By RACHAEL LONG
Nashville, the city where budding musicians get their start, chase their dreams of being signed at a record label and sometimes even make it big.
A group of young people in the Brentwood/Franklin area are doing just that. The five-member boy band calls itself the “Next Door Boys.” Just like it sounds, the neighborhood boys linked up through the Next Door app and began to play music together.
But they aren’t your typical teenage garage band.
The Next Door Boys are a group of trained musicians who play classic rock, Southern rock and rock pop covers. They have a set list of more than 30 songs, and young though they may be, they’ve been mentored by the likes of Rich Redmond of Jason Aldean’s band, Greg Upchurch of 3 Doors Down and Adam Shoenfeld, a guitarist for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
The band is comprised of Kai Foster (15), Joe Larson (11), Miles Morrow (12), Wyatt Rogers (14) and Matthew Skoda (13). All five boys have some kind of formal musical training, at Cedarstone Music School in Hendersonville, and Sky Studios in Brentwood.
Rogers is the band’s lead singer and was cast in 2016 as Michael in the National Broadway Tour of Elf the Musical. He was re-cast for the musical in 2017 and even performed at Madison Square Garden. Rogers has studied vocal, acting and guitar performance with mentors like Ron Browning, Kim Franca, Ryan Greenawalt and more.
Skoda’s father, Mark, is the band’s manager, but also calls himself one of the “band dads.”
The Skoda family moved to Franklin — and eventually to Brentwood — from Memphis, where Matthew learned to play the drums. He began taking lessons from a local church conservatory and eventually began to play at the School of Rock Memphis. Before moving to the Nashville area, Matthew even played a public gig at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street.
“For Matthew, I think it was just innate,” Mark said, noting that his son started drumming lessons at four years old. “He has been drumming on everything and anything since.”
When the family moved to the area, Mark said Matthew told him he wanted to form a band. That’s when Mark said he posted an advertisement on the NextDoor app, and by January of 2017, the band had formed.
Mark said the parents of the band members had formed their own bonds, an effort he said might help the band stay together as the boys get older.
Although the boys have an interest in writing original music, Mark said they might have a hard time writing songs that are relatable to a wide audience until they’ve had more life experiences.
“They’re all going to writing camp this summer with Cedarstone,” Mark said. “But our objective, really, is to get them to a good 45-minute, what I’d call ‘knockout set,’ half covers [and] half originals.”
The band is being coached by Cedarstone Music School, Mark said, and beginning to source some original music. The Next Door Boys play regular gigs around Nashville and even have a standing monthly gig at Mellow Mushroom on Broadway in downtown Nashville.
“It’s really been pretty remarkable,” Mark said. “We’ve got a lot of great response from people because the band is so young but they’re really very good musicians.”
The Next Door Boys play gigs around the county in Spring Hill, Nolensville, Brentwood and more. They’re playing at a private engagement in Birmingham, Alabama later this month.
But before that big trip, the band has another performance, and this one is on the Eddy Arnold Amphitheatre stage in Crockett Park.
They won the chance to play at the city of Brentwood’s Summer Concert Series after winning the Battle of the Bands during the Yule Ball at the John P. Holt Brentwood Library earlier this year.
The Next Door Boys will open for Rubik’s Groove at the first concert series performance of the year on Sunday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m.
“They actually care about what they’re doing, they care about the craft and they get a lot of energy from being down on the stage,” Mark said. “At the end of the day, the kids play like they’re playing for the first time every time.”
The city of Brentwood will post an update on its social media channels Sunday should heavy rain or severe weather interfere with the Summer Concert Series.
For more information on the Next Door Boys, visit the band’s website here.