It’s about 1PM on a Sunday afternoon, and the lead duo from Holes and Hearts is ready for their closeup. As your editor spends several minutes fiddling with videoconferencing equipment, the Macek brothers calmly face the Webcam and beam rockstar charisma at the lens. Long after your editor has developed an urge to throw her PC out the window, Riley and Casey Macek are still poised and ready. When it comes to work, these two don’t screw around.
While being centered under pressure isn’t easy for anyone, it’s especially impressive given that neither Macek is old enough to get a driver’s license. Holes and Hearts lead singer Riley is just 12 years old, two years shy of his brother and bandmate Casey. Once you’ve heard Riley belt out a lyric, complete with ear-blistering heavy-metal screams, you’ll wonder if those ages are right but yes, we’re talking middle school here.
Not only are the two already writing and performing kicking metal/grunge/rock tunes, they’re slicker promoters and networkers than many indie musicians three times their age. “We’re building a [professional] family here,” says Casey, an utterly confident 14-going-on-40 who serves as the business “brains” of the two. “We’re putting everything in place.”
While their father Bill Macek, an accomplished businessman on his own, seems to be driving much of the promotional activity, the boys’ business acumen is still astonishing. In fact, we’ve never seen a pair this young have the kind of drive and nuanced professional vision the Holes and Hearts kids do.
The brothers, who’ve been jamming together since they were kindergarteners, developed a taste for heavy metal early in life. While most kids were getting obsessed with hip-hop, the Macek boys fed eagerly on acts like Tesla and Skid Row. “There was always 80s music on in our house,” Casey says. “That’s what we listened to.”
Already a regional sensation in their hometown of Tampa, FL-where they attend a performing arts “magnet” school-Casey and Riley seems to be building a national/global following. The band name comes from the younger brother, who was diagnosed with a hole in his heart and went through open heart surgery before he was a year old.
With the help of family-especially their extremely proud dad Bill –Holes and Hearts ably maintains a Facebook fan page, tweets, music giveaways, contests, You Tube video updates and their MySpace site, plus generating a decent stream of press mentions and booking gigs regularly. Then check out their MySpace page and you’ll see some traffic numbers which are virtually unheard of for indie musicians who aren’t yet global cult sensations. It’s a pretty intimidating package.
What’s more, despite their tender ages the brothers have already snagged a bunch of sweet endorsements, including props from LIP SERVICE clothing, Dean Markley Strings, N-Tune Guitar Tuners, DAVA Pics, Miniarik Guitars and Guayaki Yerba Mate Beverages.
While the boys’ material deserves attention on its own, it hasn’t hurt that Casey and Riley just happen to be nephews of Frank “Blame” Macek, a Grammy-nominated producer whose history includes work for Tupac and India.Arie. Uncle Frank plays the drums for Holes and Hearts (under the pseudonym “Med Mac,” produces their work and publishes their tunes through his indie label Mongol Records. But Frank Macek swears that the band’s material is all theirs. “Everyone asks me whether I did it, but they wrote it all themselves, I swear,” says Macek with a chuckle. “All I did was help them — I kept asking them ‘What are you trying to say?'”
At this point, if you wanted us to share sentimental stuff about how much the boys love music, or what they think of girls or how they find time for homework, forget it. Your editor has never done a more on-message interview in 20 years of journalism. They’ve got the script down cold; though they’re friendly enough, there’s no question that they know how they want their story to be told.
In fact, as we ended our Skype interview, Casey worked in a shout-out to his many sponsors and their products-as well as a big unsolicited thank you to ReMixed-transitioning so smoothly from interviewee to pitchman you almost didn’t see it coming. Your editor, who’s seen VPs of large PR agencies do worse, had to pick up her jaw off the floor.
Do the boys have room to grow? Sure. Though Riley has tons of intensity and great stage presence, his pitch and breath control could use work-and we’d like to see Casey keep building his precocious guitar-playing chops. Still, the Macek brothers have clearly “got it” both on and off stage-hot tunes, good looks, brains, freaky-strong business skills and ambition. We predict that they’re bound for arenas within five years, tops. So get your Holes and Hearts merch now!
FROM THE REMIXED ARCHIVES – 2009