Thanks to the proliferation of School of Rock, where students learn the rudiments of melting faces, the Fort Worth music scene is benefiting from a fresh infusion of talent. Rock-popsters Weather King are one of these youthful acts. The Fort Worth-based quintet’s recently released single, “Jejune Bug,” is garnering attention from college and alternative radio stations across the country, including locales as far-flung as Upstate New York, Alabama, and Chicago.
The band’s de facto manager and band dad, Eric Zukoski, whose kids Andy and Jack Zukoski play in Weather King, is a long-time session and professional bass player. He said seeing the five teens gel after going through the School of Rock has been eye-opening.
“It’s been a refresher in lessons from decades ago, when I first started gigging as a teenager and have forgotten,” he said. “They’ve caused me to question things I’ve been doing my way for years. What I couldn’t give them — like the camaraderie of other young musicians and the social aspects of music — School of Rock fulfilled in spades.”
Recorded at White Settlement’s SG Studios by Greg White, “Jejune Bug” features rhythms inspired by the heavier edge of prog-rock –– bands like The Mars Volta –– coupled with a vocal style and pop romance reminiscent of great ’90s alternative acts like Veruca Salt, The Breeders, and Belly.
Gathered in their practice room in the home of the Zukoski brothers, keyboardist Andy and bassist Jack, the five teens began our interview fairly quietly, but they eventually warmed up as they discussed their early influences, such as Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, who espoused the wisdom of potato chips to preserve one’s voice. The earliest manifestation of the band was a heavier group, Nothing’s Stranger.
Sonically, the four guys took a notably radio-friendly turn after they added Nicole Barbeau on lead vocals and subsequently released a five-track EP recorded in 2017. The band hit the road on a mini-tour around the state with stops in San Antonio and at Austin’s Elysium. When Barbeau moved on to other projects, the group recruited their youngest member, 15-year-old vocalist Maya Kelly, who said her style developed by singing along to Selena Gomez and No Doubt. Kelly already knew the guys in the band from mutual friends, and she quickly fit in with their sound. She said that her confidence as a performer has grown significantly with the band behind her, even though the guys may roast her for loving Miley Cyrus.
The quintet continues to develop its songwriting skills working together as a group. Poker-faced drummer Ian Jeffery, who cites Tame Impala as a major influence, said one member brings an idea to the rest of the band, and everyone jams until they come up with interesting places to take it.
Guitarist Trent Cruickshank said he is intent on crafting intricate runs and changes in his guitar parts. He said his father influenced his early love of music.
“My dad introduced me to AC/DC and Angus Young early on,” he recalled. “I thought it was pretty cool and figured I could do it.”
Jeffrey interrupted Cruickshank’s backstory to brag about how well he took to the instrument.
“I met him when he was, like, 9, and he was already shredding,” Jeffrey said. “I didn’t even know him, but everybody could tell he was just that good.”
With new material under construction, the group continues to refine its sound even as the older members begin preparing for the intensive college search process that could eventually spread them out across the country.
Andy said he is excited at the prospect of recording again.
“We’ve got enough songs coming together to put an album out next summer,” he said.