Like that of many high schoolers, Wenner’s hand is scribbled with blue ink notes to himself, but in his case they include a reminder to call back Lyor Cohen, chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group. “He’s a friend of my mom’s,” he says with a shrug. “He likes our music, I think.” Soon to matriculate at Brown University, Wenner interned last summer at his dad’s magazine. “We’ve never been covered in the magazine, and I don’t know really how we would be,” Wenner says. “I don’t think it’s a bridge we need to cross.”
The topic of nepotism clearly irks his bandmate Byrne, who shares his father’s piercing blue eyes. “If somebody’s not able to get past that layer of bulls---t that’s so unimportant, then it’s not worth my time anyway,” says the high school senior, who plans to study ethnomusicology at Bard College next year. “I generally keep my parents out of the things I’m doing. Though,” he admits, “there’s definitely stuff we’ve gotten because of Gus’s folks.” Such “stuff” includes gigs arranged by Ron Delsener, a famed talent booker. The band has also performed in the Hamptons (Uma Thurman was in the audience) and at the 48Straight festival in Sun Valley.
“I tell them all the time, your lineage may open a door or two for you, but once you get in the room, it doesn’t matter,” says Jeff Peretz, a guitar teacher who has taught both Wenner and Byrne. Over the past several years, Peretz, 40, has gained a reputation as the rock tutor to Manhattan’s next-generation elite, having also taught Michael J. Fox’s kids and Samantha and Mark Ronson. On his current client roster are Julianne Moore’s 10-year-old son, Cal Freundlich (his band’s name is Call Me 212), and Miles Robbins, the 16-year-old son of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, who plays in the Tangents.
Sarandon, who tries to attend all of her son’s gigs, talks about the junior rock scene the way other moms talk about soccer leagues. “All the mothers are really close,” she says brightly, as she waves goodbye to friends after a Tangents performance at the Bowery Poetry Club. She manages to look glamorous even in her mom-ish ensemble of a button-down white shirt and jeans, a delicate pendant around her throat. “I think it’s a great outlet,” she adds.
Robbins is the band’s lead singer, and he writes most of their lyrics, which have a slightly angsty, fretful tone (“Drawn to the stage through iron bars/That sear into your eyes like inner-city scars”). Says Robbins, who has a handsome baby face and his father’s snub nose, “I’ve always felt like I was in this unspoken weird division, whether it was getting to skip the line at Disneyland or going to a new school where it was hard not to be known as my parents’ kid.” When it comes to his music, however, he believes his outsider perspective is inspiring. “That kind of edge really helps me in terms of writing.”