Rancho Santa Fe triplets team up to perform as alternative rock band Redzone Flares

By Kelley Carlson

Young alternative rock band Redzone Flares is a triple threat on the local music scene — and not just because three of the members are triplets.

The five musicians — John Heintschel of Escondido, Danny Harris of Elfin Forest, and Christian, Nick and Tanner Stiker of Rancho Santa Fe — have the ability to perform multiple instruments. The Cathedral Catholic High School sophomores have also written songs, and all of them can sing.

Redzone Flares’ first major performance as a quintet occurred during the 2012 Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon on Jan. 22. Invited to play through their Fine Tune Academy instructor Fintan Roche, Redzone Flares was stationed on the corner of Palomar Airport Road and Aviara Parkway.

“We started setting up at 6 a.m., and the first runner came by at 7 ... he was trucking,” said the triplets’ dad, John Stiker. “The boys played from 7 to about 10 a.m., and had a great time. They have a playlist of about 10 songs that they worked through, and ended up playing all of them at least twice!”

“It was a very enriching experience, singing and playing to all these runners ... they appreciated it a lot,” Nick said.

And it was the first time John had performed with the band at a major event.

“I was excited; I thought I’d be pretty nervous,” he said. “I decided in my mind to go all out.”

But Redzone Flares’ members playfully noted that even though they weren’t running, they were still pretty tired afterward.

Despite being a relatively new band, each member has an extensive musical background.

The Stiker fraternal triplets started playing piano around second grade, influenced by their mom, Jill, and their dad.

“Neither she (Jill) nor I have any musical background/experience, but we knew we wanted to expose the boys to a little bit of everything, which is why we had them start playing piano at a pretty early age, just so they could experience it and see if they liked it,” John Stiker said.

“She (my mom) pushed us — but it was a good thing overall,” Christian said with a laugh.

“I would call her an inspiring influence,” Nick added.

When the Stikers entered middle school, they experimented with other instruments in the school band. Tanner took to the trumpet and Christian played flute; Nick started on clarinet. But toward the end of eighth grade, they evolved to rock instruments — guitar, bass and drums.

Danny — who has known the Stikers since their days as students together at Rancho Santa Fe Elementary School — said he first picked up the guitar about seven or eight years ago, but also played some piano. He admitted to singing on his own time, and cited the band Linkin Park as his main musical influence.

The foursome initially formed as the band Did I Stutter, named after a scene from the TV show “The Office,” in summer 2010. Their first performance was on Aug. 21, 2010, at Hensley’s Flying Elephant Pub & Grill in Carlsbad, and they indicated that day was a learning experience.

“We can reach out to the crowd better (now),” Danny said.

John Heintschel, a fellow classmate from Cathedral Catholic, attended the band’s second performance, on Dec. 3 of that year at the Metaphor Cafe in Escondido. His interest was piqued.

He hadn’t played instruments as long as Danny and the Stiker brothers, but had enjoyed music for years. John listened to Jimmy Eat World at a young age, and eventually progressed to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Young the Giant. He started playing guitar around the beginning of high school.

“I never took it seriously until a year ago,” he said. “I have a greater appreciation for it ... it’s really hard to do. There’s a lot of complexity (involved).”

It wasn’t long after the Metaphor Cafe performance when Redzone Flares — a randomly chosen name that sounded cool, according to the boys — was born.

Previously, Danny, Tanner, Nick and Christian would take turns doing vocals, but when John came aboard, he assumed the role of lead vocalist and occasional bassist. Danny rocks out on lead guitar, while Christian plays guitar and some keyboards. Tanner divides his talents among bass, trumpet and drums, and Nick primarily keeps the beat on percussion.

Besides attending Cathedral Catholic, the five band members are students at The Fine Tune Academy, based in Solana Beach. Their instructor is Roche, who works with them individually on instruments and voice at their houses, and then together as a band at the Stikers’ home.

All of the students at the academy perform in various bands, Roche said.

“It makes them practice more and take (music) a lot more seriously,” he explained.

With Redzone Flares, there’s quite a bit of schedule juggling, as Danny plays soccer for Cathedral, and the triplets and John are active in lacrosse. But when the boys get together each week, they hang out in the Stikers’ “man cave” — described as a small separate structure built for the boys with a TV, Xbox, refrigerator, loft and plenty of room for band equipment.

The triplets have discovered the ups and downs of constantly being together.

“It has its advantages ... there’s definitely brotherly bonding,” Nick said.

“There are definitely pluses and minuses,” Tanner said. “Being in a band and in close quarters ... there’s the constant bickering you’d expect of siblings.

“John and Danny could attest to that,” he added with a laugh.

Along with all of the practicing — their cover songs include “Kids” by MGMT and “Shake Me Down” by Cage the Elephant — they also are beginning to write songs. Danny and John have written most of the lyrics for the original pieces, but each of the boys have composed their own instrumental section. So far, they’ve penned “The Code” and a slow tempo rock song titled “Far From Me.”

“They’re great songs that we think really stand out when we play,” Nick said.

As the band grows with experience, they’re gaining more shows and venues. Among future plans for Redzone Flares is the Fallbrook Battle of the Bands, the Carlsbad Street Fair, and possibly House of Blues, where a number of Fine Tune Academy student bands perform in showcases, according to Roche.

More information about Redzone Flares can be found on the band’s Facebook page,