By Brian Tucker
School’s not out yet but Jersey City’s Rock n Roll Hi-Fives have kick-started an early summer vacation. The band, a family of musicians – mom and dad Gloree and Joe and daughter Eilee and son Evren, will be performing at Gravity Records on Sunday April 10th at 3 p.m.
This will be their second appearance in the area, touring behind two EP’s of music steeped in gritty old school and glam rock and roll. On it Mom plays bass, dad on guitar and backing vocals, Evren behind the drums, and Eilee delivering cool, sassy vocals that echoes the swagger of Johnny Thunders and modern counterparts like Maja Ivarsson (The Sounds) or N.Y. Loose’s Brijitte West.
Below, Gloree talks about the education and benefits of playing in a family band, watching the kids grow musically, and a song inspired by Peter Pan.
As parents what did you hope your kids would learn or experience by playing in a band?
Gloree: We thought it would be an awesome way to spend family time together since we all love music so much. The band is a democracy so we all hear each other out. It’s been eye opening for us as parents and I really didn’t expect that. We knew as we were going along that it would give them confidence and allow them to be creative and have a voice, an outlet as they grow. When we started playing shows and promoting the band we realized it was a neat way for our kids to interact with people and learn from the different experiences. We’re glad that they look forward to it all.
Do you treat this as solely fun? Was there a classroom of music appreciation or music history?
That’s a good question, it’s a bit of both. Rock ‘n Roll is fun so we definitely have fun doing it but we also take the history and musicianship seriously. Not classroom serious like taking tests but serious enough to discuss music during our practices and when we’re having dinner, in the car, hanging out on the couch, etc.
What songs did you teach them or were you introducing early to get things started? Did you and Joe play in bands in college or high school?
Joe and the kids were always making up songs. Joe plays guitar and played in a few bands before the kids came along. He would walk around the house strumming and they would come up with fun tunes together and pretend they had a band.
I have never played an instrument before, ever. Joe bought me a bass for my birthday and I went from mom the manager to mom the bass player. He said the band needed a bass player and that was it. He also said it was easy because it only had four strings compared to his guitar which was really hard because it had six strings. He’s still teaching me one string at a time. As to what music we listen to, we don’t really have a filter to what we listen to but we all mostly dig rock ‘n roll and 90s indie rock like Pavement, GBV, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Dinosaur Jr. and many, many, more.
In teaching and rehearsing, how did you handle any frustration with learning how to play?
Eilee, she always enjoyed singing but when it came down to signing into a microphone, through a PA, it was a whole other world. She had to figure out how to control her voice and sometimes it was frustrating. For Evren, Joe taught him a few drum beats and he picked them up fairly easy but eventually Joe was out of beats so we found the kids teachers to learn basic principles to give them more confidence. It’s hard to watch your kids struggle especially when they’re hard on themselves. You know that they have it in them to do it and all we can do is encourage them. And find them good teachers.
Eilee sings with a little sass and sneer. Were there singers/musicians the kids gravitated to early on?
Eilee and Evren have always liked the Beatles and AC/DC since the wee toddler age. I would say Eilee’s sass and sneer comes from within. I always tell the story about Eilee being born, she had a very unique birth cry and after the nurse spent a few minutes with her she said “oh child, you have your hands full with this one.” She’s naturally sassy and we love that about her.
Did they take performing in front of others fairly easily?
For Eilee, it depends on the place and time. Sometimes she’s a bit nervous and sometimes she goes all out and performs without a care in the world, we haven’t figured that kid out yet. Evren, since our very first show he says he has not been uncomfortable once. So he says.
“Living the Lost Boy Life” is a great tune. Can you share the story behind it?
Eilee and I were talking about the school play Peter Pan that she was in. Joe was working on the song and heard us talking about it. He then had a vision of what it would be like sitting in the audience watching the play and dreaming of being a Lost Boy. The song really resonates with us because we feel we’re living the Lost Boy life by playing shows, recording, and touring in a rock ‘n roll band as a family. The song has become our anthem.
If this band ends, it’s likely to be the most amicable break-up ever, given you’re family. Have Eilee or Evren expressed interest in forming other bands or playing with other musicians?
Evren jammed with his buddy from school; they played the theme from Zelda, it was really cool to watch. They spoke about jamming again but nothing has been set. So far the kids haven’t explored starting a band with friends but we’re sure by the time they’re in high school it’ll happen and mom and dad will not be as cool anymore. We’re definitely not looking forward to a break up, even if it is amicable. And if it ever does happen, well, let’s just say we will be their biggest fans.