Snoqualmie band LocoMotive is prepping for its premiere Seattle show with the Americana, Seattle-based band Massy Ferguson at the Triple Door on Saturday, April 25. Graduating from low-key pubs to acclaimed music venues is a praise-worthy feat for any band, but when its members are still in middle school and most of their peers are heading to soccer or baseball tournaments, it’s practically legendary.
LocoMotive performs primarily rock’n’roll covers, think Led Zeppelin and Weezer, and consists of seventh grader Bella Mariani (vocals, rhythm guitar), eighth graders Campbell Farris (bass) and Ryan Horn (lead guitar) and fifth grader Ethan Horn (drums). Everyone attends Twin Falls Middle School, except Ethan who’s enrolled at Cascade View.
“It’s a hobby, but (life’s) pretty much all focused on school and band,” Mariani laughed, resting on a couch with her band members in their practice space in the Horn home. “I think it’s really fun.”
Mariani and the Horn brothers got their start performing together at Big Star Studios, where Farris’s mom used to teach. Their lineup has gone through numerous changes, but the four current members connected in August.
“I was just floored with the quality of musicianship of these teens. It was a mix of shock and appreciation… As a youngster, you don’t normally see past high school,” stated Ethan Anderson, the Massy Ferguson member who asked the group to perform with him during a few of his band’s original tracks at the Triple Door show.
The members of LocoMotive are too young to even apply for learner’s permits, but they are pretty blasé about playing bars and clubs, as they’re frequently featured at Finaghty’s Irish Pub. Even so, when asked how they feel about performing in a Seattle venue, their collective response is peppered with too many “cools” to count.
“I’m excited and nervous… I’m up for the challenge,” Mariani stated.
“There’s definitely nerves there,” Ethan agreed.
Anderson discovered LocoMotive while performing in Snoqualmie thanks to the band’s biggest fan and champion, Gary Horn (Ryan and Ethan’s dad). Anderson said Horn was pleasantly persistent about connecting the musicians, which he said is an important quality to have in this distracted, static-filled digital age.
He said he racked his brain trying to think of bands the (mostly) pubescent-musicians could perform with, before he remembered that he had a gig. He said his decision to ask them to join him on stage wasn’t solely based on supporting budding musicians, but also because they’re genuinely talented.
“How it works is, Ethan (Anderson) will just come (to Snoqualmie), and we had learned all the songs on our own earlier, so we just kind of run through the set a few times,” Ryan explained.
Anderson is an established musician, and his band’s website boasts it has shared the stage with country heroes like Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum, but he said he envies his Snoqualmie comrades for one thing: Performing covers.
“I wish I learned a million covers, I’d be a better musician than I am,” he modestly stated. “They can be one-part daunting and one-part exciting.” He said he finds it “humbling” to have the kids performing his songs alongside him.
“It’s different from learning a cover on your own,” Ryan mused. “When you (do that) you can put your own spin on it and with this, you’re just trying to emulate. We’re even using their gear, I think.”
LocoMotive has certainly paid its dues in the currency of “Back in Black” covers since they started performing together under this lineup, but they said their future goals are to perform an all-original set and secure a slot at Sound Off at the Experience Music Project, before they turn 21.
“I wish more kids were doing what they’re doing,” Anderson mused as we wrapped up our conversation. “The world would be a better place.”