There’s a reason classic rock is called classic rock. Bands come and go, fads explode and then disappear, and hairstyles go from long to short to long again, but no matter what — Led Zeppelin will always be there for you. Jimi Hendrix lives on. Creedence sounds as awesome now as it did 40 years ago.
And just when I start to lose my faith, and think that all the kids these days like is bad modern rock and even worse pop stars, there comes along a group of teenagers such as the guys in Entropy, a band of Ellsworth High School students who understand just what it means to rock.
“We all really, really love classic rock,” said Justin Chamberlain, lead guitarist. “AC/DC, the Stones, Led Zep. That’s it. We’re a bunch of rockers. We listen to them, and we think, ‘Man, I hope someday we can be like that.’”
OK, sure, they might not ever reach Who-like levels of fame, but Chamberlain, singer Spence Small, drummer Tyler Small, bass player Brendon Bouchard and rhythm guitarist John Keith are well on their way to a long life of rockin’. Entropy two weeks ago won the 25th annual Reindeer Rock Off, a Portland-based statewide competition that each year picks the best teenage band in the state.
Against all odds, Entropy won while pitted against 18 other bands — all based on the strength of their songs and their sheer rock power — which must be quite mighty, considering the obstacles they had to dodge to make the whole thing happen in the first place.
“Our music director at Ellsworth High, Mr. Fraser, handed us a flier about it, and we just decided to give it a shot,” said Chamberlain. “This was after we lost our old drummer, too, and we added our new drummer, Tyler. So it was kind of a really fast thing. We recorded a demo the day before the first round. Spence and I drove down to Portland from Ellsworth in the middle of a snowstorm to get it there in time.”
Entropy’s story of unlikely victory gets even better, though.
“We didn’t even get into the second round of the competition, because part of the score was on your marketability, and we didn’t even have T-shirts,” said Chamberlain. “The coolest thing was that by pure luck, one of the bands that did get picked had to drop out because their lead singer had to go on a family vacation. So we got to compete after all. It was awesome.”
From there on out, it was gravy, since the final round, during which just six bands competed, was judged solely on live performance and songwriting — the two things Entropy excel at the most, considering the founding members of the band, Chamberlain, Spence Small and Bouchard have been playing together since sixth grade.
“One of the songs we played at the show we had written literally the night before, called ‘Never Be the Same,” said Chamberlain. “We wrote it in our hotel room. We felt like rock stars.”
Entropy won $1,000 from the Reindeer Rock Off, and the distinction of being named the Best Young Band in Maine. What are they doing with their winnings? Well, after buying some needed musical equipment, Bouchard, Chamberlain and Spence Small bought tickets to see AC/DC in Boston this summer.
The band is also getting ready to enter the studio this summer, to record a real album at last, after all members but Tyler Small (a 14-year-old phenom on the drums) graduate from high school. And that’s also in between all those new gigs Entropy has lined up. They’ve got two just this Saturday, at a fundraiser and a private party. Rock ’n’ roll is alive and well, folks. At least, as long as the kids keep believin’.
To listen to tracks from Entropy, visit www.mainetoday.com/rockoff.