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"A new ROAR in rock"

JetStream's sound expands on the old-school spirit of Rush and other classic supergroups
By Brett Johnson
Posted February 20, 2009

None of them can drive a car, but they drive the girls wild as their freshly minted fame grows. They play music from rock bands that have been around more than twice as long as any of them have been on the planet. They ended a rehearsal gig last week about 9 p.m. not for an after-party but because they all had homework.

They laid aside their Les Pauls and Telecasters and bounded out of the studio with casual aplomb, taking to four chairs and facing their inquisitor happy and smiling, their eyes conveying a sense of curiosity and bemusement at this attention, eyes that peered out from just underneath their universally long-haired mops.

Instead of bottles and groupies draped around the soundboard, there were water bottles and a large bin of red licorice. They sounded media-savvy beyond their years, and their music sounded seasoned, even if none of them knew each other three years ago.

Welcome to the burgeoning phenomenon known as JetStream, a band with strong east Ventura County roots that’ll blow in long enough from a whirlwind of activity to play the ninth annual Rock the Oaks teen concert Feb. 27 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

They’ve gone from a garage band playing through combo amps to full-blown live stage shows in a flash. They signed a recording contract with RCA Records in December. They’ve already opened for Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame, Steve Lukather of Toto legend and Bo Bice of “American Idol” adulation. They’ve hung out with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Motley Crüe.

They have about 10 original songs already, are writing more and hope to have about three dozen in hand when they head into the studio to record their first CD this summer. In late June, they’re off to Australia to play. They might go to Germany in August.

So this Civic Arts Plaza gig won’t faze them. They’ve already played the Roxy in Hollywood, Club Nokia in Los Angeles, the Majestic Ventura Theater and the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills. They’ve wowed the young females at the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club and venues elsewhere. They sign autographs. Last fall, they played before 20,000 people at Dodger Stadium as part of a diabetes walk fundraiser.

Asked about having nerves playing in front of such throngs, bassist Kevin Grimmett shrugged and replied matter of factly, “Not anymore.”

At 13, he’s the young pup in the group and the first to adopt a stage name — Kevin Seven. The other three members —lead guitarist-singer Garrett Zeile, guitarist Jake Munk and drummer Ben Zelico — are 15.

Old school-

They met randomly at the Paul Green School of Rock (now a Rock Nation) in Agoura Hills in late summer 2006. There, they did such “school” projects as jamming on AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers.

They soon branched off on their own, “officially” formed the band in August 2007 and started recording. Later that year, JetStream gained entry to a Global Battle of the Bands competition in England and finished second out of 30 groups.

That attracted attention from record companies. They recorded a four-song demo last year with producer Julian Raymond. The RCA deal two months ago was the holiday icing on all this work.

It’s remarkable not just for their youth, but for the style of music they play. Band members readily describe their sound as classic rock. Listen to the band’s four-song sampler (same tunes as the demo) on its MySpace page and it’s easy to imagine it fitting into some 1970s AOR station’s playlist. JetStream has been compared to bands such as Rush, Yes and Led Zeppelin.

“It’s kind of a new trend,” explained Zeile, a freshman at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village. “A lot of the kids don’t like the new music that’s coming out. There’s a fascination with bands that play music from that time.”

The cool thing about such old bands, said Munk, a sophomore at Newbury Park High School, “was that they had the real mystique of rock stars.” They also were recognizable names who became legends, such as Jimi Hendrix, noted Zelico, a sophomore at Oak Park High School.

“The bands now,” Grimmett chimed in, “you don’t even remember who did the songs.”

Lest they be accused of being derivative, the band points out that they channel the old supergroups in their own style, giving it the JetStream imprint.

“As much as we are influenced by Rush, we don’t sound like Rush,” Zeile said. “No one sounds like Rush.”

But they played the Rush instrumental “YYZ” in this rehearsal (at a studio on the Zeile property near Lake Sherwood). It is one of several cover songs they do in their shows, a list that includes Hendrix’s “Fire,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird,” and the Edgar Winter
Group’s “Frankenstein,” which, Zeile pointed out, “always gets a good crowd response.”

The band also whipped through two originals, “Bittersweet Illusion” and “Halfway to Happiness,” the latter — with its upbeat and catchy intro, polished tempo changes and nice guitar fills — sounding like a potential single.

They shared the banter, joshing and showing off that comes with being in a band. Zelico flipped his drumsticks into the air and caught them effortlessly with all the panache of, say, the late Who drummer Keith Moon. It’s become so second nature, he would say later, that, “I don’t even know I’m doing it sometimes. And I’ll be at home watching TV and I’ll do it with the remote. The only time I know it is when my dad yells at me for dropping it.”

