After interviewing so many mangy, foul-mouthed, hard-living road warriors as a music journalist, it’s kind of a shock to interview a rock band in a room with one of their moms.
The members of Cubed are all 12 and started playing together when they were even younger. When their faces show up on Skype for our interview, they look like a mini version of a classic rock band, especially with keyboardist Nataan Hong’s long hair. Each has a distinct personality, and were they 10 years older and 10,000 times more popular, they might incite fans to squabble over their favorite.
All four are Jewish and attend Brandeis Marin in San Rafael. If their win at the Oshman Family JCC’s Battle of the Bands in February doesn’t take them to the next stage of local stardom, the $700 they received as a prize just might.
But despite sharing a love of Queen (they’ve all seen “Bohemian Rhapsody”), don’t expect them to blow that money on harps or orchestras or expensive overdubs. Their concerns are more practical: “If Ezra needs a new snare or if we need a smaller keyboard or a new bass or whatever, we’ll use that [money],” says Hong.
Hong, guitarist Harrison Saltzman and drummer Ezra Rosen first started playing together in fall 2017 at a band camp run by Fairfax musician Sonny Walker out of a local variety store and kid hangout, Revolution 9. They gigged around open mics in the North Bay for some time, eventually expanding their repertoire of strictly classic rock covers to include originals. Shortly after performing “Take It to 11,” their original tribute to the film “This Is Spinal Tap,” they added bassist and lead vocalist Claire Banks and solidified their current lineup.
They’ve recorded three of their songs: “Take It to 11,” “Coming Into View” and “Perfect.” Their songs don’t drift terribly far outside of their sphere of influences: All are classic rock fans, although Rosen listens to “lyrical rap” sometimes, and Banks and Hong are both fans of classical music.
The most exciting thing about talking to Cubed is seeing the immense amount of potential in a group this young. I myself participated in rock camps as a kid, and I recall one fellow camper going on to become an avant-garde classical composer and another becoming a techno DJ. Who knows what these kids will make if they start listening to Megadeth? Or Miles Davis? Or Missy Elliott? Or the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir?
In five or even 10 years they’ll still be young for a rock ’n’ roll band, and who knows what will happen in the time between? Will they hang up their instruments? Break up and form new bands? Or will the four of them keep soldiering on? Will they languish in local-show doldrums, or find the same superstardom as their stadium-slaying heroes?
I asked them where they think they’ll be in five years. The young musicians are mostly pragmatic. “We just wanna build more originals, get more gigs, get more money, do more in the world,” says Rosen. They’ve played at Sweetwater in Mill Valley, Hotel Utah in San Francisco and other venues. “I see us playing a lot more originals, playing more gigs,” says Harrison.
But Banks has a different view: “I see us on a really big stage with thousands of people looking over at us and thinking, ‘Oh my god, we’ve actually done it!”