May 5, 2013

Living a rock 'n' roll dream

The local band Rupture the Fish performs for cash and prizes in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Inside the Asylum nightclub, blue and green lights flash while a band called Rupture the Fish shakes the walls with fast, punky rock music that sounds like it might make good accompaniment for bouncing on a pogo stick. "When the sun goes down/ Senior riot on the town/ We're gonna burn this sucker to the ground," the lead singer screams, his words racing out of his mouth.

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The band Rupture the Fish performs in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition at the Asylum in Portland. From left are Spencer Teachout, bass; Ben Nason, drums; Eamon Kelley, guitar; and Scott Ralston, guitar and lead vocals.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Members of the band Rupture the Fish listen to the announcements of the winners. At left is Scott Ralston, who won "best guitarist."

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


The finals of the MAMM Slam, a competition of teenage rock bands hosted by the Maine Academy of Modern Music, were held on April 27. This is the story of one band’s journey from a fledgling group to finalists in that competition.

In the middle of the dance floor, Joanne Nason of Scarborough steps lightly and swings her arms. A few feet away, Lorraine Jones of Saco sways a bit more gently. Both are there to shout and clap and cheer for Rupture the Fish's clean-cut drummer.


No. Grannies.

"I'm his maternal grandmother," says Jones, referring to the drummer, 16-year-old Ben Nason of Biddeford. "And I'm definitely nervous." (Joanne Nason is his paternal grandmother.)

After playing their half-hour set -- and the only six songs they know together as a band -- the four teenagers in Rupture the Fish get ready for a three-hour wait. They now have to sit back and watch their competitors in the final round of a statewide teen band competition called MAMM Slam, named for the Maine Academy of Modern Music in Portland.

At stake are these kids' rock 'n' roll dreams and the stuff that can make them real. Specifically, the prizes being offered in the MAMM Slam contest include $1,000 cash, a weekend of studio recording time, marketing and graphic design consultations, and help in getting gigs, radio airplay and TV appearances.

Being in a rock band has been a rite of passage for generations of music-loving teenagers, but it's a world few beyond them and their families get to see close up. Kids around the world get inspired by their musical heroes and try to sound like them, to find the same passion. Many dream of rock stardom, but most will find less glamorous pursuits, ranging from college to jobs to having children.

But for at least this one Saturday in April, the guys in Rupture the Fish -- and all the other bands that shared the stage with them -- are rock stars.

Teen rock bands of the past were often relegated to garages and basements out of earshot of parents. But for the four-year-old MAMM Slam competition -- a teen rock fest turned into a family-friendly spectator sport -- the guys in Rupture the Fish not only brought their instruments, they brought uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, little sisters and kid brothers. Add friends, and the band easily has 50 people in its corner.

Six bands are scheduled to compete, and all bring family and friends.

The members of Rupture the Fish and their family entourages arrive before noon, with some family members driving up from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. And they don't leave until the winners are announced around 4:30 p.m.

At one point, the four members of the band are hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the club with Ben's 8-year-old brother, Connor.

"I'm in the band, too," he says matter-of-factly. When asked what he does in the band, Connor says quickly, "I'm the brother."

Scott Ralston, 16, the band's lead vocalist and one of two guitarists, tells his bandmates he could see a future in rock for Connor.

"I can definitely see Connor doing some thrash metal," he says.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Ben Nason, on drums, and guitarist Eamon Kelley perform with the band Rupture the Fish in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition at the Asylum in Portland.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Ralston belts out an original tune in the MAMM Slam teen band competition.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Scott Ralston in rehearsal.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Eamon Kelley in rehearsal

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


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