Miami Music Festival Preview: Q&A With Mindwalk Blvd.



You've probably never heard of of the Massachusetts trio Mindwalk Blvd. But, if like the rest of the world, you spend way too much of your cubicle time over at YouTube, you may have already seen one third of the band. Three years ago, the mother of drummer Tyler Hudson uploaded a montage of old home movies, showing him drumming from age two (really!) on up to 11. The video is amazing stuff -- while little Tyler can barely hold the sticks at age two, by about age nine he's progressed to jamming with bar bands four times his age, with a Neal Peart-size kit.

That video's now gotten over 1.5 million views, and has attracted plenty of attention to Tyler's band. He's now 15, but he's not the only preternaturally gifted musician in Mindwalk Blvd.  Bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Mike Avakian, now 18 years old, started playing at age six, was on TV by age 10, and was taking classes at Berklee College of music by age 14. Guitarist/vocalist Jordan Ferreira, also 18, got his start gigging with his pop singer dad, even touring Europe as a kid.

Together, all three create super-tight, mature compositions that really hinge on the players' superior technical ability. Their early material -- written when they were, oh, 11 to 14 years old -- bears an undeniable prog-rock stamp full of three-part harmonies and epic passages. But lately, the songs are getting both more succinct, and heavier. Avakian, for instance, now name-checks bands like Between the Buried and Me and the Dillinger Escape Plan as new influences.

The band plays this Saturday, as part of the Miami Music Festival, at 10 p.m. at Tobacco Road. Admission to the individual showcase is $10, or you can buy a three-day wristband for $50 ($35 for students), or a one-day wristband for $25 ($20 for students). Visit miamimusicfestival.org for more details.

Follow the jump to read a Q&A with the band.

New Times: You all have each been playing music for a long time, but how and when did you actually start this band?
 
Jordan: We've been playing together four years now, I think. We met through my dad's drummer, who was playing at a club that Tyler's parents were at. They all just met up after the show and started talking. A couple months later, we all met. My dad is Jorge Ferrerira, and he's a singer from Europe and he's a pop kind of singer.

Do the rest of you also have musical parents?
 
Mike: None of my paretns are musically inclined, they don't really play anything.
 
Tyler: My dad is a guitarist.
 
Mike: I have been playing since I was five or six. My dad got me guitar lessons, with a really, really good teacher. Then later I picked up bass because these guys needed a bass player. Me and Tyler met before we met Jordan; we had a band where I played guitar. But Jordan is good, so I figured I would learn bass for this.

So, Tyler, if you're 15 now, and you've had Mindwalk Blvd. since you were 11, if you had a band before that with Mike, you must have been -- 
 
Tyler: -- Nine.

Did you guys play out anywhere?

Tyler: A couple places, like kind of crappy little bars and birthday parties. Pretty much the same thing we're doing now. But I started playing drums when I was two, and switched to a  full-size set when I was three.

Mike, you also play keyboards in this band. When did you pick that up?
 
Mike: I kind of picked up keyboards long with bass, but I've always kind of fooled around with the keyboard. I didn't take any lessons, it wasn't too hard to pick up. I had a few people showing me stuff here and there, a couple friends.
 
How do you all balance the band and school? How often do you practice?
 
Jordan: We rehearse every weekend, and then a couple days before gigs, we'll rehearse. That's pretty much it. During the week we might send each other stuff.
 
How did you all get into the prog rock sound? Was it through your parents?

Mike: Actually, Tyler kind of got me into the prog rock bands.
 
Jordan: For me it goes back to my dad's band, when I was playing with him. He had a bunch of CDs, and we had a huge collection. He made a copy of a bunch, and it was all that kind of stuff, Yes and Boston and and all that. When I heard that stuff for the first time, I knew I really liked it, and the sound of the band we have now just kind of fell into place.

What do your friends think of you guys playing that sound?
 
Mike: We don't really play that as much any more. It's still influential to us, though. A lot of my friends thoguht it was pretty cool because they were into Dream Theater and Rush and stuff.
 
Tyler: A lot of my friends thought we were just messing up instead of playing something else.
 
Mike: These days we're actually into heavier kind of stuff, like Between the Buried and Me, and the Dillinger Escape Plan, and the Devil Wears Prada. That's getting me more than anything else. My friend's father is a really good classical guitarist, and he got me into stuff like Mike Patton and Faith No More, and Dillinger was one of his favorite bands. He showed me all their music, and I started to love that music.
 
How do you think that heavier influence translates to your band's new material?
 
Mike: I don't know if it really translates or not. Some of the sections may be more technical.
 
Tell me about your label deal with Pick the Band. Are you working on a full-length for them?
 
Jordan: We signed on with Pick the Band after we entered a the contest with them, which was a drawn-out kind of voting thing. A bunch of bands from Boston signed up, and we ended up getting the most votes, I guess, and winning. We did three songs with a producer who's worked on City of Evil from Avenged Sevenfold. We're talking right now about doing a full length, and doing demos and stuff. So hopefully we can go in the studio in maybe three or four months.
 
So what's the top reason people should come see your showcase at the Miami Music Festival?
 
Mike: We're high-energy. Our live shows are fun. It's cool to see us pull off the stuff we do in the studio, live.
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