. We’ve been writing a lot of music with The Alive, and we have been in school, but we’ve mostly been practicing with The Alive and figuring out what songs to play. And surfing.
Does The Alive play any Helmets songs, or did you decide to start all over again?
Evans: We decided to start a new band; a new project. We just wanted to start fresh.
Kai and Manoa: What’s it like to play in this band as brothers? How did that come about?
Manoa Neukermans: We’ve all been playing together since we’ve all been playing music.
Evans: We were looking for a bass player and a singer for a while, and Manoa played bass. Because he was the brother of the drummer, he was there, always around. He’s been playing with The Devils Sliders, lately, in Santa Cruz.
Chris Evans (manager): It was a little band out of Santa Cruz. They’re kind of Black Sabbathy. They play a lot of shows, actually, like skateboard contests. They’re little shredders.
When do you get together to practice?
Kai Neukermans: Manoa and I, we play at home everyday because we live in the same house. The Alive gets together every two weeks. We live pretty far apart. We send song ideas to each other, and we work on Facetime.
Manoa, you’re the youngest in this band, yet your brother and Bastian were about that old when The Helmets were getting started. What’s it like being the young one in the group?
Manoa Neukermans: It was pretty cool. I would normally play with my brother at his drum recitals, and I feel really good now playing with him on stage and playing Lolla.
In what ways is this band different from The Helmets?
Evans: It has one less person. We have three people in The Alive. And the genre is a little less metal. The Helmets were really heavy metal, like Metallica. Here it’s a little more easy, but still rock and roll.
Kai Neukermans: In the old band, we had four families. Now we only have two. It’s much easier to travel.
You guys, and The Helmets, don’t have much of a social media presence. Is that your parents saying you have to be older first?
Evans: Everybody at school has either Instagram or Snapchat; not many Facebook or Twitter fans. We just never thought of it, and Instagram was kind of always the biggest thing. I never thought of Facebook as something that I’d ever do.
Chris Evans: With the Helmets, they were all so young. They started when they were 8 years old. They started playing shows at 8, 9. We didn’t want to step on the gas too much. The objective was never to make the kids famous and capitalize on any associations with Tye’s dad’s band or anything. We kind of just wanted to do it organically.
Evans: It was just to have fun.
What do you want fans at BottleRock to know?
Evans: We want them to have a lot of fun, and we [want] to give 110 percent at all of our shows.
Follow Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.