The Doozers: Local high school band grows in the musical scene

Morgan Gallagher, Staff Writer

Upon entering a low-light venue filled halfway with metalheads (likely to attend the previous show of the local band Portals), a humble group of teens gathers on the main stage of The Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac. Preparing a set of four instruments on the neon-washed stage, a chant starts to rise as a small crowd of Rochester High school students gathers closer to the front. But … what are they chanting? Why is the group of four onstage joining in? Why do they know how to pick up this rhythm? Is that … the iCarly theme song?

That’s correct. As local high school band The Doozers started up a thrilling setlist, (complete with a The 1975 cover, various original songs, and yes, a full-band cover of the iCarly theme song) many in the audience applauded the performance. With two RHS students contributing to the makeup of the band (Junior Melanie Kelley on bass, and Sophomore Sean Donnelly on guitar and lead vocals) it’s no mystery as to how the band has gained popularity among the school as well as around the local scene, with the remaining members spread across the area as well (Adams Junior Kyle Garland on drums, and Eisenhower Junior Charlie Belleville on lead guitar). Guitarist/vocalist Sean Donnelly gives insight on the roots of The Doozers.

Doozers started out of the ashes of another band called Antidote which had two of the same members. Our official start was in March of 2015,” Donnelley said. “In Antidote I played bass, but when this group started up, by default, I was nominated singer as well as guitar. Mel is actually a new member who replaced our past bassist who left because of musical difference.”

An inspiration for starting-out bands in the local scene and what they can accomplish, The Doozers have certainly grown from their origins at Rochester’s School of Rock. Drummer Kyle Garland comments on more of the band’s history.

“The band name came from us playing with a ouija board and we asked for random letters and that’s what it told us,” Garland said. “Or Sean got it from ‘Fraggle Rock,’ but whichever story you want to believe.”

Upon the latest swinging Saturday night performance in February, listeners were in for  quite a spectacle as Donnelley decided to climb onto some backing equipment and amps. In the midst of a spot-on cover of The 1975’s “Love Me,” the guitarist ended with an impressive jump back onto the main stage without missing a beat.

“I try to pull off stunts at times. I swung from a water pipe once. And at one show I had my pants off. And there’s been several occasions of me climbing onto things,” Donnelly said. “I try to take advantage of things that will further a shows excitement so I don’t really put thought to it.”

As all musicians have a start, it’s no surprise that most members of The Doozers had started mastering the art of their instruments early-on.

“I started playing guitar in 5th grade cause I had been getting more into music. I fell in love with it and started learning other instruments and had been trying to form a band,” Donnelly said. “It’s the reason I function as the person I am. The musical world is my happy place and something I can manage. I know a lot of bands that are local, making the experience that much better.”

Through the exciting progression of The Doozers, there’s no denying that the band has gained some much deserved popularity. Bob Belleville, the official band director of the group, comments on the rise of the band’s recognition.

“Lately it seems the band has been gaining a much larger following, recently
playing on the main stage of the Crofoot and being asked to play at the Hamtramck Music fest and the earth day fest, as well as being asked to come back to several venues around town,” Belleville said.

With exciting horizons in sight, one may wonder how a group of such young musicians gained its momentum.

At the start no one knows who you are, so you are stuck playing places that aren’t the most popular and working your way to gaining a reputation as a good band. But that is just part of the process that every band has to go through,” Belleville said. “I’m sure Nirvana played in front of 10 guys also when they were getting started. I am in no way comparing The Doozers to Nirvana, just trying to make a point.”

All around, the band continues to appreciate the path they’ve travelled and the popularity they’ve gotten.

“I actually do in fact think we’re getting more popular and we hope that this can be our lives, at least that’s what I personally think,” Donnelly said. “But we hope to create a fanbase, and by the time we’re all out of highschool we can just hit the road and show our music to the world!”

Lead guitarist Charlie Belleville also gives insight on his hopes for a musical future.

“Performing is very cool! It’s a good feeling doing something so young that’s generally meant for an older crowd,” Belleville said. “Plus, because we’re so young, we have a lot of time to improve until we fully commit to pursuing music as our careers.”

In the midst of banging out shows, it can’t be ignored that playing at such venues, and being blessed to play them often, is a great opportunity for the band.

“It has been pretty cool managing the band. Getting to know some really awesome people that are in the business– venue owners, booking agents, sound guys, everyone seems very genuine and willing to help out,” Belleville said. “Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work, contacting venues and trying to get the band shows was like a part time job when the band first formed. But it has gotten easier with the band gaining popularity. They are asked to play at venues instead having to seek out places for the most part.”

As The Doozers continued to broaden their horizons, a new member hopped into the picture, formally replacing an empty spot. Junior Melanie Kelley has likely been a factor in the growing popularity.

“After very little discussion needed between the band, Melanie Kelley was brought in the take over the bass and also offer some desperately-needed back up vocals, and also lead vocals on a couple songs,” Bob Belleville said. “Melanie seems to have made the band complete with her very contagious, fun personality and also being an extremely talented musician.”

Kelley commented on her recent admittance into the band.

“I feel reborn. I feel like I’ve been with them for a while because, we’ve all been friends for so long and I went to see all of their shows before,” Kelley said. “Plus, I knew all of their songs anyways.”

Incorporating Melanie Kelley into the band surely was a much needed aspect, due to the important job bass players have in sound.

“I’ve been bass-ing it for about four years, maybe three. Originally I wanted to play guitar and then one day I got forced into playing a song on bass by school of rock. Then, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I don’t know how to play this instrument!’” Kelley said. “And then I did it and I thought that it was so much better than guitar. It happened.”

As new and old fans alike gather at The Doozer’s events, it’s become a big question on whether or not their music will be available online and for purchase.

“We probably write a new original about once a month or so, and we play them at every show. Writing is usually a group effort,” Charlie Belleville said. “Recording professionally would be an amazing opportunity, but we haven’t already.”

Fans have not to worry, however, as The Doozers wish to someday put music on popular music sites and put out physical music as well.

“Well, we’re gonna record a demo probably this summer or spring,” Kelley said. “And we’re gonna play a lot of shows this summer, hopefully.”

Bob Belleville comments on the future of The Doozers as he continues to watch the band progress in their career.

“One of the coolest things I have seen at one of their live shows was at Paychecks in Hamtramck. This is a old Rock venue that has seen bands like the white Stripes, the Sights and any other cool band that has made it from Detroit. Up until now they have always played in front of friends and family for the most part. But watching them perform and having the crowd made up of 20 and 30 year olds get into their music was pretty awesome,” Belleville said. “Not just because they were older but also because these people know what cool music is. They have seen it for years. And now they are really getting into this young band made up of high schoolers. That was the best.”

As the Doozers continue to prove themselves as an growing high school band, it’s refreshing to see a potential future for the members, along with taps of hard work and determination.

“I hate to sound like a parent, but they will get out of the Doozers whatever they put into it. Honestly the sky’s the limit to how good they can become,” Belleville said. “They need to not take themselves too seriously while still taking themselves seriously. Keep having fun and make sure they always play music no matter how popular or unpopular they may become.”