A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Amanda Kragthorpe
Sure they’re rock-stars now. But have you ever wondered what famous bands Green Day or Dave Matthews Band were like before all the flashing lights, sold-out shows and masses of groupies dying to meet them? They were struggling local bands just like Tampa Bay’s Rude Squad and WeakSauce, itching for their turn, waiting in anticipation.
These two bands are trying to hit the main stage by placing their names on the lips of anyone who is willing to listen and playing as many shows possible, even if it means no pay.
Rude Squad originated in St. Petersburg several years ago. Band members Eric Best (vocals & guitar), Lee McElhaney (sax), Rusch Young (trumpet), Kyle Sokol (bass), and Adrian Baptist (drums), describe themselves as a SKA (skä), punk rock band with electric sound and a heavy drummer that creates a breathtaking, inventive sound.
“We’re a different breed,” McElhaney says, and with a name like Rude Squad, who could argue? “We knew we wanted to be some kind of “squad,” and “rude” just seemed to fit. It had a ring to it,” says Best, the band’s only remaining original member.
WeakSauce, an all-around unique band, began about three years ago in Clearwater. Band members Eric Douthirt (guitars), Justin Vilardi (bass/lead vocals), Paul Liparoto (drums) and Brad Gilmore (trumpet) combine to create a very eclectic genre of music. Since every member comes from a different musical background, it makes for great chemistry.
“It’s tasty,” said Vilardi. “You don’t have to be one style of music to be a good band.” “WeakSauce” is a familiar phrase to Southern California natives, it can be used to describe something both awesome and not so awesome. You just won the $9 million state lottery? That’s WeakSauce. Or you caught someone sleeping with your girlfriend? That’s also WeakSauce.
Even though they were born in different parts of the country, the flow of music that streams from their hearts keeps them inseparable now. In order to be great at anything in life, it takes time, practice and hard work. Both bands are quick to say that it isn’t easy. “Being in a band is like being married to five people,” McElhaney says “It’s tough doing what we do, especially the hours [we put in].”
One challenging aspect of starting a band is not only finding the time to practice — it’s like having a second job — but also paying for and finding a place that Is OK with practicing all hours of the night. Between equipment, traveling and recording fees, the expenses add up very quickly.
Unlike many other local bands, both Rude Squad and WeakSauce put the revenue generated at their shows back into the band itself. In every way, the gesture speaks about the intensity of the bands.
Many listeners, spectators and fans watch in amazement and admiration, wondering how it’s done. But what works for one band may not work for the next. “It’s our chemistry and the fact that we don’t do drugs,” says Best.
Along with wanting to be signed by a record label, both bands’ ultimate goal is to leave an everlasting mark on the music industry and to have their music played in every household across America. Having the dedication, passion and willingness to pursue their dream is what sets these bands apart from the rest. You can feel it in their music and even hear it in their lyrics. As WeakSauce sings, “We focus on our passion like you focus when you pray. We’ve been here for a while and we intend to stay…”
If Rude Squad and WeakSauce get their way, fans who get to know them now will someday be able to say “I knew them when.”