Since high school, drummer Brad Sewell’s favorite band has been Muse. “I love them more than anything,” he says. “I’ve seen them six or seven times.” But Brad had never played a Muse song in any band he’d ever been in—the music isn’t easy, and no lead singer could ever hit the vocal notes that Muse’s Matt Bellamy hits.
Brad graduated from high school and started his freshman year at Point Loma Nazarene University. One day he was walking down the hall of his dorm, and heard someone singing Muse’s “Hysteria” in his hall-mate’s room. It was Wyatt Pendleton, on acoustic guitar. Brad and Wyatt quickly realized they liked many of the same bands—not only Muse, but System of a Down, the Beatles, and My Chemical Romance. They agreed they should jam, but then they didn’t cross paths again for several months.
Towards the end of the school year, Brad went to a party, and saw not just Wyatt, but also a drum kit, guitar, and mic stand, ready and waiting. “Wanna jam?” Brad asked Wyatt. The first song they played was Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Next came “The Taste of Ink” by The Used. They played on, never having practiced a note, and with Brad a little cold from living in a dorm without his drum kit. At least thirty people told them to start a band, and after that night, they did.
Wyatt, who grew up in Santa Clarita, recruited his high school friend, lead guitarist Adam Burton, who had already gained a lot of fans with his previous band, Eternal Youth. Brad got in touch with bassist Jordan Brownlee, someone he’d known since middle school but hadn’t seen in several years. They named the band “The Savage Young” after a poster of an early Beatle’s show listing them as “The Savage Young Beatles.”
The band got serious fast, and started writing original music right away. They meet every week, despite the fact that both Wyatt and Adam live in Santa Clarita and have a long commute to San Diego. The band found success quickly—they play five or six times a month, often in Los Angeles. A year ago, they entered the Hollywood Battle of the Bands, where 100 bands compete. They made it to the finals—the top ten bands. They were backstage with friends and family, waiting for their turn and listening to another band. “These guys shred,” Brad thought. “I don’t even want to play.” But they did play six songs, ending with their biggest hit, “Mexico,” and soon they heard the announcer say their name. They’d won.
Although winning the Hollywood Battle of the Bands doesn’t guarantee instant success like it used to, it does give credibility, and the band suddenly felt a lot of pressure to take their music to the next step. They developed a “get famous” mentality, and started writing songs that were dance-y and pop-y, hoping to write popular music that would get them noticed. Not only didn’t it work, it made them all miserable. “It wasn’t the principles we founded ourselves on,” says Brad. “It put a lot of stress on all of us. After one show, Wyatt said he just couldn’t do it anymore.”
They took a step back. And that felt right again—they became the garage rock band again that they’d once been. Recently, in June, they went back in the studio and recorded a new EP with Studio West engineer and The Recording Arts Center graduate Daniel Bourget. “Daniel is more dedicated to the music than anyone I’ve ever worked with,” says Brad. “Once he recorded me for eight hours of straight drumming, for eleven songs—with only a few breaks. Studio West has the nicest facility in town. Every time I listen to our album, I miss being in Studio West, and our band recording there.”