October 6, 2011
Right about now I’m wondering what the glue is that holds a band together? Music is so personal, and when you spend night after night trying to take five different efforts and jam them together, shape what you’ve made to please the ear of your audience, and maybe somewhere in there send a message, it can take a toll on an artist. It’s little wonder so many successful bands disintegrate into petty squabbling. For Troy Shifflett a band is about friends making music they love. Everything after that just falls into place. Shifflett, lead guitar and co-founder of the local band Teaser, says of the group, “We’re just really tight. Even if we weren’t in a band, we would still be hanging out together at a bar.”
This friendship began amid clouds of fluffy hair and mountains of tight spandex when metal was king – high school in the 80s. Shifflett and Mike Snider, under the influence of the increasingly popular Mötley Crüe, decided to take on the metal.
“We tried to spit fire like Kiss and dressed like Mötley Crüe.” But the band, like love on prom night, was short-lived. They broke up, its members pursuing separate musical ventures though still remaining friends
In 2003 Shifflett and Snider reunited, adding long-time friend Scott Clark on bass. Together they breathed life back into Teaser, this time without the Mötley Crüe get-up. It quickly became a foursome when Scott’s son Jaron, a choir singer at the time, belted out a couple of tunes while sitting in on a practice session. A few years later, in 2006, Ken Bebout joined as a second lead vocalist. “With two lead singers the opportunities are endless,” said Shifflett. “It gives us way more variety. Ken sings that deep baritone, and Jaron will get the high 80s sound.”
The release of their self-titled first record, came in 2009. Shifflett and Bebout wrote the album together and kept to their 80s roots. They churned out the loud rock anthems while keeping their personal lives out of the music, save for one song. Like most of the members of Teaser, Shifflett is a biker through and through. Longing for the road and cooped up inside, he penned the song “A Million Miles Away” about the unquenchable thirst for the open road. This was a first for him – a song about a personal subject matter. He was putting himself out there for band members and audiences to see and ridicule. The idea made him nervous, but his fears were extinguished; audiences loved the song, prompting a different approach for writing the next album
Hollywood Ending, released in 2010, was comprised of songs written almost entirely by Shifflett and dealing with much more personal subject matter. “It’s all true. Every song is a personal experience.” he said of his music on Hollywood Ending. Shifflett wrote “I Want to Thank You” in memory of his grandparents, with whom he was particularly close. “We’ve gotten a lot of response off that. People always have something to say about it. Everyone can relate somehow because it’s about losing someone you love.”
Of course, Teaser shows are filled with a lot more than just original work. They play the classics, the crowd pleasers and the new hits. This is where their vocal range comes in, because their musical repertoire spans artists like Nickleback, Theory of a Deadman, AC/DC, Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Big and Rich and Rob Zombie.
As hard as it seems to imagine an 80s rock band full of edgy bikers appealing to everyone, that’s what Shifflett loves about their music. “It brings families together. We have a mother who comes out to a lot of our shows with her daughter, and [she] meets up with her son there too.”
There are a couple of theories as to why they get such a warm reception from a wide audience. Sure it’s about the variety of music, and it helps that they’ve got some hits on the radio too. Local radio station 98.9 The Bear got the word out about Teaser when they featured the song “In My Dream” on their Local Licks program. That’s one song Shifflett thinks could easily make it nationally, but he retains his humility, saying, “As soon as we start playing [“In my Dreams”], there are people singing along with it. I’m just a local guy and people are singing along with my song. That’s pretty cool.”
But the big reason Teaser keeps the audiences coming back is the same glue that holds them together. This is just a group of friends who like to hang out and jam. “We really genuinely love playing music together. That shows. I think that’s why people come out and watch us. They see we’re having a good time.”