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New faces of punk emerge

Eileen JoyceTailspin Tom performs at the Helling Library. Band members are James Brennan, (left), John Brennan (on drums), Walker Glenn, and Grant Nunnink.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The Beatles started out at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. The Grateful Dead began in a house in Palo Alto, California. Eddie Van Halen made it big at a Battle of the Bands in 1976. Sheryl Crow was a backup singer for Michael Jackson.

Every band has to start somewhere, and for local punk-rockers Tailspin Tom, it was in Walker Glenn’s garage three years ago.

Tailspin Tom features John Brennan on drums, his younger brother James on bass, Walker Glenn on guitar and lead vocals, and Grant Nunnink on backing vocals and guitar. The two eldest members of TT, John and Walker are both 16 and juniors. John attends Nevada Union High School, unlike Walker who is home schooled and takes classes at Sierra College. Grant, 15, is a sophomore; while James, 14, is in his first year at Nevada Union as a freshman.



Four years ago, the Brennan family moved to Grass Valley from Vista in Southern California. John who was 12 at the time, wasn’t completely into the move but said that it was something new. Nine-year-old surfer James couldn’t have cared less. Now that they have been here for a couple of years, they both declare that there is more to do here, and the music scene is much easier to get into here than in San Diego.

Grant and Walker, who are distantly related through cousins, met James and John at a Bible reading. They soon became fast friends and found out they all played instruments. After a couple years of messing around, the boys decided to make it serious and have officially been a band for a year and a half.




“We started playing old Beatles songs, but the first song we could play together was ‘Brain Stew’ by Green Day,” said John, who has been pounding his Yamaha drum set for about six years. James, who has five years of guitar and four years of bass under his belt, originally wanted to play guitar for Tailspin Tom. He was such a good bassist, however, that he was overruled. James uses a Peavey Milestone bass, and Walker plays a 1980’s Fender Stratocaster. Walker, who grew up in the shadow of his father’s guitar excellence, has been playing guitar for four years himself. While Grant has been strumming his red ESP/LTD for as long as TT has been together.

The name Tailspin Tom comes from a children’s book, TAILSPIN TOMMY, that Walker found in his grandparent’s restaurant.

“I thought it would be a cool name for a band. But ‘TAILSPIN TOMMY’ was kind of lame, so I changed it,” said Walker.

Everyone has to have his or her idol. For Sheryl Crow it’s Stevie Nicks, for Britney Spears it’s Madonna. Without the Beastie Boys and Rancid, Good Charlotte as we know it would never have existed. For the boys of TT, however, it is a lot more than that.

Each has his individual muse or fixation. Each one has his own specific taste of what’s good and what’s not. James’ big influences are Incubus and the Deftones. Much to the dismay of the rest of the band, Grant is obsessed with Metallica and Box Car Racer. His goal is to become as good as Kirk Hammet. But the boys can understand obsession, and Grant still plays music with them. Walker’s idol bands are Weezer, MXPX, Operation Ivy, Dropkick Murphys, Good Charlotte and Dogwood, while John loves 311, MXPX, Dogwood, AFI, The Foo Fighters, NOFX, and Unwritten Law.

Despite band practice once a week and homework from the merciless teachers at Nevada Union, these musicians still must find time to work. Currently, Walker is employed at SPD in Nevada City and John at Main Pharmacy. Grant is “looking” at the time being, and James simply doesn’t want to have a job.

With a PA system donated by Walker’s father and a demo released, these boys are making an account so they can save for recording an album.

Being in a punk band is excruciating work, but TT still has time to have fun and catch the shows that come through town and watch movies like SPINAL TAP. These guys even caught the midnight showing of EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

“My dad took us to Warped Tour. How cool is that?” said Walker.

The Vans Warped Tour is the tour that keeps most punk-rock fans alive. Maybe in the near future fans can catch Tailspin Tom rocking out the stage. Though their tastes in music range in a wide variety, each band member agreed that New Found Glory, MXPX, Good Charlotte, and Trust Company had the best acts out there.

Although it is tough to be in a band alone, it is even tougher to be band mates with a sibling. Bands like Good Charlotte, Chevelle, The Allman Brothers, the Ramones, Heart, The White Stripes, Van Halen, Willie Nelson, and The Beach Boys have done it.

“The most productive part of our day is when we fight,” exclaimed John. It is simply how every group works.

As the boys are becoming more and more known about town, they now have a show scheduled at the Nevada City Library. They will be playing from 7:00 to 8:00 on Friday, November 8. This is to benefit Cafe Libros, and only teens from 13 to 19 are allowed. Two of their previous shows have included Record Connection and Electronics, as well as the Nevada Union Amphitheater.

Grant and Walker write the songs, which all include an enjoyable melody and splendid, witty lyrics.

“We are not super hardcore Rancid punk,” said Walker.

Then again, they are not N’SYNC pop, either. This band plays the instruments, writes the lyrics, writes the music and sings the songs. This is the kind of band that will stick around for a long time, if they keep on performing and keep the fans coming in.

“My voice sucks, but I don’t care because I’m never loud enough anyway,” Grant joked.

“I only play drums because I’m not talented enough to play anything with strings,” John said.

Meanwhile, James is content right where he is.

“People who play bass are usually depressed and quiet, but ironically, I love my life,” he said.

Keep your eyes out for Tailspin Tom in the future, and have your friends and family stop by at their next show. You will be blown away by their subtle yet perfected talents. These down-to-earth boys will draw you into the world of punk music, locally and nationally.

You can also visit http://www.tailspintom.com for more information on Tailspin Tom. The site contains show dates, music downloads, and member bios.


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