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 DRís (Doctors
of Rockology) like to call a "TONIC."
was fortunate to have sampled this music therapy recently, and I have to
say, Iím feeling much better. Want "in" on this action? Well,
you came to the right place, because Iíve got the scoop, Iíve got the pix,
and best of all I have the backstage pass! So, Iím 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 bandís 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 Ė as a guitar band whoís 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.
TONICís 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 thatís 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, whoís 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.
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 donít 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 TONICís biography. So who are these guys? Let
me give you a couple of hints, and I guarantee that even if you donít think
you know them, you will change your mind. Emerson Hart (lead
singer and song writer, rhythm guitar) joined forces with
(lead guitar and backing vocals) in 1994. They started jamming at
the famous Kibbitz Room of Canterís Deli Ė a Los Angeles hot spot that
has also played host to the Wallflowers, Slash and the Freewheelers Ė and
met up with their original bassist, Dan Rothchild and drummer,
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 &
Jeffís, Dan Lavery. (Donít let all the Dans confuse
you, just stick with me on this).
band toured in support of the Lemon Parade CD for two and a half
years while it paid dividends of two #1 hits Ė "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
Lavery. with the history between Dan and Pete, the bandís 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.
showcases the fact that this is a band whoís 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 weíre a guitar band, plain and simple. Thatís 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
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 servantís opinion,
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 Dudes: Warning:
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 . . .
MP3.com and Sample the live concert experience of TONIC
the Official Tonic Web Site
Check out Lemon Parade
Check out Sugar
you check out the band, let us know what you think!
Long time fan? Share
your band experiences:
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