The Robotix want to prove that they’re a real rock band.
The band, which is headquartered in Southlake, has made it past the auditions and into the live round of competition on NBC’s variety show America’s Got Talent.
Proving the band has the chops is a special goal because these band mates are all children.
The oldest performer is 16-year-old guitarist Jon Casel from Southlake. The band’s youngest member is 9-year-old drummer Logan “Robot” Gladden from North Richland Hills. There’s also 14-year-old bassist Jared Devino from Southlake, 12-year-old Brendan James from Grapevine and 12-year-old vocalist Angelina Baez from the Los Angeles area.
There’s also 13-year-old guitarist Yuto Miyazawa from Japan who is not on the show for logistical reasons.
They may be young, but they don’t want to be seen as a kids band for kids.
“When we all start playing as a band, age kind of becomes not really an important factor,” Casel said. “These kids are on the same level if not better than people twice their age just because of the passion they have for music and the time they put into it.”
Age moves to the back of Robot’s mind when he’s on stage.
“When I get up there I forget that we’re kids and I’m sure the whole band does. I try to bring everything I got,” he said. “My mind is almost empty. The fact that I’m on national TV is kind of nerve racking, but once we get up there I can’t even explain.”
The Robotix will perform live this month at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, although they are prohibited from saying when. During a recent practice, Casel, also the band’s music director, is nitpicking the smallest details to perfect the performance.
While they can’t share what song they will cover, they guarantee it will be a rock n’ roll show with pyro, lights and the music that gets heads banging.
Making the band
Ask the band members and they’ll tell you their love for playing music grew from listening to rock n’ roll.
For Robot, his love for rock n’ roll and drumming came naturally.
His parents watched him bang around to a rhythm and beat as a baby, and when he was 6, his dad wanted to get him into a rock school.
Kevin Gladden, his dad and band manager, recalls calling several rock schools and being told his son was too young. For Those About to Rock School in Southlake said come on in.
Owner Michael Mroz remembers the phone call, and while he normally takes on students 8 and older he said he agreed to hear Robot because of his dad’s enthusiasm. Then he heard Robot play.
“He just blew us away. We just saw an amazing natural talent come out of him,” Mroz said. “That son of a gun, Logan, he’s got it.”
Mroz then decided to bring together his youngest and most talented students to form the Junior All-Star Band. That’s when Robot, Devino and James got together.
The band would got their first gig opening for their teacher’s concerts at the House of Blues.
Mroz said the crowd loved them.
“These kids know how to deliver a song,” he said. “When you first look at them, OK they’re kind of cute, but then you stop and go, ‘Wow these guys can really play and they’re really talented.’ ”
Casel was also at the school, but playing with kids closer to his age. When manager Gladden realized he needed a music director, he recruited Casel.
The band recruited Baez just before recording its first album, which was released in December 2012.
We’re Talking About Practice
The four DFW members practice at Devino’s house in Southlake in a game room that his family converted into a practice space for the fledgling rockers.
“One time we tried to practice in the garage and we got a noise complaint. That’s when we moved inside,” Devino said.
Sometimes they’ll Skype with Baez in L.A., but manager Gladden said the band has been together for years now and they just need a day or two before a performance to practice together.
“It’s harder, but we communicate over the Internet, Skype and stuff like that,” Baez said. “We get together a few days before our shows and we really get down to business.”
Everyone has access to the house and practice has evolved to more than just rehearsal. The boys hang out, go swimming and spend time together. That has become Robot’s favorite thing about being in the band.
“Because we have a good relationship. The boys have been together for three years now,” he said. “We’re like family, basically and we see each other almost every day now.”
Devino said he doesn’t mind having practice at his home.
“It’s kind of weird having the band so close to home, it makes it like family. We're like brothers and sisters.”
James has been practicing more than the chords, and is ready to bust out a duck walk or two on the big stage.
“My first live show, I didn’t move a single limb,” he said. “After finding confidence in the rest of my band, knowing they won’t mind, it was a lot easier doing that in front of a ton of people.”
Proving they’ve got talent
James said the band’s age, talent and genre of music will help them win the show, which relies on outside voting.
“I certainly think we have a lot of things going for us,” he said. “We are a musical group and we’re all 16 and below and we certainly have the appeal of the younger audiences and the music playing appeal to the older audiences.”
Robot said he’s just happy to perform at the famed venue.
“Even if we don’t win, it’s still a great experience to be on America’s Got Talent and to have the opportunity to play at Radio City Music Hall,” he said.
Casel encourages everyone to vote for them on their journey.
Devino said the The Robotix want to show children their age that there is more than what you hear on Top 40 radio.
“I believe what the band means to the next generation of rock and roll is we are trying to save it for our generation and the next and the next and the next,” he said.