Teenage Band Sweet Chaos Has a New Single About School Shootings

Brynne Zaniboni Photography
Sydney Hefley (left) and Payton Taylor make up Sweet Chaos.

Sweet Chaos band members Payton Taylor and Sydney Hefley aren’t interested in meeting haters halfway. They have no time in convincing doubters that their brand of metal will thrash your brain and drive to your heart.

“We were at a show doing soundcheck, and we could hear the sound guys making fun of us,” Hefley said. “They said, ‘What is it? Bring your daughter to work day?’ during soundcheck. They couldn’t believe we were in a rock band as young girls. After we played, they came up to us and apologized for their comments. They laugh until they hear us play.”

The duo behind Sweet Chaos met and formed while students at School of Rock and started as a four-piece, then a three, until there were just two: Taylor and Hefley.

“It’s kind of funny, we took so long to pick a name,” Hefley said. “We went through five different names in two months. Finally, we wrote down a bunch of words we liked and put them on a wall. We picked two we liked and stuck with that. It’s not that exciting, but it got the job done.”

Taylor is 17 and plays drums, and Hefley is 19 and plays bass and sings, while also attending UNT. Both girls draw inspiration from a mixture of hard rock, metal and even hip-hop, both saying that Kendrick Lamar is their favorite lyricist. It makes sense, given Lamar’s unfettered take on political stances, that Sweet Chaos would take a similar cue while tackling gun violence in their newest single, "Again and Again," which releases Friday, along with an official video.

“We wrote it the week of the Parkland shooting,” Hefley says of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida. It caused 17 deaths. “It’s something that has been happening for so long, we’re passionate that these kind of things should never happen. Kids should never be afraid to go to school. We’re both in school, and it’s a really important issue to us. Something needs to change.”

"Kids should never be afraid to go to school. We’re both in school and it’s a really important issue to us. Something needs to change.” – Sydney Hefley

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Taylor remembers that she was with her friends when she heard the news of the shooting, trying to make sense of it all. Now eight months later, the band feels like no one — not politicians or the president — has done anything to make sure it won't happen again.

“We were in shock," Taylor says. "No one is doing anything about it.”

A portion of the lyrics finds the duo meditating on the cycle of violence: “Maybe if we did something this wouldn’t be happening / Again and again / Bring the nation to its knees, get up and forget / Again and again.”

“It brings light to these issues and makes you think about them," Hefley says. "Some of the lyrics remind people this is an issue and keeps them from forgetting and letting it happen again.”

The band recorded the single at Aslan Studio in Dallas as a follow-up to their 2017 self-titled EP. While they are young, Sweet Chaos has matured faster than most bands of any demographic, completing a tour of the central U.S. in 2016, and a mini tour, Texas Takeover, late last year. They recently played the legendary L.A. club Whisky A Go-Go, while claiming Trees and Three Links as their favorite Dallas clubs to play. Both Hefley and Taylor also won Rising Talent awards in drumming and bass playing by MXD Magazine in 2017, as well as the Rock and Metal 2016 "Rising Talent in Texas" award as a duo. Yet, when you look at the current landscape of popular music, guitars seem to be a dying instrument in the age of the 808 drum kit.

“We listen to a lot of big bands we are into that are guitar-driven,” Hefley says. “We try to be catchy and have cool riffs that people will want to listen to. Even though a lot of music isn’t driven by guitar, we try to make the catchiest music we can with guitar.”

Too often a new band with promise will emerge and writers and fans react with hyperbole, instead of allowing the rawness to make the necessary mistakes. We place our own shortcomings into musical acts comprising flesh and blood people, just like us. The most refreshing thing about Sweet Chaos is they only care about playing as loud, and as powerful, as they can.

Sweet Chaos will release their single "Again and Again" and a corresponding video Friday, while also opening up for The Guillotines, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, and legendary drummer, Richie Ramone, of The Ramones at The Prophet Bar. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12.