Starting a crappy band in high school seems like a rite of passage for any music fanatic. However, for some, their crappy high school band bought them a first-class ticket to fame. Between getting rejected to play their tiny hometown bars because they weren’t old enough to get inside and sloppily performing at a basement gig to no more than 20 people, these bands didn’t let their age get in the way of their success.
1. Code Orange
Before their 2018 Grammy nomination for Forever, Code Orange started out playing in tiny DIY spaces not far from their hometown. Formerly known as Code Orange Kids, the band went to separate high schools, but still formed during those early years. According to an interview with Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, Code Orange couldn’t get a spot in their local talent show in their junior year of high school. “We all went to the orchestra room,” drummer Jami Morgan says. “Six bands, five spots. The only way to get in was everyone raises their hand and votes who they want in. We were the only band that did not get in.”
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, Echosmith’s vocalist Sydney Sierota was actually pulled out of high school to be homeschooled when their single “Cool Kids” catapulted them into the spotlight. They were originally called Ready Set Go! before signing to Warner Bros. Records in 2012. Imagine going on a world tour when you were only 17.
3. Green Day
Is this sloppy, or is it punk? Little did this SoCal band know their career was about to skyrocket and turn them into one of the most well-known punk bands of the ’00s. Taken the same year as the band’s first record 39/Smooth was released, Green Day were playing in the courtyard of their high school. Bet you wish you could have seen that.
Just like their drummer’s father, this pop punk gone surf rock band actually met in their younger years. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, frontman Cole Becker says they started playing music at the age of 9 after watching School Of Rock. With two Warped Tours under their belts by the time they graduated high school, the band were originally called Emily’s Army. Check out baby SWMRS rocking out at Warped back in 2013 in the video above.
5. All Time Low
Starting as a blink-182 cover band, All Time Low met in high school. The band soon began growing in the Maryland punk scene and garnered the attention of many record labels. The band signed to Hopeless Records in 2006, and the rest is history.
The video above gives Seaway fans a close look into what they were like in high school. “Back then we would run a muck of parties that we snuck into because we were too weird to be invited to,” vocalist Ryan Locke says of the video. “Outcasts of the world, don’t be afraid to let your freak flag fly.” You can read the full article here.
7. Good Charlotte
After being inspired by a Beastie Boys concert, Good Charlotte formed in 1996. In an article with Click The City Music, Benji and Joel Madden say their mother gave them a pair of plane tickets after their high school graduation. The twins flew to California to check out 924 Gilman St., a club where bands like Green Day got their start. After returning home, the duo picked up their second guitarist Billy Martin, and they never looked back.
8. New Found Glory
In an interview with MTV News, guitarist Chad Gilbert spoke of the band’s formation in high school. “For us, punk rock and even hardcore music was something we did because we didn’t fit in in high school,” he says. “We had nowhere to go, so we went to shows.”
9. Jimmy Eat World
An article from the Daily Bruin in 1998 reveals that Zach Lind and Jim Adkins had been friends since preschool. After playing music in a variety of local bands and meeting Rick Burch and Tom Linton in high school, Jimmy Eat World left their hometown of Mesa, Arizona, and toured the country in a van. “When we first started, we thought we were kind of a stupid band, so we gave it a stupid name,” Lind says of their early years. Little did they know that their stupid band with a stupid name would become one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
The reason why Paramore hasn’t aged is because Hayley Williams was only 16 when they put out their debut album, All We Know Is Falling. Paramore started in Nashville, Tennessee when Williams was just 14 years old. After being homeschooled to pursue her music career, Williams told Seventeen about her school days. “My friends never had any nicknames for me,” Williams says. “But after I joined the band I was called ‘that Paramore girl’ for a long time.”
11. Panic! At The Disco
All Time Low isn’t the only band on this list who started as a blink-182 cover band. Panic! At The Disco began playing music together in the ninth grade. According to BBC News, the band began rehearsing in drummer Spencer Smith’s grandmother’s living room. Over the years, the lineup shifted, but Panic! At The Disco still remain one of the most successful modern rock bands. In an interview with OK!, Brendon Urie talked negatively of his time in high school. “There was a kid that used to pick on me.” he says. “He used to drop my food, and beat me up in little corners.”