Suzanne Singh couldn’t be prouder of her son Julian. At 14, the Milwaukee drummer’s hard-rock cover band, Lokke, is up for New Artist of the Year at the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards.
And Julian couldn’t be happier for his mom — because her alternative-rock band, Rocket Cat, is nominated in the same category.
“I thought it was hysterical,” Suzanne Singh said. “I was super excited for us, and I am always excited about everything his band does. … Music has been a passion of mine since I was a kid and such a big part of my life. To have that back now is amazing, and to be able to share that with Julian is pretty amazing, too.”
“I did not think I would ever be competing for a music award against my mom,” Julian Singh said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”
The WAMI awards were to be held Sunday in Appleton but were postponed Saturday because of a snowstorm. Organizers said they will reschedule.
Early music experiences
Suzanne Singh: “I was in a band in college in Tallahassee called Smack Leveau. It was in the late ’80s and early ’90s, right when the whole alternative grunge scene was coming out. It was great for me because I love that type of music, and there were not a lot of really strong females doing that style. I stopped singing when I graduated college, joined the Peace Corps, and left it all behind.”
Julian Singh: “My mom got me into drum lessons; I started playing drums in second grade, around 7. My Dad influenced (my musical tastes); when I was a little bit younger I liked Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Pantera.”
When the bands formed
Julian Singh: “(Two years ago,) my mom heard about an opportunity at School of Rock, so I decided to check it out and signed up. It was really fun. I met (Lokke bassist) Andrew (Arndorfer) there in the Rock 101 class, and the band formed after that. Hard rock is the music that we all like, and we were doing a lot of these covers at School of Rock. We do Megadeth tunes, Alter Bridge, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses.”
Suzanne Singh: “I started taking voice lessons with their mentor at School of Rock. It had been 26 years since I sang, and I wanted to see if it was still fun. Andrew’s mom heard about it and she knew that (Rocket Cat guitarist) Chris (Guse) was starting to get music together and was looking for a singer.”
Rocket Cat: Suzanne Singh (vocals); Guse (guitar); Dave Maurer (bass); Steve Vorass (drums)
Lokke: Arndorfer (bass); Saul Dinauer (guitar); Michael Milaitis (guitar); Max Neumann (vocals); Julian Singh (drums). Dinauer and Milaitis are the oldest members at 17; Singh, 14, is the youngest.
First big gigs
Julian Singh: “Our first show was Rockonsin (a Wisconsin high school garage band competition) last year. We made it into the showcase at Summerfest as one of the 12 finalists. We did a WAMI youth showcase after that and Bay View Bash.”
Suzanne Singh: “We went straight into the studio and recorded a six-song EP, ‘Radiant Transmission’ that we put out in spring 2017. Our first big break was a Bucks game. Radio Milwaukee’s ‘414 Live’ and WMSE’s ‘Local/Live’ programs picked us up. We got a Summerfest slot last year and did the Wisconsin State Fair.”
Favorite songs to play
Suzanne Singh: “Right now, I like our newer songs that we just recorded. We’ve been together two years now and went through one recording, and I think we’re kind of branching off into a different sound with more of a pop feel to it. And we have a more collaborative writing process where everybody is contributing. My favorite is a single coming out later called ‘Little Lights.’ It’s about people in your life who lift you up and bring you to heights you haven’t been to before, and suddenly you realize they’re not there with you anymore.”
Julian Singh: “Probably (Metallica’s) ‘Master of Puppets.’ We practiced it for a really, really long time for the Rockonsin thing. I got it down pretty well. It’s a fun tune to play and pretty complex.”
Watch an exclusive video of Rocket Cat performing its newest single “Sancturay” atjsonline.com/music. Sound Check appears on the 15th of each month online and in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.