Abington Heights Middle School seventh grader Liam Fenton’s love of music was no surprise to his parents, Ryan and Abby Fenton of Clarks Summit, who say music has always been a part of their home.
What made them take notice was when, at age 2, Liam sat down at a drum set and kept a basic rock beat. Before he could form full sentences, he knew the names of bands and drummers.
Liam, now 12, performed with his band Brotality as a warm-up act before the Deep Purple and Judas Priest concert Sept. 2 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
In the past six months, Brotality has played live more than a dozen times, everything from local community events like the Back to School Carnival at Abington Heights High School, to the Bitter End in New York City on Aug. 26.
Then the phone call came that Brotality was booked for Bethel Woods.
Liam was speechless.
He initially thought he’d just be attending the concert on the lawn, and performing was an honor for him, he said.
When he was little, Liam would sometimes get up and play the drums on stage during breaks when his dad performed locally.
“Even as a small child, he had the confidence to get up and do it,” Abby Fenton said.
So Ryan Fenton, who is a drummer for local bands and has teaching experience, began giving his son lessons.
“He excelled so quickly,” he said. “I would play around on the guitar and we began to play together. He started taking off.”
Liam loves all kinds of music, but heavy metal is his favorite. At age 10 he enrolled in the Rock School of Music in Clarks Summit, and was taught by Lance Miley. Liam also plays guitar and sings. Learning under Pat Marcinko of Magdon Music, he caught the attention of Tom Ferranti of After Image Studios. In November of 2017, Tom reached out to the Fentons.
“He saw a video of me playing and he needed a kid drummer to do this song,” Liam said. “He had a singer, a guitar player and a base player and it happened to be Bryce and Reece Maopolski. I heard some of their originals and I loved them. Bryce and Reece heard me and invited me to play in Brotality, which is a band they formed. They asked me to be their drummer.”
“After that, everything snowballed,” Ryan Fenton said. “Worlds collided and something greater took over.”
Brotality is a heavy metal band created by the Maopolski brothers. The name evolved from combining the words “brothers” and “brutality.” The Maopolski brothers say Liam is a brother in faith. With plenty of talent all around, the chemistry between the three of them was immediate.
Bryce, 16, Reece, 14, and Liam bonded over their love of heavy metal music. After meeting in January, they quickly scheduled a time to get together and jam.
“When I heard Bryce and Reece, I was totally amazed because I didn’t know kids who could play like that,” Liam said. “It was awesome.”
Bryce, Reece and their parents, Paul and Dee Maopolski, live in Narrowsburg, New York. The two families get together regularly so the boys can practice.
“We have become close to their family,” Abby Fenton shared. “What happened here, is kind of magical. We met this family who has great values like ours, are active in their church and are examples to others. They share positive messages like, ‘It’s so important that you be yourself and make the right choice, even if it’s not the popular one.’ It’s rare to find teenagers that are willing to get up and say that publicly.”
“It’s a match made in heaven,” Paul Maopolski said. “Both families are just so thrilled to have met each other. The musicianship, the chemistry and the energy, everything – we are pinching ourselves. We are very blessed people.”
Both families are involved and committed to drive back and forth. The fathers manage the band. Evan Fenton, Liam’s younger brother, is the merchandise coordinator, selling T-shirts and CD’s at events.
Brotality composes original songs. “Doublespeak,” written by Bryce, was picked up by Bongo Boy Records. It is part of a compilation album called “Future Stars Vol. I,” due to release soon.
Heavy metal has complicated rhythms, a distinct sound and a reputation with a history of substance abuse among its artists. Brotality, however, wants to make a difference and share a positive message.
“Against the grain, embrace the pain,” is a line from their original song “Pain Monger.” The message is to not let society or peers influence you, even though it’s hard.
“When we are watching them play,” Ryan said, “Paul will turn to me and say, ‘they are firing on all cylinders.’ The three of them are something very special. The fact that we are even able to be a part of it with them is so cool.”
The Fentons enrolled Liam in Berkley’s summer music program this summer, supporting him as he grows as a musician. They are also committed to keeping him grounded.
Abby shared with her son, “You are amazing and I love watching you play. But, you are so much more than a musician and a drummer. I will always support you in your music. But you are also an amazing person. You are good with people. You have always been a stand up friend and put your arm around somebody when they needed it. I want the greatest success for you, and for you to follow your passion. But I want you to know, this is not the only thing that defines you.”
The family is grateful as new roads open up for Liam.
“God gave him a gift,” Ryan said. “Not only his talent, but the timing and the way it worked with meeting Bryce and Reece and the things that have happened since, have just been amazing.”
According to the band’s Facebook page, “Brotality’s passion is to use their music to share their faith and spread a positive message while embracing the brutality of living counterculture in today’s world.”
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