Advertisement

High Life. A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Drumming Up Business : Los Alamitos Sophomore Adjusts to Being Tapped for Hard Rock Band Bad4Good

Share via
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Brooks Wackerman cut his teeth, so to speak, on the drums.

His interest in the percussion instrument was piqued by his musically adept family.

Chuck Wackerman, his father, who has mastered about every instrument, has played trumpet and drum in quartets in Las Vegas and around Orange County.

Brook’s brother, Chad, 32, used to be the drummer in the rock group Men at Work, but now joins brothers Bob, 29, who plays the bass, and John, 27, another drummer, as professional session musicians.

“When I was around 3, they used to jam,” Brooks said of his family. “I’d go on the drum set and just fiddle around. By age 7, I was serious.”

Advertisement

By the time Wackerman was 12, he wasn’t the only one taking his musical abilities seriously. Interscope Records of West Los Angeles, signed Brooks and put him together with three other young musicians to form the band Bad4Good.

The group’s manager, Marty Hom of HK Management, was pleasantly surprised by Bad4Good, which he says is “more on the cutting edge of hard rock.”

“When (HK Management) asked me to get involved with the project, and I went to see the band for the very first time, I thought that this is a gimmick--a kid’s thing, like a heavy rock New Kids on the Block,” he said.

“But what impressed me more than anything is that they’re incredible musicians, and they can really play. I know people who work so hard and so long in the business, and they don’t even have half the talent that these guys have.”

Wackerman is now a 15-year-old sophomore at Los Alamitos High School, where he is enrolled in the advanced jazz band class taught by his father.

Bad4Good’s bass player, Zack Young, 14, lives in Beverly Hills. He’s on home study so he can concentrate his energies on the band, which rehearses about four times a week in North Hollywood.

Advertisement

“It’s weird,” Young said. “It’s definitely not the normal life of a 14-year-old.”

Lead vocalist Danny Cooksey, 17, from the San Fernando Valley, noted the irony of Bad4Good performing in 18-and-over clubs, where the group’s members are forced to remain in the dressing rooms when not on stage because they’re underage.

“It’s almost like we have two kinds of crowds. One that has about 20 to 30 kids who wait outside and literally listen through the building, and the older people who are in the club,” said Cooksey, who played Sam on the TV show “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Thomas McRocklin rounds out the group. He’s a 13-year-old guitar player from Newcastle, England, who was discovered by guitar virtuoso Steven Vai.

“The most unusual aspect of touring with Bad4Good is that not only do we have four guys in the band, but we also have four parents and tutors,” Hom said. “I’ve never had to do a tour like that before, so that made it interesting.”

The commercial rock scene took Wackerman by surprise at first, but now he and his band mates are more focused on the music than anything else.

“We’re not into the ‘let’s go smoke a joint and get really drunk then puke in the morning’ lifestyle,” Wackerman said. “We’re down-to-earth guys. We’re just out there playing our instruments. Nothing flashy.”

Advertisement

The quartet has sold 150,000 copies of their debut album, “Refugee.” Bad4Good has also played the Universal Amphitheatre, opening for Joe Satriani, and accompanied the guitarist on his tour of Northern California as well as the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

The band has also been profiled on MTV, “Entertainment Tonight,” the E! cable channel and KABC Channel 7 news.

For Wackerman, the experience has been more than interesting.

“The first time we recorded in a studio, it was a whole new ballgame,” he said. “I mean, I’ve been in other bands before, but nothing as serious as this. . . . It used to be people just coming over and jamming in the garage.”

Another fun experience has been fan mail. “It’s cool,” Wackerman said. “Our fans are great.”

But fans can be a little quirky, too.

While in Eugene, Ore., during the Satriani tour, two strangers visited Bad4Good backstage and presented each member with a huge buffalo-fur hat. In Spokane, autograph-seeking girls on horseback met the guys as they came off their tour bus.

With an open date available in December, Bad4Good decided to surprise Wackerman’s classmates and play a free daytime concert at Los Alamitos High.

Advertisement

After the show, students rushed the stage, seeking autographs from the band.

“It was kind of weird,” Wackerman said. “I go to school with these people. I see them every day, and they’re all asking me for my autograph.”

Bad4Good, although presently on hiatus, is expecting to release a single in a few weeks.

“The only disadvantage to this is that I think people need to realize that they’re still kids,” Hom said of his charges. “You can’t thrust all this pressure upon 13-, 14-, 15- and 17-year-old kids. You have to let them live their childhoods . . . so to speak.”

Trisha Ginsburg is a senior at Los Alamitos High School, where she is editor of the Crusader, the student newspaper, and a regular contributor to High Life.

Advertisement