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Bands In Town

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    For what others use as free time, local student bands Safety Third and Red Light Distraction are kept busy with brainstorming, rehearsing, recording, marketing and performing. Composed of all juniors, both bands are compiled of students from Washington-Lee.

    Safety Third’s members include Gabe Westergren, Michael James, Jack Henry McAllister, Andrew Lewis and Eli Hallowell. The band was officially created in 2009; with the addition of guitarist and vocalist Andrew Lewis a year later, the group was rounded off to five members as it is known today. “Our friend’s dad was a musician and we all went to go see him sound check,” said lead singer James. “After that, we all decided we wanted to do something similar to that because it was so cool.”

Safety Third has been playing together for five years, and has performed at IOTA Club and Cafe, Clarendon Day, Artisphere, Electric Maid, Mount Olivet, Thirsty Bernie, Swanson Middle School, and Glebe Elementary, as well as being featured on WTOP radio. “We have friends and family that come to our shows, and they all seem to enjoy our music a lot,” said bassist and vocalist Westergren.

The band is influenced by an array of artists ranging from Led Zeppelin to Rage Against the Machine, but collectively, it is agreed they do not limit or compare themselves to other genres. “We haven’t sat down and decided exactly how we want to sound,” said Lewis. “We just write stuff and if it sounds good we do it.”

The band’s originality guides them in all aspects of their music and performing. They spend a lot of time working together to make sure as many of their individual ideas are included in their songs. “We put a lot of ourselves in our music,” said James. “It really showcases us and everyone gets to see something we’ve worked hard on.”

WL students Peter Banks, James Berlin and Kaelan Brown make up other local alternative/punk band, Red Light Distraction. The band was formally created in 2010 and the three teens have been playing together for four years. “Peter got a drum kit about the same time I got a guitar,” said lead vocalist and guitarist Brown. The two played together for about a year and Berlin joined a year after. “In the 7th grade, we invited James to be our singer, but he was pretty bad, so he picked up the bass and learned it just so he could be in the band,” said Brown.

Red Light Distraction’s sound is influenced by many other bands and artists such as Green Day, My Chemical Romance and The Ramones. Like their influences, the band performs at many different events. “We’ve performed at IOTA Club and Cafe, Jammin Java, The Electric Maid, Clarendon Day, Artisphere, Taste of Arlington, The Lab, Empire, and a few house shows,” said Brown.  Their most recent performance was at Clarendon Day 2014 this past September. “There’s always a lot of people we know at the shows, which makes it really fun,” said lead drummer Banks.

Both bands describe an enjoyment and love for performing. “For drumming, it’s a lot of improvisation and it’s cool to have that adrenaline rush when people are looking at you and have no idea what you’re gonna play,” said Hallowell. Their passions for music are shown through their energetic performances. “I just like the feeling you get on stage,” said Berlin. “You don’t think of anything else but the music and you can do whatever you want on stage and they love it.”

The bands support each other in their hopes to continue to create and perform their music in the future. “[Red Light Distraction] is probably one of my favorite bands we’ve played gigs with because we know them and we’ve grown with them,” said James.

Safety Third’s fifth full album, “Astronaut Food,” is free and can be found on bandcamp.com. Red Light Distraction’s first EP “Thinking Out Loud” can be found on bandcamp.com as well. Plans for  making and releasing more music are being made to share to both growing audiences. “We have another album coming out this month, so be on the lookout,” said Westergren.

Making contact with the bands over social media is easy and simple. The bands both have Facebook pages where contact links such as their websites, phone numbers, and emails are provided. To stay updated, the bands  have Instagrams where pictures and videos are posted and shared for fans to see. Safety Third’s Instagram is @SafetyThird_VA and Red Light Distraction’s Instagram is @RedLightDistraction.

As far as how long the bands will last is undetermined. However, both agreed that their interest in music will never be given up fully. “I think I’m gonna pursue music as a hobby for the rest of my life,” said Banks. “That’s something we can all agree on.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Bands In Town