On a recent Thursday, four young musicians with big dreams took the stage at the Elbo Room in Chicago.
With a logo stating the band’s name, REBELMANN, on their fringed vests and T-shirts, the four brought classic rock to an audience of music-lovers much older than themselves.
Like many local musicians, they hope to someday be on posters on every kid’s wall and own private jets. But for now, they just dream about getting to stay out past 11 p.m.
After all, the three brothers and a friend who make up Glen Ellyn-based REBELMANN range in age from 12 to 14, but that doesn’t stop them from playing for 21-and-over audiences, and it definitely doesn’t stop them from trying to follow their dream of being rock stars.
While many kids might have hopes of being famous, these four may be on the way to making that happen by playing state and county fairs, the Taste of Glen Ellyn and local bars and restaurants while their mom, Julie Mann, serves as their “momager,” booking gigs in the suburbs and beyond.
“I don’t want to be a geek in business,” said 14 year-old Bryce Mann, the group’s drummer. “I want to be a rock star.”
In addition to Bryce and his twin brother — guitar player Johnathon Mann — the group also includes their 12-year-old brother, Clayton Mann, who serves as lead singer and plays rhythm guitar. Their friend, 14-year-old bassist Grant Mason, rounds out the group.
The four boys attend Hadley Junior High in Glen Ellyn and have performed together for more than a year. Their most recent show at the Elbo Room in Chicago proved to be the favorite of almost everyone in the band. Not one of them was close to legal drinking age, but the bar’s stage allowed the four to work together — and there were light and smoke effects. The show was also the group’s first paid gig.
“The energy felt really good,” Grant said.
Next week, the four will take their talents to the west coast for a performancthe famous Hollywood rock venue, Whisky A Go Go. The venue has hosted rock bands such as The Doors, Guns N’ Roses and Led Zeppelin since it opened in 1964.
REBELMANN will perform at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Celina Denkins, Whisky A Go Go’s national talent buyer and senior booking agent, said the boys were chosen to perform at the suggestion of an older band called Death and Taxes.
“There’s no doubt the youngsters have talent... As a booking agent of all generations coupled with my personal belief of fostering music for youth as a positive emotional, mental and physical outlet, I love giving young bands an opportunity to perform such a legendary venue,” she said. “It’s always great to have Alice Cooper on the Whisky stage one day and a 12-year-old with a dream to be on Alice Cooper’s level the next.”
When REBELMANN members were contacted by agents from Whisky A Go-Go, they couldn’t hold in their excitement.
“We were jumping up and down,” Clayton said. “I posted it on Facebook and got like 400 ‘Likes.’”
Before the show, Julie Mann said the boys will get red carpet treatment — getting their hair and makeup done.
The band started when Johnathon and Grant were paired together by their guitar instructor for a recital.
The boys have played instruments for anywhere from one to three years.
“I used to be in sports, but I gave it up because I would rather be (playing in the band),” Johnathon said.
Julie Mann said the boys haven’t missed any school for their previous gigs, and she sees the band as an extracurricular activity.
“Just as other kids would spend time training for football, hockey or otherwise, their band practices and gigs would be an equivalent,” she said. “And we always stress safety first.”
The band members practice solos every day and take weekly music lessons, but they had to move their practice sessions from the garage to the living room after neighbors started calling police with complaints about the noise.
The name REBELMANN was thought up by mom Julie, who said it was difficult finding a name that wasn’t already used. And to make sure no one takes the name in the future, REBELMANN and its logo of red and blue guitars and wings was accepted by the Federal Trademark Registration on Sept. 13.
“The idea came because they are these young rebels playing this classic rock,” Julie Mann said.
As a parent to three of the boys in the band, Julie Mann plays many roles. She’s the roadie — helping to take down equipment and pack up instruments for gigs. She works with booking agents at venues and she also makes sure the boys attend their religious education classes and get their homework done on time.
“I don’t get nervous when they’re on stage. I know they’ll push through anything,” she said. “But I think it’s novelty that they are so young and they’re putting on these shows for 21-year-olds.”
On stage, the boys play classic rock, such as songs “Thunderstruck,” “Slow Ride” and “Back in Black.”
“I like classic rock,” Johnathon said. “Modern bands are boring, in my opinion.”
In addition to doing cover songs, the group will release its first single at Whisky A Go Go— a song they wrote called “Up All Night.”
“It came pretty natural and easy,” Grant said about the song.
Julie Mann said once the boys got the initial guitar riff for the song, a light bulb went off in their heads and the members built the single from there.
“It’s about touring across America,” Julie Mann said.
And that’s exactly what the band members hope to do in the future.
Once they return from California, the boys plan to write more of their own songs.
“(In 10 years,) I won’t be drinking or smoking, but I hope there are REBELMANN posters on every kid’s wall,” Clayton said.
Bryce said he also hopes to be on tour, and his twin Johnathon agreed.
“I could see us in Europe, just finishing a U.S. tour and (going international) and the crowd will be cheering ‘REBELMANN,’” he said. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
On the web
Check out the band’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/rebelmannband or their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/rebelmann.