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Home School of Rock

Dad’s discipline drives SA’s premier tweener metal band

Justin Parr
Young Generation, from left: Jordan Gutierrez, Joe Trevino, Jr., John Trevino, and Nayeli Lopez.


Joe Trevino’s kids don’t get startled when he wakes them up at 3 in the morning. They’re used to it by now. They know that dad has a drum beat or a chord progression running through his brain and he has to share it with them before he forgets it.

His sons, John, a 14-year-old guitarist, and Joe Jr., a 15-year-old drummer, not only accept the all-hours wakeups, they frequently do the same thing to their father. If Joe feels a little fatigued at his mechanic job the next day, or his sons yawn a bit in class at Holmes High School, that’s a small price to pay for a song catalog.

 Welcome to the world of Young Generation, San Antonio’s most popular (and accomplished) adolescent metal band, a quintet whose members average 14 years of age, and whose 12-year-old bassist,
Nayeli Lopez, joined the group when she was only 8.

 Trevino and his sons are Young Generation’s catalysts. John and Joe Jr. play in the band, while dad manages them, leads their rehearsals, helps them write and arrange their material, and tirelessly books gigs for them. He’s also developed such a reputation as a hard-rock svengali that his suburban Southside home has turned into an informal school of rock, with pubescent kids (such as AC/DC-worshiping tweeners The Next Day) begging him to whip their bands into shape.

In 2007, Young Generation played 42 shows, primarily festival gigs and First Fridays. They released a homemade debut CD called Evolution and sold roughly 400 copies at their performances. They also competed against a slew of local singers and rappers at the Urban Music Festival and walked away with two giant trophies, for Overall Winner and First Place at the festival’s Live Music Night.

While stick-thin Joe steals most of the attention at Young Generation gigs with his lightning-fast approximations of Steve Vai/Joe Satriani, the band’s story revolves around his father.

Joe Trevino says he always dreamed of being a rock star, but had no clue how to make the dream a reality. “My parents didn’t have the push for me,” says Trevino, a stocky, soft-spoken man with short, gray hair. “There was no one that we knew of to teach the guitar.” 

Five years ago, at the age of 34, Trevino belatedly revisited the dream. He bought a chord book and started banging away at the guitar. “To my surprise, I was playing a chord and making noise and it was emotional for me,” he says. “I’ve passed it on to John.”

Trevino didn’t have much technical skill to pass on to his sons, but a year after dad started playing, John began mastering guitar scales, and Joe Jr. showed signs that he could keep a steady beat. With dad on bass and Jordan Gutierrez (who Joe calls “the flower girl” of the band, because he sees her as a modern-day hippie) on guitar and keyboards, they began playing Christian rock at local churches under the name Young Generation and Papa Joe.

“It was scary because I had to prove to them that I was capable of doing this,” the elder Trevino recalls.” When you’re up on stage and you forget the words, oh my God! But it made it easier because everybody was learning at the same time.”

Trevino eventually settled on a behind-the-scenes role, pushing the band like a stern football coach. They rehearsed every Wednesday and Saturday (no excuses allowed), with Saturday’s marathon sessions running from noon to 9 p.m.

Gutierrez, a 14-year-old student at Harlandale High School, says she sometimes wishes she had more free time. “Sometimes I have to practice at home and I just want to talk to somebody, go to a movie or go to the mall, but discipline is important,” she says.

Young Generation never lacks for discipline. Papa Joe shaped their repertoire, attracting older listeners with covers ranging from Ritchie Valens to Black Sabbath. And he tells them if their song ideas “are getting too cheesy,” which usually means that John is playing too many notes or Joe Jr. is getting carried away with his cymbal attack.

“We need him,” John says, brushing off any suggestion that dad’s discipline might be restrictive to young players still finding their way. “Even when he’s at work and we’re trying to make new music, he’ll come in and get a beat started and we’ll fill it in.”

The Trevino family lives in a comfortable, red-brick home in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood not far from Sea World. Musical equipment fills their living room and PA speakers are mounted on the corners of one wall, with a giant crucifix on an adjacent wall. Trevino estimates that the band has $45,000 worth of sound gear and they also possess their own stage and lighting. They’re a family project, self-contained in every respect.

Joe calls out tunes for them to rehearse, while working the band’s soundboard and recording their performances. He cut Evolution in the family’s living room, and it sounds like what it is: a rough, if spirited, home demo. But John’s guitar wizardry leaps from the tracks, most notably the minor-key instrumental “Words Can’t Explain,” a live showcase for his flashy, behind-the-back solos. Even this impressive stage stunt, however, originated with his dad.

“He’s the one who told me to do something with the guitar: ‘I want to see you move or something,’” John says in a soft voice that betrays his natural shyness. “I practiced it and I finally got it.”

Ask the members of Young Generation who their favorite bands are and they’ll generally cite rock warhorses from their parents’ generation or local Christian rockers. Joe Jr. says Rush had a big impact on him, while rapper Timothy
Guerra, 14, first fell for early Metallica. It makes for a strange dichotomy: young kids playing old music and building a fan base that includes people venerable enough to be their grandparents.

“Most of the songs, like the newer stuff, they would bring it up, and I allowed them to play hard rock, but not that death-metal stuff where’s it’s screaming and you can’t understand what it’s saying,” Joe says. “There’s not too much theory there, and theory is what we like to do, because that’s how people get amazed.

“We still get people wanting them to get off the stage when they first see them. But once they start with the first song, everybody gets quiet and they’re either in tears or very emotional. And they tell me what a great job I’m doing keeping these guys off the streets.”

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