Self-made bands by Lane students rock out after school



Current members of Belmont: Amal Sheath, from left, Brian Lada, Taz Johnson, Joey Leggitino and former member Michael Torres.

By Kayla Martinez

Lane offers a variety of music classes, from Orchestra to Sound Engineering, and the diversity of musically inclined students ranges from all ages and genres.

But beyond the course curriculum and four walls of a classroom, students pursue their musical passions after the eighth period bell. A number of students at Lane have started a band of their own, beginning their journey as songwriters, producers, vocalists, and all in all, musicians.

A blend of pop punk and hardcore, Belmont is led by vocalist Taz Johnson, Div. 567, who started the band along with Amal Sheath (guitar), in April 2014, and from there made connections to the other members Brian Lada (drums) and Joey Legittino (bass). Each member attends different high schools throughout Chicago but are brought together through their musical contributions.

The name Belmont was born from the street in Chicago, which is also home to their original place of practice, Lada’s house. The band practices every week for a couple of hours. All songs are written and composed by each member of the band, working individually on acoustic, then presenting and bringing it together.

“We basically go through the song and part by part, everyone adds their part to it,” Lada said.

Belmont’s first performance took place in a friend of Sheath’s backyard, with three other bands.    Thereafter, another took place in Johnson’s very own basement, along with other well known pop punk bands. The band’s “best show yet” took place at Centennial Lanes, a bowling alley in which many different pop punk bands play.

“[The first show] was pretty bad to be honest, it wasn’t our first time playing together but it was our first show so we were getting used to things and performing live,” Johnson said.

For future plans, the continuance of Belmont all depends on the availability of each member along with their college status. Each members seeks to pursue a musical career: Johnson as a sound engineer, Lada a drummer in a band, and Sheath an “on the side-type thing,” or even create his own record label.

“If we end up staying here, we do want to continue the band. But if we move on to different states, to different colleges we probably have to call it a break or just take a little break while we’re away,” Johnson said.


Cazadores’ members are Alex Byard, from left, Jorge Calderon, Hector Velazquez, and Jose Giron.
Cazadores’ members are Alex Byard, from left, Jorge Calderon, Hector Velazquez, and Jose Giron.

   Derived from the Spanish word meaning hunters and inspired by a video game, Cazadores began when senior Hector Velazquez, Div. 556, decided that he wanted to start playing with some friends. Through casual jam sessions after school, Cazadores started off with guitarist Jose Giron, Div. 552, and bassist Jorge Calderon, Div. 575, going over to Velazquez’s home and simply playing music. Later, they asked drummer Alex Byard, Div. 554, to join them. The newfound bandmates then went on Ebay and pitched in to buy a drum set.

   Set in Byard’s basement, the band practices in a spontaneous manner, allowing the sounds to come out for themselves, adding and taking away components of each piece as it develops.

   “We’ll start with a baseline and then we’ll add a guitar part over that, and then Alex will listen to it, get a feel for it, and do some drum track,” Calderon said. “Then Hector sings and plays the guitar.”

   The Cazadores play “whatever they feel like,” not defining themselves with a specific genre. From reggae, punk, rock, psychedelic, and even hip hop beats, the band varies and allows the sounds to process in themselves. Each member holds a different taste in music, and each allows a mix within their songwriting.

   “We’re influenced by so many things we can’t really put a single genre on it,” Velazquez said.

   Relatively new, the band has not yet performed at any shows, but is working towards it by solidifying their songs.

With college coming up, the band’s future is yet to be determined, though for most members, music will continue to be part of their lives. Giron holds high aspirations for the Cazadores, in hopes to “go big” someday.

   “Honestly I think everyone has that in the back of their mind but when it comes down to it and when we’re playing, I don’t really think about the future — I just think about what I’m doing right there,” Velazquez said.

   All in all, “making it big” is not a priority for the band. Sounds and gut feelings are what leads the Cazadores into producing their music.

   “[When playing you want] that mindset that you want that music to make other people feel the way that you feel when you make it,” Byard said.