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AUDIOSTAGG was first formed in the summer of 1989 in Modesto, CA by two friends influenced by the music they grew up with; primarily the British heavy rock scene- UFO, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest (and even The Baby’s) and other guitar and bass-driven heavies of the 1970’s and early 80’s. Greg Gould and Steve Niles were connected and driven by their shared passion for music, and as young teens they expressed their drive through pantomime on tennis rackets in their childhood bedrooms…and then taught themselves how to play the guitar for real. As they reached their 20’s, they set off on separate musical paths; Niles playing in his first band and Gould producing and engineering for various groups. After years of traveling different roads, they reconnected creatively to form AUDIOSTAGG.
Joined by Mark Bradfute on drums and Collette Bias on bass in 1988, Gould and Niles rehearsed in Gould’s one-car garage with various vocalists drifting in and out until one stuck. Mykal Fury made himself known in 1989 and became their front man. By that time, they had moved into a rented studio downtown. In early 1990, the band began writing and recording songs for their inaugural, self-titled album which was never officially released. Bradfute and Bias had since been replaced by Dave “The Beast” Watkins on bass and Rob Berthelson on drums.
They circulated through the rock club scene in the SF Bay area and the California Central Valley. Under heavy competition, AUDIOSTAGG worked hard and was able to gain a following of fans and club owners. This increase in recognition led to invitations to support nationals like the late Carl Albert and his power metal band Vicious Rumours. The band, like many others during that time, was frustrated by the infamous “pay to play” policies of the time. (Watch for upcoming documentary “Pay to Play”, now in pre-production.) The Stone, Niles Hard Rock Station, The Zoo, The Boardwalk, The Omni, The Real Rock, The Cabaret, etc. all had the same policy. In order to get on the bill, bands had to guarantee tickets sales worth about $250, or pay the difference in lieu of sales. Any monies generated by the band over that amount were considered their pay.
In 1992, on the eve of the release party for their next album, unfortunate events occurred. Drummer Berthelson had a run in with the law and could not perform. And even though well-known Seattle jazz drummer Steve Korn offered to sit in, AUDIOSTAGG was unable to take the stage. Both Berthelson and bassist Watkins had been battling personal issues for some time, to the detriment of the group. It was decided by the remaining members to take the opportunity to re-work the membership and asked both Berthelson and Watkins to permanently step away. Nevertheless, 13-track Dilemma was released, including the unanticipated hit “Squid”, a wacky punk anthem that continues to get attention and air play.
Needing to fill the two vacant positions quickly in order to get out and support Dilemma, the guys went on a search and within four months, the slots were filled. Korey Keathley on bass and Jim White on drums became permanent members. Through a strange twist of circumstances, Keathley met Gould’s wife while recovering from surgery in the hospital where she worked and he was recruited from his hospital bed. Already an AUDIOSTAGG fan, White answered an ad on a music store bulletin board. White confesses that even though he’d playing drums since the age of five, he was nearly overwhelmed by the professional quality of the music they’d given him to learn and was anxious about trying out. Despite that, he was inspired to audition in order to achieve his dream and be a part of this all-original band.
For 2 years the group toured regionally with the Gould/Niles/Fury/Keathley/White line-up supporting acts like Great White, Quiet Riot, etc. (From Fresno to the Bay Area to Sacramento) During that time, it became clear that Fury was also in a battle with personal issues of his own. Though a creative lyricist, the band felt Fury’s vocal potential was not being met. Combine this with an ongoing combative atmosphere, and group cohesiveness eventually became frayed. After many confrontations and considerable debate, Fury walked away in late 1994.
AUDIOSTAGG continued writing and recording instrumental tracks while searching for a suitable new vocalist. Several challenging years followed. The music industry was changing. The scene was knee-deep in Grunge thanks to intensive media attention to this through, but none stood the test of time and chemistry. Finally, in 1999 at a local concert, Gould and White were actively scouting the crowd for talent when they ran across Marko Bustamante. Bustamante had been with other Modesto-area bands who occupied the same bill with AUDIOSTAGG in the early 1990’s. And he holds the distinction of being the only graduate of the first-ever Vocal Institute of Technology class at the prestigious Music Institute (MI) in Hollywood. They asked him to come out and audition. He did and they discovered they shared musical influences and were impressed with each others talent and style. After a short time they all agreed it was a good fit.
Immediately, they began writing new songs and reworking previously written material. With Bustamante now on vocals, they played the regional scene opening for the Bullet Boys, Larger that Life (officially sanctioned KISS tribute band), and BombChild (pop-punk sweethearts from L.A.)
In the fall of 2001, AUDIOSTAGG released the 4-song EP/CD, Electric Medicine. This release showcased the potential of the new line-up with a heady brew of chemistry, powerful songwriting and talent.
Though the band continued to write new material and play live to support Electric Medicine, in the fall of 2002 it was evident the members were feeling burned out, and this lead to the dissolution of AUDIOSTAGG.
Soon after, Bassist Keathley joined local thrash-metal band Burial Ground, but left the group after about a year. Lead guitarist Niles tried out for a position with Instrumental Guitarcore™ artist Bill Lonero and was made an offer, but turned it down for personal reasons. Drummer White worked on various projects, including a start-up, cover/original band with a former guitar player of the Bullet Boys Mick Sweda, but none of these came to fruition. Vocalist Bustamante explored the idea of a Queensryche tribute project with members of one of his previous bands. Gould relocated with his family to Seattle, Washington and began pursuing his interest in film making. And thus, it seemed the fate of the group was decided.
For years, each separately experienced intense feelings of loss and disappointment. In 2005, determined not to let the music and everything the group had accomplished die, Gould began to plug into the internet networking scene. He had a plan. He decided to get AUDIOSTAGG’s music onto every music website he could. Then in late 2005, he discovered MySpace.com and began more actively marketing and sharing the music and the story of AUDIOSTAGG resulting in more interest in the band than ever before from people all over the world. Sharing with strangers was only somewhat rewarding. Gould realized how much he missed making music, missed his friends and decided to reconnect with his old friends and band mates to explore what might be possible. At the same time other AUDIOSTAGG members could not help noticing the results of Gould’s efforts on the internet.
While on a sound engineering job in California in 2006, Gould planned to drop in unannounced on Keathley at his workplace. It all went down exactly as planned. Gould pulled up and they spotted each other and…….it was brotherhood.
A few excited phone calls were made and a 1st meeting and jam were arranged with the Bustamante, Niles and White in October 2006. They were reunited and reignited! All the chemistry and music and friendship returned during the jam. AUDIOSTAGG went on reconnecting for rehearsals- Gould flying back and forth from Seattle for 6 months- and then they were invited to headline at their first gig in 5 years at Fat Cat in Modesto. The crowd’s enthusiastic response, and the positive attention coming from fans all over the world, has strengthened their belief in their own music and drives AUDIOSTAGG to continue to work together as artists and brothers who wish to share their music with you.
The music can be powerful and moody, and at times fast-paced and driving. The Members? influences are many and varied including different types of music outside the genere of rock. This manifests itself in thier original writing style that is not bound to whatever the current trend in the rock mainstream happens to be. AUDIOSTAGG takes pride in performing music that comes from the creative soul.