The members of the Joe Durt band were in the parking lot of a Wichita bar one night when they realized they’d crossed a threshold – one that only members of an ’80s hair band tribute group are likely to encounter.
“We were in the back of a trailer changing into women’s pants and wigs,” lead vocalist Gary Chadic recalled with a laugh. “I thought, ‘We’ve finally reached our ultimate goal, didn’t we?’”
As Chadic’s story indicates, the members of Joe Durt don’t take themselves seriously. But they do take pains to re-create the sound and look of their favorite musical genre as accurately as possible.
Joe Durt opens for the Southern hard rock band Jackyl on Saturday at the Cotillion. Expect to hear “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and other hits that band members and their fans can toss their hair to during an hour-long set.
“What I really like about it is all the music from the ’80s seems to be about good times and partying,” Chadic said. “It wasn’t like when the ’90s scene came in and everybody wanted to kill themselves.”
Chadic, who uses the name “Nikki Valentine” on stage, is joined in the band by Jerry Schultz (aka “JJ Gunz”) on drums, Jeremy Childress (“Nasty Sixx”) on bass, and guitar players Adam Nighswonger (“Jax Deville”) and Anthony Condit (“Tony VanHalen”).
Not to destroy any rock ’n’ roll illusions, but the band members all have day jobs in fields like construction and communications. Chadic even admits to being a little hair-challenged when not in costume.
As Chadic tells it, he comes by the theatrical side of rock ’n’ roll naturally. He grew up playing drums and singing with his father, Jerry Chadic, in a band called the Cartunes. That band plays music and wears outfits from the 1950s and ’60s.
“Just playing music all my life with my dad, I realized that basically every other band can play the same stuff,” Chadic said. “But I found out real quick, you need a show, something different that people want to see so they can tell their friends, ‘Have you seen that band?’”
And a show is what Joe Durt provides. “We’ve got explosions, we’ve got a confetti cannon, we’ve got the fog, we’ve got the dancers on stage,” Chadic said. “It takes us about three hours of set-up time.”
They even have a mock security force of friends to keep away groupies.
Chadic was in his high school glory days when hair bands were big, so the attraction was natural. For Childress, those bands were what his older sister spent hours listening to.
She and her friends “were always listening to Motley Crue,” he said. “That music was drilled into me.”
Childress said the band’s covers of songs by Bon Jovi and Def Leppard draw the biggest response, though Guns N’ Roses is probably his favorite group.
“It’s made it around and come back, and I don’t know long it’s going to last,” Childress said of the genre’s popularity, “but I’m enjoying it while it’s here.”
So is Chadic, who noted that performing in a hair band tribute act poses challenges other musicians don’t face. “I have to try to sing as high as I can in women’s pants.”
This story is part of an occasional series in which the spotlight is put on local bands. If you’re interested in having your band considered, e-mail email@example.com.
If you go
Jackyl with opening act Joe Durt
Where: Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $20-$25, www.thecotillion.com, 316-722-4201