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School of Rock

School’s In For Summer: Utah teens hit the road with School of Rock.

By Greg Wilcox
Posted // July 24,2009 - The Paul Green School of Rock, first established in Philadelphia in 1998 by Paul Green, teaches students between the ages of 7-18 how to be legitimate rock stars. Recently, local students Chris Stevens (right) and Nick Farr were selected to go on the School of Rock West-Coast All-Stars tour, an honor given only to the most dedicated and skilled students within the school. Both Stevens and Farr attend the School of Rock location in Sandy, and talked to City Weekly's Greg Wilcox about the forthcoming tour.

City Weekly: Where are you from in Utah?
Nick: I was born in West Valley, and currently live in Herriman.
Chris: I'm from South Jordan.

CW: Tell me about this tour you’re going on.
Chris: In August we're going on a West Coast tour starting in Portland, heading to Seattle, and hitting stuff on the way. Should be cool.
Nick: When we get back here we are opening up for Pangea celebrating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, and we'll be doing a Woodstock set right before Pangea.

CW: When do you head out?
Chris: We fly out on the Aug. 3, and the 4th and 5th are our rehearsal days where we get together with all the other students and make sure all the songs are sounding good. Then after that we start touring on the Aug. 6, and finish on Aug. 15 when we will play a show for this big celebration for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in Park City. The band Pangea is headlining and we will be performing with them as well as opening.

CW: When did you start at The Paul Green School of Rock?
Nick: I actually joined the school when I was in 9th grade. A friend in one of my classes told me about it. I just went in, I really liked the place, I signed up, and since then I've been going consistently.

CW: How did you make the cut to be selected in the West Coast All-Stars and go on tour?
Nick: The All-Stars are decided on work ethic and playing ability. It was a little easier for me since I was one of the people who have been in the school for quite some time, so I built up some seniority. But it's really just a select chosen few.
Chris: In this school you have a lot of different students. Some that have only been there for a little bit, and some people there for the social aspect. But the all-star group is supposed to be for the kids that are the hardest working, and who really love music and want to do music throughout their lives, maybe as a career. It's based on who they feel is the hardest working.

CW: I was wondering if, to make the cut, you have to shred like Joe Satriani. But it sounds like it is broader than that.
Chris: It is. But on the Satriani note, we are doing a Steve Vai song. We're actually doing all kinds of stuff. Half of our set is specifically in line with the upcoming 40th anniversary of Woodstock, so we'll play songs from Janis Joplin, Hendrix, The Who, Crosby Stills and Nash. But we're also doing a few Radiohead songs, and even a Slayer song. That should be pretty fun. Radiohead, Janis Joplin, and Slayer all in the same set.

CW: What would you say are your biggest musical influences?
Chris: I just absorb anything I can. I like some classics like the Stones, Zeppelin, Beatles; all kinds of stuff. Right now I'm getting into a hip-hop group called De La Soul. I even like that. Anything you can get into that can broaden your musical taste I think rounds you out as a musician and as a person in general. As far as genres, I really like what people are doing in Utah. It's kind like that Talking Heads and Cake-style funky-back groove thing that is still rock at heart. I think the Red Bennies are doing some really cool stuff.
Nick: As a bass player, I've been influenced the most by Motown music because that's where I think some of the greatest musicians who ever were played. I've been listening to the Jackson 5 since I can remember. I like The Temptations a lot. All that sort of stuff is my absolute favorite kind of music.

CW: Will you be opening for any huge acts?
Nick: I don't have a ton of specifics, but I know in the past we've opened for The Bouncing Souls. Actually, last week we got the chance to meet Incubus over at the Usana Amphitheater. We just got to do the meet and greet and talk to them for a couple minutes.

CW: What part of touring are you most excited about?
Nick: I have a lot of fun meeting kids from the other schools, and getting the chance to play with different people is always really fun for me. A lot of them are really great musicians, and I know we'll be seeing them more in the future out in the world.
Chris: There is something about going on tour that transcends anything else you could do. First of all, just seeing other people from the other schools, what they're up to and how they've progressed. I made a lot of really good friends last year on tour. Plus I just love traveling. It's an opportunity that a 17 yr old who plays guitar might otherwise not get.

CW: What do your parents think?
Nick: My dad has been really supportive. He was really proud of me for making it to go on tour. Of course, my mom is doing the mom-thing and is a little worried about me going. But they're pretty happy for me.
Chris: They think it's pretty cool. They might actually come see us play at one of the shows. I know when they were kids they couldn't have had this opportunity because this school wasn't around, as it started in 1998. I also think they really like it because the whole going on tour thing was so idolized with bands like Led Zeppelin, and other bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s from their time.

CW: Do you see yourself making a career out of music?
Nick: The performing part of music will always be a part of my life, but I'm actually going to college to be a music therapist, so music will be a big part of my career in the future.
 
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