Friends’ bands come and go in our lives. There’s that period, early in one’s twenties, when the musically-inclined commit to the dream or get the hell out while they can, and neither group can really be faulted for their decision. Many abandon their bands in favor of a lasting line of work, some scale back their involvement to the level of a hobby, and a brave few become Clark Kent during the day to fund their nights and weekends as rock superheroes. As the friends or fans of these bands, we take the winnowing down in stride, holding on to the memories of great shows and stories of debauchery to keep them alive in memory, and that legacy serves as a lasting, nostalgic camaraderie for all involved.
It’s a noble struggle for that last group- facing daunting odds and a lot of work- to continue on with a creative labor that has no guarantees. The road gets rockier and more tumultuous, with fans and members coming and going as their lives take different paths, and touring becomes more of a necessity than a whim. Obstacles inevitably arise and test a band’s mettle and we, the friends and fans, hold out that somewhat selfish hope that they won’t give in to a life of practicality and office-based jobs.
I’ve known Ringo Jones for a little over a decade now. While my life has been full of diversions and wayward paths, he has been an impressive model of stability, something I’ve come to realize in retrospect. He’s faced adversity and, at times, even tragedy in his adult life, yet Ringo has always kept a steady hand on the wheel and an unwavering work ethic. He is charismatic, charming, practical, intelligent, and insightful- the perfect combination of traits to survive the trials of fronting a band that is meant to be more than a topic for friends to wax nostalgic about years from now.
Mad Anthony has been a model of persistence and self-improvement. Ringo and guitarist Adam Flaig have been constant creative companions and friends for years and with Marc Sherlock as a drummer with both the commitment and the technique to work within the band’s vision, Mad Anthony is poised to take the next steps toward prominence in the Midwest rock scene. As a friend, I’ve seen the group become tighter, both emotionally and musically, and as a fan, I have felt that ineffable sensation of people I love creating music I love- a feeling that has only increased with each new album and live show.
Even with the departure of bassist Dave Markey, Mad Anthony has created a recognizable yet individual sound and a live show that is powerful, fun, and memorable. Their raucous, garage-based rock and roll is ideal for motivation, driving, and punching large, carnivorous animals, but since their last release, …I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal, they have shown incredible depth in song construction, with their more down-tempo numbers full of evocative guitar work and subtly emotional songwriting. This is a band that is evolving rapidly toward transcendence and it’s imperative to get acquainted with them while they’re still playing intimate venues.
Mad Anthony is on tour in the Midwest and Ontario through the end of March. …I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal is available online and the forthcoming Mad Anthony is going on presale through Kickstarter.