The way most of these musicians see it, it would be unrealistic not to accept a little help from their connections now and then. After Chief’s gig at Fontana’s, for example, Mike Moonves caught a late flight to L.A. to work on the score for an independent film, a job he got via a family friend. But of course, there’s nothing like achieving success independently. Zachary Waldman, the talent buyer at Lower East Side music venue Pianos, says he booked Moonves’s band there a few times this year based on talent alone. The same goes for a monthlong residency last year that he gave the Hatch, a band fronted by Michael Keaton’s 25-year-old son, Sean Douglas (Keaton’s real last name is Douglas). “Their connections didn’t have anything to do with the booking. I didn’t even know about either until after,” Waldman says.
Sitting in an apartment that the Hatch’s members share in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, Douglas comes across like any other struggling musician. The barely furnished pad is not typical of Hollywood gentry: The bandmates sleep in lofts; curtains provide a modicum of privacy. “It’s a creaky affair,” Douglas says with a laugh. On a recent tour, he explains, the band “couch-surfed” at friends of friends’ places.
The only hint of Douglas’s connection to celebrity is an image ripped out from a tabloid magazine that adorns the ancient fridge. A photo shows him and his dad at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Douglas, as it turns out, cowrote the music for The Merry Gentleman, an independent film his father directed, and a song by the Hatch is on the soundtrack. After the film’s festival premiere, the band performed at the release party.
Still, Douglas has deliberately kept a low profile. Last November the Hatch appeared on The Next Great American Band, an American Idol–style reality-TV show on Fox. Before filming, Douglas says, he explained to producers that “I wanted to keep the thing about my dad—not, like, hide it, but that I didn’t want them to make specific mention of it because I thought it would be distracting.” Perhaps he paid for such discretion. The band was voted off the show by its third episode.