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The TONIC For Your Winter Blahs By:  Debbie Seagle


Your personal road dog practitioner is in the house with a cure for your winter blahs!  For those of you who live for the sunshine of summer and feel a little cranky when the days get short and the nights are cold,  help is on the way.  What would you say if I told you that a musical medicine show has just pulled into your town with an amazing elixir that can cure your colds, un-chap your lips, make your hair thick and shiny again and get rid of that annoying itch in your wool underclothes?  Why, for the price of (insert your currency here) you too could own a bottle of this amazing potion.  What is this miracle drug, you ask?  Its known as "an invigorating, restorative or refreshing agent."  A little thing we DR’s (Doctors of Rockology) like to call a "TONIC."

I was fortunate to have sampled this music therapy recently, and I have to say, I’m feeling much better.  Want "in" on this action?  Well, you came to the right place, because I’ve got the scoop, I’ve got the pix, and best of all I have the backstage pass!  So, I’m going to let you in on the latest hot vibe out of Los Angeles and then we are going behind the scenes to talk to the band’s bass man, Dan Lavery to find out more about TONIC and what makes this dynamic band tick . . .

While on safari at the MP3 Technology Tour in October and November of this year I had my first dose of live performance from TONIC.  Preceded by a series of rising artists on the concert bill, there was a decided shift in the energy field when TONIC took the stage for their set.  A little change of mood, prompted by the incense that was burning on the corners of the drum platform and stage.  It signaled the audience that they were about to experience something as satisfying as those exotic curls of scented smoke, and just as encompassing. The best way to describe this band is the way they describe themselves – as a guitar band who’s primary focus is old-school song writing, energetic melodies and the blending of tones that some say create the largest rock sound you could ever hope to hear in a live performance.

TONIC’s appearance on stage at this particular concert was made all the more dramatic by the choice of their first song, their number one smash hit from the platinum CD Lemon Parade, "Open Up Your Eyes."   This tune could more aptly be named "Open Up the Skies," since that’s what seemed to happen when the chorus exploded in waves of guitar euphoria.  In many cases, a band can reach platinum status in CD sales but cannot duplicate the trademark sound in a live performance, leaving their fans unfulfilled.  This is not the case with TONIC, who’s musicianship surpassed my expectations (actually, during sound check) of their live performance chops.  All the elements are there:  the music, the lyrics, and lets face it boys & girls - looking at them is not exactly like getting a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

There is the proverbial good and bad news about all this.  After you check the band out, the first thing you will want to know is "where can I see this for myself?"  The bad news is that they just finished the MP3 Technology Tour at the end of November and are not currently on tour.  The good news is that they have every intention of getting back out on the trail after the first of the year, and I don’t just mean stomping around the old USA.  If the band has its way, they plan on some serious globe trotting in support of their new CD, which could land them in places like Oz or the far east.  In the Rock N World, all things are possible . . .

At this point, lets back track a bit and look at TONIC’s biography.  So who are these guys?  Let me give you a couple of hints, and I guarantee that even if you don’t think you know them, you will change your mind.  Emerson Hart (lead singer and song writer, rhythm guitar) joined forces with Jeff Russo (lead guitar and backing vocals) in 1994.  They started jamming at the famous Kibbitz Room of Canter’s Deli – a Los Angeles hot spot that has also played host to the Wallflowers, Slash and the Freewheelers – and met up with their original bassist, Dan Rothchild and drummer, Kevin Shepard.  With all the players assembled, they created the platinum project Lemon Parade in 1996.   Right after the CD hits the streets, the first change takes place in the band, with bassist Dan Rothchild leaving and being replaced by an old friend of Emerson & Jeff’s, Dan Lavery.  (Don’t let all the Dans confuse you, just stick with me on this).

The band toured in support of the Lemon Parade CD for two and a half years while it paid dividends of two #1 hits – "If You Could Only See" and "Open Up Your Eyes."  Billboard Magazine named "If You Could Only See" the most played rock song of 1997 and "A Casual Affair" was a top ten rock track.  At the end of 1998 drummer Kevin Shepard leaves the band and the trio decide to enlist the help of Pete Maloney, a former band mate of bassist Dan Lavery. with the history between Dan and Pete, the band’s rhythm section is now as fluid as mercury, and just as unstoppable.

Emerson, Jeff and Dan began their collaboration on the new CD Sugar, which appeared in stores on November 9th of this year.  North America received a sneak preview of the new music when the rock anthem  "You Wanted More" was included in the sound track for the summer movie smash "American Pie."  This song was hanging out in the Top 10 months before the Sugar CD saw the light of day.

Sugar showcases the fact that this is a band who’s style is a fusion of multiple influences.  At times it is easy to pick them out, (Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Pixies, Clash) and at others you really have to listen for hints of Irish folk melodies dating back centuries.  The rhythms frame the melodies of the songs in a way that makes you want to wade through them.  "We tried really hard not to overreach on the new stuff," says Hart.  "We realized that we’re a guitar band, plain and simple.  That’s how we started and we wanted to stay true to that."  Adding even more of a creative stamp to their project, the band produced the CD themselves and experimented with many different tones and viewpoints to come up with the openness in the tunes that allowed them to proceed in many different directions.

The project is a mixture of tight rockers like "Top Falls Down," "Queen"  or "Knock Down Walls," anthems like "You Wanted More" and "Mean To Me" and the tender,romantic ballads "Waltz With Me" and "Love A Diamond." Add to that mix the sensual yet light hearted southern rocking "Sugar" and the British pop influenced "Sunflower" and you have something for every mood and any occasion.  *, **

In this humble music servant’s opinion, TONIC has looked the sophomore curse in the eye and smashed it over the head with a platinum Les Paul.

