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Gatlin Goes Under 

Modern rock hopefuls call it quits.

Sister act: Canadians Tegan and Sara, at the Grog - Shop December 4. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Sister act: Canadians Tegan and Sara, at the Grog Shop December 4.
After a distinguished run as one of Cleveland's top-drawing bands, Gatlin is breaking up. From 1995 to 2004, the group morphed from metal to modern rock, recorded three albums and an EP, sold out a handful of shows at the 900-capacity Odeon, and attracted moderate major-label interest before throwing in the towel.

"I think the biggest accomplishment for us was just having the reputation of being good guys, in an industry where a lot of people are considered assholes," says singer Jon Drake.

In 2002, "Reflection" (from the Current LP, Gatlin's third) won WXTM-FM 92.3's Extreme Cage Match competition, defeating nine national recording acts and breaking into rotation on the station. To promote that album, Gatlin hired a professional representation team, which arranged label showcases as recently as March. The buzz and regional touring helped make Gatlin the last unsigned Cleveland band with that kind of drawing power.

Drake credits the band's success to solid music and liberal application of elbow grease. He says that if no local unsigned band has the kind of sizable audience that Gatlin was able to cultivate, it's not just because modern rock is on the wane.

"I really think it all comes down to the fact that bands just don't work like they used to," says Drake. "Everyone has this bullshit attitude that they should just strap on their guitar and everyone should come watch them -- and that's not the case at all. Bands need to go out and make people come to the show, not hope that they do."

The quintet will play a farewell show Friday, December 10, at the Hi-Fi Club (11729 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood), then disband until further notice.

"We're still doing the band for fun occasionally," says Drake. "But as far as trying to get signed, we did all we could do with it, and it didn't happen, so we're just being realistic with this decision."

· Westlake-based Imperial Skabots are also calling it quits. After three years, the band's final show will be at the Cleveland SkaFest 2004, Sunday, December 26, at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Avenue). The show will double as a CD-release party for the band's somewhat late, as-yet-untitled debut album.

· . . . And because no Cleveland band ever breaks up for good: Tie Dye Harvest will reunite Saturday, December 11, at the Winchester (12112 Madison Avenue, Lakewood). Mixing album-rock covers and originals, the group spawned Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here and features singer-songwriter Jim Tigue and Michael Stanley bassist Eroc Sosinski.

· Undercurrents, the Cleveland-based music-conference and showcase company, will present the first in a series of educational music-business forums Tuesday, December 14, at Cuyahoga Community College Eastern Campus, room E2-117 (4250 Richmond Road, Beachwood). Undercurrents Regional Director Derek Poindexter (Plasma, the Tellers) will speak, beginning at 7 p.m. The session is free. Call 330-318-0146 for details.

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