When guitarist Rudy Schieder gave drummer Jeff Crawford a contract for starting a band in his middle school jazz ensemble, it may not have been expected that the band would amount to so much. This is how local band Larrabe originated.
Schieder, now a junior at Alden High School, and Crawford, a freshman at Erie Community College, recruited Joseph White, now a junior at Alden, on vocals shortly after. They found Brendan O'Shea, a sophomore at Pembroke High School, by posting an ad for a bassist on Craigslist.
"We started off as Yesterday's Tomorrow," Schieder says, "and then went to Alone at the Movies. [Then] one day I was just sitting in band and I looked up at our band teacher, Mr. Larrabee."
The band decided to drop an E, and the name stuck.
Larrabe has come a long way since its beginning, which included playing covers at a going-away party for a Schieder family friend and at a small coffee shop on Halloween. The band now regularly plays at venues such as Club Infinity, Mohawk Place, Xtreme Wheels and the Student Lofts, and has even played a show in New York City.
"It felt pretty cool saying we were from Buffalo a couple hundred miles away," Schieder said.
The members also are proud to be a prominent local band at such a young age.
"In a nonbragging sense, for being so young, we're out there as much as the older bands are," Crawford says.
What started off as pop-punk also evolved into a more original blend of music. Influenced by bands such as This Providence, Kings of Leon, Mars Volta and Mute Math, Larrabe can be described as "lyrical and catchy."
"We want to stray away from the more poppy sound," says White, explaining that Larrabe cannot be characterized by one particular genre. "We just want to play rock and roll."
"We focus more on musical ability. We really strive to have the best sound," adds Schieder.
The band invests in monitoring systems and sound equipment before lighting and entertainment.
"But it's not like we're knocking our entertainment," White clarifies. In addition to the members' actions on stage, "We'll stop a song and tell people to move."
Larrabe has recorded an EP, released in 2009, and a full-length record, released in 2010. Both are available on iTunes. The band hopes to travel and expand its fan base outside of Buffalo.
"We want people to like our music abroad," O'Shea said.
The current challenge is attracting a local audience.
"Back in the '50s the thing to do on a Friday was go to the dance where the band was playing," Schieder said.
"A lot of people would rather sit at home on Facebook than like come out to a show. We might as well start broadcasting via Skype for our shows," White jokes.
What sets Larrabe apart, however, is its determination and its confidence to succeed.
"Obviously every musician's dream is to get signed and get famous," Crawford said, "but we don't want to just be signed; we just want to be able to play."
"I want to be able to make a living on it," O'Shea says. "I would be perfectly fine if this was my job, but I wouldn't be upset if we weren't playing at Madison Square Garden every day."
Fans can rest assured that Larrabe is committed to carrying out its goals.
"I don't want to do anything else," White said, "as scary as that might sound to some people, especially parents. But honestly, if you're afraid of what you want to do, then that means that's what you have to do."
Larrabe will play June 11 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda.
Alyssa Phillips is a senior at Immaculata Academy.