*<Reader Recommendations:  Serve this main course with a light, unassuming white wine, a full bodied merlot, a series of tequila shooters or your favorite Irish beer.>

**<Consumer Advisory for DudesWarning: use of this product could find you having breakfast in the morning with someone wearing your pajama top.>

Well, are you all ready to meet Dan Lavery?  Then walk this 
way . . .

Meet Dan Lavery

Visit and Sample the live concert experience of TONIC

Visit the Official Tonic Web Site

Get Tonic Merchandise


Check out Lemon Parade

Check out Sugar

After you check out the band, let us know what you think!

Long time fan?  Share your band experiences:


Fan Speak:

Posted by Joe:
you know a band is good when you get goosebumps EVERYTIME you hear a song from them, Tonic = greatest band, and most under appreciated

Posted by Bryan Bunyard:
If you guys like this band you should check out this site:

Posted by Robin Dillow:
Tonic is the bomb! Lemon Parade is my favorite. They're even better live. Saw them Thanksgiving day in Orlando (AWESOME) and hope to see them in April in Johnson City, Tennessee

Posted by David Blakeman:
Best Albums I have heard for a long time, with a good old rock feel

I've been listening to Tonic since Lemon parade came out but I was never able to see them live. I finally saw them in providence and in Boston and I was just blown away. These guys are so incredible! I haven't been fortunate enough to meet them but everyone I talk to says that they are the nicest guys. What more can you ask for? Incredible music, honesty in the lyrics, a nice group of guys and they are all handsome! I wish Tonic the best of luck and I am really looking forward to them coming back to New England. Long Live TONIC!!!

You know why I love this site so much? It's stuff like this. I never listened to Tonic then I saw this article. The writter made them sound interesting so I bought Sugar and LOVED IT! thnks rocknworld dudes

Joanne Rose
A devoted fan of Tonic since they were first introduced to Australia in 1997 and a fervent admirer of Jeff Russo :-)

limp bizkit
they are cool 

Emma Heaton
It was June 1998-I had harboured a crush for Emerson Hart for a good five months and constantly daydreamed about him. Finally, I wen to their concert at the Palace, Melbourne, Australia. Gazing up at the stage, I thought sadly that I could never get clode to someone like that. However, i was invited to the after concert party and once he sat at my table, he doted on me all night. he kept getting me glasses of water, talked to me for a good five hours and basically made me feel like the most beautiful woman on earth. At the end of the night, well actually the morning, I got up to go home. He helped me on with my jacket, turned me around and kissed me!!!!!!!!!!! for the rest of the night he was a complete and utter gentleman, never expecting anything other than some really good pashing!!! Anyway, it was the most memorable moment of my 22 years so far... and i doubt anything will ever surpass it. Emerson is a God!

I love this band! I first saw them with the Goo Goo Dolls last year and fell in love with their music. Sugar is one of all time favs.

finally a music journalist who gets it

I guess I'm the oldest fan(43). I played my daughters Lemon parade CD six months ago and I"ve been totally hooked. DAMN they were so good!! When Ibought their Sugar CD, well, they did it again. I"m a true blue fan forever. It's sad , though, that as good as this band is, they don't get the recognition they so truely deserve. Keep up the good work guys!!

Steve Taylor
Thank YOU and a job very well done 1) by writing a wonderfully detailed and revealing article re: Dan Lavery. You did a remarkable job of asking the right questions which not only sought info but delivered info as well. Plus, you allowed a very musical , bright and articulate young man to shine. You also provided a very different kind of vibe on your description of their live sound. I am a fan since 1997, having purchased multiple copies of both CDs, the enhanced CD, tee-shirt for the girlfriend who is responsible for my glorious addiction to an almost daily dose of TONIC. Again, Very well done, the most unique writing style I remember seeing recently, and we will save you a seat any time !!! THANK-YOU Debbie S.!!!

I became a fan of Tonic after seen them on the MP3 tour; I think they are very talented guys. Their new CD is well put together (there aren't only a "few" songs that are good; the whole album is good!) They are also very appreciative of their fans and take the time to meet and communicate with them. I look forward to more music from them in the future!

.....and Now.....Live from Budokan, TONIC! Bring It On! Absolultely! Debbie, thanks for putting together a fabulously supportive article. They are outstanding musicians and are wonderful to their ever exploding fan base. It is an honor to support their efforts. As far as live, if anyone reading this hasn't seen them - GO SEE THEM when they come to your town, definately entertaining. I recently had the pleasure of catching them in on the MP3 tour - They've got their stuff together and are the tightest I've seen them play in 2+ years. ROCK ON YA'LL....

To be honest I never heard this band until earlier this month. I read teh review here for it and said what the hell I'll give it a shot. All I can say is thanks, I Love it! Then I came here today and find this great article. I've always liked the peices done by this writer and this is no exception. I know alot more now than when I began. Thanks Rock N World for another great article! Happy Holidays Rick

angela l
great articles... especially the one with dan... but fyi... jeremy vogt was not a former band mate of dan lavery's... yes he is currently their drummer, but he was not the drummer on the album... pete maloney was the drummer from dan's band, and the drummer on the SUGAR album... :) 
According to Tonic's publicist at Universal Records, Remy Vogt was indeed the band's drum technician and he auditioned for the band when Pete Maloney left.  The correction has been made, thank you. - Debbie



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