Band of the Week: Distant Signals

Meet the Band: Matt DeSantis (bass), Mike Moscato (lead guitar), Dave Normile (percussion), Dave Smith (lead vocals, guitar) and Don Tomlinson (keyboards, pedals, guitar)

In the Beginning: This year marks the Pittsburgh-based group's fifth anniversary. When keyboardist Don Tomlinson started the group, he set out to pay tribute to one of his favorite bands, Canadian prog rockers Rush. "I've been a Rush fan for over 30 years so I always wanted to do this," he says. "I thought it would be difficult to find someone who could sing and to find someone to play the drum parts, which are difficult and have lots of time changes. We found some good players and some have dropped off but now we have the best sounding group we've ever had."

The Keys to Success: Tomlinson says the band's ability to work keyboards into the mix separates it from the slew of other Rush tribute acts that are out there. Even though Rush didn't use any keyboards on its first album, it starting incorporating them in the late '70s. By the early '80s, the group used them heavily. "Originally, my thought was to focus on the '80s songs because I play keyboards and not a lot of Rush cover bands do that," Tomlinson says. "We're branching out to do older stuff and even stuff from the band's most recent album Clockwork Angels." While Rush was and is only a trio, Tomlinson doesn't see any problem with having two extra players in his band. "We have five people in the band and some diehard bands might turn their noses up," he says. "I'm okay with that. I don't care if it takes 10 of us. That's what we do. All we want to do is recreate the music they create. We even put sound effects in."

A Cleveland Connection: On a recent trip to Cleveland, the guys met local sound engineer Mark Baker at a concert and Baker offered to do sound the next time the guys were in town. He'll be on hand for this gig and Tomlinson couldn't be more excited. "He's an excellent engineer," he says. "He knows the material and knows us so well. The sound and lights were incredible at our show. People will be really impressed."

Why You Should Hear Them: The band's rendition of "Distant Early Warning" features the tune's beefy bass riffs and high-pitched vocals as the band delivers the song precisely, nailing all its off-kilter time signatures. The group also plays "Tom Sawyer," one of Rush's biggest hits, with plenty of swagger and accurately replicates the trippy synthesizer riffs.

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Distant Signals perform at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Brothers Lounge.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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