There are times when mere description goes beyond
words, a place where one is trapped, battling tendencies to reach for overblown clichés. Although sometimes effective,
using high praise to describe musical talent will deter a society built on the belief that "if it sounds too good to be true...it
usually is"! Reality Television and the popular "You-Too-Can-Be-A-Star" programming make it easy to replace hard-earned
talent with the illusion that anyone can become a media darling. The three young men providing the musical muscle for
Virginia's rock-n-roll gear grinder, AGONY CREEPS, are very aware of that illusion.
Since forming in early 2000, Marc Alwine (guitar/lead
vocals), Bryan Ottaway (bass/vocals), and Jason Cofield (drums) have watched their musical peers snag record deals and land
big tours as a result of spending large sums of money on inhuman recorded performances and by copping every move from the
new "Flavor Of The Week". Then, they've sadly attended the funerals for those bands, watching them laid to rest in a
graveyard for Music Without Wings.
Choosing not to move their jet onto the runway without
a well-primed engine, AGONY CREEPS, made the choice to write and perform memorable music their mission statement. As
tempting as it was to jump on every train that barreled down their tracks, these guys wanted to fly! Slugging it out
in clubs around their hometown, they built one of the most loyal fan bases in the VA area. Club owners and bands that
gave them stage time quickly moved them to the top of their list when they needed a band that could bring people in the door.
In 2002, they armed themselves with a well-produced, self-financed five song E.P. They ended the year selling over 2,500
copies, along with other band merchandise on a level normally reserved for national acts. Almost every venue they played
was a sea of T-shirts bearing their logo, while the PA barely drowned the sound of fans singing along to every word!
"It's like the old days, when I was a 13 year-old kid going to see a band", explains Jason. "When we would play a club
for the first time, the floor would be empty for the first two songs...then, when we kicked into the third one, we felt like
AC/DC! Tons of people would hit the floor with one arm thrown up in the air and heads bouncing everywhere. They
felt what we were doing and eventually, they brought their friends to feel it too!"
After extending their "runway" in early 2003, they
started pulling huge crowds in the North and South Carolina regions; a task that is next to impossible for any rock band playing
that close to the 'Bible Belt'. Fans responded by buying even more E.P.'s, some setting up street teams and sending
copies to local radio stations. "It's amazing, man!" says a humble Marc Alwine, "We didn't even know why we were getting
phone calls from people about our music being played on radio stations we'd never even heard of. The fans were totally
doing our P/R for us and we knew nothing about it!" he laughs. In March of that year, former radio host/program director
(WRCQ, WDCC, & WCXL) turned producer/manager (B2 Management & Artist Development), Craig "Bam-Bam" Stegall, witnessed
AGONY CREEPS as they annihilated a packed house in the Raleigh area. Due to a prior commitment to an exclusive management
agreement with the Aggro-Metal band SLAVEMACHINE, Stegall respectfully declined the band's offer to manage them. In
October, however, they received an unexpected phone call. "Hey, I'm an honest man who honors his commitments, but I'm
not stupid!" Stegall says. "Their show blew me away. I had industry friends who were calling me up and asking
me if I'd ever heard of them. I couldn't believe the buzz they were creating without even shopping themselves.
I called them up and said, 'Guys, I'm free as of November 1st. Let's go record a killer rock album and get the damn
thing out there with a good distributor'...It was a done deal!"
After playing over 150 shows in 2003, AGONY CREEPS
will head into the studio on January 27th of 2004 to record their first full-length album with Stegall producing. "We're
really excited", explains bassist Bryan Ottaway. "The songs are solid and with Bam-Bam slapping his magic on it, it's
gonna be great!"
Maybe those Reality Television show producers can
land a hit based on this band's "Real World' logic: Take a great band, add thousands of rabid fans, and let nature provide
the wings...Stay Tuned, There's More To Come!!!
A little about the individual members...
There were so many great guitar players I grew up listening
to like Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), David Gilmore (Pink Floyd), Yngwie Malmsteen (which I dare not even try to figure out much
less attempt to play) Eddie VanHalen, Dave Murray &Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden),George Lynch,(Dokken), and Jerry Cantrell,
(Alice in Chains).
The guitarists that had the most impact on my playing are...Randy Rhoads, (Ozzy), Dimebag Darrell, (Pantera),
Kirk Hammett, (Metallica), and Zakk Wylde, (Ozzy).
A few of my vocal influences are...Jeff Buckley, Doug Pinnick &
Ty Tabor, (King's X- their harmonies and melodies along with Ty's guitar were bad ass!), Prince, (or "the artist formerly
known as" whichever you prefer), and Lajon Witherspoon, (Sevendust).
I got my first bass when I was 16 (the red Charvel I always
I didn't start playing for real 'til I was 18. I also have a black Charvel
and a blue Jackson. I play through
an 8x10 Ampeg cab with a Trace Elliot
head. One of my biggest influences for playing was Gene Simmons from KISS.
His showmanship and attitude on and off the stage was what I wanted to be
and do. I also like the way Bobby Dall (Poison)
was on stage. He's not the
best but he is having fun playing in front of people , and that's me.
Later on I had a chance to see Ozzy play and his bass player at the
time was Rudy Sarzo (pre Quiet Riot days). Seeing
a bass player play with
his fingers and not a pick, that was it. After him was Cliff Burton, the
o.g. bass player
for the late band Metallica (bless their souls). Cliff was
a god. After them came Robert Trujillo (Infectious Grooves
Tendencies), and Les Claypool from Primus.
So to all of you out there, I may not
be the best...but damn it, I
am having fun doing that thing I do.
My influences have always been players that can groove and lay
a solid foundation for the rest of the band to build on. John Bonham(Led Zepplin) and Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) are my two biggest
influences. They play grooves that really move you, and their showmanship was always cool to watch. Hell, I learned to twirl
drumsticks (from the Crue video Home Sweet Home) before I really learned how to play.........-all you haters out there can
insert a joke about my playing now!-
Artimus Pyle's playing on the One From the Road album opened me
up to a whole new world of how good a band could be live, and how a band could stretch out and jam. There are other players
that inspired me when I first started, and still do......like.....Vinnie Paul (Pantera) "I could only wish to be that good",
Matt Sorum (Guns and Roses), Morgan Rose (Sevendust), and many others that have escaped my mind for the moment.
...."If I could give one piece of advise to any new aspiring musicians
out there it is.....Play what inspires YOU, don't try to copy what the new "flavor of the week" is."