The History of Duke Maroon

You’re weren’t there when man walked on the moon, but you can watch the most important concert of all time

On January 31st, World’s Finest Show will be presenting a very special concert featuring The Subtractive and Duke Maroon. Before the greatest rock concert of all time, I thought it wise to chronicle the history of Duke Maroon.

New Duke Sub Promo

 Early Days:

            In the beginning God created man. Eventually through years of evolution, two musicians took it upon themselves to become the heralds of a new form of auditory expression, but we didn’t become the amazing and adored musicians we are today over night. In fact, it took some hard work, and a lot of time in Gene’s basement. Gene and I had been friends for a number of years before we decided to become a band. After high school we would meet up during summers and other breaks to jam. While I was at Pitt I was part of a 70’s revival band known as Afterglow.

Gene also found an outlet for his music in his self-released album under the name “Hyper Violet”, he was also part of a duo known as “We are Terrorists”. During this time Gene developed a mastery of the recording program, “Garage Band”. His recording abilities would prove to be a huge benefit when Duke Maroon started recording.

The Truth:

 Before there was Duke Maroon, Gene and I recorded with Grant Stiner in a trio known as “The Truth”. After a summer of jamming we started to form a chemistry that was strengthened by the friendship of our trio.

Gene had just started playing drums, but it meant that we had a full sound when combined with the guitar work of Grant Stiner, and my bass playing. However, at the end of the summer Grant went back to school below the Mason Dixon, and I returned to Pitt. Gene continued making some great music, and improved his recording abilities.

A Duke is Born:

A year and a half after we played as “The Truth”, we met during Christmas break to get back to work. Since our time as “The Truth” I had returned home, and become a member of a folk quintet that would soon be known as The Band of Rivals. Duke Maroon 5It was at this point that I showed the band a song I had written about Gene known as “Attention *****”. We worked on the song for a long time, and it would become the first song we officially recorded as Duke Maroon.

Unfortunately as the recording started Grant had to return to school. Despite the loss of Grant-honey, the flood gates of musical creation had opened, so Gene and I set about to record as many songs as possible before he had to return to Emerson. During the genesis of our musical collaboration we recorded a lot of songs including: “Hit-Song”, “Fresh Air (With Terry Gross), and “One Armed Tex”. Although we had recorded a little bit in the past, this session of musical creation inspired Gene and I to truly become a band and try and change the world with our unique brand of music.

The World’s Only Two Man Acoustic Power Violence Trio (We aren’t Tenacious D!):

 When Gene returned from school that summer, we returned to recording, but also decided that it was time that the world would get to hear Duke Maroon live. During this time we played a numerous amount of open mics as an acoustic duo, and were often met with a confused response. The subject matter of our songs were a far cry from the typical singer song writer ballads that were so numerous at open mics.

Duke Maroon 12Where as many people wrote songs about girls they loved, Gene and I wrote songs about George W. Bush and dogs defecating on the floor as a metaphor for Nihilism. Despite the polarizing response we received, this type of disrespect did yield what would become our manifesto. After a troubling encounter with a local open mic host, we vented, fumed, and eventually articulated our feelings into the song, “We Are The Duke Maroon”.

“The Crowd is Irrelevant,” Gene Meyer:

Without a doubt the open mic that we enjoyed the most was the one hosted at Fennario in West Chester. Every Wednesday we would journey to the home of CKY to express ourselves musically. One of those nights we performed to a crowd of two people.Duke Maroon 7 Despite the emptiness of the room we still performed with a fearsome energy. Unbeknownst to us, one of the people in the “crowd” was Kyle Hudson. Earlier in the night Kyle had mentioned his involvement with local radio station WCHE 1520AM, which I found fascinating because of my short time as a radio host on the Pittsburgh college station.

9 months after the open mic, Kyle reached out and asked us to write the theme song to his radio show “World’s Finest Show”. This connection would eventually lead me to join the “Word’s Finest Family”.

The First Show:

The summer of open mics ended when we landed our first show, opening for The Band of Rivals, my other band, at the album release party for The Band of Rivals’ first album, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”.

This show was the culmination of a summer of hard work. It was also the first time that I got to play with The Subtractive, although they were still known as Alberta’s Court at that point.

The Rotation of Band Members:

The next big change came the following summer when Gene and I found a drummer in the form of Grant Stiner. Despite the enthusiasm in which Grant was brought into the band, we were only able to play one show before Grant left to pursue other projects.

After Grant’s departure Duke Maroon played a few shows with members of The Band of Rivals. Greg Ondo and Alex-Michael Alleva (you can watch him shread the national anthem in this video starting at 2:37)  were a terrific addition to the band, but their time with the band was transitional and more of a favor to myself than anything else.

It did lead to a very interesting cross over between The Band of Rivals and Duke Maroon especially when we played “Charon” with Sean Cox for our encore at Chaplin’s in Spring City. ** “Charon” will be on The Band of Rivals second album.

Duke Maroon 3.0:

Eventually a permanent line-up for Duke Maroon was found when Wes Parrish and Garret Thompson joined the band. Wes PictureGarret PicWith the new full band line-up Duke Maroon is ready to melt faces, and expand minds. Witness the awesome power of Duke Maroon on January 31st when we play the New Leaf Club with The Subtractive. Also Gene and Wes’s band, R.A.D.D is brutal, and totally worth checking out.

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