by Rachel Jones | Photographs from J&J Digital Images
Avery Molek has the coolest bedroom I’ve ever seen. When he opens the door, we’re greeted by a shelf of Kiss dolls, three deep. We turn the corner and see a second shelf of dolls, including a row of Mr. Potato Heads dressed as the costumed rockers, face paint and all. A life-size, cardboard cut-out of Gene Simmons observes our interview from the corner, and in case I had any doubt what his favorite band is, the 6 year old shows me the crayon drawings he did of a stage with a Kiss drum set.
The band is not only his favorite, but also the reason he started playing the drums at age 2. “My dad put on some Kiss videos, and I wasn’t just keeping the beat like this,” Avery explains, steadily tapping a stuffed dog on his bed, “I was more like this!” he says, as he taps out a mini drum solo on the dog’s back and starts humming the song in his head.
A year later, Avery made his stage debut at his daycare’s talent show. “That was the first time we let him perform for an audience,” says his mom, Liz. “He used a kid’s drum set from Toys ‘R’ Us.” The first grader at Allison Park Elementary School graduated to an adult size set at age 5, and I still can’t wrap my head around how he can stomp the pedals and reach the cymbals at just 4’3”. But he does, with the smooth rolls and high-energy solos of a veteran. He even performs as a guest drummer for local grown-up bands, like Code Whiskey and Ruff Creek, without missing a beat, and also performs solo shows.
“If he could, he’d play with an adult band every day,” says Avery’s dad, Ed. “It’s clear that’s where his fun is.” Recording videos in his basement to post online is fun, too — all that matters is someone’s watching. “When you play for people, you’re thinking about rocking out for them,” Avery says. His favorite songs to rock out to are “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll” and “Hot for Teacher.”
More than 1 million people viewed Avery’s video for the latter on YouTube, skyrocketing the Washington, Pa. native into the spotlight. The positive feedback from fans and other musicians is still unbelievable to the Moleks. When Brad Paisley saw Avery’s impressive playing, he invited the youngster to join him on Good Morning America. He even performed a drum solo on LIVE with Kelly and Michael, which Avery’s drum teacher, Val DaPra, helped him practice for.
Avery learned the songs for his videos by ear, but he started taking lessons at age four to learn sheet music and finetune his natural talents. “I’m teaching him how to read drums and learn techniques to music he likes,” says DaPra, a percussion instructor at Guitar Gallery. “He’s a quick learner, so he’ll be a monster player later in life.”
People always ask Liz if Avery goes straight to his drums after school and practices until bed time, but that’s not the case. Avery is a normal 6 year old. He likes video games, he plays basketball at school, and he gets timeouts. “People think it’s hard or taxing for him to do shows, but he loves jumping on stage,” Ed says. “Kids have toys they play with more than others, and his just happens to be drums.”
Avery “Drummer” Molek, averydrummer.com.
This article is featured in the May 2013 issue of WHIRL Magazine.