Asked when the band will have its first big fight, Zeile playfully said without batting an eye, “About 2012.” All that did was launch a group chat about how, as indicated in Mayan and other cultures, the world might end on Dec. 21, 2012. (Zeile thinks doomsday has been pushed back another 2,000 years.)

Juggling acts-

But they turned serious on a dime, at times stopping the roaring din to nitpick over, say, how to transition out of a guitar solo and back into the meat of a song.

During one break, the band said it’s in it for the long haul a la, one member blurted out, Led Zeppelin. That led into a discussion of how former Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant just won a slew of Grammys doing a folk album with bluegrass-country stalwart Alison Krauss. But the group seems content to remain in rock.

“It might be cool to transcend our genre but not jump into other genres, and just incorporate other elements into our sound,” Munk said.

That’s a long way into the crystal ball for JetStream. For now, they have to balance being a budding band with school and a relative lack of mobility.

Juggling books with beats, they admitted, has been an adjustment full of ups and downs.

“Last year,” Zelico noted, “we had finals week at the same time we were doing our demo tape. That was tough.”

They crave the freedom having a license would afford. Zelico said he’s “in driver’s training right now.” “Workin’ on it,” Munk echoed. Zeile said he can get his permit “in May,” as if he’s counting down the nanoseconds. Grimmett has a ways to go; he’s only in seventh grade (at A.C. Stelle Middle School in Calabasas).

In another break, Munk showed off the group’s equipment in the studio, a space so tiny they wear headphones and rely on a floor fan for cool air. He plays a black Fender Telecaster; Zeile opts for a traditional brown Les Paul. Grimmett’s Gibson bass was a gift from longtime Motley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx (he’s friends with one of Sixx’s sons).

Behind the scenes-

Behind the scenes JetStream has a few ins and connections. Grimmett’s dad, John, played in a 1980s hair band called Black Bambi. He calls himself the “king roadie,” noting that he sets up all their equipment at shows.

The band members, both lovingly and teasingly, credit him for teaching them the right way to lean onstage. He’s also taught them how to do sound checks, how to look professional and to make eye contact with the audience.

“It’s not about getting up there and playing,” said the elder Grimmett, who was present at the rehearsal. “It’s about performing.”

Zeile’s parents are Todd Zeile, a former major league baseball player, and Julianne McNamara, who was a gold-medal gymnast at the 1984 Olympics. The Zeiles, Garrett said, used to live next door to Peter Mensch, manager of Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Mensch now manages JetStream.

Is all this too fast, too soon?

“I don’t know if anyone has said we’re too young,” Garrett Zeile said. “I think a lot of people like the fact that we are young; they’re fascinated by that.”

Parents say so far, so good. Ben Zelico’s mom, Cheryl, said that adding band status atop the normal adolescent challenges her son faces has been tougher but also “a different kind of stress.”

“It’s stressful because they are hanging out at nightclubs rather than high school parties,” she said. “But in a way, it’s less stressful because I get to see him more often.”

Added her husband, Alon, “I think they are more supervised than other kids. They’re never by themselves.”

Until the band members are 18, Todd Zeile said, parents will be with them wherever the road goes.

“There are a lot of scary things about it in this world we have out there,” he said. “You can only do what you can and talk to him about what comes into play. But if your kid finds something they are passionate about, it’s a gift. We want him to do what that passion is inside him.”

The parental involvement is solid. Cheryl Zelico, John Grimmett and Todd Zeile book the band’s gigs and handle other management details. Munk’s mother, Sandy, sells JetStream merchandise at shows, including T-shirts.

Yes, they have those already; they got their mugs on a T-shirt before they got ’em on a DMV license ID card. Alon Zelico called being a rock ’n’ roll dad “surreal.” It’s been quite a ride so far.

Said Cheryl, “I think it’s a lot of talent, along with timing, connections and luck mixed together, but how young they are is a big part of the attraction.”

John Grimmett noted that JetStream has “the charm thing” going on.

“As they get older,” he said, “that’ll wear off, and it’ll come down to their songs and their music.”

The band seems eager to hold up that end of the deal. Near rehearsal’s end, Munk gave a brief critique-apology for the band’s interview performance —“We might be getting better at it, though; you should have seen us awhile back. We were quite awkward.” He smiled and shut the studio door.

