Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600. But his writings survived, including an allegorical poem that explores the meaning of love. Its title? “The Heroic Enthusiasts.” Fast forward 412 years. A band formed in Rochester and named themselves after the poem.
And why not? These new guys write about love, too.
“I was reading this poem, and it paralleled so well all the topics I was writing about in our lyrics,” says James Tabbi, the band's lead singer. “It's a weird name, but it has the right back story. It's grown on us.”
Alongside James, The Heroic Enthusiasts are Thomas Ferrara on lead guitar, Jesse Herrera on bass, and Cruk FUA on drums. They've been hard at work in the studio this past year. Writing music. Recording a demo. Finding their chemistry.
Tabbi and Ferrara have a mountain of shared DNA. They've both played the legendary CBGB—in separate bands at separate times. But their roots first interlaced in 1990, when the two became friends.
“James and I met when I moved up to Rochester,” says Ferrara. “About nine months later, we started working on a music project. I approached him about putting together a hip-hop, R&B Industrial project and we put a demo together. A record label picked it up and did an EP, but never released it.”
The two have been friends ever since. In fact, James introduced Thomas to his future business partner, Doug Jerum, with whom he later opened Rochester nightclub Carpe Diem—and where James served as DJ.
But it had been a few years since they'd worked together as musicians. That changed in October 2012.
“And I just got the bug to do it again,” adds Ferrara.
After a few tryouts with bass players, Thomas called neighbor and bass player James Searl—who also plays for Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad—to ask him if he knew any other bass players.
“I'll come over and jam with you,” Searl replied. He stuck around.
But as Searl is now preparing to relocate, the band has added bass player Jesse Herrera to the mix. Tabbi and Herrera have been friends since the 1980s.
As for the drummer?
“Thomas had known Cruk for four or five years,” says Tabbi. “We wanted a drummer who had an artistic sensibility.”
And they found that vibe in Cruk, who is also a graffiti artist.
It hasn't been hard to find their groove, the guys say. Everybody quickly clicked.
“The chemistry of the band has drawn us in more deeply,” says Ferrara. “People have told us they got goosebumps when they listened to our music, because they were hearing something for the first time.”
If you look across the band's web presence, you'll see references to the artists and groups they consider their influences (Modern English, Portishead, The Smiths, among others). But this is no tribute band. The guys emphasize that they have a sound all their own.
“People tell us that this song reminds them of The Cure, or The Smiths, but it's just that song,” says Tabbi. “We're not trying to be anyone.”
The best way to pick up on their artistic influences is to listen for yourself. And the best way to listen? Live, of course (see details below). Especially since their music isn't for sale—and the tracks online need some tweaking.
“We have an 11-song demo,” says Tabbi. “We need to go back in and re-record some stuff. We want to really get the songs out there so people can hear what our sound is like.”
“We've spoken to a very accomplished engineer,” says Ferrara. “He suggested we talk to a producer/arranger, so their engineer can make it sound really good.”
Maybe good enough to have people talking. Even for 400 years.
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If you're in the Rochester, N.Y., area, you can hear The Heroic Enthusiasts perform Nov. 8 at the Skylark Lounge, 40 South Union St. Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.