A trio of Ironwood Ridge High School students rip through a myriad of ’90s rock favorites inside a high-ceiling living room. The three fresh-faced musicians are cutting loose in the early evening hours, playing the music their parents introduced them to as children.
The three Nighthawks, singer/drummer Noah Martin, guitarist Hunter O’Dore and bassist Brad Arffa—have played music together, in a band called 17Blacklidge, since the start of the year, alongside IRHS alum Jerry Bartell.
The rock-and-roll quartet describes their debut album, “Off the Ledge,” as equal parts psychedelic rock (think Alice in Chains) with hints of metal favorites, like Megadeath.
Martin heads the band, hosting weekly practices inside his parent’s house on Tucson’s north side.
It’s a busy schedule, given his nightly football practices (he’s the starting long snapper on the football team and plays wide receiver), but it’s a labor of love for the 17-year-old senior.
“Sometimes it gets a little tricky because I come home and I want to try to practice drums or try to do something musical, but I’ve got to get my homework done real quick and hop right back to school to practice,” Martin said.
The quartet have spent much of the year putting together their eight-track debut, produced at Tucson’s Cimamusic Mix & Mastering.
The three members of the band that reside in Tucson (Bartell is currently away at college in Idaho) said they’re pleased with the finished product they released.
According to O’Dore, 17, it’s amazing to have an album to his name at such a young age. He said his friends and family have enjoyed the LP.
“I think it’s pretty cool that not a lot of people can do what we’ve done at our age,” O’Dore said. “It’s something to be proud of. We were 16 writing an album, which is pretty crazy when you think about it.”
Arffa, who’s the band’s elder statesman at 18-years-old, believes the act’s debut album is a solid piece of work.
He’s not surprised, though, given the long hours and months they’ve spent in the Tucson studio crafting their tracks.
“We spent so much time working on it, and hours and hours in the studio, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., for a lot of weekends,” Arffa said. “I think it’s really cool and we’re all really proud of it.”
The band, which took its unique name from a late night’s drive through Tucson past an apartment complex, has a type of camaraderie that’s unlike anything its members have experienced, according to the men behind the instruments.
Martin remembers when he first heard the finished record over the summer, the tracks hitting all the high and low notes he’d envisioned. It’s a point of pride for all four of its members.
“It just seems super normal and when we hear it… it makes you know that this is what we want to do,” he said. “We all work, and we all have super crappy jobs, but they make money, so it’s fun. But we know that we don’t want to get caught up in that. We know that we’ve got to keep going and try to make this our livelihood and the way that we can just express ourselves and be us four guys that are best friends, just doing what we love and trying to put stuff out.”
Martin said the band is far from finished, regardless of where the college choices of its individual members takes them.
17Blacklidge is hoping to go on a tour soon, performing their hits for a wider audience and taking that next step in their collective musical evolution.
Martin said the band has a sizeable following among their fellow Nighthawks, which would help them fill any venue in town. He knows the four artists are ready to take the stage, putting on an electric night’s full of rock music.
“Our goal is to just play around as much as we can; just trying to get our foot in any door we can and play in a spot that’s open for us,” Martin said.