BERKLEY — It’s not uncommon for a group of high school teenagers to get together and form a band. While some no doubt have talent, making it big isn’t as simple as just getting together to play music.
F8, a band made up of four Berkley High School students, played five gigs in a two-week period in the early part of June. The sound and dedication of the four band members caught the attention of several music-lovers in the area and the band was booked to open for all three Robina Rhapsody concerts.
On June 20, F8 opened the first Robina Rhapsody concert and played, as manager Matthew Gross described, like they have been playing together for years.
But they haven’t. In fact, with the current four members of F8, the band has only been playing together for about a month.
“It is eerie how well they blend together,” Gross said. “I see a lot of bands and they all take a long time to blend. There are legitimate music professionals who think these four guys have been playing together for years, but it has been a month. It just seems to work really well.”
Liam Kelley, 17, is the only remaining member of the orginal core that created F8 about three years ago. At a summer band camp put on by the Berkley Recreation Department, Kelley and the former members created the band, whose name is a play on the word “fate,” Kelley said.
About a year later, Tim “Rocko” Dalian, 18, joined the band as lead singer. Three months ago, Aaron Cohno, 18, replaced the former drummer and two months later, Henri Gross, 15, became the band’s newest member on bass guitar.
“The band started a couple years ago, but you realize once you start a band, it can be really difficult to put four creative minds in a room and create something,” Cohno, who graduated from BHS in June, said. “I have been a musician my whole life and when I heard this band, I didn’t want to miss out on playing with such impressive musicians. I wanted to be surrounded by talent and I wanted to jam.”
Cohno said he played guitar for 10 years before joining F8, but has never taken a lesson in learning how to play the drums. The same cannot be said for Kelley and Gross, who both were classically trained on guitar but have developed their own style to fit the rock ‘n’ roll style of the band.
For Dalian, music has been a passion his entire life, and as the eccentric lead singer of F8, he gets to release his creativity every performance doing something he loves.
“My whole life, I have wanted to be a lead singer, jump around and scream out lyrics and have a great time on stage; that’s just what I love to do,” Dalian said. “I saw F8 for the first time in the Berkley High School variety show and their sound was so unique, something I had never heard before, and that moment I knew I had to be in that band.
“It is all about doing what we love to do. This has been my dream since I was 2 years old, so if it is not this, then who knows.”
The work and dedication it takes to try and make it as a young band is not lost on the four members. But it is the youth that gives F8 something different, Kelley said, and really nothing to lose.
“If you are an older musician, you have to look back on your own life for inspiration, but we are all figuring life out right now and have nothing to look back on, so our music is based on our current struggles and I think that adds an appeal for the audience,” Kelley said.
“We are these young kids with this mature sound trying to figure things out. We have to play every show like it is our last. Every show, you have to imagine there are thousands of people there and maybe one person will be there that will make you.”
F8 plays a mix of cover and original songs when they perform, but they are always trying to make their own sound in a musical world where new bands are popping up all the time.
“The ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s had very specific sounds, had movements that came out of them,” Cohno said. “What there is now is a lot of individual bands making a unique sound. We have the knowledge of the past decades of music and we are handpicking what we like and creating this new sound and vibe.
“We each have this musical personality and that is something that can’t be replaced. As a band, we are becoming a very interesting character.”
The band has seen several musical personalities come through in the three years since F8 began, but the current four members are focused on what they have now, which is something special, Dalian said.
There is no way of telling how big they can make it or if a personality may need to be replaced, but for now, they are enjoying rocking out in front of any crowd that will listen.
“It’s weird; you form this bond with the members of this band, like a brotherhood, but more,” Dalian said. “You really start to love the guys you play with. We love what we do and try to make the most unique sound possible. I hope this band goes somewhere.”
For more information on F8 and upcoming shows, like F8 (Band) on Facebook.