Musician has the drive to rejuvenate Hellvis
The band was on hiatus while its singer/guitarist was in jail.
By JOHN BENSON
The drive between Cleveland and Coitsville isn't too bad on its own.
However, bassist B.J. Lisko has found a way to make it into, well, hell by driving back and forth twice in a day to practice with the punk/metal/rock act Hellvis. So what is it about this outfit that has the 1999 Columbiana High School graduate making such an effort in both time and gas money?
"I think Hellvis is really unique," Lisko said. "And we definitely have a different sound, especially for this area. The appeal goes from rockabilly fans to heavy metal fans to rock 'n' roll fans and even country fans to a certain degree. We appeal to a lot of different audiences."
The Hellvis story began roughly a decade ago when singer/guitarist Ted Laskowski started churning out this special brand of raucous rockabilly. A few years later, Lisko joined the fold with the future appearing if not bright, at least promising. Then four years ago Laskowski found himself in trouble with the law -- DUI and aggravated vehicular assault.
During the singer's incarceration, Lisko stayed busy with side project Turbo Lover. He even scored a record deal for Hellvis with indie label Cracked Piston. In fact, the band will be re-releasing its debut album, "Dixie Fried Hellbilly," with additional material soon.
As for Laskowski, he was released from jail earlier this year but is unable to drive. That's why Lisko is making the long-distance effort to reconnect with Laskowski and drummer Bruce Stepan. The idea is to pick up where Hellvis left off.
While a new studio album may be on the horizon, it's first thing first for the trio, which is planning a return to the scene of the crime. The outfit's last show before Laskowski was locked up took place in November 2002 at Nyabinghi in Youngstown, and that's exactly where the second chapter of this group will begin Saturday.
Fans can expect plenty from the Hellvis catalog, including "Eager Beaver, Honey Pot" and "Trucker Speed," as well as a quintessentially combustible live show.
"We're called Hellvis, and Ted sounds like a demonic Elvis," Lisko said. "His voice mixes with the fact we're doing a lot of Motorhead and M & ouml;tley Cr & uuml;e style rock 'n' roll, with some rockabilly influences in there too."
He added, "We're looking forward to the comeback and hopefully getting things rolling again. We have a bombastic stage presence. Hellvis wasn't so much a show as it was an event. We were always from the theory that if it's a live show, put on a live show and give the fans something to see. Otherwise, they can listen to the CD in their car."