When drummer Roz Ison first started developing his skills with the sticks while a pupil at Hemel Hempstead’s Cavendish School, who knew what the future would hold?
And when he bashed out Bon Jovi’s anthemic Livin’ On A Prayer in front of an audience of schoolmates, he could never have imagined that a few short years later he’d be sharing the stage with the man himself, and playing in front of 23,000 people at London’s massive 02 arena.
But that’s been just one highlight in a musical career that began in his home town.
Roz, now 27, is part of London-based hard rock outfit New Device, whose second album has just been released.
The album, which follows on from the release of a first single, Save Your Life, last month, is unashamedly over the top, packed with energy and passion and true to its hard rock roots despite epic string arrangements.
The band acknowledge the debt they owe to big names who have gone before, such as Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and Metallica, and they’ve certainly paid their dues.
They’ve played every major festival in the UK and toured relentlessly to build their reputation, and made a big enough impression to be hand-picked by guitarist Richie Sambora to support Bon Jovi on their last tour.
And fingers are firmly crossed that the new material showcased on the second album will kickstart a breakthrough.
As the album hit the streets, Roz, who still lives in the town, looked back to his early days cutting his teeth as part of the Hemel Hempstead music scene.
He recalled: “I started playing when I was 12, I had lessons at Cavendish – it was the drum kit itself that I enjoyed to start with, and I got into music later.
“My first gigging band was called Early Fall, formed with mates at school.
“We played everywhere we could in Hemel, from school performances and trips to the bandstand in the town centre and The George pub – anywhere where they would believe we were old enough to play!
“I began teaching drums to a few mates. Word spread fairly quickly and pretty soon that was my ‘day job’ and is something I’m still happily doing today.
“Hemel’s music scene has changed a lot. I remember going to Snooks, the club that used to be underneath the Pavilion, and there being live bands there with dj sets for the rest of the night after. It was great.
“Across town, The Boxmoor Arts Centre used to have bands on every weekend. There used to be a great scene.
“Both these venues closed down in what seemed to be their prime.
“Now I couldn’t tell you where there is a music venue in Hemel, there are pubs that have bands on, but nothing that’s just for music.”
Playing at one of the UK’s biggest venues on the same bill as one of the biggest names in rock was certainly one of the standout moments of his career so far.
“The O2 was a huge highlight,” he said. “Playing to 23,000 people was everything I thought it would be, and to be supporting Bon Jovi was incredible.
“I remember playing Livin’ On A Prayer at a Cavendish show, so to be there when they sound checked that song in that huge arena was a pretty big moment.”
Anyone who’s not part of the metal scene is probably more familiar with the over the top antics of legendary spoof documentary This Is Spinal Tap than they are with the reality, but Roz cheerfully accepts that the film got it spot on.
“The scary thing is that it’s bang on the nail,” he agreed. “I’ve met so many people who are like those guys!”