"Ever since we started learning music, we've been playing together."
The members of 0 Miles Per Hour — Chrissy McKeever, Dakotah Walker, Jack Dee and Jackson Bates — are on the road, somewhere between Gainesville and Jacksonville, headed to the first show of their spring break tour. They're passing the phone around in their car, Zoom screen on, trading off who answers what questions from their hometown paper.
The foursome make up 0 Miles Per Hour, an Orlando outfit with an undeniable gravitational pull. They are the kind of band you hear about before you hear them. When you finally listen, you understand the hype and spread the word. And it all began in the halls of Whispering Oak Elementary in Winter Garden.
Bates shares how the band formed: "Me and Chris originally started learning how to play music around eighth grade ... we started playing really small shows to, like, five people."
He continues, "Chris has known Jackson since pre-K and then we were taking lessons from Dakotah's dad for guitar. We needed a drummer and he was like, 'My son's really good at drums.' And it just kind of stuck. So now it's all of us."
0 Miles Per Hour's sound is hard to restrict to any single genre. When asked to describe their band — in the most collaborative way — the four land on the term "energetic." There's certainly no denying that. Their stage presence exudes confidence, with nods to grunge and glam rock. Their sound melds surf, punk and garage rock; the lyrics are so personal they become universal. Fans know the words to most every song, and the inevitable pit can tug you in like a rip current.
This is a band of young people — Generation Z, the generation that is ready to save the world as long as the rest of us don't get in the way. Walker is currently in high school; McKeever, Dee and Bates are freshmen at UCF.
They are all navigating school and jobs, life and an ever-tumultuous world; but the constant has always been each other — and music. The band remains their top priority, and even though they're young, their years as a band have led to a level of seasoned assuredness.
Bates, keeping his eyes on the road, speaks to this dynamic: "It also helps that we started so young. We've had four years to figure out how to navigate it all. So it's almost like it's the beginning, but we've already been doing it."
Walker echoed these sentiments, adding that "seeing the progression of where we were and where we are now makes us want to do it even more."
There are many more milestones and markers ahead for the band, including one particular rite of passage in the Lone Star State. "South by Southwest! We're going to Texas, it's going to be our first out-of-state show." The band are set to play the venerable music fest as part of a showcase hosted by Orlando's SmartPunk records.
"We've been trying to make it out of Florida for awhile now," continues Walker. "And it's a really cool way that we're doing it. ... We're really excited. I'm really grateful to the SmartPunk guys for helping us out and sending [them] all a shout-out."
We asked if they're workshopping any tour survival tricks. "I think we're still learning," says McKeever. Bates offers the evergreen tip to "bring deodorant."
The more we learn about the band, the more clear it is that they're 0 Miles Per Hour in name only. The band just released a new single, "0214," with more new music ahead, as well as collaborations and shows booked. They show no signs of stopping.
McKeever reflects on the surreality of the moment they've built as a band: "Sometimes I get impostor syndrome. Like, are we really that good? Or should people actually like us this much? Should we be getting these cool shows? ... I have to remind myself that we've worked really hard to get where we are."
The band harbors plenty of gratitude for their hometown. "Whenever we come back to Orlando, I'm reminded there is a crazy amount of really good artists and really supportive people that are just in this one town," says Dee.
McKeever adds that "it's a great town and I'm really grateful for the community we found ... and it has the biggest McDonald's." Walker adds, "And we have Orlando Weekly."
Damn straight we do. The kids, they're alright.