Hear the Future of Austin's Music Scene

Natural Ear Music School showcases homegrown talent, including Room 24

Room 24

Room 24: Connor Hays, Andy Cooper, Michael Cooper

Who knows what the future of music in Austin will be? Natural Ear Music School has a good idea. The school’s students--kids and teens—learn to play guitar-driven rock by ear and fine-tune their songwriting and performing skills. At Natural Ear’s upcoming showcases at One-2-One Bar, you can see the future now—and it rocks.

Natural Ear was founded by Michele “Mike” Murphy in 1991 and is now owned by bassist John Moyer of Adrenaline Mob and Disturbed. Its career-musician teachers work with their charges on the finer points of not only music but working together as a band, managing rehearsal time, playing gigs and, yes, dealing with the press.

To that end, recently sat down at the school with teen band Room 24 for a chat about their music, their next gigs, and plans to get into the recording studio. Natural Ear teacher and Room 24 mentor Jacob Gonzales, who works with the group and four other teen bands at the school, was on hand to oversee their first interview. As a writer who’s known two of Room 24’s members for years, I was eager to hear firsthand how their musical education is coming along.

Drummer and lead singer Michael Cooper, age 12; his lead-guitarist brother Andy, who’s 14; and 14-year old bass player Conner Hays were happy to talk about their musical heroes, songwriting process, and recording plans—they’ll be in the studio by January to record several original songs.

Michael gives the school’s camp program credit for bringing the group together a little more than a year ago.

“We were all part of a summer camp together,” he said. “And we decided to go year round.”

The boys share a love of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin as well as later acts such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus. But they’re also influenced by their mentors and Austin bands.

“John Moyer’s work with Soak, Spritely Moans, and,” Andy said, with a nod to his mentor, “Jacob Gonzales.”

And while Room 24 does love (and cover) the classics, each member writes songs for the band. Conner is “the lyrics guy,” according to Andy and Michael.

“Yeah,” Conner said. “I come in with pages of lyrics.”

There was a lot of joking around among the three, but when it was time to play a mini-set, Room 24 was all business. “27,” written by Andy, delivered grungy sound—introspective vocals and a roaring guitar chorus. The group’s faithful cover of “Voodoo Child” showed off their skills and how well they work together. Listening to them, it was easy to forget how young they are, and easy to see what the future of rock in Austin may hold.

Room 24 and other student bands from Natural Ear play the school’s next all-ages showcases at One-2-One, November 16th and December 14th. Room 24 also plays at the Red-Eyed Fly November 26.


Tags: Room 24, Natural Ear Music School

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