Teen Band Offers Harvey Victims Some Atomic Love

Atomic Love in a damaged living room: Adam LeClair, Logan Allison, Noah Watson, and Will Wooten (across).EXPAND
Atomic Love in a damaged living room: Adam LeClair, Logan Allison, Noah Watson, and Will Wooten (across).
Photo by Bob Ruggiero
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Hurricane Harvey has already been dubbed the First Disaster for the Social Media Age. Before, during, and after this most unwelcome guest landed on the front mat of Houston, tens of thousands of users logged into platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to do everything from search for missing loved ones and communicate with family members to document home damage or list services needed or volunteered.

The website Nextdoor.com gets even more granular for specific subdivisions and neighborhoods. Norchester — the Cypress-area subdivision off Grant and Jones Roads where I’ve lived for nine years — got hit particularly hard by flooding (yet again) due to its proximity to Cypress Creek.

This past weekend, Logan Allison put out a Nextdoor notice under the heading “small performance” that his classic-rock cover band, Atomic Love, would perform a gig in the driveway of his home to both raise the spirits of his neighbors and give them something of a break from ripping up wet carpet and hammering out sheetrock.

Atomic Love: A Garage Band with a Driveway GigEXPAND
Atomic Love: A Garage Band with a Driveway Gig
Photo by Bob Ruggiero

Oh, and the teenage drummer didn’t bother to tell parents Steve and Angie that their driveway was becoming a concert venue the next day for himself and bandmates Noah Watson (vocals), Will Wooten (guitar), and Adam LeClair (bass/vocals). All four band members are 16 years old and are just about to enter their junior year at Cypress Creek High School.

Eventually about 35 residents, ranging from toddlers to senior citizens, stood or sat in the Allisons’ driveway on Creektree to hear an hour-long set of tunes by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Ramones, Tom Petty, Queen, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath.

And despite the occasional off timing and flubbed lyric, for that hour, Norchestians (Norchestites?) let their Harvey woes float away. During one point at this, only their second performance, the band even stopped in mid-song to rise in unison and give a shout-out with their school cheer: “C-Y! C-Y-C! C-Y-C-R-E-E-K!”

“I thought about what I would want to do to forget about the storm, and classic rock is something that everyone can listen to,” Logan Allison says the next evening amidst jumbled furniture and an absence of solid walls in the family living room. “I had this fear that no one would show up! But it was nice to see people come together in hard times.”

Forgetting What Harvey Hath Wrought, though, was not an easy thing for the Allisons to do, given that at the end of the driveway stood a mountainous pile of debris that had been gutted and emptied after their home took on seven inches of water inside, something that shocked them.

The Allisons in front of their Harvey debris pile.EXPAND
The Allisons in front of their Harvey debris pile.
Photo by Bob Ruggiero

“We’ve been in this house almost nine years, and we’ve never flooded, never came close,” mother Angie Allison offers. But when Sunday evening rolled around and the question was not if but when the water would intrude through the front door, the family went into action. Some of their furniture was saved by balancing the legs on cans of Chef Boyardee pasta, and at one point the box containing the ashes of Angie’s mother floated out of its normal resting place in a closet. “I had to remind my mom that her mom was in the closet!” Logan says.

For 20 hours, mother and son bailed water into the kitchen sink, singing together songs from Led Zeppelin (Logan’s favorite band) to Carole King at top volume, but the damage was done. Fortunately, they had a lot of help mucking out with the help of volunteers from their church and Logan’s bandmates and friends. One parent showed up with a brand-new refrigerator for the family they had just purchased from Lowe’s.

“I can’t shed a tear for this house, not when I almost lost my husband last year. No hurricane can compare to that,” Angie continues. “We just lost things. The real important thing is our relationship.”

Logan Allison entered the world to the sound of a delivery doctor singing the lyrics to Chicago’s “Beginnings,” done at the insistence of his mother. But his interest in pounding skins is also something of a hereditary inheritance from his father.

Steve Allison grew up in Aldine and is a longtime drummer and percussionist who currently plays for the Houston Symphony Pops orchestra, jazz combo the Resoulutions, and cover band the Grateful Geezers. He also gives drum lessons, and has worked in bands on a more godly level for Lakewood, The Met, and Second Baptist churches, and currently oversees the drumline for the Cypress Christian School performing band.

For the end of their Driveway Gig, Atomic Love serenaded the crowd with a ukelele/voice version of "Can't Help Falling in Love"...while checking lyrics on their phones.EXPAND
For the end of their Driveway Gig, Atomic Love serenaded the crowd with a ukelele/voice version of "Can't Help Falling in Love"...while checking lyrics on their phones.
Photo by Bob Ruggiero

Logan himself started playing drums seriously in April 2016, just a month before Steve suffered and survived a heart attack that has left him with 17 stints in his body.

“It took me out of the loop immediately until I got strong enough,” Steve says. “I was still on a four-wheel walker when I first came home, but I started going back to playing in August.” Occasionally, Logan would sit in with the Grateful Geezers for a few tunes to give his father a break.

It was this year that Logan and his friends started putting together Atomic Love after a musical collaboration between himself, singer Watson, and a keyboardist friend named Willow fizzled out. LeClair — then strictly a singer — wanted to form a band to compete in the Cypress Creek High School talent show.

“That also gave me an excuse to learn how to play the guitar,” Wooten says. So he and LeClair essentially hijacked Allison into the fold, telling him "you are going to be on our band." They operated as a trio with LeClair on vocals until he left due to a disagreement and Watson was then recruited. LeClair later came back into the fold, but with an added responsibility.

“Logan threw a bass at me and told me I had a week to learn two songs!” he says incredulously. At the suggestion of Angie, the band christened themselves Atomic Love (name considered then jettisoned: "The Guys with Ties"). Those two numbers were performed, and Atomic Love took home the second place medal for the talent show. Now, the band is concentrating on some serious woodshedding to hone the songs they know and work on new material (Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" is #1 on the list, just in time for the first day of school).

“I think we’re only gonna get better. And I hope at one point we’re able to really create something that is both new and that people can connect to,” Watson says. Wooten adds “The best part for me is playing it live, and we want to have a broad range of songs.”

In addition to working on more covers, Logan Allison says the band wants to branch into original material, which they’ll record in dad Steve’s home recording studio on the second floor of the house. And they want to play some non-driveway shows, perhaps at the House of Blues, Fitzgerald’s, or Mo’s Irish Pub in nearby Vintage Park.

Atomic Love’s social media presence — crucial these days for any new band — is currently limited to information shared on the members’ own personal Snapchat accounts, though they are looking into adding band Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Facebook, Allison says, seems like it’s “dying,” especially for millennials.

They are also looking at getting funding for new equipment (the Driveway Gig featured a buzzy microphone, and the band went through three different guitar amps). But given the fact that the foursome is only together geographically for two more years, what happens after high school?

They hope to attend college in the same vicinity, which would allow them to rehearse and still play some gigs. Currently, the members are eyeing majors in music (Allison), veterinary medicine (Watson), philosophy (Wooten), and online marketing (LeClair). But right now, there is a much more immediate goal for the new school semesters, according to a very passionate LeClair.

“We don’t want to come in second place again at this year’s talent show!”

For more information on Atomic Love or to reach the band, email atomicloveofficial@gmail.com

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