12 Volt Sex
Long before The Killers and Panic! at the Disco, 12 Volt Sex was Las Vegas' great hope for rock 'n' roll superstardom. With the quartet's sugary pop melodies, bombastic performances and unheralded marketing mojo, RCA Records couldn't help itself from snatching up Vegas' finest. But after two years of waiting for the label to release its debut album, Stereo-Quatro, the band, frustrated, left RCA and took an indefinite hiatus. So where is 12 Volt Sex now?
Bassist Jason Coleman and keyboardist Toby Ashmore live in Portland. Coleman started a custom glass-tile manufacturing company. Lead singer Matt Chernoff recently parted ways with popular cover band Love Shack, and he is planning to leave the country with his wife to teach English. Drummer Gary Wright still performs regularly with a number of bands, including The Nines. And guitarist Mike Stratton, after a stint as manager of the Huntridge Theatre, is now manager of P.F. Chang's inside the Aladdin.
Despite the physical distance between some members, you may be surprised to learn that 12 Volt Sex is still active. Stratton and Chernoff have been writing new material here and there, in between other responsibilities. The band has recorded the new songs slowly, whenever members have been in Vegas, and is preparing to release a new album on its TVS Industries label this summer. And Stratton says the band will perform at least one concert in conjunction with the album's release.
This band seemed to have the perfect package: tight musicianship, great songwriting and two alluring, yet distinctive women in front. And for a while, it seemed as though Inside Scarlet might have conquered the world with its hooky, blues-based alternative rock. But "the drama, the pressure and the general soap opera aspect of the music scene" drove singer/guitarist Sharay Larsen back to her hometown of Cedar City, Utah, spelling the end of the quartet's reign over the Vegas music scene. So where is Inside Scarlet now?
Larsen—after a year-long hiatus from listening to or playing music while helping her parents at their ranch—is living in Salt Lake City, happily married and working for a Las Vegas-based travel website. She still performs the occasional gig in Vegas with Shawn Eiferman (including one on May 6 at the Crown & Anchor).
Bassist/singer Heather Tampa and guitarist Mike Cromer relocated to San Diego a few years ago. They work for Shure (a musical equipment manufacturer), and Larsen reports that the pair "were doing great" last time they spoke. The band's last drummer, Nick Oshiro, played with alternative rock band Seether for a short time, before joining up with industrial-metal act Static-X in 2003.
Though she enjoys her quiet new life, Larsen said that it "would be so interesting to see what the four of us would create with the new experiences and new perspectives we have."
Playing a horn-heavy ska-metal blend reminiscent of a youthful Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the seven-piece Attaboy Skip became regional favorites in the mid-1990s, releasing two CDs and performing at hundreds of shows, including a number of label showcases. Toward the decade's end, however, several members turned their focus on college or other musical projects, and by November 1999, Attaboy Skip disappeared from the Vegas music scene.
Though the group never officially broke up, the high-school buddies only came together for special occasions to play one-off shows, the last of which was early in 2004. Since then, not much has been heard from six of the members of Attaboy Skip—though drummer Ronnie Vannucci has received his own windfall of attention as the drummer for The Killers. So where is Attaboy Skip now?
Singer Bronson Mack, who works in public relations for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, is living in domestic bliss with a wife, a dog and a house. Guitarist Ted Sablay plays bass as "Phil McCracken" with Irish drinking band Darby O'Gill and the Little People and is taking classes at UNLV. Bassist Loren Jolley moved to San Francisco about six years ago, and is attending orthodontic school there. Guitarist Shay Mehrdad is married and working for an advertising agency in Phoenix. Saxophonist Justin Vaden still lives in Vegas, working as a special-events coordinator for Encore Productions and raising three children with his wife. Abe McCormick, the band's trumpeter and recording wizard, has been producing and engineering music for himself and other acts, and is planning to release two albums this year.
"Not a day goes by I don't think about Attaboy Skip and what we did as a band," says Mack. He says he is proud of what Vannucci has accomplished, but that he wouldn't want that kind of instability.
"It's such a fragile career," Mack says.
If you were looking for one band that truly carried the traditional rock 'n' roll torch in '90s Las Vegas, Mama Zeus was your group. Fronted by sultry redhead Nicole Sottile, Mama Zeus' bluesy classic rock was a crowd-pleasing favorite. Despite some early membership changes, the band had all the right things going for it: a New York manager, opening slots for Linda Perry, Extreme and Nazareth, and rave reviews from national and local press for its CD Blue Soul Fire. Despite all that, the band disappeared in the early years of the new millennium. So where is Mama Zeus now?
Since the band broke up a few years ago, Sottile has been singing and performing in a number of settings, including a stint backing up lounge acts like Jimmy Hopper and Trent Carlini, as well as acting in small stage productions and interactive dinner theater. Drummer Vinny Castaldo continues to run the recording studio at which Mama Zeus cut records, the Tone Factory. Bassist Kyle Adoor plays with an act called Hillbilly Funeral. And original guitarist Rich Hughes—after playing with local pop-rock group Automatic Taxi Star—moved to Arizona, where he is forging a career as a music producer.
There is good news for fans who miss Mama Zeus' organic rock—Sottile reports that the original lineup has been working on new material. She says the band is essentially a studio project and is "just taking it easy."
Formed in 1996 by singer-songwriter Shawn Eiferman and bassist Geoff Neuman, Epstein's Mother's acoustic/modern rock career reached its peak with the release of the group's 2000 album, Subtle, which saw airplay in several markets and garnered across-the-board critical acclaim. For the CD's release party, nearly 1,500 people packed the House of Blues. By the end of 2001 the band was no more, undone by the pressures of attorneys, record labels and management. So where is Epstein's Mother now?
"The only time I come in contact with Epstein's Mother," says Eiferman, "is when I put on an Epstein's Mother T-shirt."
After the band's amicable breakup, Eiferman claims he was left with the loose business ends, including tax payments. He says that Neuman has tried to make amends, but Eiferman refuses to deal with him until Neuman "shows up with a check."
The songwriting force behind Epstein's Mother is busy as hell these days. In addition to working with his band, Ponder, which formed in 2003, Eiferman is also the "entertainment ambassador" to HelloWorld, a six-month-old video e-mail business. He's also setting up showcases for local and regional musicians with interest from Virgin Records and Artemis Records.
Eiferman says he has "no idea" what Epstein's guitarist, Christian Brady, and drummer, Chris Morrison, are doing now. According to the website for local band Magna-Fi, Brady joined the hard-rock act as lead guitarist earlier this year.