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Going viral helps young band gain fans

Middle school-aged students, Henry Ayrault, Griffin Badrak, Stephen Barstys and Grant Hendricks are The Rubber Band.

July 17, 2014
They learned early the meaning of the show must go on

Local musical group, The Rubber Band, which consists of four middle-school-aged Grosse Pointe boys, has gained a lot of attention the past month for a video of one of their performances that went viral.

On June 8, band members Henry Ayrault, Griffin Badrak, Stephen Barstys and Grant Hendricks played at Pierce Middle School for a recital with the Grosse Pointe Music Academy. During their performance of "Undone The Sweater Song" by the band Weezer, the keyboard stand collapsed, forcing the boys to stop mid-song.

"We had to adjust the height of the stand, and I don't think it got tightened enough, so it was kind of loose," Hendricks said.

"I was sort of surprised," Ayrault, the band's keyboardist, said. "Then I decided to keep calm because the audience wanted to hear us play and finish the rest of the song."

Fortunately, neither the keyboard nor its stand were damaged, and the boys were able to start over and play through the entire song with no interruptions.

The video of the event was uploaded to YouTube on June 18 and has garnered more than 975,000 views since then.

With the video's online success, the boys began to be contacted by news and radio stations for interviews and were even given a shout-out by the members of Weezer.

"Some are saying this cover of 'Undone' went horribly wrong — we say it's the best version we've ever seen!" the band posted on their Twitter page.

"Let's get this kid to perform with us next time we're in his town," Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer, wrote via his personal Twitter account. "Great keyboard skills."

The boys had interviews with Fox News, Yahoo! News online and even an Australian radio station that contacted Ayrault for a live interview.

The video also was featured by People Magazine, Time Maga-zine, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and others.

While the band members never expected the video to gain so much attention, it wasn't necessarily affected by its popularity.

"I thought it was all going to die out after TV," Hendricks said.

The band did, however, learn how to handle unexpected situations like this one.

"The show must go on," Barstys said. "If something bad happens, just keep going."

"I learned that you really have to check your keyboard stand before you play and that sometimes even a bad situation can result in something positive," Ayrault said.

Ayrault, Badrak, Barstys and Hendricks met at the Grosse Pointe Music Academy and have been playing together as The Rubber Band since November 2013. The name was born when the boys were bouncing ideas off each other and the name popped into Barstys' head. "The Rubber Band" narrowly beat out "Crispy Bacon" in a majority vote.

The boys do not have any upcoming performances they are working toward right now, but they typically practice once a week in the rock band room at GPMA during the school year and take a break during the summer.

They all agree playing 1980s and '90s rock is their favorite, but Ayrault admits he likes playing "all kinds of music."

Ayrault, who performs lead vocals as well as keyboard, is the son of Terry and Lisa Ayrault and lives in Grosse Pointe Park. He is 13 and enters eighth grade at Pierce Middle School this fall. He has been taking piano lessons for three years and also has been involved in hockey, baseball, football and basketball.

Badrak, the band's bass player, is the son of Matt and Heather Badrak and lives in Grosse Pointe Farms. He is 11 and will start sixth grade at Brownell Middle School this fall.

Badrak has been learning bass and guitar for three years. In addition to the band, Badrak enjoys playing cello, baseball and the video game Minecraft.

Barstys plays drums for the band and is the son of Dave and Kim Barstys from Grosse Pointe Woods.

He is also 11 years old and will be in sixth grade at Parcells Middle School this fall.

He has been playing the drums for three years and also plays the saxaphone.

This summer he is participating in the Summer Music Festival at Brownell through July 18. Barstys enjoys playing hockey and baseball, too, in addition to his instruments.

Hendricks, who plays lead guitar, is the son of Chris and Jacki Hendricks and lives in Grosse Pointe Farms. He is 13 and will begin eighth grade at Brownell this fall.

He has been playing guitar for about four years. Aside from guitar, Hendricks likes to ski, hunt and ride his bike.

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