Hear That Noise? It’s Boise Noise

High school juniors begin to take the Chicago music scene by storm

At 5 p.m. on a Saturday night, while most high schoolers are gearing up for the weekend, the members of Boise Noise gather to begin rehearsal. As I sat down to begin my interview with the “boise”, a few nervous laughs were shared between the bandmates.

“Sorry,” said lead drummer Zaid Abdullah ‘18. “We’ve never done something like this before.”

This exclamation is hard to believe, coming from a group that has roughly 25,000 streams on Spotify and Soundcloud; the group has also released albums on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Bandcamp. They have performed all over the city, from the popular student-led event Teen Artist Creative Oasis (TACO) to the Hard Rock Cafe.

Even harder to believe is the fact that the band is composed of four high school juniors- lead vocalist and guitarist Kenton Kiser ‘18, lead bassist Eric Hu (a junior at Northside College Prep), lead guitarist and keyboardist Teddy Holcomb ‘18, and the newly added Abdullah.

The band began Kiser’s freshman year when he and his sister performed “as a joke” at the very first TACO event in Lincoln Park. While his sister promptly left after the initial show, Kiser continued on, slowly developing songs and eventually a passion for music. As he continued in producing songs and performing, he began collecting new members, including Gavin McAllister ‘18 as lead drummer and Hu as lead bassist. Although both came to Kiser as novices to their instruments, they were determined to work together to improve.

“That’s basically all we were doing- Gavin didn’t really know how to play drums, I didn’t really know how to play guitar, and Eric didn’t really know how to play bass, so we just kind of decided, ‘Alright, let’s learn together,’” said Kiser.

And learn they did. As they continued to play and “jam” (a word favored by the bandmates when describing their music), the more developed their sound became. As freshmen, they produced their first EP “Better Days”, launching them into the world of online streams and shares.

While their fanbase was slowly growing, the band still felt something was missing, so they brought in Holcomb sophomore year. With the new addition of a guitarist and keyboardist, the Boise were finally complete.

Last summer, the band hit the largest milestone of their career with the release of their EP “Permagrin”, which has been streamed over 3,000 times in the past two months on Soundcloud alone.

“The EP and the process of making it really cemented that this is an actual thing- that we’re not just messing around, it’s something we are actually spending a lot of time on,” said Holcomb.

What makes Boise Noise so popular- and so different from the array of high school groups on the music scene in Chicago- is that they don’t conform to the stereotypical teenage attempt at a grunge band. Instead, they describe their genre of music as a mix between “beachy rock” and “classic 80’s movie soundtrack.”

“Whenever we’re kind of jamming in the space, it’s a lot of different stuff that comes through… people say our music reminds them of nice summer days where you’re chilling on the beach, some relaxing kind of music- that’s what I hear a lot and I love that description,” said Abdullah.

That blend of sound- somewhat Rock n’ Roll, somewhat California chill- is what makes the group unique and likeable to such a broad range of listeners. Along with their dedication and determination, it’s what continues to push them closer to the spotlight.  

“They have a very interesting groove to their music. It’s very catchy, so it’s easy to listen to and get into. It’s very chill music that you can have fun with.” said Anna Gotskind ‘18, a frequent listener of Boise Noise.

The group has become so popular that they are continuously invited back to TACO events.

“Boise Noise brings in a wide array of fans and people to our events,” said Seamus Masterson ‘18, co-director of TACO. “They have a really big appeal and each year they come back to TACO they bring more collective ideas, more amazing songs, and a wider fan base that just keeps growing.”

However, their road to success has not always been smooth. Being in high school, there have been many bumps and turns over the past three years.

“Last year, when we started emailing venues about shows, we got a show at the Beat Kitchen with a band from Nashville- but it was a 21 and older show on a Wednesday night at 10 p.m. So it’s hard that none of our friends could come and see us play, which is a bummer.” said Holcomb.

According to Abdullah, this has happened more than a few times.

“We’re a high school band, so even when other, bigger bands hear our music online and hit us up saying ‘Hey, we’re coming to Chicago, come out and play this show with us,’ they soon realize that we’re all 16 and they are all 25, and the offer kind of slides off the table,” said Abdullah.

On top of shows, recording, and practicing, all four members of Boise Noise attend top-tier high schools, and have to additionally deal with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and test prep, while somehow managing to find time for a social life. While this would seem daunting to many high schoolers, the band agreed that their shared passion for the music keeps them going.

“We all love music and creating music, and so even though we have all these other priorities to take care of, once we take care of those things, the first thing we say is ‘Hey, let’s get in the studio, let’s make some more music,” said Abdullah. “Being able to really take something you’ve created and display it to the world and just see people’s faces light up when we’re playing our music, it’s just something that carries us through and shows us that ‘Look, we can make time for this.’”

In September, the band also experienced a “changing of the guards,” as Kiser put it, when making the decision to switch lead drummers from McAllister to Abdullah. While transitions like this can sometimes prove to be challenging, they think that Abdullah had been a perfect fit for the group as a whole.

As far as plans for the future, Boise Noise plans on continuing to perform and make music together for the upcoming years, and if possible, continue into college.  

As for right now, Kiser’s goal is to “build up a really big, respectable reputation in Chicago and see where it goes from there.”