While most moms’ vehicles are crammed with coolers and sporting equipment during the summer, Kelly Stedman’s and Erica Krusen’s will be weighed down with amplifiers and drum cases. Their sons, 12-year-old guitarist Teagan Stedman and 13-year-old drummer Jagger Krusen, will be performing at the Vans Warped Tour for all five California dates.
If you’re thinking stage mothers and sugary pop harmonies, think again; the four-piece band from Thousand Oaks — also featuring 14-year-old Alex Arnaout on bass and 13-year-old Paige Augusta on vocals — knows its rock ’n’ roll, and even though Jagger’s parents help with some booking and web content (Erica works for MusiCares and her husband, Dave, Pearl Jam’s original drummer, is a respected session player), none of the parents pushed their kids into music.
“We don’t have a manager,” says Teagan. “We write all our own songs and do everything ourselves, other than recording. We have some help from our parents getting gigs and stuff, but this is all just basically us.” They may keep busy with songwriting and performing (including performances at Sunset Sessions, the Roxy and House of Blues) but school remains a priority.
“We’re being careful not to overbook them,” says Jagger’s mom, Erica Krusen. “It’s about fun; have fun and grow and develop.” The kids write all their material and, according to Kelly Stedman, the parents stay out of rehearsals.
The band’s current lineup, which has been in place for a year, was solidified when Teagan witnessed Jagger’s drumming prowess and was verily wowed. Growing up with a famous drummer for a dad certainly hasn’t hurt. Jagger, who’s been twirling drumsticks since he was a toddler, has spent much of his life in the company of great musicians and observing the recording process. By all accounts the chemistry between the kids is undeniable, yet music is not the only thing they’re shredding at. When he was only 9 years old, Teagan started a nonprofit organization called Shred Kids’ Cancer after learning that a friend was battling the disease. His parents helped establish 5013C status, and to date it’s raised approximately $50,000 and attracted celebrities such as Slash and Jack Osbourne with the premise being that kids get to help other kids. Kids even sit on the board of directors. Besides its annual fundraising events such as Shredfest (a battle of the bands) and Rock the Run (a 5K race), Shred Kids’ Cancer will have a tent in Warped Tour’s nonprofit village this year.
Though the band members are young (and they definitely look it), they are by no means a novelty act. Last year, when they played the Warped local stage after winning the Ernie Ball contest, it wasn’t their prepubescent faces that attracted Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman as much as their presence — and of course their innate ability to rock, so he doubled up by giving them a gig and space for their cause. “There have been younger bands who have played Warped,” Lyman told VCReporter, “however, few, if any, have shown such musical maturity at this point.”
Slatr will perform at Warped Tour on Sunday, June 24, at Ventura County Fairgrounds. (Time slots are not announced until the morning of the event.) For more information about the band and Vans Warped Tour, visit www.slatr.org and www.vanswarpedtour.com. To learn about Shred Kids’ Cancer, visit www.shredkidscancer.org. Read this story online to view a video of Slatr.