Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Tri State Killing Spree


Gloria Diaz

Whatzup Features Writer

Published August 1, 2002

Heads Up! This article is 20 years old.

Back when I interviewed music groups on a regular basis, I’d ask them what the local scene needed. “Unity” was one common answer. Groups would say how bands don’t support each other. The original bands resented the cover bands, because they got the gigs and made the money. The original bands found it hard to get places to play. And then there were the fence straddlers, who played mostly covers but managed to sneak in a few originals, until they got a following and were able to make the switch. But no matter how much unity was preached, eventually the bands would make a disparaging remark about another band or bands. So much for “unity.”

Tri State Killing Spree isn’t like that. They are proud to pound out 20 songs in 30 minutes, with 10 minutes of their gig reserved for talking trash about other bands. And not one word about unity was mentioned.

As you can probably guess from their name, Tri State Killing Spree doesn’t play easy listening. They are punk rock, and are one of the first groups of its kind in Fort Wayne. Kevin Roulette, lead vocalist and guitarist, started the group in 1989. Their first gig was opening for Ratzkrieg and Nuclear Jealousy, the latter group being one of Brian Waikel’s (more recently of Shelly Dixon Band fame) old groups.

“I started Tri State Killing Spree, because at the time, there were no punk rock bands in town,”* says Roulette. We weren’t the first — by far, not the first, but at the time, there really weren’t any local punk bands.”

All that has changed however, along with the band’s current lineup. Roulette is joined by new guy Riverhaven Rod, guitar; Pete Dio, drums and vocals; and Bobo Bolinsky, bass. I won’t mention the names of other punk bands in town, but Tri State Killing Spree wants people to know they exist, too, and are worth seeing.

So why play punk rock? “It’s fast and it’s heavy, and at the time I only knew three chords,” says Roulette. Plus, he gets two songs, from one effort.

How does that work? “He writes one song, and then we play it backwards, and that’s another song,” says Dio.

Some songs in the Spree’s set list come from groups that are no longer around, but former members brought that group’s songs with them. Former Spree bass player Jack Schit brought with him “Sexy Mother Superior,” a song written when he was in the band Tryseme 13.

“She’s an entrepreneur,” says Dio, of the song’s subject.

The band’s original material was about things like FEMA and the New World Order (not the wrestling thing). “Some of our songs are about people in the scene and about other bands,” says Roulette. “Not a lot. We’re a party band, you know; we talk about drinkin’, smokin’, beer …”

“… and relations,” chimes in Dio.

“I got a lot of songs about relationships,” says Roulette.

A fan favorite is “Punk Rock Barbecue,” a song so popular with fans the band will sometimes play it three times in one night.

“When we started … we weren’t a political band, but we [sang] dumb songs about the government coming in to take your guns … and black helicopters flying around,” says Roulette. “That’s kind of where it all started. Nowadays, we’re the band in town that’s known to talk filth about other bands. Our biggest rivlary ever was with the Migraines. That’s where it all started. ‘Ahhh, now that’s punk rock.’

“We like (Eddie Migraine) now, but that’s where it all started.”

Now, the band is mixing it up with The Beautys. However, I won’t go into detail about the beef that Tri State Killing Spree has with that group. Or what they have to say about other groups. Go to one of their shows and find out.

There’s a show biz saying, “You gotta have a gimmick.” The Spree’s gimmick is getting the crowd going by insulting them. Inspired by a group called Fear, Roulette realized provocation was the spark to the crowd’s gasoline.

“They (Fear) basically bashed the whole crowd,” recalls Roulette, after hearing a recording of a live performance by the band. “When Chris Rommel played that for me, I was like, this is what you gotta do…to get the crowd going after you.” So that’s what Roulette does: during the set, he’ll make an announcement saying this is the time he’s going to talk trash. “And Legends … the place will be cheering, or even Columbia Street will be cheering,” says Roulette.

Wherever you see the band play, they admit to having “massive stage presence.” How could they not, when they play fast and talk trash about other bands?

“That’s another reason for bringing Rod in,” says Roulette.

“So we can devote more time to the stage presence,” finishes Dio.

“Nobody wants to go watch a band sit there with their guitars at their knees and standing there not doing anything,” says Roulette. “They want to see someone move around.”

For years, “they” were primarily kids. Roulette says, “We were always about playing the all-ages shows. And that’s all we did for years. We wouldn’t play the bars. I ran three punk-rock all-age clubs in town .. .so when I had

to close Club 13 and then the Loft thing fell apart, [the band] kinda separated a little bit.”

The band resurrected, and continued doing all-age shows. However, the all-age venues were gone, and the bars were the only game in town. So Tri State Killing Spree went. But not comfortably. Their first bar gig was at Broadripple.

“Here we were, and I was embarrassed,” recalls Roulette. And yes, he took flak from other bands for playing there. He also got heat from under-age kids who were angry the group had started playing bars.

At another bar gig there were technical problems, and to top it off Roulette had a bit too much to drink. But even so, it was a memorable night.

“He talked more trash that night. I think people remember that show most of all,” says Dio, “because [of] all the stuff that he said on stage; not because we played very well, [but] because we sucked.”

You’ll get your chance to evaluate the band when they appear at Legends Aug. 17 with the Saltwater Vampires and Lowlife. The band is especially grateful to Legends’ booker Chris Hoeppner (“he’s very cool,” according to Riverhaven Rod) for continuing to have them play there.

A website, www.tri-statekillingspree.com, is under construction. Look for a CD in the fall.

And how did the band get that eye-opening name?

It was Roulette’s wife’s idea.

Correction: his ex-wife.

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