by Sarah Klosterbuer
January 2003

As the pieces fell into place for grade8, brothers Dustin and Ryan Tooker finally saw the realization of a band they had started in their parents’ garage back in 1996. Dustin served as lyricist and guitarist, while Ryan handled vocals. Eager to take the project to the next level, they opted for a change of scenery. Moving from New Jersey to Los Angeles, they eventually found their rhythm section in bassist Guy Couturier and drummer Scotty Carneghi.

The move from New Jersey to Los Angeles served as an eye-opener and a reminder to the band why they started playing music in the first place. “There’s a huge difference,” says Dustin Tooker. “[In New York], the scene is about music and being in bands. Here, everyone is about being a rock star.” The move may have resulted in a record deal, a milestone for any band, but it also made Tooker and his bandmates remember to stay focused on music, not fame.

Musically, grade8 doesn’t strive to conform to or create trends. Rather, they stick with a basic rock format and a conscious effort to stay true to their roots and their emotions. Overall, the record shows the band’s metal influence, but has a definite nu-metal feel without sounding too generic. “It’s just an honest expression of how we feel,” says Tooker. “We wrote a record we’re huge fans of, just being music fans.”

With their debut album set for release in February, grade8 is anxious for the year of touring that will inevitably follow. “Our goal is to get our music to every single person we possibly can,” says Tooker. “We want people to come and see the live show, because that’s what we do best. That’s what we love doing the most.”

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