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Rock band The Brevet credits Irvine schools for its success

Members of the Orange County band The Brevet didn't envision their names on music venue signs on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Instead, they wanted their music to be credited on the big screen, and that's exactly what they got.

The four-piece rock group — with members from Irvine, Costa Mesa, Westminster and Los Angeles — has had its music featured in films including "Ashby," starring Mickey Rourke, and "The Good Life," starring Reese Witherspoon.

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"We've been really fortunate," said Brevet frontman Aric Chase Damm of Irvine, who sings and writes the music.

Damm grew up with pianist Michael Jones. Both went to Irvine schools, which they credit for their love for music.

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While attending Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, the two learned how to play instruments with the help of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising organization that aids the local schools, including their music programs.

During that same time, the two would record songs — sometimes originals but mostly covers — and sell their CDs for $2 each. Their creative collaboration continued as they attended University High School and even when Damm left to study theater and performance art at the University of Nebraska.

"We were composing a lot of the scores that were in the student films that I was doing, and it kind of created this idea for cinematic music," he said. "As I was doing student films, and Mike and I were composing scores, I'd be calling other bands that we knew to license their music into these films.

"There was such a need for music in film. We developed a love for cinematic, passionate music that evokes certain emotions, like of triumph, challenge or determination."

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Eventually, Damm and Jones, who lives in Los Angeles, started to get recognized by licensing agencies. They then formed The Brevet in 2013 by tapping drummer David Aguiar of Westminster and bassist Ben Ross of Costa Mesa.

Damm said he enjoys the opportunity to be a storyteller and connect with people

One of his favorite things about writing scores for films is hearing how the directors decide to use the band's music.

"The way they used our song, 'Hazy Eyes,' in 'Ashby,' the Mickey Rourke film, it was really well done at the end of the movie," Damm said. "It's a song of determination, and the film spins it in a cool way that's different than how I interpreted."

Damm, who said he is inspired by composers like Thomas Newman, said the band members were "naive" at first because they didn't realize just how competitive the business of producing music for films was.

"There were 15 to 20 other bands who were getting in all the films," he said. "Trying to build a brand through that and get noticed through that, we've been super, super fortunate to get in a lot of films. That was our goal all along was to go that route first."

Now, the group, which has a sound reminiscent of Mumford & Sons and Coldplay, is also playing at big music festivals, like South by Southwest in Texas in March. It is scheduled to perform at the upcoming The Rock Boat festival — with artists Gavin DeGraw and Needtobreathe — in January in Miami.

And through it all, Damm still credits the Irvine Public Schools Foundation for much of the band's success.

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The Brevet, which plans to release its second album in early 2016, was presented the Rising Star award at the foundation's Spirit of Excellence gala in October by No Doubt guitarist and former Irvine resident Tom Dumont.

"Irvine Public Schools Foundation has been great for us," Damm said. "They've really built us up and made us feel like they're proud of us for what we're doing with our careers and life choices. They've given us the support that we need.

"It's tough taking this route. Especially in the licensing world, you never know if your song is going to get picked up. They've been really supportive of what we're doing and are moved by what we're doing."

Damm said school music programs help create the world's future musical stars, though everyone can benefit from such instruction.

"Putting instruments in kids' hands might make those kids have the opportunity to play music," he said. "Music is just another creative outlet. Everyone in life needs music. It's such an emotional connection that people make with music. You never know who's going to be writing the next big thing."

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