It was time to jam again, don the headphones, dream big and do something out of fun and love. And isn’t that the stuff of being a teenager?
- Ventura County Star Newspaper

"JetStream Breaks the Sound Barrier"

On a hot summer evening in Calabasas, local boys, JetStream took the stage at the Sagebrush Cantina, supporting the Friends Benefit. The busy patio restaurant was filling to capacity as they loaded in. I noticed some people nearby hadn’t yet noticed the youthfulness of the players as they launched into their first song, ‘Bittersweet Illusion’, one of their originals. This song was well written with enough hooks to make it agreeable for radio airplay. It had sprinkles of Robin Trower-like guitars and the bass and drums were played solid with that kickin’ bottom end. Next was another original, ‘That’s Alright’, a basic mid-tempo power ballad with galloping guitars, like Maiden. By the end of this song, the crowd did take notice, as some epic sounding music was coming from the stage and now everyone could see that, well, this band looked really young! I could hear the buzz all around us, “How old are these guys?!”

JetStream is; Garrett Zeile on lead guitar and vocals, 15 years old. Jake Munk, guitars, back up vox, 15 years old. Keven Seven is on bass, he’s the youngest at 13 years old, and rock solid drummer, Ben Zelico on on the DW’s, also just 15 years old. The driven teens met a few years ago at the ‘Paul Green’s School of Rock, now named ‘Rock Nation’ in Agoura. They bonded while playing AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers after school, and were soon after recording their own music. Now they split their time between school work and the studio, where they’re compiling material for their debut album. They practice Monday through Friday from Noon to 6:00 PM. Their hard work is paying off. They were recently signed to RCA Records.
They rocked another original JetStream tune called ‘The Edge’. This song was laden with melodic hook. It had a slow, groovy intro matched with soulful, gritty vocals. JetStream’s music is good, funky, blues-based, in-your-face hard rock with a melodic foundation that brings it back toward the mainstream. They manage to borrow inspiration but not clichés from the blues. Watching them, you could see everyone on stage was clearly having fun. The next tune was the show-stopper that evening, Edgar’s Winter’s ‘Frankenstein’ where they sounded as seasoned as many adult tribute bands around town. Garrett the lead singer, jumped up behind Ben’s kit and they playfully pounded out the beginning of a kickass drum solo together, which Ben finished up on his own, astoundingly.

What’s amazing about seeing JetStream is you realize these kids aren’t playing Smoke On The Water or your basic AC/DC riffs. They’re playing music like RUSH’s XYZ and their own creative, listenable songs, backed with some truly classic style. They read music and they collaborate together on their writing. While instrumentally JetStream shines, vocally, they’re just a little bumpy, and understandably so, the singer’s voice is still changing! Their Dads act as their roadies and do anything needed to help out the band.

I had a chance to talk with the band at this show and I’d asked them if all their parents were all on board with the high demands and hectic schedules. They answered that they wouldn’t have a band unless everyone was involved and played a part. I told them I thought of them as ‘the opposite of the Jonas Brothers’ and they seemed to truly appreciate this. Their heroes are the likes of Bill Bruford, Alex Lifeson and Dave Grohl. This is not your average ‘boy band’. When they rehearse over at Mates Studio’s, neighboring well-known acts like Whitesnake and Papa Roach have overheard them and are now fans. Nikki Sixx is a family friend and it was actually Vinny Appice that laid me on to JetStream. Speaking with them, you get a sense of their maturity when it comes to their music, yet they are clearly very normal, well-balanced kids that play ball and video games. They happily chatted to me about some funny moments in their rehearsals and how they came up with their name by flipping through the vocabulary of a fifth grade science book.

At the Cantina that evening, they went on to play Hendrix’s ‘Fire”, where Jake laid down an intricate guitar solo. They closed it up with Freebird. A perfect ending to a great little set. It’s really great that this band of such a young age is so into playing such ageless music! You can see them at the Key Club on July 18, The Borderline Bar & Grill in T.O. on July 31st and at the Ventura County Fair on Aug 9th and 15th. Be sure to catch these prodigies soon ~ before they take over the planet!
- ALL Access Magazine

"Band 'JetStream' ready for takeoff"

JetStream, a teen rock band that has been wowing the community for about a year with original music, '70s songs and classic rock, has signed a recording contract with RCA Records.

Cheryl Zelico, the mother of the JetStream's drummer, Ben, said the contract was signed by the boys and their parents in Century City on Dec. 4.

That Thursday was a powerpacked day for the boys, most of whom aren't old enough to even drive. KTLA Channel 5 sponsored a JetStream performance at the Nokia Theatre before the RCA meeting, and after the contract was signed the boys and their families went to the Staples Center to see the band Oasis in concert.

JetStream members are Ben Zelico, Garrett Zeile, Kevin Grimmett and Jake Munk. They met at the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Agoura Hills in 2006, formed a band and have been making music together ever since. The group won several competitions and performed for an international crowd in the Global Battle of the Bands in London last year, where they won second place.

