Being a boy band with a first release on iTunes is heady stuff.
But, Heroes for Hire is getting used to the attention, playing their brand of edgy, alternative rock at venues such as Skipper’s Smokehouse, New World Brewery and Buckets.
Louis Mittens, 15; Ben Hense, 13; Ryan Romero, 15; Corey Fox, 15; and, Josh Morin, 14, came together as a band at Jim Chambers Music Box.
Chambers is the maestro who orchestrates and fine tunes young musicians at his “school of rock” in Carrollwood. He puts bands together with that right mix of personal chemistry and musical chops.
“In six weeks, they’re expected to play a show,” Chambers said.
Heroes for Hire started playing gigs more than a year ago.
On Feb. 4, the band had a release party for its first iTunes’ song, “The Wanted One,” at The Orpheum in Ybor City.
Romero is the group’s songwriter. He also came up with the band’s name which salutes the military.
“You think of soldiers. They’re always heroes,” said Romero.
He started writing songs in seventh grade. “I like emotional topics that have a moral meaning, that are inspirational.”
Some band members knew one another before coming to “the box,” but mostly they’ve become fast friends because of the music. They attend Blake High School, Buchanan Middle School and Gaither High School, and live in Carrollwood and Lutz.
Fox’s mother started him on bass guitar when he was age 10.
“I was super into it,” he said, adding that a long career in music “would be a dream.”
Chambers knows how those dreams can sometimes happen.
He is a former music executive who earned Grammy awards with Maroon 5 and Loudon Wainwright III.
Chambers got his start in the mailroom at Sky Records, which was co-owned by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Ray got him a job promotion after a chatty encounter one day at work.
In a podcast interview with Cigar City Radio First, Chambers recalled Ray asking afterward, “Who’s that kid in the mailroom who won’t shut up? Put him on the phones.”
From there, marketing and promotion became his way up the music industry ladder.
In nearly three decades, Chambers built a long resume. His jobs included merchandise representative for Sony Records in Miami and national sales representative for a division of Sire Records in New York.
Along the way, he watched Maroon 5 break into the outer stratosphere of the music world.
The economic crash in 2009 cost him his job. He flirted with moving to Belize, but ended up back home in Carrollwood, with his parents.
He taught drum lessons for awhile. Then, he ran a home-based music academy, until the homeowner’s association objected.
In July 2015, he opened Jim Chambers Music Box in a small shopping plaza, at 4312 Gunn Highway. Creative Loafing magazine recognized his school as “Best of the Bay” band incubator.
His band protégés include the all-girl band, Extra Celestial, and Inkblot.
Musical influences on Heroes for Hire are the Foo Fighters, Jack White and Jimi Hendrix.
Morin admires instrumental rock guitarist Joe Satriana. “He lets the guitar be his melody,” he said.
Rehearsals at Chamber’s studio are free-wheeling, get-it-on rock shows. But, live performances are the best.
“This is a way of getting feedback,” said Hense, who plays the drums.
It also builds a fan base that gets to know their music.
Mittens thinks he’s found his niche.
“Pretty much all I want to do is play guitar, in and out of school,” he said.
Published February 22, 2017