At Long Last
Every teenager with a guitar or a set of drumsticks has had dreams of being on stage—with the bright lights and the roar of an audience cheering for their original songs.
They dream of camaraderie with bands they’ve idolized, the thrill of playing city after city, and the unforgettable adventures on the road between shows. But, like athletes with hopes of going pro, high school musicians rarely get to live their dreams. Fortunately for an Edmond quartet, At Long Last, this is not the case.
At Long Last formed in 2008, when most of the members were only 12 years old, and their band is a rising star. Their debut album, Let’s Get to the Point, hit iTunes in August, and the band spent a good chunk of the summer touring the east coast with well-known pop-punk band Forever the Sickest Kids. Last month, in perhaps the biggest show of their career to date, At Long Last opened for The All-American Rejects. This was an especially significant milestone because the second song At Long Last ever played together was the former’s hit, “Swing Swing.”
“I never would have thought I would be playing with them,” Jordan Lindley admits. He says it’s surreal to play with bands that have influenced them—to have superstars treat them like equals. “It’s because everybody’s been in that position,” Carson explains. “Everybody’s been that opening band.”
Their first tour was 12 shows in the U.S. and Canada. Though consisting of endless hours crammed in a van and sleeping at odd angles, it whetted their appetite for more. “I had the time of my life. I’ll never forget it,” Caden Castelli says. The tour meant living the dream, playing alongside their heroes as peers.
The four have been friends since elementary school and started the band in seventh grade. At first, they were considered a talent-show act. Then they started playing gigs outside of school and getting noticed. Now juniors at Deer Creek High School, they’ve received support from their friends and parents. “They are the ones that have pushed us–every one of our parents have just pushed us to get to where we wanted to be,” Jordan says. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the opportunities we’ve been given,” Carson Hawkins adds.
At Long Last’s album Let’s Get to the Point has been in the works for a long time. The track, “Your Name,” comes from the early days of the band. “I wrote that one when I was probably 9 or 10,” recounts Jordan, singer and guitarist. He never thought it would be heard by anyone aside from himself and his bandmates.
Jordan writes the majority of the music, but everyone collaborates and sometimes other band members write songs also. “We write all of our own stuff,” Caden informs. “We wrote these songs from real-life situations. It’s something people can usually relate to,” Jordan says.
The band has already accrued a lifetime worth of memories. When Carson turned 16 while on tour, the singer of Forever the Sickest Kids brought him up on stage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” followed by Carson crowd-surfing. Their show in Danbury, Connecticut, was designated “Prank Night,” and one of the other bands, Paradise Fears, came out during At Long Last’s set and tied the arms of Cole Verble and Caden so they could barely play. They put shorts on Jordan’s face while he was trying to sing and started taking away Carson’s drums while he was playing. At Long Last retaliated by tee-peeing the stage during Paradise Fears’ set, and then both bands teamed up to attack the headliners on stage with Nerf guns. After the show, they all got together for a cookout.
More memories include the band’s antics between shows. In Canada, Cole split open his head on a table, spilling blood everywhere. “Then we ordered a pizza, and everything was fine,” Jordan says. Cole didn’t let the injury stop him; he even played the next day with a huge bandage on his head.
“I just want to get back on the road, and I think we all do,” Caden says. They’ve had offers, but school keeps them grounded for now.
Academics are important to everyone in the band, and so are their other real-world obligations. "Being able to balance [the music]... makes us look forward to it so we’re not sick and tired of it,” Jordan relates. Sometimes, conflicts are inevitable. The quartet missed the first four days of school this year because of their tour, and Cole missed a week of football practice. Their school was understanding and supportive, allowing excused absences for the shows. “There are often sacrifices, but it’s always worth it,” Jordan says.
The teenagers hope to record more music in the spring, in time to perform in a summer tour with new material. They record at Engaged Audio in Springfield, Missouri, with their producer and mentor, Kevin Gates. Until then, they’ll continue playing shows at local venues and private parties, keeping up with their schoolwork and other teenage activities. And they’re happy with that.
Carson Hawkins has always known what he wanted to do in life. “Ever since I was little, everyone else wanted to be astronauts or marine biologists. I just wanted to be a drummer in a rock band,” he reflected. He loves looking out at the audience from the stage and knowing they are there to hear him play. He’s motivated by his family and his bandmates. Carson is not only a rocker, but he is also very serious about education. He’s never received a B on a report card, and he’s almost fluent in Spanish. “I figure, ‘Why not?’ It gives me something to do in school, and it’s useful.”
Cole Verble was taught to play bass guitar by his brother, who is four years older. Now playing his old bass, Cole is proud to share his accomplishments with his older brother. He is motivated by his family, especially his dad who passed away not long ago. Apart from music, Cole is also an athlete, playing football, swimming, and running track. Academics are important, demonstrated by his membership in the National Honor Society.
Jordan Lindley sings and plays guitar. “As long as I can remember, I was shouting and singing and it was kind of bad for awhile,” he admits. Most of his family is in the medical field, but Jordan was inspired to take a different path by his uncle who was in a band. “It was cool to learn that my talent came from my family,” Jordan says. “That’s kind of what started me in wanting to do this.” When Jordan was six years old, his uncle died of a heart attack at age 30. A few months later, Jordan got his first guitar for Christmas. Since then, music has been his outlet, much to the delight of his supportive friends. “Whatever we do, they love it, and that’s just amazing to me!” he relates. Jordan can release good or bad emotions through his music, and it’s enjoyed by his fans. Additionally, he plays percussion in the school band and he is continually writing music.
Caden Castelli, lead guitar, has been playing since 5th grade. “I loved it so much. It was a lot of fun to play,” he says. Whether in a larger venue like the Diamond Ballroom or a smaller one like the Conservatory, he loves playing. Caden can’t wait to get back on the road for another tour. On the side, he DJs weddings and school dances. He’s also involved in student council and rides mountain bikes.