The band also has performed at The Canyon and other venues, opening for musicians such as American Idol's Bo Bice, Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame and Steve Lukather, known for his work with the rock group Toto.

At 16, Ben is the oldest of the foursome. A sophomore at Oak Park High School, Ben said he became interested in playing the drums because his uncle thought drums were "cool."

"I thought he was cool, so I decided to pick it up," Ben said.

While Ben hopes to lead the life of a rich and famous rock star some day, he doesn't expect fame and fortune to happen very quickly. Right now, he is more concerned with making up the schoolwork he missed while signing the RCA contract.

"School this year is much harder," Ben said.

Jake, a freshman at Newbury Park High School, serves as a backup singer and plays guitar.

"I'm excited," Jake said. "I was expecting this to happen because we've been talking to this record label since May and have been in negotiations."

Garrett, 15, a sophomore at Oaks Christian High School, plays guitar and is the band's lead vocalist. He and Jake write most of JetStream's songs.

"It's awesome," said Garrett about the deal with RCA. "It's really great that we were able to pick up a deal that fast. We've only been playing seriously for about a year. I'm anxious to get back in the studio and start work on the demos."

Kevin, who turned 13 on Nov. 2, is in seventh grade at A.C. Stelle Middle School in Calabasas. He plays bass guitar and also called the band's recent accomplishment "awesome," adding that he's looking forward to enjoying the experience of recording music, performing concerts and "everything."

The band's rise to fame after a year of playing together has affected their lives on and offstage.

"As a band mom, for me personally, it is an exciting time, but it comes with certain stressors," said Zelico. "I was somewhat prepared to deal with normal 15yearold issues—peer pressure, academics, raging hormones—but now I've added to the list socializing with adult rock stars, crazed groupies and an unrealistic view of reality through the crazy world of rock music."

John Grimmett, Kevin's father, is enjoying the excitement of the moment. "A major label to offer a record deal to a young band is rare," he said. "(JetStream is) making a big impact when they play to young kids and adults." The Grimmetts live in West Hills.

Todd Zeile, Garrett's father, said he and his wife first thought they were just biased about their son's talent.

"Some of the attention they've gotten, praise throughout the last year, has made us feel a little bit more realistic," Zeile said. The band's apparent appeal to audiences and people in the music industry gave the Zeiles "the chance to solidify what we had already thought."

Garrett doesn't worry too much about handling adult responsibilities. "We learn stuff," he said about going to concerts and hanging out with such bands as Motley Crue, Justin Timberlake and the Foo Fighters.

Sandy Munk, Jake's mother, is thrilled with the boys' success. "It's really amazing," she said. "Considering the average label signs maybe less than 20 acts per year, it's just very commendable."

Neither the boys nor their parents are sure how their lives will change. Home schooling might be a possibility.

As for the boys having to deal with adult issues, Munk is not concerned. "They're such great kids, and we're so much a part of their world that they're not left to their own devices. It's a great time in their lives," the mom said.

Garrett, who plays baseball for Oaks Christian, calls the experience a "dream come true."
- The Acorn


Recently signed with RCA-Songs stream on
Tracks that are streaming on the website are:
Runaway Train
Hold On
Industry of Cool
Bittersweet Illusion
On and On
Halfway to Happiness



We have only been together for about 2 years now and we have just recently signed with RCA. Here is a short break down on us..
Garrett Zeile (15) plays guitar, sings lead vocals and writes most of the music and lyrics for Jetstream. Although, he’s the son of an ex-Major League ballplayer and an Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast, Garrett has always felt a connection to music above all. It may or may not be a coincidence that he shares a birthday with his idol, Jimi Hendrix.

Kevin Seven (14) shares back-vocals while playing an energetic bass guitar. Unlike his bandmates, Kevin is a second generation rocker. His father, John Grimmett, was the bassist for 80’s hair-metal outfit, Black Bambi. In addition, long time friend, Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), is more than forthcoming with hand-me-downs to the budding Jetstream star. Outside of his musical pursuits, Kevin is something of a Renaissance Man (by California standards, at least) who enjoys surfing, motocross racing and baseball in addition to jamming with his bandmates.

Ben Zelico (15) is Jetstream’s show-stopping drummer, whose skill and showmanship have made him a fan favorite. Although he is able to play just about any song, Ben is most inspired by the less rigid music of Rush and Dream Theater, which gives him free reign to his own creative impulses. Also the resident clown, Ben is constantly coming up with unique ways to make his bandmates laugh and keep them loose. Ben endorses Zildjian Cymbals and DW Drums