Of all the bands debuting in Brooklyn bars last weekend, the most remarkable may have been the Tiny Masters of Today. Since December, the sibling duo's brief, bratty songs have tallied more than 13,000 listens on MySpace.com, prompting British record label Tigertrap to snap up their "Big Noise" EP, due out in July, long before they'd played a single show. Oh, and we forgot to mention: Ivan, guitar, is 12 years old--and Ada, bass, is 10.
Tweens have always made "music," but in the past it rarely resounded beyond the basement; real reach required the freakish poise of a Jackson or a Hanson. Now, however, a scrappy generation of pre-pubescent performers--the first offspring of punk-era parents--have taken up the "DIY" mantle, recording songs on simple software like Apple's GarageBand and finding far-flung fans online. "It's a national phenomenon," says School of Rock Music founder Paul Green. "Technology has totally democratized rock."
Hip indie audiences are embracing the new kids on the block. When the Muldoons--Shane, 9, writes the words; Hunter, 12, writes the music; and Brian, 46, is "just the drummer"--recorded an EP of primitive garage punk with Jack White late last year, all 1,500 copies swiftly sold out. Six-year old Austinite Maya Bond is a favorite at influential MP3 blog Gorilla vs. Bear. S.F. Weekly crowned Slot Machine (average age: 11) the best under-18 act of 2005. And last week tween-rock poster girls Chloe, 12, and Aysa, 14, of Smoosh--named America's "hottest new band" by British mag NME--released their sophomore CD on Barsuk, a leading indie label. "We're not sending stylists to their shoots," says owner Josh Rosenfeld. "We want them to express whatever they want to express."
Ivan, for one, could get used to the attention. Asked at the end of his first interview which one his sixth-grade peers prefer--the Tiny Masters or Disney's slick, chart-topping "High School Musical"--he was quick to respond. "A bunch of kids in my class formed a fan club for us," he said. "They, like, worship me."