WILLIAMSBURG — For high schoolers Brendan Hawkins, Jack Rooks, Gaius Del Negro and Riley Schwartz, their band Superstition can’t and won’t be easily explained.
Instead, they like to think of it as a spaceship traveling at lightning speed through space and time. Sometimes they’ll open their session playing funk rock and end up “somewhere in the cosmos.” But together, they find their way home.
“When we jam we call the atmosphere the cosmos and the band is this big ship that the four of us have to work on together as a unit not to hit an asteroid,” said Gaius, one of the guitarists. of the group. .
Instead, they prefer to let their music speak for itself. At times, their songs are reminiscent of psychedelic rock born in the 60s. But the music’s heavy bass lines and intense song lyrics hint at a 90s grunge feel.
With Gaius’ love of psychedelic rock, bassist Jack’s taste for 90s grunge, drummer Riley’s rhythm and blues and 80s headband beats, and guitarist Brendan’s jazz flair, their music is a melting pot of all their favorite genres and the influence of their musicians.
“I don’t want to describe our music,” Brendan said. “We’re just a rock band.”
Superstition soon plans to release their debut album, “Basement Psych”, showcasing the band’s unique flair. But in the meantime, the group recently released their debut single, “FA,” which is streaming across multiple music platforms.
The upbeat and catchy song, named after a skateboard brand, describes what it’s like to skateboard in a park.
The song opens with a voicemail from a neighbor — which actually happened — asking them to turn the volume down before suddenly jumping into a crescendo of heavy beats and guitar riffs.
“It’s a good reference, a good single, it’s catchy and it’s the one people really like,” Riley said.
They call it the jungle room. A tribute to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” their workout space is filled with animal prints, fur, and greenery.
Records by Alice Cooper, the Doors and Jimmy Buffett – a testament to the band’s eclectic musical tastes – line the walls while a menagerie of artifacts collected over the years fill the room.
Above all, there is the attic. Amps of varying sizes fill the space with several of the bands’ instruments. This is where the group got their start and lately is where the four teenagers spend most of their time together.
Superstition got its start in February 2019 when the group Canned Peaches, of which Jack, Riley and Gaius were a part, disbanded. That same day, Gaius brought Brendan into the mix to jam together.
“We had already built so much together as a musical unit, so adding Brendan just felt natural,” Gaius said.
Subsequently, the group formed without a name. As they played loudly during a soundcheck before their first gig, a clock fell off the wall. A flippant comment about how superstitious it was led to their namesake.
Throughout the pandemic, the band members practiced and began to hone their craft. They spent whole days working together and learning from each other. Then they started booking shows, sometimes twice a week, in Williamsburg as well as across Hampton Roads. Recently they performed at a private event in Northern Virginia.
For each show, they would create a setlist consisting of covers and their own original songs. According to Riley, this is a crucial step in ensuring a good show – second only to stage presence. She refers to how, in sometimes elaborate costumes, the group greets crowds expecting everyone to move their feet.
“We want people to get up and start dancing and moshing to our music and I feel like the only way to do that is to do it ourselves,” Brendan said.
When another chance event led them to Johnny Markowski, music producer and drummer for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a splinter group from the Jerry Garcia Band, the band found a mentor.
Markowski took a liking to the band and made several trips from New York to Virginia to work with them before meeting them to record in Nashville.
Last summer, Superstition recorded five songs, all of which feature their unique sound and lyricism. While the band is still working on the album, they said fans can expect songs that encompass different themes and overall teenage angst.
After all, the band writes its own music drawing inspiration from its likes, dislikes and observations of the world around it.
Take “Clones,” a song from the album that talks about the importance of being different and breaking away from the status quo. The inspiration came when the group noticed that everyone their age seemed to dress and act the same with little originality.
“We looked around and every kid was wearing the same flannel, the same jeans, the same haircut,” Gaius said.
“The same white Air Jordans,” Brendan added.
“They were all doing the same thing; they all look like clones,” Gaius said.
Brandishing his collection of poetic lyrics by Jim Morrison, Brendan said it’s their writing that sets Superstition apart. In addition to two rehearsal days a week and weekend shows, the band devotes every Sunday to songwriting. While someone may offer a few lines or a chord progression, they all work together to create their songs.
Over time, they want to explore other genres as they and their music evolve. They don’t want to label themselves.
“We keep growing as people, you know, so our music is bound to change,” Jack said. “I’ll listen to a new artist for a week and think I’d like to do that.”
Although the group has gained notoriety recently through their shows and social media presence (they have over 18,000 followers on TikTok), they still manage to balance school, work and their own social lives.
For Riley, who is a member of Colonial Williamsburg’s Fife and Drums and the Warhill High School drum line, that can be tough at times. But ultimately, she said everyone in the group was on the same page and wanted to see the group succeed.
On July 4, the band will be part of Culture Fix’s annual 4th of July celebration lineup. There, Riley already knows she’ll be taking part in the morning fife and drum roll call before heading to the lawn to perform. Thereafter, she will leave to participate in the nocturnal call of the fife and the drum.
For the band, it’s all part of the process. If they want to get there, they will have to work hard, no matter how difficult.
This summer, the four members will travel to Boston and Spain to participate in the Berklee College of Music Summer Program. There they will spend about a month in class learning new skills to bring back to the group.
From there, they said, who knows how they will sound? Maybe they’ll play more psychedelic rock or explore other genres. By then, they hope to release their album.
“I feel like as a band you’re never going to make us sound the same,” Brendan said.
Listen to the band’s first single on YouTube. Follow Superstition at instagram.com/superstitionbandofficial.