The members of the local band Ergo We Play went back to school last week bearing the title Best Teen Band after winning the National Association of Music Merchants' SchoolJam USA battle of the bands. The kids from Farragut High School brought home $5,000 for their school, which lead singer Alex Zimmerman says will go toward a new sound system.
The band finished third in the same competition in 2011, which Zimmerman says makes the victory extra special. After being one of eight bands selected for this year's competition (out of an original pool of about 200 bands from across the country), Ergo We Play spent a few days in Los Angeles rehearsing for a performance in front of a panel of judges. After the 15-minute set, Zimmerman says, the band was confident, but began to feel the heat when the final placings—determined by popular online voting and the judges—were announced.
"When they announced third and second, we got pretty nervous," he says. "I thought, great, I've got to come back to Knoxville and tell everyone we didn't even place."
As winners of the competition, Ergo We Play will travel to Frankfurt, Germany, to play at the SchoolJam Germany finals. "I'm going to have to miss a lot of school," Zimmerman says.
Ultimately, the win gave Zimmerman the encouragement to continue to pursue music.
"We really saw that maybe we do have potential," he says. "This is kind of our chance to see if we're worth our salt."