Youth Radio: Aero Marquez
Each Wednesday in June we will be featuring the voices and perspectives of inner-city teens attending Arrupe Jesuit Academy in Denver.
Our youth radio project is part of collaboration with the Denver non-profit Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. The goal is to teach teens how to become better writers and speakers. Today we hear from Aero Marquez.
I am part of a dying species known as the drummer.
In today’s world the drummers are pushed to the back; we are the invisible kid. You will notice there is no game called “Drum Hero.” Nope, everybody wants to be in the limelight as a singer or a “Guitar Hero.” But when I was a kid, I listened to a lot of hip hop and rap songs and always loved the boom of the bass and the switching of the rhythms. I guess you could say that’s where my drumming path began. I started getting into drums around the time that I was 12. My parents bought me the Rockband video game, and the drums were the only thing I was good at.
Around this same time I was introduced to something that would flip my world upside down: the great rush of punk rock and heavy metal that was streaming the airwaves. I heard bands like Rise Against and Asking Alexandria. These bands had a quick pace and a fast double bass sound to them that made my heart beat equally as fast. This became my anthem for expressing myself in a way I’m sure we all have as teenagers—to rebel and be my own person. I wanted more of it. I wanted to explore the unknown regions of rock music.
After I had been playing Rockband for about a year I told my dad: “I think this is something I can do and would be good at.”
So we looked around drum sets. Brand new, they ranged from $500 to $10,000.
We unexpectedly found a drum set in a pawn shop on a cold October day. The price tag read $170. It was broken down and very out of tune and needed a lot of work to be done on it. It was a five-piece CB drum set. The black paint was faded and slightly warped. The snare drum had a hole in it and the cymbals were like flattened tin cans.
We started working on it immediately, going to various stores and upgrading the set piece by piece in my room. We repaired the drums and polished them to a shine. We got a new snare drum. We replaced the worn out bass pedal for a double bass pedal. And we replaced the cymbals with respected Zildjian cymbals.
I began playing immediately, but it wasn’t as easy as Rockband had made it seem. I dropped the sticks countless times and would always drop the rhythm, but I was able to get the hang of it after some practice. To feel the drumsticks in my hand and smell the wood and metal that makes the drum set what it is and hear the ringing of the cymbals, the boom of the bass drum, and the pop of the snare--playing brought the feeling that my mind separated my body into four parts, each arm, and each leg with a specific job.
My dad being a natural musician himself, he’d often play along with me on the guitar, and would complain about modern music.
So I asked what style of music he used to play. He said that he often looked up to the legendary larger than life bands of Van Halen and KISS. And so I added a new generation of music to my memory.
We began playing songs by these bands and to my surprise I caught on very quickly. Maybe I inherited this style of music genetically from my dad.
Around this time I also bought the video game “Fallout 3.” It’s set in the 1930s and has great music from that time. My favorite song from the game was “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by The Inkspots.
The Inkspots were a catalyst to me because I remember always hearing Dean Martin playing in my grandparents’ car, and my dad would always be singing his Frank Sinatra while driving. I never paid much interest until I heard The Inkspots. The smooth beats and the vocal harmonies seemed to open a new artery in my heart that had been locked off before. I was able to see how my angst filled and rebellious ways which were brought by the punk/metal times has been soothed and calmed by the rich vocals of the 1930s.
Again, I wanted more, and later discovered and started playing the music of The Andrews Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald, slowing down the tempo and counting, one...two...three...one…two…three.
Now at 16 years old, I can proudly say that I can play almost any style of music on the drums. As my never-ending library of genres has expanded, I have seen that all I do in my spare time is play. Whether it be with my dad, or with my band, every moment of my spare time is filled with drums and music.