Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

The Migraines


John DeGroff

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 29, 2004

Heads Up! This article is 18 years old.

The Migraines are one band who could almost be considered an institution in the Fort Wayne music scene. They’ve been around since 1993, and during that time have released eight full-length projects and have had music included on 23 various compilation discs.

Their live shows have taken them to venues as diverse as CBGB’s in New York, the Sloppypalooza Festival, The Cornerstone Festival, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and a slew of local clubs. They still receive extensive air play worldwide on independent and mainstream radio.

It was the conversion to Christianity of Shawn Browning (a.k.a. Eddie Migraine) that brought the biggest change to the band and has had the greatest impact on their music. They have released two CDs of Christian material, Return To The Rock and Endangered Species. There is a new project entitled Odzenenz scheduled for release later this year as well.

It’s fortunate for Migraines fans that these last two projects (and the upcoming new one) happened at all. “I had chosen not to play any more,” Browning says about becoming a Christian. “That was for about six months. The guys who were in the band had left. Then it was just one of those things where everything kind of lined up perfectly. I met some guys who were Christians who wanted to play, and we started jamming.

“The name we were tentatively going to go with was ‘Name Dropper.’ Everyone else said it would be silly not to keep the name The Migraines, because we were still stylistically the same. For being down for six months, it was like we were never down at all.” (The current lineup is Craig Weitz on bass and vocals, Chuck “Chachi” Thomas on drums and vocals and Browning on lead vocals and guitar.)

Interestingly, the medical definition for migraine is extreme sensitivity to light and sound. “Amazingly, the name ties into spirituality,” Shawn said. “That definitely was part of a God’s plan.”

While many musicians who experience a spiritual awakening would either keep it private or turn completely around and play only church-oriented events, The Migraines have stayed close to their roots when it comes to live shows. “I think it’s because of our history,” Browning said. “The venues really haven’t changed much. We still play bars. We still do the all-ages shows that we’ve always done because of our connections, and because of being around for so long and the respect that the band has. The nice thing is that we’re able to go back to these places and say, ‘This is what’s going on with the band …’

“We don’t play any of the older stuff much,” Browning continued. “The lyrics to the songs are pretty blatant, but we don’t go into a huge preaching thing on stage unless the venue requests it. A bar’s not going to request that.

“At first, it was scary for me, coming from one mind set to another. But now, it’s just part of who I am.

“I would say that we’re ministry- and entertainment-oriented at the same time. A lot of people don’t like to think of these things as overlapping, but they do,” Browning said. “I don’t think it’s too hard to understand what we’re doing in bars. I don’t think it’s for every band. I don’t think it’s for everybody, but the Christian band who can go in there and stay grounded … it’s a good thing.”

Considering their long history among both young and old listeners, Browning also knows the Migraines count a great many musicians as fans as well. By way of advice, he has this to offer. “Be prepared for heartbreak … other musicians, unfortunately, will sometimes shoot you down because of the competition. I choose not to get involved in the competition.”

Although their new material is stylistically more rock than punk, they are still regarded as punk rockers more often than not. In fact, they’ve won the Whammy Award for Best Punk Band two years running.

“We’re trying to downplay the whole punk rock thing altogether,” Browning said. “The new songs are just straight-up rock n’ roll. We’re big fans of Cheap Trick, old Aerosmith, AC/DC, and that’s really kind of the direction where we’re going. At the same time, we’re also fans of a lot of commercial-type things.

“In some ways, it’s really humbling to win an award for something you love. It doesn’t feel like an effort, but it is flattering to have people recognize the effort you put into it.

“Winning an award for favorite punk band is kind of odd,” Browning continued. “I think it’s because of the history of the band. It’s going to be slow to change people’s minds about us.”

Browning also won the Whammy for Favorite Karaoke Host. “It’s even weirder than winning Best Punk Band,” he said. “I host karaoke six nights a week. Now I’m getting an award for doing my job.”

Along with the Whammy Award and the soon-to-be released new CD Odzenenz, The Migraines have recently signed with a management company, Blue Jankey Entertainment, Inc. There are definite plans being made to take The Migraines to the next level, which could include some overseas dates in the near future. “We’re just kind of laying low until all the ducks are in a row,” Browning said.

“The one thing I’m really happy about,” he said in closing, “…so far we haven’t had anybody who had had a lot of animosity towards us because of being a Christian band, or because of being a loud, abrasive rock band. People either like it or they don’t.”

Apparently, more and more people do like it … and are becoming sensitive to light and sound.

Check out the band’s web site at www.themigraines.com.

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