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Well, for one thing, it's the coolest high school newspaper in all the land. Watch our video and find out more.
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY LOUIE CASTILLO | Clearwater Central Catholic
The makeup of the rock band has changed quite a bit over the years. In the ’60s you needed tie-dye, long hair and a journal full of poems. In the ’70s it was some tight pants, chest hair and glitter, and in the ’80s, big poofy hair and your sister’s eyeliner. The ’90s required flannel, that was it. The 2000s? Hair highlights, a singer that could sound like Scott Stapp and plenty of heartbreak. • In this new decade, however, it’s all about baseball, some siblings, neighbors and Monster Energy, lots of Monster Energy. At least that’s the case with Largo homeboys Bet Me I’m Lying.
These guys can’t stop. They’re touring with prominent alternative rock band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, performing at the Rockapalooza festival in Jackson, Mich., and recording an album with the producer of REM’s first three albums, Mitch Easter. They played the State Theatre in St. Petersburg Oct. 13, opening for Red Jumpsuit, 10 Years and some other local bands.
The most important thing to remember is that the oldest member of the band is a senior in high school and the youngest is a freshman. Let me repeat: They are all in high school.
The band was formed in the early months of 2008 and played its first gig at the Sheraton in Clearwater Beach. The lineup then was almost identical to today’s: CJ Harris (Largo High) on vocals, Kirk Adikes (Osceola High) and Jackson Marquardt (Clearwater Central Catholic High) on guitar, Brennan Marquardt (CCCH) on drums and the Marquardts’ dad, Matt, on bass.
Since then Matt Marquardt has switched from bassist to the band’s manager, making way for Jamie Craske (Osceola) to take over the bass.
Just a few hours before the recent State Theatre gig, Jackson Marquardt and Craske had what appeared to be a typical family moment, loading up Craske’s SUV with gear for the rock show. It was a pretty mellow ride as they discussed Beavis and Butt-Head, Tosh.O and other shows before arriving to set up at the theater, enjoying another band’s sound check and then getting ready for showtime.
Most of the bands that night had extravagant light shows, songs that seemed to be clones of each other, and the same frontman doing the same thing (raising a fist in the air, pointing to the crowd; more than once, Chester Bennington from Linkin Park came to mind).
Bet Me I’m Lying could not have been more opposite.
Instead of lights, Bet Me I’m Lying simply relied on their tunes. While most of the other bands sounded like a repetitive Nickelback meets 30 Seconds to Mars mix tape, Bet Me’s songs varied from the opening bounciness of Road to Joy to the rawness of Trying Real Hard to Be the Shepherd.
A big difference among the bands were the singers. Instead of the same post-grunge, macho-but-with-a-sensitive-side emulations of bands that came before them, Bet Me’s CJ Harris seemed to transform from normal guy into artist teetering on the brink of sanity with every beautiful howl he let loose.
Their originality is a fusion of the bands they find influential, from Manchester Orchestra to Motion City Soundtrack to REM, resulting in a hard and fast driving beat with some jangly REM-esque guitar thrown in.
The lyrics, however, are the most surprising thing about Bet Me. The band’s main songwriters, CJ Harris and Jackson Marquardt, are 18 and 16, yet their words could come from a beat poet circa 1962 in their beautifully simplistic yet complex arrangement. Harris said he draws inspiration from poets like Jack Kerouac; Marquardt calls the band Bright Eyes his muse.
“I guess as far as our sound goes, I’d classify our music as punk rock,’’ said Marquardt, “but our main goal when writing lyrics is to be as original as possible.”
True to the origins of punk rock, which in the ’70s and ’80s seemed born of musicians sick of seeing big rock bands become too big for their britches, the members of Bet Me I’m Lying love what they do, want to celebrate their youth, rebel a little and make new music.
“We want to make music for as long as we can without conforming to the mainstream industry and selling out,” Marquardt said.
Offstage, Jamie and Brennan play football, Kirk loves to surf, CJ writes poetry and Jackson is a thespian. As soon as they step on that stage and the opening riff kicks in, they change from typical high school students into fierce and beautiful rock band, with earnest singing form, a snarl as they pluck out the chords with speed and dexterity, a Keith Moon-like madness behind the drum kit.
“Their drummer is insane, the singer is amazing,” said Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ guitar player, Josh Burke, as he watched the show at the State Theatre. “They’re all so young, they’ve got so much swagger and years ahead of them.”