Out of Essex like a locomotive, ladies and gentlemen, The Implants! In true punk rawk tradition, four high-schoolers got together in a basement and wrote some songs. They entered the Buzz Battle of the Bands and stole the show. Chris Parizo sits down and gets the Implants.

One of my favorite episodes of The Wonder Years , the “coming of age” TV series about an adolescent boy growing up in suburbia America in the early seventies, has to be when little Kevin Arnold joins a high school rock band. They call themselves The Electric Shoes and they practice in Kevin’s garage. They only know how to play one song (“Louie, Louie”… or was it “Sunshine of Your Love?”) and they play it terribly. But they get to play a show at someone’s birthday party, Kevin dresses up in his sister’s rock and roll threads, Winnie “Super” Cooper falls deeper in love with little Kevin… furthering alienating herself from Kirk McCrea and the band gets shut down by the cops. Before the episode fades out and the adult Kevin states why he’ll never forget that warm summer night, the kids at the party rise up and chant “Let them play!”, defying authority and diving into that crazy world known as rock and roll.

The only reason why I bring up The Electric Shoes is because they are a perfect example of what a high school band is suppose to be… sucky. Even if you are a child prodigy, the odds of finding other musicians between the ages of eleven and seventeen in a public high school who can keep up with you is pretty much zilch. So you are destined to play in your parent’s garage for the next seven years, smoothing out your chops and learning your trade until one day, you get the big break you have been looking for… anything.

My first spotting of The Implants was at WBTZ’s High School Battle of the Bands held in Club Toast roughly six months ago. I was psyched to hear that an Essex band had made it into the finals. Being from Essex myself, my fading sense of hometown pride had kicked in and I was anxious to hear what was coming out of my old hometown.

The other bands were fine, pretty cool high school rock. I bounced my head to the grunge, scoffed at the ska (or maybe that’s SKAffed at the ska) and grimaced at the groove rock… good music and nice musicianship from the up and coming future of Vermont music. Even if I didn’t like the genre chosen for each band, I can honestly say that none of the bands sucked like The Electric Shoes sucked(I will mention at this point that EVERY high school band that I was in did indeed suck.. sorry Jef but we did).

The Implants took the stage and it was pretty impressive, cool old school, non-poseur punk with great pop hooks that had me bouncing my head and smiling. I was pretty impressed.

But when lead singer Siara Cronin began her chorus for their opening song “May is Sick”, I stopped moving and stared in disbelief at the stage. Coming from this “girl next door” looking teenager came one of the best tribal and angst ridden screams that I have ever heard in my life. The contest was over, The Implants won hands down.

The Implants are Siara Cronin (vocals, guitar), Brandon Perras (bass), Noelle Duncan (guitar, vocals) and Tyson Minck (drums). The foursome began playing together after discovering they all shared the same musical interest. Bands like That Dog., Shudder To Think, Team Dresch, Battershell, Hole, 7 Year Bitch and locals Zola Turn were all mentioned as influences when I got to sit down and talk to the band before a recent Emerald City show in Montpelier.

“Courtney Love is cool,” says Noelle. “She just rocks. I hate that nice girl rock.”

A couple of weeks later, Brandon gave me a copy of their studio demo to listen to. The yet to be titled tape, destined to be released on CD sometime in the near future, features music that is reminiscent of the early New York City punk days, six songs that could easily be bouncing off the walls of CBGB’s today as much as it could have been back in the late seventies, there is no “nice girl rock” here.

The opening track “May is Sick” features a straight-up punk riff with the haunting vocals of Siara. Noelle takes over on lead vocals on the second song “Lather, Rinse and Repeat”, a tough pop-grunge tune with an excellent verse-chorus transition and Courtney Love-esque vocals. Another highlight would have to be the quirky “Bake Sale”, a song written with an obvious sense of humor, with Siara making cat-like noises over a pop chord progression, punctuated with cool bass fills by Brandon. Tyson Minck’s hard-hitting drumming styles shine on the emo-tune “Ringer”. My personal favorite would have to be “Screaming Things”, a fast punk/pop tune that bounces back and forth from mellow to hectic.

After winning the High School Battle of the Bands, The Implants were invited by Zola Turn, Non Compos Mentis, Chin Ho! and Big Heavy World to play some upcoming shows.

“It was so cool to be asked to play with these bands,” says Siara.

Recent shows included a showcase slot at Toast during the Burlington Music Conference, an opening slot with Zola Turn at 242 and two shows with Chin Ho!, one being a Montpelier show at Emerald City and the middle slot at the Ho! CD release party, held at Club Toast. The band is also slotted to play with Non Compos Mentis at Metronome during a Big Heavy World Sunday all ages show, as well as a New Year’s Day show at 242 with The Skamaphrodites, Drowningman and Bag of Panties.

How did The Implants deal with their sudden success? Embarrassing question, I know.

“We weren’t treated differently (after winning the Battle of the Bands) by our friends at school,” says Siara. “A lot of people were like: `Hey! You won! I didn’t know you’re in a band!’

We were mobbed by a bunch of goth kids on Church Street, though. That was pretty strange.”

“We were invited to play an Essex Hockey Team party once,” laughs Noelle. “They had hip hop playing over the stereo, when we started to play everyone kind of scattered… they said we were too loud. They went outside and started listening to `Ghetto Superstar’ from a car stereo.”

“We weren’t that offended,” laughs Tyson.

For the future, The Implants plan on building a strong local following and hope to release a CD sometime in the near future. Their first single, “Anorexic Man” will be featured on the next Big Heavy World compilation and will also appear on an upcoming Good Citizen radio promo CD that will be sent out to 250 college radio stations by GAVIN Radio Distribution. It’s time to stop thinking about The Implants as a “high school band”, but consider them as a local band with members that happen to be in high school.

Kevin Arnold would be proud.

Chris Parizo will never forget that warm summer night .