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Entries in rock 'n' roll (2)


The Heroic Enthusiasts

The Heroic Enthusiasts are (from left) James Tabbi, lead vocals; Thomas Ferrara, lead guitar; James Searl, bass; and Cruk FUA, drums. (Bass player Jesse Herrera has joined the band since this photo was taken, as James Searl prepares to relocate.)

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.

James Tabbi (pictured here) and Thomas Ferrara have collaborated on 11 songs for The Heroic Enthusiasts. “We sit around the living room with acoustic guitars and work out some songs,” James says.“I had just broken up and a lot of the feelings were starting to flow, so it was good timing,” says Tabbi.

“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.


See more: on Reverbnation and Bandpage

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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.



John DeHaas

In 1978, most six-year-old boys idolized Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. Or even Darth Vader. Musician John DeHaas instead  looked up to the platform-shoe-stomping, leather-vest-busting quartet known as KISS

John“All of my other little friends were into Star Wars at the time,” he recalls. “Their parents had to bite their tongues to be pleasant whey they saw me bring my KISS albums into their homes.”

While he never outgrew KISS, this Rochester, NY, resident’s taste eventually expanded into many more groups, as wide-ranging as Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Ramones, and The Beach Boys (whose song “Sloop John B” would later inspire his musical alias, SloopJohnD).

But it wasn’t until adulthood that he took the plunge and grew into a musician himself. And, even though he got a later start than some, John makes no apologies for his timeline. He approaches it with sense of humor and perspective. How many people can honestly claim to have had a true epiphany at a Hanson concert? That's right.

“I was standing in the audience when something hit me,” John says. “I suddenly realized I was in my 30s listening to people half my age doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to let another 10 years go by wishing I’d at least tried.”

John released his latest album, "Devilicious," in 2010. “Who says you have to be 16 to start playing and recording music?” he says.

He took up guitar just a few years ago, and credits guitar lessons—and perhaps a sense that he had some catching up to do—with getting him up to speed way, way faster than teaching himself the instrument.

“I received guitar lessons for Christmas in 2006. This changed everything. And fast,” he says. “I don’t know if I was subconsciously trying to make up for lost time or what, but I just became totally inspired to learn how to play well.”

Today, John has written, recorded, produced, designed, released and marketed three albums. Getting that first one recorded gave him the momentum to keep it going.

“One of the great things about having the courage to start and finish my first album was that it gave me a starting point to build on,” he says. “My only goal for each new batch of songs I write is to improve on what I’ve previously done.”

“Things happen when you’re ready for them to happen,” John says. “I say forget about the rules and focus on what truly makes you happy.”

Rock on, SloopJohn.


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