by Len Lear and Lou Mancinelli
Forget about American Idol, The Voice, Rising Star and the numerous other singing competition shows on TV. There may have never been a band on any of them as young as Skyline, a group of 14-year-old residents of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy who are quickly becoming the talk of the town.
The band, which was formed at the beginning of 2013, consists of Jackson Craig, Germantown Friends (8th grade), lead singer and guitar; Gabe Garcia Leeds, Central High School (9th grade), electric guitar; Henry McDevitt, Central High School (9th grade), singer and guitar; Matthew Overholser, Germantown Friends (9th grade), drummer; and Graham Arms, Germantown Friends (9th grade), bass player.
In recent months they have performed in festivals at Green Street Friends School and Plymouth Meeting Friends Schools, numerous shows at Teens Inc. in Chestnut Hill, the Dara’s Defense fundraiser, the Heritage Academy Fundraiser, The Video Library in Mt. Airy, a couple birthday parties and their EP release party earlier this month at the Mt. Airy Arts Garage. There were about 200 people who heard them at the Dara’s Defense fundraiser and about 100 at the EP release party.
“It really is a struggle to manage our workload and band business, but we’ve come up with a system that works pretty well,” said Jackson Craig, a band spokesman, last week in an interview with the Local. “We agreed to practice every week as long as there were no important conflicts, so every Sunday afternoon we get together and jam or prepare for concerts. We have a group text message to keep in contact easily because it’s hard when we are split up between two schools.”
How do their parents feel about all of this? “Our parents have been really supportive and encouraging. They help out a lot with managing things like organizing gigs, transportation and moving gear from place to place. For the most part they’re like our roadies (ha ha). But we agreed with all of the parents early on that all of us in the band would take care of important things like getting in contact with people, organizing gigs and shows that we’re playing and updating fans on Facebook, Instagram and email.”
Four of the five band members have known each other for years and have played together under different band names like Nuclear Takeout. McDevitt and Craig have essentially known one another their entire lives because their parents were friends.
When three of the four went to Settlement Music School summer camp in August of 2013 in Queen Village, they met Gabriel Garcia-Leeds. McDevitt already knew him from school and had played with him in a band called Aquahead. They all got along to the point where they invited Garcia-Leeds to join the band and play lead guitar.
Before that, Skyline made its debut in the spring of 2013 year at a Memorial weekend barbecue at Silk City, 5th and Spring Garden Streets, where a few nights each week college-aged and older bands play.
The band does not presently have a YouTube account, but they do have some videos from a Mt. Airy Train Station show in September of 2013 as well as videos on their Instagram and Facebook accounts. They say they haven’t really discussed their future after high school, but for now they plan on sticking together and see what develops.
Is there a chance that they will not go college because of their music? “Some band members have expressed the idea of trying to make a living off of music and the band but its really too early to say,” said Jackson.
If they do go to different colleges, wouldn’t that mean the end of the band? “It probably would, but I think this is such a great experience that people might be motivated to go off and start their own bands, or maybe some of us will start a different band together. At the moment we’re really focusing on what’s happening now and what we need to do to play more gigs and make a name for ourselves, but eventually a time will come where we have to make big decisions like that.”
The band writes their own songs, such as Sweet Symmetry, the title song of their CD, which goes in part like this: “Tying off, And I better be disowned, By the bones that I call my own, For Sweet Symmetry to flow, To the prettiness below.”
The callow band members book and promote their shows, conduct interviews and arrange schedules for practice and transportation, but since they are only 14, they still depend on their parents for rides to practice and gigs.