With an eye toward one thing, playing music for a living, Gerry Stanek spent the 1980s in just about every rough and tumble bar in Western Pennsylvania. Playing a couple of hundred times a year was a training ground like no other. As lead singer for The Impostors, Stanek drove the van and booked the gigs. And rather than spend his days sleeping,
he started writing and recording songs in his parents’ basement. More training.
By 1990, Stanek had moved on, tired of playing covers and getting nowhere. An audition during a blizzard took place at Lamont’s Tavern in Johnstown, PA. Gerry Stanek had just enough chops as a bass player to land a gig with The Lost, a New York City band signed to Epic Records. He spent the next three years touring and recording with Luke Janklow and company. The Lost toured relentlessly, opening for acts like The Black Crowes, King’s X, Mr. Big and The Ramones. All along, Gerry Stanek was still writing songs. More training.
Despite the hard work and a label deal, success was fleeting for The Lost and Stanek left the band in the summer of 1992. He found himself back in Pennsylvania without a gig. And then the phone rang one day and it was Norman Nardini, Pittsburgh’s hardest working musician; a guy who had grabbed at the top rung of the ladder several times; a fighter who had his own flirtations with major labels. Stanek signed on to play bass with Nardini and spent the next year and a half tooling around the East Coast in Nardini’s van, playing all the great rooms in Pittsburgh and eating 3AM wings at Excuses on the South Side. More training.
Stanek left Nardini’s band in the fall of ’93 and headed for the Jersey Shore to devote time and attention to a growing catalog of his own songs. There was a thriving scene for original music in Asbury Park and before you could say seaside, he was performing regularly at The Saint and other clubs in Monmouth County. He was driving up to the city,too, singing and playing at The Bitter End, CBGB’s 313 Gallery and other clubs. Training. Working. Training.
Stanek’s talent as a bass player and his long and varied band experience was the ace he always carried, though. He was offered a job with John Eddie at one point, but decided to stay solo. He’d met JE’s guitar player, PK Lavengood, while gigging with Norm Nardini. And it was Lavengood who introduced Stanek to the guys in Outcry, New Jersey’s tougher, louder answer to Crowded House. Next thing you know, Gerry was in the big Outcry house in Allenhurst learning songs. And for three years he moved in and out of employment with the Outcry boys, finally signing on for good as the band prepared to release a record with Eureka/Polygram in 1997. More training.
Alas, record deals don’t always add up to sales. By the winter of ’98-’99, Gerry Stanek had moved back to Pennsylvania, disenchanted with the business of music. He was 35 and not exactly sure what his life was going to look like. “For the first couple of years, my guitars collected dust,” he says. “It was so hard to quit, so devastating to accept the end, I just let it go completely.”
The stars always seem to align, though. In the early part of the new millennium, Stanek started to scribble lyrics again. Then he started to think about finishing songs. And, well, you know the rest. Simply put, there’s lots more music in Gerry Stanek. There’s more training; more work. More training.
released 14 January 2012
All Noise by Gerry Stanek except piano by Chris McKenna. Copyright 2012, Bituminous Records. For booking and info, write to email@example.com
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