Grammar School of Rock

Never mind the bollocks, here's $lot Ma¢hine, the newest, meanest punk band in town -- aged 12 and under

Likewise, Liam is not a big fan of electronica. "It's too, like, hypnotic," he charges of house music.

"I used to take Liam to the record stores in S.F. a lot when he was younger," remembers Jenö. "He would take the house and disco records I'd pick out for him to listen to and instead switch the speed of the turntable from 45 to 33 -- or vice versa -- and listen to them at the completely wrong tempo. He loved doing that, and if I ever corrected the speed for him, he'd tell me the music was too boring, and he'd change it back."

$lot Ma¢hine's original lead singer was actually another friend, a girl who liked Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera. Perhaps it was a good thing that she didn't last long with the group, which is decidedly unimpressed with and uninterested in MTV.

$lot Ma¢hine: Content to fight the good fight for the 
salvation of punk's future, mainly after school and on 
Akim Aginsky
$lot Ma¢hine: Content to fight the good fight for the salvation of punk's future, mainly after school and on weekends.

"She had to move away for some reason and then we replaced her with [Viv] because he was, like, the only choice," explains Jasper.

It was a good choice. Inspired by the snarls of the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, Viv's the perfectly gorgeous little lead, having already perfected the punk pout and eliminated any stage fright after $lot Ma¢hine's first gig (Halloween 2003 at Creative Arts). The band is happy with the selection: It has both a frontman and an original lyricist in Viv, whose subject matter ranges from Burger King and pizza to rubber bands.

"He makes up his own stuff," says Liam. "And his voice sounds really raspy; that sounds cool."

Every band needs its dark horse, the strong silent type shrouded in mystery, eyes hidden behind a swirl of bangs. In $lot Ma¢hine's case, that would be Yan Ingram, the only member not to have a local electronic music luminary as a parent, but that's about all I really know for sure. His stock response to most questions is a smile that's shy and skittish, as if a teacher had just asked him a question that he's embarrassed to answer out loud. When favorite artists are brought up, Jasper mentions that Yan likes Eminem.

"I did like him," Yan corrects, his eyes darting downward, revealing no more, though Jasper interjects that Yan also likes Motörhead.

At a $lot Ma¢hine concert, it's not unusual to see little kids flailing their arms in the air and bouncing with abandon, and adults buzzing to one another about the spectacle of it all. People are generally surprised by how good the band is and by the potential it has. Believe it or not, $lot Ma¢hine's sound isn't miles away from the deliberately simple beauty of a group like the White Stripes, working a basic idea and following it to its limits.

The band has written 11 original songs and has recorded several of them for a release early next year on Jonah's label, Reflective Records. Dad is even toying with the idea of pressing the material up on 7-inch vinyl, punk's preferred traditional format.

It might not be overnight, and they might have to join with some like-minded bands, and probably polish the rough edges of their skills, but it's not inconceivable that these tykes could eventually conquer and topple the status quo. For now, they're content to fight the good fight for the salvation of punk's future, mainly after school and on weekends.

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