A few years back, 11-year-old Andre Reilly grabbed a guitar and started playing along with a Led Zeppelin record.
His mother, Marcita Reilly, took notice.
“All of a sudden, he starts playing it to the T. I knew this was something,” she said.
Since then, Andre, of Algonquin, has studied under expert guitar players, including T.D. Clark, formed a band, released a CD along with multiple YouTube videos and is booking gigs. His band, Andre and the Giants, will perform at 3 p.m. June 7 during Fox River Grove’s 95th Anniversary Celebration.
“This is his life,” Marcita Reilly said. “If you see him on stage, he’s electrifying. I believe this is his calling.”
With the guidance of his mother and father, Michael Reilly, a physician who’s also written classical music and released a CD, Andre plays regularly at open mic nights at Grassroots in Barrington. A student at Crystal Lake Montessori School, he won the Ronald Dourlet Scholarship at Harper College for Classical Guitar and has been accepted into the 2014 Summer Program for Classical Guitar at Northwestern University in Evanston.
With the band Alter Bridge and its member Mark Tremonti as one of his top influences, Andre talked about his music and his aspirations:
Kunzer: How and why did you start playing guitar?
Reilly: I actually started watching some Iron Maiden videos when I was like 5 years old. I started playing around 7 years old, and I fell in love with it, and that’s how I got started. I got more interested in singing and being the front man at 8 or 9 years old. Last year, the band started.
Kunzer: Did it come easy for you?
Reilly: It comes with a lot of practice and phenomenal teachers. If you practice a lot, it comes to you.
Kunzer: How often do you practice?
Reilly: About three hours a day, six days a week.
Kunzer: Describe your musical style.
Reilly: We’re more of a rock blues kind of band. We do songs like Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Beatles, some of The White Stripes. I actually write a lot and co-wrote a little bit with my father. We might be recording some of those songs soon.
Kunzer: Any other musicians you admire?
Reilly: Definitely Van Halen. He’s great at guitar. He started the whole phase with the technicalities and just awesome stuff. Also some other people I would say are Five Finger Death Punch.
Kunzer: What’s your ultimate goal or dream?
Reilly: To be like a good writer and musician and singer and songwriter and guitarist and be a rock star, I guess.