The rain pounded the roof of the small, backyard workshop in
Brookings, drowning out singer and bass player Caleb Moffit as he talked
about the rock band Slow Children.
However, the rain didn't stand a chance once Caleb and guitarist
Bryan Bacci plugged their instruments into the amps, and Kevin Hutman
started hammering the drums.
The melodic mix of acoustic, hard rock and alternative music that
thundered inside the shop was tight, intense and impressive - the
product of three men who have been playing music together since the
eighth grade - nearly 15 years.
The trio has spent the last eight years following their rock dreams, with a certain level of success, on the Las Vegas club scene, where they earned accolades from local radio stations and the press.
In August, the band left Sin City, returning to Brookings to write new music and rehearse for a five-state regional tour scheduled the first of the year. The band members see the tour as a an opportunity to use their improved music skills and newly-honed industry savvy for another shot at success.
"This is what we all know," said Kevin, before settling himself in the pocket of his drum set. "We're not giving up. We've learned a lot playing in Vegas. We know more. We're better now."
The band's sound, with its blend of many genres, makes it difficult to define. The band members list their musical influences as Sublime, Silver Chair, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Floater and the Beatles. Their music has been described by others as a blend of '90s alternative rock and '70s progressive rock, with a touch of reggae and jazz.
The band will introduce their new songs and play those from their catalog today (Nov. 27) during what they dubbed an all ages "full-blown rock show" at the Redwood Theater, 621 Chetco Ave. in Brookings. Doors open at 8 a.m. (following the movie) and the show starts at 9 p.m. and it will end around midnight. Tickets are $15.
The three members of Slow Children, all hovering around the 28-year-old mark, are more like a family than a band of three guys. That's because they met one another in eighth grade at Brookings' Azalea Middle School and have stuck together ever since.
"We just picked up instruments and just started playing," Caleb recalled. "We didn't really know how to play them."
That didn't stop the three boys from raising a ruckus in one another's homes, trying to put what they heard on their parents' jazz and classic rock albums into their mix of rock and roll. Caleb's dad, Jerry Moffit, a jazz musician and retired music teacher, taught the boys in and out of the classroom, focusing on the fundamentals as well as music production and theory. He would later play keyboards on the band's debut CD.
"Their music has gotten quite a bit more complex in the last few years," Moffit said.
He recalled the time when Caleb and Kevin were in the eighth grade and the two would come to Caleb's house and attempt to play music.
"Kevin would bang on the drums and Caleb would ... scream," Moffit said. "One day I said to Caleb, 'if you're going to do this, you should probably play something.' He said 'Like what?' So I borrowed a bass (guitar) from the school and gave it to him, along with some lesson books and CDs. He learned very quickly. He's self-taught."
Caleb took his father's advice to heart, learning to play bass, and doing more with his voice than just scream.
With Caleb singing and playing bass, and Kevin learning the drum kit, congas and percussion, the nucleus of what would later become Slow Children took form with the addition of schoolmate and electric guitarist Bryan.
The group spent their high school years entertaining themselves, friends and family with their growing skills. In their senior year, the trio formed an official band, calling it Slow Children, and started playing parties, community events and local bars, building a small, yet loyal local fan base. A few months before graduation, the trio literally ran away to chase their rock dreams. Two of the band members sold their cars, bought a van and traveled around California, staying with various family and friends, and playing any gigs that came their way.
"We pretty much lived out of our van for those first few months," Caleb said in an 2007 Pilot interview.
In 2002, the group stopped to play in Las Vegas and decided to stay, in an effort to get consistent work, and perhaps get a chance at a record deal.
"Vegas is centrally located. It's only a few hours to cities such as Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Francisco," Kevin said.
Life in Vegas
The band's experience on The Strip was a mixed bag. Their sound caught on quickly, earning kudos from local radio stations and big name clubs such as the House of Blues and Hard Rock Cafe. Yet, it wasn't enough to pay the bills. All three men worked second jobs, including waiting tables and working in a music studio. Still, according to Kevin, the years in Las Vegas offered valuable lessons - on and off the stage.
"We played music several nights a week in the clubs, and that's how you really get good," Kevin said. "We also learned a lot about the music business, and how we might fit into it."
For awhile, Slow Children became a foursome when they were joined by another Brookings alumni, Theron Fox, whom they met in Vegas. In the ensuing years, the band made brief tours to surrounding states, performing on their own or opening for popular indie group acts such as Oregon's Floater. They garnered radio play in the Vegas area, and performed for audiences numbering in the thousands. In 2007, Slow Children returned to Brookings to see family and play at local bars. Nearly 200 people, many of whom went to school with the band members, packed the Hideaway Bar and Grill in Harbor.
In 2009, Slow Children entered the studio and produced their debut CD, Life in Reverie, that featured a number of fan favorites. The songs on the CD were written by Caleb and arranged by all three band members.
Caleb's voice has matured into a smooth, powerful, sound that transitions easily from the band's grunge-sounding rockers to upbeat acoustic songs. Kevin's drumming is complex and creative with the clever use of electronic samples. Bryan is shredding better than ever on the guitar, incorporating complex loops to faithfully recreate the band's studio sound.
Leaving Las Vegas
Despite years of paying dues with moderate success, Slow Children, back to being a trio with the departure of Theron Fox, are excited about the band's future.
"We're on the brink of breaking through," Caleb said.
In Vegas, several big hotels had offered the band full-time work performing as a cover band.
"We didn't really want to go down that path," Caleb said. "We'd have to sign a contract and play what they wanted, when they wanted us to. That's not us."
The band also attracted interest from music industry companies and investors, but any deals that were offered included giving away more than 50 percent of the rights to their original music, and future profits. Again, not a path the band wanted to take.
"We're trying to get investors, the money we need, but without giving up the rights to our songs," Caleb said.
The band may have found a way to do that with the help of World Music Pros, a company that works as a liaison between promising unsigned bands and independent record and publishing companies. The company, Caleb said, is working to get the band's music to the college crowd. With that in mind, Slow Children will re-release an updated version of their debut CD, while writing new songs for their sophomore effort, to be released following next year's planned five-state regional tour.
"Our goal right now is to get on college radio and get on the college circuit," Caleb said. "That's where we can really get some good exposure."
Caleb's father has mixed feelings about the band's future.
"They are as good as anything I've heard out there, but the music industry is so tough," Moffit said. "I hope they don't get discouraged."
Tonight, the band will perform what it calls a two-hour "full-blown rock show," complete with a light show, video screen and more. They've asked local musicians Evan Dunn and Luke Mathison to open for them.
Why the big production in Brookings?
"I didn't see my first rock show until I left Brookings," Kevin explained. "I want to bring some of that experience to my hometown, and now we're in a position to do it. We really want to see the music scene in Brookings grow."
Slow Children will focus on its original songs, with a few covers, including those by Sublime, Floater, the Turtles and an amped up version of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."
"We play a lot of 21-years-and-older shows, and we wanted to play a show for all ages," Kevin said. "This is going to be a fun, enjoyable concert."
After tonight's show, the band will do a small tour of Northern California, return to Brookings near Christmas for an acoustic show, and then prepare for their five-state tour - and the next chapter in the story called Slow Children.