Award-winning local band Skeleton Curse is pretty good by any criteria. What makes them truly remarkable is their ages — the band members range in age from 12 to 15.
If you attended the Christmas parade in DeLand Dec. 1, you might have noticed the float with four kids shredding some metal Yuletide music — that’s Skeleton Curse.
Or perhaps you attended the Volusia County Fair this year and caught the juvenile talent contest, which Skeleton Curse won for the second year in a row, with a rendition of “Black Honey” by the rock band Thrice.
Guitarist Landon Siebens, 13, and drummer Liam Hathaway, 12, who both attend Casa Montessori in DeLand, started playing together as Skeleton Curse four years ago. When they decided they needed a singer a couple of years later, it wasn’t long before small-town magic presented a serendipitous solution — the now-12-year-old Emily Cloudman, daughter of DeLand City Commissioner Chris Cloudman, whose wife happens to work in the veterinary field with Liam’s mother.
Seeing Emily’s performance as Ariel in the musical The Little Mermaid, put on by the after-school program Millennium Musicians, sealed the deal, and the three kids began practicing once a week in the Cloudmans’ living room.
Another couple of years and another chance encounter between parents at a show at The Elusive Grape this year brought Skeleton Curse bassist Noah Rutherford, 15.
Noah, who is currently home-schooled, has played bass since he was 10. In a further bit of small-town serendipity, the show was a performance by DeLand-based musician and songwriter Magda Hiller, who also happens to be Landon and Liam’s music teacher at Casa Montessori.
But Skeleton Curse in one form or another has been playing together at parties and local events for years. Landon, who just recently turned 13, has gotten particular attention on social media for his abilities on lead guitar.
This year, he was brought on stage by alternative metal band Sevendust at the Welcome to Rockville concert in Jacksonville, and a video of him winning a “shred-off” guitar contest there has been viewed more than a million times.
“Something about a huge concert, the vibes from it, make me just want to go, go, go,” Landon said in an interview. “I just love it.”
“Landon to me is kind of a combination of reincarnated ace guitar players, and Liam is similar. They’re a package — they’re connected,” Hiller said.
“They’re not just people she performs with, they’re her best friends as well,” Emily’s mother, Megan Cloudman, said. “And our families are very close. They’re such nice kids, with a passion and talent for music, who found each other.”
So far, their pay for a gig is like a lot of up-and-coming bands — food and drinks.
Next up for Skeleton Curse is writing and performing an original song, composed by Landon and Liam, with lyrics written by Noah and sung by Emily.
And after that?
“For me, it’s being signed. That’s the biggest dream,” Liam said.
Liam, Landon and Noah plan to continue in the music business as adults.
“I want to be a veterinarian,” Emily said.