Band of the Week: Gatlin

Meet the Band: Don DeBiase (guitar, vocals), Jon Drake (vocals, bass), Patrick Ols (guitar), Warren Cadle (guitar), Kenny Irizarry (bass, vocals), Stephen Lockhart (drums), Michael Morrison (drums), David Miller (drums)

A Teen Dream: DeBiase was only 18 when the band first formed; the group was an extension of bands he and Cadle had in their mid-teens. "Me and Warren started looking for a bass player, and a friend I ran into at Drugmart was dating John [Drake]. That's when we formed. When we met and he came to try out, that was on Jan. 25, 1995. At midnight at this show we're playing at the Agora, it will be exactly 20 years. I went to see Van Halen that year and met my drummer on the RTA bus. That's how it's happened. It's freaky because people who know me now as a producer always ask, 'How old are you?' when they hear about how long the band has been around."

Jedi Metal: The guys in the band are all Star Wars fans and would use music from the movies in between songs when they played live. "We played the Foundry one night and during the last song, our friend came out on stage in a storm trooper outfit and was dancing," DeBiase recalls. "Someone just said we were Jedi Metal and that got the tag of what we were. It was a pure accident."

Breakups and Reunions: Over the past 20 years, the band has had three different line-ups. For the upcoming 20th anniversary show, all eight members who have played in the band will perform with the group at different times throughout the night. "For the last reunion, Pat [Ols] didn't come back for the reunion, and every time one or two people have missed it," says DiBiase. "This is the first time we'll all be in the same room." He's pretty excited about the show. "I have a new line of merch I just ordered," he says. "I have a big stage show in the works. We're going to pull out songs that people haven't heard. The 20-year thing is a first. The inspiration has been Skinny from Mushroomhead. I've been stepping out of my own studio and producing with Skinny. Watching this guy do masks and his stage shows and how he deals with nine musicians is so inspiring. I've been in my cave producing. I wanted to be that guy that plays out again. I did the design and prints. I have 20 guys working for me. Once all eight band members confirmed, then I wanted to spare no expense."

Why You Should Hear Them: The heavy-hitting band's sound recalls early Megadeth and Metallica. "Forget Forever [1998] was our watered-down [answer to Megadeth's] Rust in Peace. We were more on the hard-rock style but never the nu-metal game." DeBiase has just written three new songs and has another handful of old tunes the band has never recorded. He wants to release a song for free the day before the show and has already recorded the drum tracks for it. "We plan to write more songs," he says. "We're still friends. I'm still in it 100 percent. I want to get the other guys, who are married, out of the household. [Singer] Jon wants to do it, so why not? There's nothing set in stone. You look at KISS and Van Halen. Who's broken up anymore, when it comes down to it? The Stones are out on tour and they're in their 70s."

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Gatlin performs at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Agora Ballroom.

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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