Arts and Entertainment

Kent punk/rock band making its mark; Thrilliant features 3 teens, 12-year-old

Kent guitarist Ryan Johnson and Federal Way drummer Dennon Cowen just kind of blankly looked at each other the first time they met for a jam session.

Their fathers, Robert Johnson and Doug Cowen, are Boeing co-workers and suggested last summer that their musical sons meet.

"They didn't say a word," Doug Cowen recalled.

Now, about eight months later, the pair, along with vocalist Jeremy Cooper and bass player Derek Karn, are part of Thrilliant, a Kent band that plays a mix of punk, rock and metal. They have played 18 shows at a variety of venues, from the Old Fire House Teen Center in Redmond to the Studio Seven club in Seattle.

The energetic band takes over the stage not only with their music but with their antics. Cooper sprints around the stage as well as jumping off it. Johnson took his pants off at one performance and played in his boxers.

"If you do not like our music, you'll still have fun," Cooper said, prior to a recent practice at the Cowens' garage. "If you like the music, you'll have more fun."

Karn, 18, and Cooper, 17, are Kentridge High School seniors. Johnson, 17, is a Kentridge junior. Cowen, 12, is a Lakota Middle School sixth-grade student.

That's right. The drummer is 12 years old.

"For the first three months of practice I thought you were in the ninth grade," Cooper said to Cowen.

The teen took up drumming 18 months ago and has no trouble keeping up with the older band members.

"He's fantastic," Cooper said of Cowen. "At the end of every show people are surprised and amazed he's only 12 and is doing what he does."

Cowen loves every minute of being drummer for a teen band.

"They're really funny and understand me well," Cowen said.

That can be a challenge at times, however.

"He called up one time and says 'I love waffles, what do you like?'" Cooper said of the random phone call.

Nevertheless, when it comes to music, the mix seems to work.

"We started out with rap and rock and then went to punk," Ryan Johnson said.

"We're a mixture of metal and punk," Cooper said.

Robert Johnson, who works as the band manager and books their events, said the sound is similar to Rage Against the Machine, a 1990s metal band that broke up in 2000 but has been back together since 2007.

For Thrilliant's members, the name of their band has no special meaning. They just wrote down a bunch of names and picked one that sounded the best.

"It's just a random name," Ryan Johnson said.

Thrilliant, which played its first show Nov. 16 at the Kirkland Teen Union Building, also known as K-Tub, is up to 15 original songs. Eleven songs are on a studio CD produced by Nelson Barnard at K-Tub. The band plans to redo the CD because of a recent improvement that included the addition of Karn as bass player.

The band already has regular fans who Cooper refers to as "crazy people."

"There's one kid who knows all the words to our songs," Cooper said. "And there's a girl who after I jumped off the stage, she was wrapped all around me."

With several more shows scheduled, Thrilliant hopes it can continue to grow a fan base.

"We want to get more and more people to come to our shows," Ryan Johnson said.

The band even makes a little money, typically getting a small cut of any venue that charges admission.

"A couple of places pay us, wherever they sell tickets," Cooper said.

"At a 21-and-over club they got to sit in a corner and got a pizza," Robert Johnson said.

The lineup of shows includes 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at Ground Zero Teen Center at the Bellevue Community Center; 4 p.m. March 13 at Studio Seven in Seattle; 7 p.m. March 26 at Kirkland Teen Union Building; April 1 at the Old Fire House in Redmond; and April 16 at The Slab, a venue at the Seattle Drum School in Georgetown.

For more information and to hear the band, go to YouTube.com and Facebook.com and search for Thrilliant.

If you go

What: Thrilliant, a Kent punk band

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 19

Where: Ground Zero Teen Center, 209 100th Ave. N.E., Bellevue

Cost: $6

Tickets: At the door

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