Local rockers Detention prove the kids are all right

words and photos by Brittany Nader

Many kids dream of becoming rock stars and playing the same legendary venues as their music idols. 

For local students Fritz Dannemiller, Evan Cox, Elliott Carter and Luke Konopka — whose ages range from 12 to 16 — those fantasies are quickly becoming realities as their band, Detention, prepares to pack up for a special one-night-only show at the world-famous Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood on Sept. 20.

The four-piece rock band will perform on the same legendary stage that launched the careers of a slew of famous rockers, including The Doors, The Stooges, Motley Crue and The Germs. 

Detention has evolved from a group of kids taking lessons at Fairlawn School of Music and performing covers like U2’s “Vertigo” and The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” to writing and polishing their own original tunes.

“We’ve grown up so much,” Detention’s lead singer Elliot says. “I’m excited for people to see us. I’m just excited to play.”

The band’s sound comes from the members’ storied lineage of famous musicians, along with their fusion of influences, which range from Chris Cornell, Dave Grohl and Green Day to Billie Eilish and Ani DiFranco. 

“It’s a huge collage of a lot of things because we’re all influenced by different styles,” bass guitarist Fritz says. “We all grew up listening to a lot of music and get a lot of inspiration that way.”

Elliot’s grandfather is Harvey Gold (Tin Huey, Half Cleveland), and her father played in The Twistoffs, touring with Blink-182 and Goldfinger. Fritz’s great-grandfather penned The University of Akron’s fight song and his father toured with the Ramones.

The musicians have taken lessons from prolific local players and instructors, including Jeff Klemm (Maid Myriad, Jeff Klemm & The Letters, Diamond Kites) and Matt DeRubertis (The Admirables, Bluelight, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones), and attended a school of rock camp where they had one week to write an original song together. Luke says it was the first time a full band attended the camp together.

While their lessons, along with the feedback and direction from the adult musicians in their lives, have informed how they play, the members of Detention work hard to be taken seriously as skilled writers and performers in their own right. 

“It’s gotten to the point where it’s not like when people see us, it’s like ‘this is a really good band for a bunch of kids.’ It’s gotten to a point where it’s like, ‘this is a good band,’” Elliot says.

Detention currently performs four original songs, in addition to their roster of fine-tuned covers. The band recently played PorchRokr, along with the Devo 5K, where they performed a crowd-pleasing cover of “Uncontrollable Urge,” complete with a choreographed dance to accompany the music.

“What we did with that one is my dad showed me a video of Devo performing it live back in the ‘80s, and they had an organized dance with it,” Fritz says. “So I showed the dance to the whole band, and we learned it together, and now we do that when we perform it live.”

The process of deciding which other songs to cover sometimes involves each band member writing down two or three songs they like and voting on their favorite. Other times, if one person is learning a song on their own time, they’ll introduce it to the band to gauge interest in performing — or even recording — the tune. 

While the musicians still enjoy performing cover songs, their goal is to craft more originals to both relate to audiences closer to their age range and increase the legitimacy of their project. 

“To make it as a ‘band-band,’ we need to have our own songs,” Elliot says.

Elliot says in the past, she and her dad would come up with an initial idea for a song and introduce it to the members of Detention. Then, her bandmates put forth their ideas to flesh it out. On an upcoming song, Evan developed an intro riff and chord progression, to which Fritz added rhythmic elements. 

The band’s original song “Devil Berries” was inspired by Elliot’s cousin’s penchant for “eating anything,” while “Emphatic Yes” is about getting yelled at by parents. “In Reverse,” which the band has performed live but not yet recorded, contains more mature, aware and worldly lyrical themes inspired by the young musicians’ observations of modern life.

“We’re trying to stay young, stay positive, stay optimistic and youthful while everything around us is getting steadily worse,” Elliot says.

Detention recorded their EP at Akron Recording Company and have plans for an official release this fall. The experience of entering a studio and working with local producers happened just a few short years after each musician first began learning their instruments. 

Elliot performed her first PorchRokr at age 8 after honing her skills alongside her father at family reunions. Fritz began performing in 5th grade, Evan played his first show at 9 years old and Luke started playing at age 3 after he got a drum set for Christmas. 

Although they have dreams of performing at additional venues across Northeast Ohio and sharing the stage with local bands they admire, Detention fell on the Whisky a Go Go’s radar after a family friend of Fritz’s heard their EP and watched a few live videos.

 The band says they would like to tour next summer and release a full album of original music after seeing how crowds across the country respond to and receive their sound.

Visit detention.live for information on the band’s upcoming shows and releases.

Photo at top: Fritz Dannemiller (bass), Luke Konopka (drums), Elliott Carter (vocals) and Evan Cox (guitar) are Detention, a four-piece group of rockers who met at Fairlawn School of Music.

Brittany Nader is a professional writer and marketer in Akron.