It’s not unusual to hear a rock band playing covers of classic sixties, seventies and eighties songs. The difference between “The Heist,” who played at the Sunland/Tujunga Watermelon Festival on August 16, and other classic cover bands is the age of the musicians. You might expect band members in their forties or fifties, perhaps with pot bellies and graying hair cranking out the tunes. Not so with “The Heist,” whose name originated because they “steal” songs. They’re all twentysomethings.
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“Our music appeals to the older generation. They enjoy seeing young kids playing what they grew up on.the younger kids dig it too,” said guitarist Brendan McGrath. Tunes range from The Doors and Led Zeppelin to The Eagles and Tom Petty.
The band consists of Chris Schellenbach, 22, vocals, his brother Mark Schellenbach, 24, drums, Brendan McGrath, 24, guitar, Billy Ryder, 25, bass and Jessica Paulsson (from Sweden), 27, keyboards and percussion.
Four out of five members of the band attended GCC at one time or another. Ryder was there from 2002 until 2004 before switching to College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, where he acquired an associates degree in administration of justice and his general education certificate. He’s currently taking some of his lower division classes towards his bachelor’s in business marketing, which he plans to eventually complete at CSUN.
Mark Schellenbach has been going to Glendale on and off since 2002. At one point he was taking classes at Las Positas Community College up in the Bay Area while living with his band, but moved down after two years to resume at GCC. Mark graduated with his general education certificate last spring and will be starting his junior year this semester at Loyola Marymount University studying business and entrepreneurship.
The other Schellenbach, Chris, has been attending our college since 2004 and is preparing to transfer with the intention of majoring in film at UCLA.
Paulsson attended Glendale from 2004-2006. She moved from Sweden to the United States in 2004. While at GCC she met Mark and they have been dating for almost four years. She transferred to CSLB in 2007 and will get her bachelor’s degree in film and electronic arts this fall.
McGrath, the only non-Glendale student, started his college education at CSUN in 2001 as a music major but decided to pursue work and music full time. He’s played in various bands for years and even played on a European tour with former members of Jethro Tull.
What binds them together, other than they all went to high school together, (except for Paulsson), is their love for classic rock. They play songs in a unique way. According to McGrath they, “try to play them in a way that is researched; how the band played it live, or, we try to make it the way we imagine the band played it live. The songs are constructed for a live audience.”
The crowd at the Watermelon Festival sure was alive and the band is creating quite a buzz, recently appearing on the KTLA channel 5 morning news show.
If you’d like to rock out to the oldies in a new way, check these guys out. Their next gig is on Sept. 20 (Brendan’s birthday) at Leo’s All-Star Bar and Grill, 2941 Honolulu Ave., La Cresenta, free admission.
For more information visit: www.myspace.com/HeistMusic