Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Day Off performs for Thomas Jefferson High School students. Students enjoyed  the pop-Disney band, a style that goes against the mainstream of today's rap and hip-hop music. (Photos provided by the non-profit P.A.C.E).

By Diana L. Chapman
Coming home off a successful six-week summer tour, the local band Last Day Off  received another string toward success, landing tours for the remainder of the year at dozens of Los Angeles high and middle schools.
 In addition, several clubs have asked them to return and they received their first paying gig to perform before the popular band, Adema, in Medford, Oregon.
 The reaction at the schools has been “overwhelming,” said Thomas Heck, a program director at the nonprofit P.A.CE., Promoting Academics through Creative Expression, who booked the Last Day Off after he listened to their music and interviewed them.
He picked the group, he said, because their lyrics were clean, the music was unique, reminiscent of old school rock and they had a message: school was valuable no matter who you are.
“They are perfect fit,” said Heck, who witnesses most of their performances at various middles and senior high schools throughout  Los Angeles. “The kids love them to death. The girls are like: “I love you. I love you.” And the guys are like this is so cool.
“It’s worked really well so far.”
Students have the chance to discuss school and the band's career choices after the play.

Besides school performances, the group will unveil their first video debut “Mrs. Right”  and release their acoustical C.D. at a high school-themed dance party at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Grand Visions Building, 434 Sixth Street. Tickets cost $10.
Having visited 22 Boys and Girls Club at the state of California this summer, Wolf Bradley, 17, the band’s lead singer, said while they had fans before, the interest sky-rocketed after visiting at the clubs – where he himself first learned and became interested in music.
They receive e-mails such as:
 “You guys are koool and hot…”
“Andrew is a cutie…”
“Humm, you weren’t wearing makeup but you’re so gorgeous. Love you Wolf Bradley.”
The boys send more serious messages asking how they could get their own bands started. Some club members were so taken by the Pop-Punk Disney-style band, they demanded the group be invited back.
And they’re going. It seems doors are opening for Wolf and three other band members, drummer Andrew Mocatrao, 18, guitarist Jonathan Barron, 20, and bassist, Ryan Barker, 19.
All the band members were ecstatic with their success, said Wolf, who is finding the situation “humbling.”
 Weeks later, he was still shaking his head trying to understand why  a 12-year-old girl at one of the clubs started crying when he gave her one of their C.Ds. “Every time I saw her, she’d cry more. I’d just never had that happen to me. Before we booked the tour, we had fans, but now we have hardcore fans.”
Wolf and his mother, Cindy, decided that the band should visit as many Boys and Girls Clubs as possible because that’s where the seed for the band began.
As a middle class boy, Wolf stayed at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro after school and began to learn about music at its recording studio. His mentors there, he said, helped launch his music career.  It helps, he added, that he comes from a family of performers. His mother and father, Patrick, own the San Pedro Ballet School, and have aided the band on its tours.
“They just get bombarded after shows,” said Cindy, who manages the group. “The sky is the limit for them because of their commitment and their talent. They’re all totally committed to their music. They rehearse everyday that they are not performing.”
For the Bradleys, it was a difficult decision to allow Wolf to leave his senior year in high school to pursue his musical career, but one they believed was the right choice to move the band forward.  He will take the GED (General Educational Development)  this summer to earn his high school diploma.
Heck, the PACE program director, said he had no issues with the decision, because the program targets students who decided that dropping out would be a better option than struggling with the daily stress of trying to maintain their grades and getting their work done on time.

With Wolf getting his GED and the other band members having already received their diplomas, the group often tells the students they can’t obtain anything – without a high school degree.

“They are just a great bunch of kids,” Heck said of the band. “Wolf realized the importance to get his degree so he’s going back. This has worked really well so far and the kids are receiving the message.”
PACE’s interest has helped sparked further interest in several bands on their track to stardom such as FDM (Geffen), The New Boyz (Warner Brothers) and Lil Niko (Def Jam).

Last Day Off is now available on Rockband: