Beyond playing in the family garage and or playing at school, it can be hard for high school bands to find a foothold in the music world. The indie band Student Health are on that quest to get their music heard by a broader audience.
The quartet met at New Horizon Church and after a few jam sessions decided they should get serious. And their first step was not a house party or a low profile event. They decided to enter the IB Battle of the Bands hosted by Cedar Ridge High School. This was nothing like playing at church.
After performing four original songs and a cover by Keane, Student Health won second place. Not bad considering it was their first performance as a group. The next year, they would go on to win the competition. Since then, Student Health is on a mission to garner respect as young artists and to encourage other musicians their age. They talk about the challenge of dealing with venues that tell them they are too young, and bullying from older bands. Student Health drummer CJ Sierra is co-founder of 85 Split, a record label being developed for young local musicians.
Student Health will join guest host Anita Rao to talk about their debut self-titled EP, recent tour and the ups and downs of being a teenage band. Student Health will perform at the Pinhook in Durham on July 25 at 7 p.m.
CJ Sierra on getting serious about Student Health:
[At first the band] was pretty casual … We played Battle of the Bands, won second place. When we realized what we had, that’s when we were like: Let’s do this! … At the time of the battle of the bands, we had time to play four songs and the four songs that we played were all the songs we had total, so a little after that we just started writing, writing and writing and now we have a hefty bunch of songs under our belt.
Jake on Student Health's 2018 set for IB Battle of the Bands:
We get on stage, set everything up. I was really nervous. Personally, my hands were very sweaty. I took precautions to tape extra guitar picks to the headstock of my guitar just because of how sweaty my hands were. I was like: I’m going to drop these. This is not going to go well … We didn’t know how it was going to turn out. We didn’t know how people were going to react 'cause it was our first time playing for a crowd.
CJ Sierra on the impetus to launch 85 Split:
85 Split is a local record label specializing in helping younger bands get kind of a head start in the industry ... Starting out for Student Health it was really hard to get a foot in the door … Being where we are now, it's really opened my eyes that a lot of these younger bands are being pushed around and left in the dust 'cause they just can’t get a foot in the door.