Oliver Sachs credits the name of his band to his mother.
“After we moved into this community, they put up speed limit 18 signs, and my mom is completely convinced it’s because of her. She would speed down the road,” he laughed.
Oliver was just forming the band with friends Zach Yenovkian and Alex Boswell when his stepmother said a lot of band names are randomly chosen. She suggested Speed Limit 18; the name stuck.
Friends since Rehoboth Elementary, the teens are now eighth-graders at Sussex Academy, where Oliver plays drums and Alex plays saxophone. Zach, who is not in the school band, said he plays the role of moral support for his friends.
“But you’re not even there!” Alex exclaimed from the couch in Oliver’s room, where the band relaxes after practicing in the adjacent garage.
“OK, I play the lack of moral support,” amended Zach, who started playing guitar on a whim.
“I was in the car in second grade, and I just blurted out, ‘I want to play guitar!’ and my mom said something really great. She said, ‘No!’” he laughed.
A year later, Zach still showed interest, so his mother bought him an acoustic guitar; he also sings and writes songs. In addition to drums, Oliver also sings, writes and plays piano. Alex is a writer, co-singer and pianist, and sometimes he plays his fourth-grade recorder.
“Yeah, Alex forgot his saxophone at school, so we improvised with the recorder,” Oliver said at a recent rehearsal. “For some songs, we use it anyway.”
In 2016, Oliver was writing and recording quirky songs - “Herb the Turtle,” “The Moonman” and “Shared Custody Duck” - on his own. One day while Alex was visiting, the two wrote a song together, “Cat Goes Splat,” a parody of musical genres detailing a cat’s fall from a roller coaster.
“Alex wrote the rap part, which is the best part,” Oliver said. “I had a lot of fun. Making songs with someone else is a lot better than doing it on your own.”
Bandmates cite groups 21 Pilots, Imagine Dragons and Panic at the Disco as major influences in their songwriting and performance styles.
“We like alternative, rocky bands with inspiring lyrics,” Zach explained. Oliver especially likes indie-pop band AJR, comprising three New York City brothers.
“They produce all their own music in their living room, do-it-yourself pop in a way, that’s not a whole studio production telling you what to do,” he said. “They do whatever they want and still sound professional.”
The group brainstorms ideas before writing lyrics, then music. Ideas may come from the most innocuous sources: a giant Jenga game piece in a teacher’s classroom inspired “Block of Wood in the Hood.”
For several months, the band has been fine-tuning its live show, which incorporates performance art, in that they wear bike helmets or a horse mask, with original songs like “Bees,” “A Story 4 the Geese” and “Sometimes Words R Stoopid.”
Oliver did not want to reveal the details of their live show, which he hopes to launch in June.
“It will be cooler and better, not just a setlist. We want it to be more of a Broadway performance,” he said. “We’re in the early stages, just looking for exposure, and hope people want us to play locations till we’re playing Madison Square Garden next year.”
The band released its album “Stoopid” in January on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and YouTube.
“‘Stoopid,’” Zach said, “because we’re not the smartest bunch. We’re actually kind of stupid. All of our songs were kind of stupid, and Alex was all like, guys, we should name the album ‘Stoopid,’ and Oliver said, no.”
The next day, Zach said, Oliver suggested the name ‘Stoopid’ for the album.
“He said, here’s the catch - we’ll use two o’s instead of a u, and Alex flew in a fit of rage and punched him!” He laughed.
Going forward, bandmates say, they just want to have fun making music together. Getting noticed wouldn’t hurt, either.
“We want to be able to share our music,” Oliver said. “There are definitely some people who would enjoy the music no matter how weird our stuff is. To become known by even one person we’ve never met before is my beginning need and current goal.”
Follow the band on Instagram at speedlimit18official or speedlimit18.com.