Back in the fall of 2008 a trio of Connecticut high school students first garnered attention with a YouTube clip of their take on Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself.” Ever since then, the unamed band, which has come to be known as The McLovins (after Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character in the film, Superbad ), has been impressing concert goers across the northeast both with their covers and with their original material. While some of the press has focused a good deal on their age, with a technical proficiency that’s above the level of many peers, with time, once you’ve let the reality of their talent set in, their music becomes rightfully becomes the focus. Their performance at Maine’s Nateva Music & Camping Festival ranked among the best sets of the weekend and with a set at Gathering Of The Vibes ahead of them, Jambands.com got in touch with drummer/lead vocalist Jake Huffman to get the good word on their experience as rising stars on the circuit, their relationship with Jamband icons, and how they plan to move forward once they graduate from high school.
Andrew Bruss: When did you guys start jamming together?
Jake Huffman: It was the summer of 2008. I met [bassist/vocalist] Jason [Ott] at a Jazz camp a week before I met [guitarist] Jeffery [Howard] at a rock camp. I invited them over because I admired their musicianship and just wanted to jam with them, and when we started playing we just had a great connection.
AB: So you guys have classical training?
JH: I’ve been playing drums for 8 years. Part of that time I was trained classically at the Hartt School of Music with some different teachers and now I’m at a half-day jazz/art school. Jason has been playing bass for four years but has been playing classical piano in competitions for a long time now… since he was really little. Jeffery’s been playing guitar now for six years.
AB: You guys are still in high school but have accomplished much more than you’re average high school band. You’ve clearly graduated from playing school dances and shows at a VFW or a church basement. Does the group consider itself a high school band? How do you guys assess your stature?
JH: We are not a high school band and we try to stay away from being called a kid band. We’re young but we’re a real band. We make music we love, and people seem to really like it so we consider ourselves a real band. Whatever level of stature people think of the group as having is where we are.
AB: When you read articles about The McLovins do you think the press focuses too much on your age?
JH: People do focus on our age just because if you’re new to us it’s the first thing you’ll notice. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But when people come to more and more shows, you realize it doesn’t have anything to do with our age. If anything [our age] helps us because we’re open to more ideas and we grow. We’re still growing so our music grows as well. People like to see that transition. It’s different because we’re not grown up. We’re not a kid band, but people see us progressing and growing and I think people like that a lot.
AB: I’m sure a lot of your friends are gearing up for the SAT’s and getting into the college hunt. Are the three of you considering going to different colleges and having to do the group part time after high school or are you going to hit the road full time after you get that degree?
JH: Jeffrey is two years behind us in school, but Jason and I will be seniors next year, and Jeffery will be a sophomore this fall. Jason and I are going to go to local colleges. Whether it’s the same school or not doesn’t matter because we are going to keep the band together. It’s a very important priority to us. It won’t be “part time” but it will be a big part of it. We’re both looking at music degrees so it will help us out.
AB: You guys got a lot of attention when you made a YouTube clip of the group covering Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself.” When you look at that group’s history, and a lot of the well known excess of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, were your parents every worried about the potential trappings of stardom having a negative influence on the three of you?
JH: Every once in a while we talk about it, but as of now we don’t have to worry because we are younger. But we’re not at all going down that path. We have straight heads about us, and we’re not really into drugs or anything. We’re all clean. So I don’t think our parents are worried because they know us, and people who know us know that we’re goofy kids.
AB: Have you played enough shows to get a real feel for who the average McLovins fan is?
JH: The average McLovins fan really varies. We have a lot of college kids, so fans are anywhere from 19-40 years old.