February 28, 2013
In this age of information it’s pretty normal to be able to Google a band name and get a list of any number of sites that contain information and/or songs from said band. Chasing down Tito Discovery proved to be a bit more challenging. With little online presence and albums that have been out of print for a decade, this band is a bit of an enigma. But tracking them down is definitely worth the trouble. Tito Discovery officially formed in 1995, although there is debate amongst members as to whether it may have actually been 1996. “We were already going back and forth up there (Whitley County) in 1995, so we’ll just go with that,” Johnny Revers told us.
The chemistry was immediately apparent.
“The second time we ever played together,” Revers said “we recorded two songs.” The details of that first recording session are a bit hazy, but Revers remembers “the guy who owned the studio had Grand Funk records on the wall and he kept trying to make me do Jim Morrison stuff. We’re like ‘c’mon man.’ Then it turned really weird. It was like a learning lesson. We were kids.
“We got better though,” Revers continued, “and after a while ended up getting really comfortable and good towards slapping out our own tunes. Once in a while we’d throw out some Captain Beefheart, too. At this point, we’re playing out, and the Rail is getting crazy, and this is about ’98. We were actually one of the first (non-punk) bands to play at the Rail. It was great. We were transcending because we were not punk rockers. We didn’t play punk rock music, we played blues rock and roll, you know what I mean, but the punkers liked it. They were the only reason we got to play there in the first place, so it was cool.”
The band, which also included Duane Alexander and brothers John and Mike Morton, put out two albums during its first inception: a self-titled album in 1998 and an album called Zippity Doo Da Dam! in 2006. Though it’s not exactly clear what happened after that, Tito Discovery ceased to exist shortly after the release of that second album. Of the separation, Revers only says, “Tito broke up. Tito died. Tito just exploded into a billion things.”
In typical Tito Discovery fashion, though, the end of the band didn’t really mean the end of the band. Though it may have seemed like the band disappeared from existence for a few years, the members remained active in various projects throughout the years, a lot of the time with each other.
“That breakup all goes down,” said Revers, “then I call up Morty (John Morton) a while later and said, ‘Hey dude, this is what we do, we practice. So me and him, we get together once a week and practice. We sat up in his bedroom, upstairs in this huge room that was unfinished, and we sat there and we pounded out, what, eight or nine songs? We sat down and wrote. We hadn’t seen Duane in a while because of the Tito thing, and that was just crazy. The whole thing’s nuts. I call up Duane and said, ‘Can you come over and learn some songs Morty and I wrote?’ He was like ‘yeah’ and I say, ‘Well, I set up a gig, though.’ Neither of them knew it because I was pissed off about the whole Tito thing. I was really angry about what went down, so what I did was, instead of sitting there crying about it, I set up a show in two weeks at The Brass Rail. The three of us, we had two weeks to prepare for it. Me and Morty had the material. We practiced and bam, we play our first show as Key of Skeleton. We killed it. We’re like, we can do this. We didn’t disappear. We kept this train rolling the whole time.”
The official reformation of Tito Discovery, with Fort Wayne guitar icon Kenny Taylor now in the mix, took place in early 2012. Several people had been saying Taylor would be a great fit with the band, and it finally came to fruition with a simple phone call. “When they originally called me up,” said Taylor, “it wasn’t to start Tito Discovery again. They said, ‘We’ve got these songs we used to jam on and some covers we used to do that are really obscure. We’re trying to throw something together to just do that. Would you be interested?’ I think I said yes before Johnny could finish the sentence.”
The new band practiced for a bit and shortly thereafter played its first show under the moniker Dirty Blue Jean. But Dirty Blue Jean didn’t last long. “People on the dance floor were going ‘Tito! Tito! Tito!,’” said Taylor, “which they need to do more of, quite frankly, and (the other guys) were like, man, we’re not Tito. I said you might have to embrace it.” That night, possibly even before the last set was done, Dirty Blue Jean became the new Tito Discovery.
Tito Discovery are a genre-busting band that’s hard to describe, but, ironically, it’s likely that Taylor, a fan of the band from the beginning, may have the best description.
“The sound of the band is kinda like mercury. I call it ‘farm-core,’” says Taylor. “It’s got a lot of late 60s MC5 and early Alice Cooper in it. These guys being from Michigan, there’s something to that. There’s that late 60s violent rock thing happening. There’s a mutant blues element to it. There’s an improvisational element to it and there’s a punk rock element to it. With all those elements in the mix, there’s some kind of magic in the room when we play together that’s simply unbelievable. I recorded our first rehearsal, and we could put it out as an album. It’s that good. We’ve been trying to play that good ever since.
“I’ve never been in a band like this,” Taylor continued. “This is the band I would have wanted to be in when I was 15; it just didn’t happen. This is the first band I have ever seen that has an appeal to a punk rock audience and, potentially, to a hippie audience, which makes no sense at all. We have structure, and we don’t know what to do with it. It has energy. And it’s the combination of people. It’s really a special thing, and I feel lucky to have landed in it and have it bounce back.”
With the pieces of the puzzle fitting together nicely once again, Tito Discovery seem primed to take over where they left off several years ago, just a little older and a lot wiser. After this interview, I’d say it’s anybody’s guess what the band will explore next, but they do have some solid plans in the works. Alexander says they plan to increase their online presence. Morton is working on his studio and the band continues to rehearse and play the occasional show. Oh, and there is going to be a new record.
“We actually have an album coming out with this lineup,” said Revers. “Seriously, really quick. Like, it could happen, once we get everything hooked up, the album could be done super quick. Morty’s got all the equipment, and we’re getting ready to record. It’s going to be pretty rock n’ roll.”