When the hard rock band Drater took the stage at Lakewood Bar and Grill last Thursday night, many spectators did not know what to expect, which is a feeling that is commonly shared by crowds at many of their shows.
The audience’s curiosity quickly turned into disbelief when the band members, who are not old enough to drive, started effortlessly playing songs by Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and the Beatles.
At their age, to say the members of Drater are simply talented would be a vast understatement.
Drater is a young, hard-charging rock band that was started in 2009 by three current Highland Park Middle School students, and they are rapidly building a name for themselves in Dallas while getting noticed by local venues, musicians and record labels.
The band got started when 14-year-old Cole Schwartz (lead guitarist) and 13-year-old Trajan Acquista (bassist) were attending Bradfield Elementary School and began taking music lessons and learning the same songs. The boys decided to form a rock group and brought their friend, 14-year-old Matthew West (drummer), on board as the third member. The band started practicing and learning songs, such as “Smoke on the Water” and “Back in Black.” They even played a couple of shows as a three-member group.
“Our first gig was at a clothes store, and then we’d play at block parties and restaurants,” West said. “It was just the three of us, and we didn’t have a legitimate singer.”
In the summer of 2010, Schwartz and West met 12-year-old Mira Fountain (vocalist) at a local music camp called Zound Sounds, and she was eager to join the group as the singer. Since then, the band has been playing shows throughout Dallas and impressing crowds of all ages with their musical abilities.
Drater plays a wide variety of cover songs by hard rock and metal groups, including AC/DC, but recently the band has started to write their own music and currently has three original songs.
“We want to become successful, which we can’t do by just playing covers,” Schwartz said. “We have started writing more original music and are working on new songs."
The band has also been working on ways to improve their stage show during live performances.
“Not only is the music a big part of our show, but we want the crowd to be entertained," Acquista said. "We’re not just going to stand there and play songs — we're going to get everyone into it."
Another reason Drater is unique is because the band primarily plays hard rock and metal songs, and Fountain said it is uncharacteristic for girls her age to enjoy that style of music.
“A female my age doesn’t really get to have this kind of experience because they don’t really listen to the same music,” Fountain said. “It really is amazing to get to do this.”
Drater has been trying to build its reputation throughout Dallas since the members started playing as a four-person group about a year ago. The band recently performed at a music festival and was approached by a Los Angeles record label afterward. Talks with the record label are currently in the works, but the band members' parents are not sure if this is the right time to take any further steps — being only in middle school, the band has plenty of time to grow and develop.
Local bands have been impressed with Drater as well.
A member of Poison Cherry, a well-known hair metal cover band in Dallas, came to see Drater perform at Lakewood Bar and Grill last week and even sang a song with them on stage.
Overall, if you have a passion for rock 'n' roll, enjoy a good stage show and want to support local musicians, be sure to check out Drater. If nothing else, they will leave you feeling inspired to pick up an instrument of your own.
(To find out more information about Drater and its upcoming shows, visit the band's website and Facebook page.)