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Whitestone guitarist rocks out with his bandmates
By Alex Palmer

Michael Rubin, the Whitestone native who is the lead guitarist and vocalist for rock band The Inoculated Canaries, talks about his band’s music with the knowledge and passion of someone who’s been playing for years. It’s easy to forget he’s just 14 years old.

“Everyone in the band is still in high school,” he says, referring to the other three members, none of whom are old enough to vote.

But don’t mistake their youth for lack of experience. All four have been playing — and collaborating with each other — for years. Though they all go to different schools, the four met at the extracurricular program School of Rock New York, which works with aspiring musicians to master their performance and the business of music making. They formed the Inoculated Canaries in 2010.

“One day while we were trying to come up with a name, I was in biology class not really paying attention when my teacher said something about ‘inoculating canaries,’” says Rubin. “You don’t forget that when you hear it, so we decided to go with that.”

With a new EP and a growing profile in the city, the band is aiming to make their music much more than an after-school activity. The EP, titled “The Blue Laws,” was released Nov. 16 and includes three original songs from the band. Rubin describes the writing of the songs as a collaborative — and occasionally contentious — process.

This is due in part to each member bringing his different musical tastes to the effort.

According to Rubin, while he loves Pink Floyd, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Fred Leighton is “a metal head” who likes Metalica, bass player Brian Kerwick prefers Aerosmith, and drummer Lucas Tuo “is always trying to find music he hasn’t heard before.”

This can make for some lively debates about songs.

“For this EP, me and Fred spearheaded the writing, but you come up with lyrics you like and bring it to the other guys and they will say ‘this is nuts,’” says Rubin. “Then you have to figure out how you’re going to make it work for everyone.”

But he maintains that this is exactly what makes the band work, helping to create the its sound, which incorporates this variety of influences. And it’s helping to get them noticed.

On Nov. 16 they were featured on “The Vinny Vella Show,” the public-access program hosted by “The Sopranos” actor, which broadcasts throughout New York City. They have recently performed at the BMW car show Bimmerstock as well as the local Malba car show. The next step is to get their songs on the radio and iTunes.

One of the band’s biggest challenges now is to balance this burgeoning music career with the fact that their priority remains attending class and getting good grades. Rubin recalls how at the end of the three-day weekend during which they recorded the EP, they came home from the studio at 1 a.m., “we remembered, oh, we have to get up at 6 a.m. for school tomorrow.”

For more information about the band, check out its website at www.theinoculatedcanaries.com.

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