Pianist and drummer Hank Hearon and guitarists/bassists Hannes Fernqvist and Owen O’Reilly are eighth graders at Fox Lane Middle School who formed a band in November 2021. Even though they’re young, they’ve already performed at Disney World as part of the school’s larger rock ensemble.
They’re one of four bands competing this Saturday at Pound Ridge’s Battle of the Bands during Proud Day. We sat down with the group to talk about songwriting, their musical inspirations and who is the bossiest member of the band.
Katonah Connect: You all impressively play two instruments each, but who is the singer?
Hank Hearon: We all sing.
KC: What genre of music do you play?
Owen O’Reilly: We like exploring a little bit, but we do mostly rock. Sometimes it’s little bit of indie. and pop. We like to play what we what we enjoy.
KC: What are some of the songs in your repertoire?
HH: Right now, we’re working on our own songs.
KC: How many songs have you written and what are they called?
Hannes Fernqvist: We’ve written three. One’s called “Help Me.” One’s called “Maria.” And the other one doesn’t really have a name yet.
KC: What are they about?
HF: We talk about our emotions as teenagers.
OO: We write about what we’re feeling and general emotion.
HF: “Help Me” is about a boy who’s like kind of lonely in his life.
KC: It sounds like you are storytellers.
HF: Yeah. We like to tell stories. “Help Me” is sort of a personal story. I used to be very lonely, so it kind of relates to my past life. But now, I have more friends, like the guys in H2O. But I like expressing my old life in my music.
KC: When you write a song, what comes first? The music or the lyrics?
HH: We just take a bunch of chords that sound good together and make some lyrics and see where it goes.
KC: Is it a collaborative process or does one person take the lead?
OO: It’s definitely collaborative. Sometimes, I’ll put a few different chords together and then Hank might say, ‘oh, what if we do this for the chorus and add some different chords?’ Then Hannes will add some lyrics, then Hank will write some lyrics and I’ll write some lyrics. Then we’ll put it all together.
KC: How did you come up with your group’s name?
HF: Since my name is Hannes and Hank also has an H and Owen is with an O, we decided to call ourselves H2O.
KC: That’s clever. How would you describe your band dynamics?
OO: Since we’re pretty close, we’re not afraid to criticize each other.
HH: Yeah. Definitely.
OO: We boss each other around a little bit.
KC: Who’s the bossiest?
HH: I’m pretty bossy.
OO: I’m pretty bossy, too. It’s a three-way thing. I think we’re all pretty bossy, but it definitely helps.
KC: How often have you performed together?
OO: We performed in Disney World recently as part of our school’s rock ensemble, but we’ve never performed together as H20.
KC: Do you have any pre-performance rituals that you do before you practice or want to do before you go on stage?
HH: We have a three-way handshake. It started out as a joke, but it’s turned into our band handshake.
KC: What singers would you most like to meet?
OO: Paul McCartney has always been like, an inspiration to me through music, and everything. Meeting him would be really cool.
HH: I don’t know if I really have anyone that I would like to meet. Did I just ruin the question?
HF: I really like Eric Clapton. I also really liked the band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
OO: Oh, we all love Jack Johnson!
HH: Yes! I like Jack Johnson.
KC: What do you see for the future of your band?
OO: We’re just like we’re starting off now, and we’re making songs and practicing them more and more and getting them down. If we get into Harvest Festival, we might play some of the original ones live. Also, our music teacher at the school has a recording studio, and he said he would let us record some our songs. Hopefully, we can put them out there and promote them and do whatever we can to continue to make music because it’s what we love.
Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and content writer who lives in Katonah. Her work has appeared in Parents, The Washington Post, Healthline, Well + Good, Psych Central, SheKnows, SELF and more.