Small-town Ethic Brews
July 12, 2002
Date: July 12, 2002 Publication: The Record (Bergen County, NJ) Author: Salvatore Tuzzeo Jr, Special to the Record
WHO: The Juliana Theory with Blindside and Celebrity.
WHAT: Indie rock.
WHEN: 8 p.m., Thursday.
WHERE: Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancy St., Manhattan. (212) 533-2111, www.boweryballroom.com.
HOW MUCH: $15.
Just a few miles outside Pittsburgh, the smaller, similarly industrious village of Latrobe is pretty much known for one thing.
Specifically, Rolling Rock, which has had a happy HQ in Latrobe, Pa., for decades.
Now, indie rock upstarts The Juliana Theory -- with their major label debut due out in the fall on Epic Records and an ever-growing buzz (pun intended) about them -- may just give their hard-working hometown a whole new rep as a rock-and-roll hotbed.
And, really, what better union than catchy rock riffs and cheap beer?
The quintet, however, is actually quite fond of its old stomping ground and points to its no-nonsense upbringing there as the secret ingredient to brewing fame and fortune.
"It's important for us to become a success story as a testament to the blue-collar, working-class ethics that we embody," says singer- guitarist Brett Detar.
"We work extremely hard. We've been touring non-stop for the last three years, and we want success just to be able to say that hard work does pay off."
The small town, everybody-knows-everybody-else dynamic of Latrobe wasn't lost on the guys in The Juliana Theory, either.
Guitarists Joshua Kosker, Josh Fiedler, and Detar, along with bassist Chad Alan and drummer Neil Hebrank (who left the band in January and was replaced by longtime friend Josh Walters), had known one another since childhood before getting together as The Juliana Theory in the late Nineties.
But before the stylistic, pop chords of The Juliana Theory, Detar was writing songs and playing guitar for a much different audience -- in the heavy metal band Zao. Though Zao achieved local success, the hard-rocking sounds didn't jibe with Detar's traditional rock sensibilities.
He left Zao in 1998 after The Juliana Theory had already formed as a side project of his. In fact, Detar had already penned a solid index of songs for the Theory.
"When you write good rock songs, you want to have hooks and lyrics people can relate to and, in metal, I'm not sure if those things are as important as being heavy, crazy, and loud," Detar said. "Sure, I played some pretty hard stuff for a while. It felt easy and natural, though, to jump right back into rock music and try to write stuff with hooks and vocal harmonies -- it was second nature at that point."
Almost immediately, Theory's sarcastic, bubble-gum take on rock-and- roll began drawing crowds in western Pennsylvania. The band became a full-time gig and, soon after it began wowing audiences with live shows, signed a multi-album deal with Seattle-based Tooth & Nail Records.
In 1999, The Juliana Theory released its full-length debut, "Understand This Is a Dream," and kicked off a national tour in support of the dreamy, lush pop product.
The Juliana Theory's sophomore effort, "Emotion Is Dead," the next year was even more polished and dynamic, showcasing the band's musical depth as well as the ability to write whimsical, catchy tunes.
As its live shows flourished, so did The Juliana Theory's reputation as an all-around solid act. That same year the band was wined and dined by every major label in the country.
After signing with Epic/Sony in 2001, the band quickly went to work on its major label debut, "Love," to be released in October.
Still, while the band members are walking on air, they have their feet firmly planted in reality -- yes, Detar even continues to drive around in his old car.
"It's a 1993 Subaru with 160,000 [miles] that pretty much doesn't run anymore," he said. "We haven't afforded ourselves any rock-star luxuries -- we're not to that point yet. I would like to buy a car in the near future, but the main reason I haven't bought it yet is because I don't want it just to sit there and not get driven while I'm paying for insurance."
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