Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was a strange post to write. I’ve been a performing musician for over 20 years, and I’ve spent the last decade as the frontman for Division. I won’t add regret, pity, wishful thinking or any of that crap into my update, because I chose to step away. If you need to know why, call or email me. I welcome that discussion, but it’s not for everyone, so I won’t blast it out on this site.
What do I take from my journey with the band? Plenty. First of all, I would never be the vocalist I am today if it wasn’t for my time in Division. That’s obvious to anyone who has been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been in the band. I always looked at Division as a metal band version of the Weakest Link. No one ever wanted to be that guy. If a fan ever said, “I love those guys but their vocalist sucks”, it really hit a nerve. I think every member of the band; past and current, feels exactly the same way.
What else? Obviously, the relationships that come with laying your heart on the line with other musicians. When I started, the line up included E.J. “Juice” Ripple on drums, Dan Plunkett on bass, Matt Crooks on guitar, and a rehearsal space full of adult-themed material. Over time, each of those guys stepped down. I was joined by James Goetz on drums, Dave “Noodles” Evans on guitar, and Ron CK “Little Rock” Cummings-Kralik on bass, and later Tim Regan filling in his 5-string shoes.
We played in Chicago, DC, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, you-f’ing-name-it-and-we-played-it. These shows provided incredible opportunities to learn about one another, to argue, to come back to terms, and to push each other as musicians every step of the way.
When I was first offered the gig, I pretty much provided everyone I knew the same disclaimer. I liked everyone in the band. I had to get better if we were going to be successful. And, there was one guy that I knew I would either love like a brother, or wind up in a parking lot brawl with. That cat is guitarist Mike Blevins, the only original member of Division, and a mofo who pushed me to be the best every step of the way. Mike and I are a lot alike, and that should pretty much terrify anyone reading this. I know I drove him crazy more than a handful of times, but that only made our good times together that much better. He’s the rock on which Division stands, and I can’t wait to see where the band goes from here.
There’s a laundry list of people outside of the band I would love to thank. Tops on the list is my blushing bride, Stacia Kelly, for her constant support. Whether it came down to buying new equipment, being gone for four days, or attempting some crazy P.R. stunt, she always replied with a smile and a roll of her eyes, and gave me her blessing. She’s a real trooper, and I hope I can reward her with kindness for our many nights apart. Who else? How bout my other band mates in Just Wanna Play ?
JWP is a group of musicians gathering to play the best tunes in pop music from the Eagles and Bowie all the way to Maroon 5. Basically, our mission is to put women on the dance floor. All of my bandmates have had to put up with me applying what I’ve learned to their vocals. Some call it a blessing. If it’s just me being a jerk, I apologize! Who else? How bout all the bands we’ve met along the way… Symphony X, Jon Oliva’s Pain, Accrasicauda, Metal Church, Black Label Society, Therion, Hammerfall, Evergrey, Nevermore, Testament, and more. (If you saw Division with another band, please comment!)
I also want to thank Jay Nedry from Jaxx Nightclub for opening the doors to my metal career. Jaxx was one of the first places I ever played, and one of the last.
Walking away isn’t easy. I never imagined it would be. That autumn Wednesday morning phone call between Mike and me wasn’t an easy conversation, but it was necessary. Division was an incredible band before I was blessed to join its roster. It will continue to lead the pack among local thrashers long after I’m gone. I’m thankful for my time and my experience with every one of the guys and girls who ever graced the stage with me. What does the future hold? Well, that’s another story for another time. Until then, throw the horns in the air, raise the “Fist of the Metal Child”, and support your scene.
Join Division and me on Saturday, February 18th, for my final show with the band.