May 26, 2011
I must admit that as I drove to the east side of town to meet the members of one of Fort Wayne’s newest and most buzzed about bands, I felt a slight twinge of unease. My name is not Nancy, but I couldn’t help but wonder who Nancy was and what she’d done to make five seemingly nice guys want to kill her. KillNancy drummer John “Bon” Tingley cleared matters up for me, albeit only slightly.
“Everybody has a Nancy in their life,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you call her. You know a Nancy when you meet her.”
So Nancy will have to remain a bit of a mystery for now. Much less mysterious is how the members of KillNancy got together. It all went down in 2009 when Tingley and his fellow Rosemary Gates members Mike Archbold (lead guitar) and Scott “Fish” Jackson (bass) decided that, while still quite happy to be cranking out original rock with RG, they’d also like to explore their harder sides. To this end they recruited former Scream Machine guitarist Greg “The Hammer” Titzer and accomplished frontman Jef Conn (of Downbreed and Shunned), and a new kind of band was born.
“We started out mainly doing hard rock covers,” said Archbold. “Hinder, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, that kind of thing. And then one night we decided, ‘Why not throw in some stuff by The Script or Michael Jackson?’ It happened by accident mostly, and people loved it. We loved it too.”
Like most relationships, the love lasted a little over a year. Two months ago Conn moved to Indianapolis. The guys of KillNancy were faced with a choice – dissolve without a fight as so many do or start searching for a new frontman?
To Titzer, the choice was an easy one.
“When you put as much hard work into a project as we had into this band, you don’t give up just like that,” he said. “There isn’t a weak link in this band. I couldn’t let it go.”
So Titzer began an exhaustive search for a lead singer, combing through Facebook, MySpace and his memory, hoping to find the right guy for the job. He found Jason Miller.
Many know Miller for his work as an R&B solo artist and his breakout hit “Sucker for Love.” Miller, a native of Huntington, has paired up with such R&B and hip-hop heavy hitters as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent. He’s currently signed to the incredibly bankable Konvict label which represents Lady Gaga, T-Pain and other artists who rake in insane amounts of cash while on stilt shoes, boats or some combination of the two.
So why would Miller want to come back to Indiana and join a hard rock cover band? The answer is simple. He too had lost the love. He’d grown disillusioned with the R&B, hip-hop thug stereotype, and he’d grown weary of going solo. He longed to be a part of a band and to have fun making music again.
And, having met most of the members of KillNancy years ago when he was still part of the Fort Wayne scene, he decided to at least talk out a possible future with them.
The first meeting was, according to Archbold, better than anyone could have dreamed.
“We really hardly knew each other at all, but it was like old friends getting together,” he said.
“They didn’t have to beg me to join or anything. They didn’t have to front for me. These guys are amazing musicians. I mean, absolutely amazing. They don’t need me up there singing for them. They’re incredible all by themselves, but I wanted to be a part of what they were doing. Just listening to them warm up made me excited about doing music again.”
For all the talk of excitement and love, the men from KillNancy are seasoned musicians who know how fickle the industry can be. Archbold still remembers exactly how he felt when he got a call from Universal Records back in 2000. Rosemary Gates were at their height, getting radio play for singles like “Free” and “Shining Rain,” and their big break seemed almost guaranteed. Then September 11 arrived and the record companies stopped calling.
“It seems clichéd to say it, but that’s really what happened,” said Archbold. “We went from talking to folks at Universal and Elektra and Atlantic to nothing. To silence.”
Tingley and Titzer likewise have seen their fair share of record deals melt away. One was even stolen from them, literally, when robbers broke into their rehearsal space and took off with all of the equipment their new label had purchased for them. Perhaps it’s their experience and wide knowledge of the biz that keeps the guys’ goals for KillNancy on the somewhat modest side. They’re taking the fall to gel as a band, and only after they feel really solid will they start working in earnest on their roughly 18-strong set of originals. They’re also planning to play out both locally and regionally, understanding that they need support at home before they can spread their wings. If you want to hear them rock out, they’ll be at Columbia Street West Saturday, May 28, The Frog in Syracuse June 10, Skip’s Party Place in Angola July 8-9 and Rehab in Indianapolis on July 15.
And what about after that, I wondered? Are we talking tour buses and groupies and a time when we’ll be saying we saw them kill when? But a fog of mystery seemed to fall on the room again.
“Only Nancy knows,” whispered Miller.