By LEAH ASTORE
Not a lot of bands travel between gigs and high school, but the 21st Century Fugitives do.
Vocalist John Lucas, 15, guitar player Jimmy Bezreh, 15, bass player Jaden Mendola, 16, keyboardist Jackson Kehoe, 15, and drummer Gavin Burke, 14, make up the Boston based band known as the 21st Century Fugitives.
Since their start in 2011, the boys have grown, quite literally. At the time of the band’s creation, the oldest member was only 13 years-old. Now, all the bandmates are in their teens and continuing to prove that age doesn’t matter when it comes to playing pure rock and roll.
For the Fugitives, the difficult balancing act between music and school hasn’t hindered their success. Just in the last month the 21st Century Fugitives opened for the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues in Boston and won “Young Performer of the Year” at the 6th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards held on March 22 at South Shore Music Hall in Quincy, Mass.
Playing their music at the House of Blues in Boston for the Dropkick Murphys concert was an experience Lucas described as “unreal.” The band also had the opportunity to meet the lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, Ken Casey, and even used some of the band’s equipment.
“I actually got to use [Casey’s] monitor pack” Lucas said. “I remember thinking to myself, I’m using Ken Casey’s monitor pack at the House of Blues, how can this get any more weird.”
Along with their performance at the House of Blues the 21st Century Fugitives were surprised and elated to win “Young Performer of the Year” on March 22nd.
“Some of the other people nominated were also really good,” Mendola said. “We were the youngest band, so we had that going against us.”
When they won, Lucas said, they didn’t even realize their name was called.
“When they pointed to us that was really a shock,” Lucas said.
Earlier this year, the Fugitives also released a new album aptly titled Regret Nothing. The album, which consists of seven tracks, was released on December 2013 with the help of Taylor Barefoot of Boston, who recorded the album with the Fugitives.
“Recording the album was really fun,” Lucas said. “[Barefoot] let us mess around a bit and experiment.”
Some of their experimentation for the album included playing a 12 string guitar in one of their songs and it seems their experimentation and passion paid off by gaining them national attention for some of their original songs including “Balls to the Wall” and “Epic Fail.”
The Fugitives already plan on releasing a new album sometime around September 2014, Lucas said. In the meantime, they’re spending their free time writing and practicing at their band space in Wakefield, Mass., with their manager and mentor Billy Jenks. The writing process for each song is collaborative and each member brings something unique to the band’s sound. Influenced by each of their individual music tastes, the boys are able to incorporate the best of hard rock, classics, and even the blues.
Bezreh’s inspirations include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Slash, and blues guitar, while Mendola is influenced by the opposite.
“I try to bring an old school vibe and a heaviness to the band,” Mendola said.
Other influences they listed include The Beatles, Lenny Kravitz, and Eddie Vedder.