Milton alt rock band lands gig at iconic venue

By NEIL ZAWICKI

A Milton band called Insider might be breaking out of the local music scene and into larger arenas, if their upcoming gig at Higher Ground in Burlington is any indication.

The band is made up of Milton High School students, with senior Zac Young on vocals. He said over the past two years, Insider has seen some roster changes, and just recently added a rhythm guitarist. Getting the Higher Ground gig was the result of some hustling on his part.

“We were there to see another band and we had a recording of our stuff with us so we asked to talk to the booking agent,” Young explained. 

The next thing he knew, they were booked for June 8 to play the Buzz 99 cent show in the Showcase Lounge. They’ll be opening for Chicago-based band Friday Pilots Club.

That’s a Saturday night, by the way.

Watching the band practice on a Wednesday afternoon in the Milton High music room, it’s easy to see how they got the Higher Ground gig: they’re tight, their levels are good, and they can all play very well. 

But maybe more interesting is what they play. While the band has a growing set list of originals, they also run through a collection of classics, from Van Halen to Black Sabbath. 

Drummer Gabri Hurst, 17, keeps solid time on the kit, bringing her bookish charm to bear while sporting a Grateful Dead T-shirt. She said she’d only ever played drums in her basement at home before joining the band. She’s one of those musicians who also plays guitar, cello, and trombone, to name a few. 

Zach Hayes, 17, plays bass, working with Hurst to lay a stout rhythm foundation for the band. His old school Iron Maiden shirt works well with his unassuming attitude, which is almost essential for any good bassist. He said he picked up the bass after borrowing his dad’s one day. And he never really put it down.

Newest to the band is 15-year-old  rhythm guitarist Carson Cowhig. Cowhig is boyish, lanky with a Led Zeppelin shirt and short hair. But when he opens up with the legendary opening riff from “Aint talkin’ ‘bout Love” by Van Halen, the image gives way to real talent. He said he got into the guitar when he was 10, after he made a flippant remark that he’d like one for his birthday. Before long, he was hooked. He still plays the first and only guitar he’s ever had: A high-end Paul Reed Smith. But he earns it.

Over on lead guitar, Matt Brault, 17, brings a surprising level of heavy blues power with his Gibson Les Paul. He’s self-taught, and comes off as Slash or even Jack White when he plays. He says Young got him into the instrument in middle school. Both Young and Brault have been friends since elementary school.

“It was my seventh birth day and he concussed me,” Brault said of when the two met. 

“He’s a God,” said Young of Brault’s guitar playing. But to such an accolade, Brault just looks down and shrugs.

For his part, Young brings high energy and a belting voice that can dial down to deliver melodies as well.  He said fronting a band has always been his dream. Young cites Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Muse, Foo Fighters and Metallica as influences, saying the band’s set has surprised some in the audience.

“We played ‘Enter Sandman’ (Metallica) at one show and this old lady just went crazy!” he said. 

As for future plans,  Hurst, Hayes and Cowhig still have some high school left, but Young and Brault are both off to college. Young will go to Southern New Hampshire University and Brault will go to Norther Vermont University. Both will study music business, and they make it clear the band will not split up as a result.

“It’s staying together!” said Young. 

Still, he said if the band gets an offer to go on tour with a more established act, then all bets are off.

“If we get asked to go on tour, then we’re going,” he said.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be on the road with Friday Night Pilots come October. 

These things can happen.