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

(Continued from page 2)

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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.

As they practice in the basement, only Scott sings. "I only have one microphone," he says.

He's being modest -- Scott has spent several years as a member of the Boy Singers of Maine, a nonprofit boys choir that has performed around the world, including at the White House.

As the band practices, each musician throws out suggestions. Spencer asks about a bass line and plucks it out. Eamon asks if he is too loud. But mostly, they run through the six original songs that make up their entire catalog. They have a half hour to fill at MAMM Slam, so they figure they'll need all six.

That's not to say all the songs were just thrown together with nonsensical lyrics. Like all teenagers, the guys in Rupture the Fish definitely have something to say.

Consider the somber power rocker, "Bedlam," written by Eamon:

"Hear me out amidst the din/ Find your power trapped within/ They'll hide the thoughts of you alone/ The time for patience has gone."


When the big day of the MAMM Slam finals arrives, Scott has a 90-minute Boy Singers of Maine rehearsal that morning. He arrives at Asylum before noon and greets his bandmates holding a garbage bag full of balloons.

"I made some blue fins (from paper), and we can stick them to the balloons and have people pop them," he says.

Marketing and promotion are among the things the bands in MAMM Slam are judged on, so the band's idea is to create fan involvement on stage by tossing balloon fish into the crowd and telling people to "rupture the fish."

Sunlight streams into Asylum as the band members bring in their instruments. Spencer's mother, Terrie Tilton, sets up a table to sell "Rupture the Fish" T-shirts and wristbands.

While the first act plays, Rupture the Fish joins the crowd to watch. At one point, Scott's mother walks around to ask which of the band members and their friends want sodas. She counts a dozen or so with waves of her hand, then goes into the adjacent sports bar to get the drinks.

A few minutes before going on, the guys are in the back, holding their instruments. Their MAMM "ensemble" teacher, Kelly Bryand, comes over to offer words of encouragement.

Herb Ivy -- known as "The Captain" when he hosts the morning show on WBLM radio -- introduces Rupture the Fish, and they take the stage. Scott yells something that sounds a little like "1,2,3,4!" and they launch into their set with "Lighter Fluid and Denture Cream." After the song, Scott explains that the lyrics are about "senior citizens who like to burn things," and laughs a little.

He then explains that the next song, which he wrote, was based on an Ayn Rand novella, "Anthem":

"All men are created equal/ Mankind is very gray/ We together act as one; we are strangely different/ Get beaten more than most/ Seems like we're alone among the rest."

Ben's brother Connor sets himself up as close to the stage as possible, with arms and chin actually on it, and stays there for the entire 30-minute set.

At one point, the band starts a song slowly before Scott abruptly breaks it off.

"Just kidding. OK, everybody laugh so it's not awkward," he says of the miscue.

Through much of the show, Scott's dad, Matt, watches with arms folded and a big smile on is face. He's a rock fan -- a Green Day fan -- but he's also a radiologist. So as the band plays, both he and his wife wear special earplugs that are designed to protect their hearing while letting Rupture the Fish's rock filter through. 

(Continued on page 4)

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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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