WHS musicians create unique rock band

ATLAS, a band formed by WHS musicians, features (left to right): Alex Ikezawa, Ryan Zubricky, Taeho Kim, Nate Hofford, Jack Routhier

Most teenagers love sleeping in on school “snow days.” Five sophomores in Westlake, however, saw them as opportunities to expand their musical horizons, by forming a unique rock band – ATLAS. Their passion for playing music, at a time when school music programs face downsizing, is inspiring.

“At school one day, we joked about forming a band," Jack Routhier said. "We looked around and realized that the five of us could play about eight instruments. Our parents laughed when we first got together, because of the weird mix. We had a drummer [Nate Hofford], a pianist/trumpeter/ukulele dabbler [Jack], an acoustic/electric guitarist and alto/tenor saxophonist [Ryan Zubricky], and two violinists [Taeho Kim and Alex Ikezawa].”

By the end of the first day, they had a decent cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Then came the task of naming the band. 

“We tried to put our first initials together, like ABBA from the '70s, but you just can’t make a word out of N, J, R, T, and A! It’s a Scrabble player’s nightmare.” said Jack. “One of my friends noticed a street sign on my bedroom wall, ‘Knucklehead Drive,’ but that name only lasted a week. Then I came up with ‘ATLAS.’ Five letters. Five members. Atlas held up the world. An atlas represents the world. We hope to conquer the world. [Laughs.] The name stuck."

Koji Matsumoto, a talented music producer and friend of the Ikezawa family has been patiently filming and recording their sessions, later finishing them for YouTube (youtube.com/user/atlasmusic05). Currently, their Adele cover has over 850 views from people all over the world. They are also on Facebook (facebook.com/ATLASmusic05) and Twitter (twitter.com/atlasmusic05), and worth the listen.

ATLAS members vote on which songs to choose and then put their own personal spin on them to suit to the instruments they play. The writing is done on the computer enabling members to email the sheet music back and forth for fine tuning.

Few Ohioans embraced this year’s winter weather, but ATLAS took full advantage, cranking out one song after another. This was important given just how busy these five boys are taking honors and AP classes, music lessons, volunteering at a local hospital and Youth Challenge, and being members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Contemporary Youth Orchestra, WHS’s Science Olympiad team, and Boy Scouts.

Their first live "gig" was as the opening act of Westlake’s annual Green and White Revue talent show. Their second was a recent St. Ladislas' Lenten fish fry. They are up to about 10 covers of popular songs and a “jam” of Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music” from the '70s. 

ATLAS is always seeking opportunities to perform and gather support. The band’s next live performance will be at Westlake’s “Music a la Mode” on May 10 at Westlake High School. Come and check them out. They’ll leave you “Happy” with their “Secrets” and “Demons” as they demonstrate “How to Save a Life” – just a few of the songs they cover.  

You can also witness Ryan perform in the high school’s jazz band, Taeho and Alex perform in the school orchestra, and Jack, Ryan and Nate perform in the Symphonic and Concert bands throughout the day.

Judith Routhier

Girl Scout leader of 11 years.

Read More on Arts & Entertainment
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 9:55 AM, 04.29.2014