Ever since Glen Ellyn resident Clayton Mann was 4 years old, he could be found singing alongside Elvis albums. Now, at 13, Clayton is the lead singer of rock band REBELMANN.
Clayton teamed up with his 15-year-old twin brothers, Johnathon and Bryce, and their 14-year-old bassist, Johnny Fruit of Glen Ellyn, to create REBELMANN. Johnathon leads on the guitar with his left-handed skills, while Bryce pounds out his talent on the drums, and Clayton has the spotlight on the microphone. When Johnny Fruit isn’t around for shows, Tim Joyce of Villa Park, 46, steps in.
The four teen musicians have come a long way since they first started. Last year, REBELMANN won the “Most Talented Teens” award at the 2012 Chicago Music Awards, and recently competed again for the coveted honor. REBELMANN also earned a debut nomination for the Emerging Star Award at the 32nd annual Chicago Music Awards, which took place in mid-January.
Last October, the band had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas and play with some of their idols at Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp in the MGM Grand. The boys took the stage alongside Gene Simmons, Sebastian Bach, Richie Kotzen and other rock legends.
Now with these experiences under their belts, Clayton looks to their future.
What’s it like being in a band with your brothers?
Well, being brothers, we have our disagreements, but most of the time we strive to do the right thing. Everybody is not always right. We each play our own part in this band, and we do our thing and bind together when we play. We get along, we ride along, and we just do it. When we’re on stage, it’s the best thing there is.
Where did you come up with the name for the group?
We play rock ‘n roll, and these days it’s all about rap, hip-hop and electronic beats and dances. We wanted to rebel and go against that, because we don’t have to follow those rules. It’s what we like and what we want — and Mann is our last name.
How did the recent Chicago Music Awards go?
We didn’t pull off the win this year, but we did get a lot of press and got to meet a lot of people. There are 75,000 artists in Chicago, and we were in the top five nominated for the most talented group. Even just to be nominated was an honor. We were also nominated for emerging rock star, but we fell short on that one too. We were up against three other people, and everyone was older than us, and they had a lot more experience.
What do you have to do to prepare for something like that?
It’s basically getting in the mindset, and then practicing, practicing and practicing. Every line, every cue for the drummer, the bassist and the guitar, and knowing what we’re going to do. How we practice is how we’re going to do on stage. We have to do it as perfect as possible, so it’s not a surprise on stage. We practice in our basement — there’s a drum set and amps and stuff.
What’s ahead for the band?
We honestly don’t plan on doing anything else — we’re so confident in this. We want to be huge rock stars. We don’t want to do it for the money or for the fame — we just like being on stage. I’m more comfortable on stage than on a baseball field, even when we played for 4,000 people at the Chicago Music Awards.
We have nine original songs, and we plan on recording them this year. You can’t just write a song and record it — we call it ‘cooking.’ Once you get the lyrics and guitar memorized, that’s when you can feel the song, and you play it for a month or two months, and it keeps changing. A song is never done. Those nine songs are all different, because we gave them time to cook. We’re planning on recording them and streaming them out there this year.
Hear their music
What: Glen Ellyn brothers and compatriots kick-start REBELMANN, and just competed in their second Chicago Music Awards