Meyer, 'Foolish' wisely play to win
There's a car commercial in which Mr. Sandman accidentally douses a sleeping young man with an extra big dose of his magic dream dust.
Suddenly, the young man's wildest dreams converge all at once: he's speeding around a track in a cool car while his favorite rock band serenades him and hundreds of women in bikinis cheer him on.
Then there's Brad Meyer, a senior at Stevenson.
He hasn't needed any magic dream dust.
And yet, he's leading a life every single day that many teenage boys would consider a Mr. Sandman-like dream.
Meyer made two varsity athletic teams at Stevenson: football and wrestling. He's been on each team for the last two years, as a lineman and a heavyweight, respectively. Meanwhile, in his spare time, he's the lead singer and drummer for a popular band on campus that not only has its own groupies, but has played numerous gigs around the suburbs and is about to have all of its songs cataloged on iTunes.
Sports and music. Is there much more to life for teenage boys?
"I have had an absolute blast in high school," Meyer said. "To be able to do so many different things and to have so many different kinds of opportunities has been so cool."
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Meyer got involved in sports "because I've always been big," and he grew to love the experience, especially when he got to be part of special moments like Stevenson's historic football playoff victory over perennial heavyweight and nemesis Maine South last fall.
But even that high couldn't compare to the way Meyer feels when he's jamming with fellow Stevenson seniors Jordan Gates, Donald Bender and Kai Funahashi. They are his buddies from "Foolish," the band that Meyer helped to create when he was in sixth grade.
"For me, music always trumps sports. I love it so much," Meyer said. "When I was younger, I kind of had ADD. I could never sit still, so my parents wanted to see if they could get me involved in something that could keep me focused. We decided on drum lessons. They thought that would be good for me, and it really was.
"It really worked. It was a way to focus me, and it also gave me a way to vent. It really kind of tempered the ADD. But as I kept going with it, it developed into so much more."
Music led Meyer down roads he could have never dreamed of, even with Mr. Sandman's magic dust.
As a freshman, Meyer led "Foolish" to an unexpected win in the Buffalo Grove Park District's "Battle of the Bands," a contest that involved at least eight other bands from the area. "Foolish" was the youngest band in the mix.
"The ages for all the people in the bands were like 14 to 20, but most of the bands were in their 20s," Meyer said. "We wrote a handful of original songs and when the judges announced that we won, they said that we were more original than the other bands. They liked that we had a drummer as the lead singer. They liked that one of our guys plays saxophone. They thought our sounds were original."
"Foolish" is a rock band with jazzy undertones. All of the band members have been a part of Stevenson's jazz band.
"I had to give up jazz band once I started making varsity teams at Stevenson because sports started taking up a lot of time for me," Meyer said. "But before that, when I was younger, I was always in jazz band and that's where I met the guys (from "Foolish"). We all started jamming and everything just clicked."
While Meyer sings and plays drums, Gates plays bass, Bender plays guitar and sax and Funahashi plays the piano. Gates and Bender have played alongside Meyer since freshman year while Funahashi joined the group this year.
"It's been a really good experience," Gates said. "We've had a lot of fun together, writing songs, playing shows. About a year ago, we sat down and talked about where we wanted to be (at the end of senior year) and this was it."
"Foolish" wanted to be getting regular gigs, which it has. And it wanted to have enough original songs to release an EP (a mini-album) that could be listed on iTunes. Check mark on that, too.
"Being in this band has taught me so much about different things: working with others to achieve a common goal, working through tough times for the long-term," Bender said. "We're doing now what we've talked about doing for a long time and that feels really good."
"Foolish" has played around 35 gigs in the last couple years and has come out with four songs: "It's Alright," "Reinvent the Wheel," "Troubles," and "Rewind." The songs, which can all be heard on the band's website: http://foolish-music.com, are part of the EP "The Last Laugh."
For "Foolish," whose members will all be going to different colleges next year, the EP represents their first triumph together, and quite possibly their "last," as in "Last Laugh."
"Even though I'm a newbie in this band, I've had so much fun and I'm going to miss everyone next year," said Funahashi, who will be going to Oklahoma State while Meyer will be going to Columbia in Chicago and Gates and Bender will be going to Wisconsin and Purdue, respectively. "We have done things with this band that I would have never thought I would be doing. I've realized that because of this opportunity, music is something I'll be doing for the rest of my life, now."
And maybe as a part of "Foolish."
The group hasn't ruled out reuniting during breaks from college or even after college.
"Our ultimate goal has been to go out with a blast and that's why we're putting our music on iTunes, because we want to make as many people familiar with our music as possible before we go off to college," Meyer said. "But I could see us getting back together. Hey, if people start liking our music and we get enough followers on iTunes, you never know what might happen."