The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.
– Pearl S. Buck
It was July 10, 2021, and I was at The Alpine covering the first Renopalooza fundraiser. It was a day long event featuring local musicians and bands. Mid day a band of high school aged boys called Split Persona took the stage and took control of the room. I new immediately that Split Persona had a little something special going on. Their skills and stage presence were beyond their young years.
Split Persona is made up of drummer Mike Patterson, bassist – vocalist Jacob Rubin, lead guitar – vocalist Brogan Kelly, and lead singer – rhythm guitarist Zander Hoschak. Patterson is the only one of them old enough to drink in the clubs and bars they play in. Even though they work as a team, Zander is the captain of that team.
Living in Truckee at 13, Zander had been playing guitar for about 6 months when he decided to take his amp and guitar out to the streets and busk. To his surprise folks were enjoying his playing and tossing money his way. Soon he had enough for lunch, so he headed to the Truckee Thursdays Festival where Andy Frasco and The U.N. were playing. Zander had a dream of getting on stage with the Foo Fighters, but this opportunity was right in front of him. So he made his way to the front edge of the stage, and held up his cellphone with the message on it, ”I’m 13, can I play a song with you?”, and it worked.
They brought him up on stage and asked him what he wanted to play. Having never been on stage before Zander was frightened, yet bold. In front of a record crowd of 600 he chose to play Eruption by Van Halen. He automatically slid right into Van Halens Talk About Love, just like they would do, and Frasco’s band joined in. When the song was over Zander started to leave the stage so as not to overstay his welcome, but the band insisted he stay to play one of their songs with them.
The very next day Wonderbread 5 was playing at a Martis Camp Summer Concert event. Zanders father, Chris, was helping them out and the band was talking about ‘this kid’ that got on stage with Andy Frascos band the day before, so he told them that was his son. They got excited and had Chris bring Zander down to the show to play with them. Zander happily obliged and got up there and played with them to the audience of about 400.
It was this experience that caused Zander to decide that he wanted to be the front man / singer of his own band.
The current Split Persona came together through a couple different happenings. Zander put together a band for a ‘Battle of The Bands”, which included Brogan Kelly, and they ended up winning the contest. They had not decided on a name yet, when Brogan noticed a poster in Zanders bedroom from a one time event he had done where he used the name Split Persona. Brogan thought that was perfect, and it was decided. From there they got to play the Whiskey a Go Go, and then had an EP release at the Holland Project in Reno, but then the pandemic put the brakes on. Momentum lost.
Eventually due to their jobs, the drummer and bass player could not commit to an ongoing project any longer. This is when drummer Mike Patterson and bassist Jacob Rubin joined the team. Feeling that the chemistry is now perfect, they couldn’t be happier writing songs and touring together.
Before any of these adventures, back in 2016, Zander and his father, Chris went to see 3 Doors Down in Reno. They sat in the front row (not their real seats) directly in front of guitarist Chet Roberts. Zander tried the cell phone message thing. It didn’t get him on stage, but it did start a conversation with Chet about music, and got him Roberts’ wrist band and a drum stick. After the show Chris messaged Roberts, thanking him for his kindness. Five years later he responded, saying he will be in Reno for a show at GSR, and he wants to meet up and talk with them. They meet at Starbucks in GSR, have a great talk and Roberts gives Zander two tickets to that nights show. On the sly he has Chris bring him a Split Persona t-shirt to where on stage.
Suffice it to say, Zander and his girlfriends minds were blown when they saw Roberts in the Split Persona t-shirt on the GSR stage. Roberts later invited them out to Nashville to record one of Zanders songs. They recorded I Need More, and still stay in touch to this day. Unbelievable!
I recently checked out their show at Cypress in Reno. It was a modest crowd of about 50, but they were way into it. Split Persona had them completely engaged from the start. The crowd was jumping, and heads were banging. The energy was palpable. At one point I was shooting from a few feet back from the stage and realized I was in the mosh pit area, and was in grave danger of personal injury. Not really, but I thought it best to relocate anyway.
They had the look and feel of a seasoned band that was comfortable in there own skin and knew want they were doing. Their sound was awesome and once again, their stage presence was great. If you like punk, grunge or rock and roll, you will like Split Persona.
Youth is a hook that won’t last forever. Many have disappeared from the limelight after their cuteness faded. Some, like Buddy Holly, had huge success early on, but were taken away from us too early. Others who found success quite young, like Joan Jett, Steve Winwood, and more recently Lorde, have stood the test of time, and continue to do great things. At five years old Mozart was composing and performing before European royalty, and he went on to do great things.
With new management in place Split Persona is currently putting together a west coast tour that will take them to 10 cities in 10 days, from Washington to San Diego and Las Vegas this August. Keep an eye out for Split Persona and check them out while it still only costs a small cover charge.
Age is both a state of mind, and a measure of time, and they can be very different. Trust me.
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now
– Bob Dylan
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.