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Most wouldn’t know it, but bassist Joe DeMeritt and drummer Chris Hoedebeck of the genre-defying band SURROUNDED BY MONSTERS from Denton, Texas, are actually teachers – the cool kind with beards, tattoos, silicone ear plugs, and big hearts.

Who do they teach? The students at the School of Rock in Southlake, Texas, who will be performing this Sunday at a showcase to benefit the School of Rock Charity Fund at the House of Blues in Dallas.  (Event information here.)

School of Rock is an organization that believes the best way to learn music is to play music.  Their performance-based schools for children of all ages can be found in the U.S., Canada, and México. “When I was going back to school, I needed a job and got involved teaching here through my good friend who’s the Musical Director,” shares SBM’s Joe DeMeritt. “I’ve been teaching on and off for the last 16 years.  It’s my favorite thing to do outside of performing with my own band.”

Southlake bands performing this Sunday include The Grohl Show (Foo Fighters, Scream, Nirvana, QOTSA), British Invasion (Kinks, Cream), Metallica vs. Guns N’ Roses, The Dean’s List, and Rock 101.

“There’s a large gap between the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’ around here,” DeMeritt explains. “Any student entering into a scholarship program is here because they want to be here. One of my older scholarship students… you just know he has some trouble at home. That kid is here after school everyday rehearsing, jamming, or helping out with the younger kids. As someone who was ‘saved’ by music, I can tell this kid is in the same boat.”

All proceeds from Sunday’s performance will benefit the School of Rock Charity Fund, the scholarship program that provides instruments and lessons to those who are in need of financial assistance for their musical education but do not lack in the desire to crank it up and rock out.

“School of Rock is different than a regular music school,” DeMeritt elaborates.  “Basically, we teach passion.  Passion powered by performance.  To learn Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile,’ we learn about the amps and guitars and the effects, but we also learn about Jimi Hendrix and 1968.  Then we learn the song, learn how to play it with a drummer and bass player, and learn doing the solo with the guitar behind our head! [laughter] Ultimately, we set them all up with the basics.  We let them find their voice and choose their directions.  I’ve taught everything from AC/DC to Golden Earring to Refused to Pantera.  We teach dreams, baby!”

Both DeMeritt and Hoedebeck will be standing in the audience at the House of Blues in Dallas this Sunday, celebrating an evening of music and cheering for their students on the stage, many of whom have come a long way.

“The ability to watch these kids grow is one of the most amazing feelings. Children are our future and I’m thankful to be in a position where I can really enrich and change lives on a daily basis.  This is kind of scary, but we – the teachers – are the people these kids want to be.  I made many mistakes in my life – some in the world of music, some in the actual world. I’m lucky to be able to share my hard-earned knowledge from both worlds with these kids. To be a role model in a musical way, but also as a human being, is one of the gifts I can give back.”

Learn more about School of Rock here.

Novella, the debut album by SURROUNDED BY MONSTERS, was tracked at Infrasonic Sound and Bucket of Truth studios in Los Angeles, was produced by IWRESTLEDABEARONCE guitarist Steven Bradley, and features album art by Rick McDonald.  It can be purchased from the Nuclear Blast USA Webshop, on iTunes, and on Amazon.

New Blood” is SBM’s latest video.


Mike Batson – Lead Vocals
John McCoy – Guitar
Lee Dudley – Guitar
Joe DeMeritt – Bass
Chris Hoedebeck – Drums

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