The sound of the crowd echoed backstage and tension was high as junior Lila Barnes and her bandmates prepared for their performance. After months of preparation and practice, the four members of The Unknown were ready to show off their skills. Many young musicians dream of being in a rock band. For four PHS students, the dream became a reality. 

The band was created based on a combined interest in music, through a program that supports young artists and helps them to better their musical abilities. 

“We were all taking music lessons through LaunchPad, and because of this, our instructors suggested that we join their rock band program,” said Barnes. “They organize our gigs, give us recording time, help us learn our songs, give us weekly practice time together and even give us opportunities to record our covers.”

When it comes to the genre that the band plays, Barnes explained that they tend to stay in the rock genre because that allows them to fit in all the instruments each band member plays: Junior Anna Harris and sophomore Robert May play the guitar, sophomore Stella Mitford plays the drums and senior Dan Brown plays the bass guitar. As for Barnes, she is the main vocalist of the group. “The only instrument I can personally play is the violin,” said Barnes. “In the band, however, I am the vocalist on many of our covers.”

An important aspect of Barnes’ music is the inspiration she gets from her favorite artists. “The artists I enjoy, like Ethel Cain and PJ Harvey, inspire me the most to do music. Their ability to hide meanings within song lyrics, challenge themselves with uncommon music elements and connect with people using music inspires me to do the same,” explained Barnes. “Every time I am tired of practicing or question if it is worth it, the thought of my favorite artists and their music changes my mind.” 

Because the band was created by LaunchPad, all of its gigs are organized through the program. “They [LaunchPad] contact venues, and then set up all the details needed for a performance,” said Barnes. “All we have to do, as the band, is to show up, do our sound checks and get our set list organized. Once that is finished and the gig time comes, we perform our set.” 

When it comes to the setting of the performance, Barnes explained that she had no preference. “I really don’t have any aspirations when it comes to who I perform for or where we do it, as long as we have fun. I just love playing music and I don’t care where we do it, as long as it’s safe, so that’s why I don’t have any preferences.” Despite all the gigs and performances the band got to do, Barnes’ favorite memories come from another source.

“Some of my favorite memories, surprisingly, have come from our band practices and not gigs. While I do love our gigs, especially when they’re for very cool events, I like our practices more,” said Barnes. “My favorite memories are when we get to just sit in the practice room, eat snacks Anna made and just talk.”

Although each member of the band has their own future plans, Barnes hopes to stay in touch with each member and to reunite once in a while. “It might sound weird and mushy, but the people I get to play music with are super cool. I am honored to get to do covers and hang out with them, even if it’s just an hour each week,” said Barnes. “We all have our own plans after high school, but I hope we still at least stay in contact or meet up when we visit home.”

Story by Tiba Altower