Photos and words by Maclay Heriot
The Helmets are a Californian band of four dudes all under the age of 12.
We got an inside tip to check them out at Lollapalooza in Chicago, where they were playing the Kidsapalooza stage. And my god, are we glad we did. Get to know these pint-sized punks before the rest of the world hears about them.
(BF) BRYAN FERRETTI – LEAD VOCALS & GUITAR
(BE) BASTIAN EVANS – LEAD GUITAR & BACK VOCALS
(TT) TYE TRUJILLO – BASS
(KN) KAI NEUKERMANS – DRUMS
Hey guys! Can you sum up The Helmets for anyone who hasn’t heard of you yet?
We have a lot of fun and rock really hard. There are four of us: guitar, bass, drums and vocals. We are all 11 to 12 years old now and like to surf and skate when we aren’t jamming.
How long have you been a band? How did that start?
Our parents are friends and when we were about eight years old we started jamming in Bastian’s garage and came up with our first original called “Monsters Come Out”.
Did you all decide on the band name, where did it come from?
We decided. When we started jamming we would play music in the garage and skate around the driveway and would always leave our (skate) helmets on even when we were playing music. So The Helmets was kind of a joke at first but then it ended up as the name.
When you get together to jam, what’s the first song you choose to kick off practice to blow out the cobwebs?
Sometimes we loosen up with “Skin Tight” by the Ohio Players.
Do you get to play loud? What’s the set up like?
Yeah, we always play loud! We practice wherever we can, sometimes at the green room in Pacifica, Proof Lab in Mill Valley or the Rock Shop Academy in Santa Barbara. Wherever we practice there’s usually a skatepark or surf nearby.
Even though you’re small, you are rocking out on full-size equipment. What does The Helmets rig look like?
BE: For big shows I’ve played with Marshall amps and I switch between a Gibson SG and a Music Man Albert Lee. I have a Les Paul too but it’s too heavy to jump around on stage with.
TT: I play a Fender Precision bass. Any amp will work as long as it’s loud.
BF: I don’t care what brand it is but if it’s a working mic, I’ll use it. I like Les Paul’s as far as guitars go. I like Mesa amps the most.
KN: Playing drums at home on a Pearl Vision kit with Paiste Rude cymbals. One day I hope to get a custom DW kit!
Can you remember the first album you just had to play on repeat or track? And how did you find it?
BE: Nirvana’s Bleach. It just blew my mind.
TT: Alice in Chains’ Black Gives Way to Blue and Tool’s 10,000 Days. I remember listening to those albums when I was five years old.
KN: James Brown’s Funky People (Part 2). Also Black Sabbath’s 13.
BF: I can’t remember the first one, but I love Master of Puppets because there are a lot of cool instrumental parts to the songs.
Where do you go looking to find new music? Do you have any bands that I should check out that I wouldn’t know?
BE: Mom and Dad’s vinyl. Also at shows. Check out Portugal the Man and Mass Mental.
TT: There’s this new band called Torche. Check ‘em out.
KN: Sometimes friends or my drum teacher, Jay. Tye’s dialled in on the new bands like Torche, check them out.
Who is in charge of the stereo on the way to school?
TT: My dad. (Metallica’s Robert Trujillo)
BF: My dad.
KN: I ride my bike to school, so no battle for stereo control.
What do the other kids in school listen to and play?
Pop mostly. Maybe they’ll listen to better music in high school.
You got to play a few festivals this summer, what was it like?
So fun! We got to play Lollapalooza Chile where Perry Farrell sang Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song” with us and then Lolla Chicago. We can’t believe how much fun those are and how nice everyone has been to us… we can’t wait for the next one!
Do you grommets get groupies or are you too busy skating and playing music?
Nahh… we did sign a lot of autographs in Chile but we are too busy skating.
Does answering these questions feel like homework?
Kind of, but we don’t talk about guitars or Led Zeppelin usually for homework, so this is better.