Last month, one of Ahwatukee’s youngest bands made its debut at the Battle of the Bands competition at “Celebrate Mesa.”
To get an idea of how young the band Human Matter is, consider this: Lead vocalist Eva Bush isn’t even a teenager yet.
And the 12-year-old Akimel Middle School student is backed up by four musicians who are all 14.
They include three Desert Vista High School students: lead guitarist Zack Brown, bass player Caleb Walker and drummer Noah Ankeney. Alexandra Alcantara, rhythm guitarist and back-up vocalist attends Corona Del Sol High School.
The band members don’t limit their performing to Human Matter appearances. They all participate in a variety of music and theater classes at school to hone their performance and musical skills.
The band practices once a week at the home of their former teacher and musical mentor, Ruben Johnson.
Johnson, music director at Cerritos Elementary School in Ahwatukee, has taught music at a number of other elementary schools in Ahwatukee, where he met many of the students who now make up Human Matter.
“One of my favorite scientists talked about learning in this way,” Johnson said. “If you want kids to be exceptional, get out of their way. And I know what he meant by that. Let them explore and that’s what I’m letting these guys do.”
Johnson said he loves helping students improve their skills and giving them the chance to make music with one another.
“I have other students who are learning and when those other students are ready as far as musicianship goes, we’ll roll them in and let them play around a little bit,” he said, adding:
“Personally, I’d like to have three different groups like this where they can interchange members as needed and interact with each other.”
An Arizona State University who is a certified Highly-Qualified Educator with an HQ Music endorsement, Johnson has been involved performance musical groups since eighth grade, performing many musical genres.
He is a member of the Arizona Orff Chapter, a nonprofit that provides music education workshops for music specialists and classroom teachers.
“I am energized to help students use music quite literally in harmony with their effective learning styles in order to excel as critical thinkers and excellent communicators,” he says on the Kyrene School District website.
“I strive to have every student understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of music so that every student can apply music to their core of educational knowledge.
“A great byproduct of our music instruction is confidence and consideration for others. We practice compliments and support for each other,” he added.
The members of Human Matter have formed a tight-knit friendship that’s evident from all their itneractio0ns, whether they are playing or just joking around.
“It’s really interesting to get to play with other people instead of just playing for myself,” said Zack.
Added Noah: “It’s like I’m on an episode of Friends every time I’m here.”
Human Matter formed in Nov. 2018 and the musicians consider themselves a punk rock band.
Their music consists of covers from some of their favorite artists such as The Beatles, The Ramones, Nirvana, and Led Zeppelin. Their favorite song to play is “Come Together” by The Beatles.
While last month’s Battle of the Bands competition was their first live performance, they hope to perform more in the future.
“I thought it was a really interesting and fun experience. I thought it was good experience for us. It wasn’t too crazy, just a small festival on a tiny stage, not in front of too many people,” said Noah.
While Human Matter did not come in first in the competition, the band tied for first in the “text votes” portion of the contest with another band, Arizona Wildflowers.
In addition to playing more live gigs, the band members also hope to start writing some of their own material soon.
Human Matter’s ultimate goal, as one member put it, is to “be legendary.”