Cole and Misha Pivec, Trey Gustafson, Eddie Rittler and Anja Breiehagen each began playing music early in elementary school.
The quintet has since created their own rock band, called 612live, and has played in shows across the Minneapolis area.
Cole, Misha, Trey, Eddie and Anja, all Fulton and Linden Hills residents, have won the battle-of-the-bands competition at Southwest High School’s STRUT: Guitar Festival. The group also won the teen division of the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest this past year.
Each member of the group attends either the Lake Harriet Community School Upper Campus or Southwest High School.
(Above: 612live performs “I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James at Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que in Uptown)
The band members say they hope to continue the group through at least the next two years, at which point Cole and Trey, now both 16, will graduate from Southwest. But they also note their passion for music, something all expect to continue long after the band.
“Music is going to stick with all of us throughout life,” said Misha, 13, who plays bass. “We’re probably not going to become professional soccer players,” she added, but they can continue to play music through the rest of their lives.
612live has origins in the friendships of Cole, Trey and Eddie (15), who attend Southwest, and of Misha and Anja (13), who are entering eighth grade at Lake Harriet Upper. Anja, who is the group’s lead singer, said she and Misha would play Taylor Swift songs or pop songs during play dates in elementary school, with Cole joining in on guitar. Misha, Anja and Cole eventually started playing together in their own band and competed together in the State Fair contest in 2016.
Cole and Eddie, who plays drums, connected through their dads, Michael Pivec and Craig Rittler, who are also musicians. Trey, who plays guitar and piano, said his involvement started after meeting Cole at Lake Harriet Upper, noting that he became inspired to pick up a guitar after seeing Cole play.
The quintet performed together for the first time at the SW x SW alley festival in Fulton three years ago. They’ve played dozens of gigs since, featuring songs such as Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” and the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer.”
The group members said they practice on average once a week, a frequency that fluctuates depending on their upcoming gig schedule. They practice in the Pivec’s basement, in which there are curtains up to partially block out sound.
All said they were surprised by their win in the State Fair contest last year, for which they played B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone.” They’re planning to play an original song at this year’s State Fair contest, which they developed with help from singer, songwriter and producer Kevin Bowe, who’s written songs on two Grammy-winning albums.
“It’s a very true story to us and the basement that we play in,” Cole said of the song.
Anja said it’s exciting for the group to be playing its own material. Misha added that now that they’re growing up, she and the other group members want to “step up our game.”
“I think there’s a lot of respect for writing a pretty good original song,” Cole added.
Bowe, who lives in Tangletown, said he met the group because they won a recording session with him after winning the Southwest battle-of-the-bands competition. He said he and the group have also created a jingle together, which they wrote for the company Splash Products.
“Their musical hearts are in the right place,” Bowe said, noting that the band’s repertoire includes ’60s and ’70s rhythm and blues and soul.
“… When I heart kids into that music, it just fills me with hope for the next generation,” said Bowe, who has worked with artists such as six-time Grammy winner Etta James.
The group will be playing in the St. Louis Park Rotary Club Summer Concert Series on Aug. 1 and at Eccopalooza on Aug. 10, among other events. They’ll also be playing Norsk Høstfest, North America’s largest Scandinavian festival, in September in Minot, North Dakota. The group connected with the festival organizer through Anja, whose parents wrote and illustrated “The Wish Books” children’s book series. Anja is the central character in the series, the first book in which, called “The Christmas Wish,” made The New York Times Best Seller List.
A schedule of the 612live’s performances can be found on its Facebook page. See a selection of their past performances below and on their YouTube channel.
“Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard and Dorothy LaBostrie
“Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
“The Thrill is Gone,” by B.B. King