All this happened over the course of 20 years or so forgive me if I don’t remember it quite right. Got a good memory, it’s just short!

In the beginning The Spiders started out as a jam band called The Barkin’ Spiders. The name came from an old joke about someone letting one loose and blaming it on a spider, supposedly a barking spider. Anyway, it was 3 friends that were in bands together before and just wanted play some music and have some fun. Tom Music on bass and vocals, Bill Hanton on guitar and vocals and Frank Liva on drums. They had some connections in the local bars so it was easy for them to get gigs. The jest was, they didn’t rehearse any of the material. They talked about songs they all knew and as long as the beginnings and ending were on, it didn’t matter too much what happened in between. Being very good players they were really good at winging it, so to speak. It worked out pretty well for them. They got to go out and play, have some fun and even make a few bucks. It wasn’t just the music they were pretty funny. Tom had an unbelievable gift of gab and a great sense of humor. He would engage the audience with his long stories and jokes and with ample help from Bill chiming in, it turned into quite a sideshow. That also helped with the problem of not having enough material to get through the night without repeating too many songs. That part of the show continued through the whole Spiders evolution. After some time Frank had an opportunity to play with another band and left so the search was on for another drummer.	

Tom and Bill wanted the fun to continue so they enlisted the talents of drummer Jerry Dunbar. Bill and Jerry had played together in a traveling band for a couple of years but Tom and Jerry hadn’t hooked up before. Stylistically they were on the same page so locking in wasn’t an issue. Not long after Jerry joined the band another mutual friend and old band mate asked if they would be interested in another guitar player. The guys said sure, what the hell, the more the merrier! That’s when George Selsky joined the band and it was also the first time Jerry and George played together. The Barkin’ Spiders was now a four piece band. They all loved the same kind of music, heavy, driving, big drums, screamin’ guitars, so picking out material was easy. The band actually started rehearsing on a regular schedule and working on original material. No one in the band had a place to practice but Tom had a friend, Art, who let the band use his basement. Art is a great guy and they’ll always remember how he helped them out. 

Songs by Thin Lizzy, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, to name a few, were the staple cover tunes for the band. There were also plenty of original tunes mixed in to the set. Tom had a great PA system and was quite a soundman; the band always had a killer mix. Carrying on the tradition, the band was a rocking goodtime party band. They played places that never had live bands before and paved the way for others to follow. JJ Kelly’s in Lansing IL was one of those places. The band has many fond memories of Kelly’s and probably played some of their best shows there. Hot Lix was another place in Steger IL that the band rocked hard. It was split into two rooms. One room had the bar, pool tables, some video game machines and a bunch of seating. The other room held the stage, dance floor and more seating. The whole front of the building was windows and the stage was at the other end of the room facing those windows. It looked out on to the parking lot and  Steger Road. Tom, Bill and George all had wireless rigs so they would occasionally leave the stage and walk through the crowd while they played. One night they left the stage and made it all the way outside! All three standing in the parking lot, looking through the window at Jerry who was on stage all alone! Tom made it across the parking lot all the way to Steger Road. There is video of that event and hopefully it will wind up on the site. It was totally nuts! The band played around town for a few years and as things started to get a bit stale, Bill decided to leave the band. Tom, Jerry and George continued to play on as a trio for a while, but that to got old and Jerry wanted to take a break.

Not sure exactly of the time line, but Tom, Jerry and George started to play again, first as a trio and then getting Mike Berry, an incredible keyboard, in the band. It was really a big change but it was a really good one. This might be where the band name was shortened to The Spiders. Being a guitar band and now having keys in the band opened up lots of possibilities, the band sounded different but in a good way. Mike added textures to our basic, heavy style that didn’t work or weren’t possible on a guitar. Unfortunately it didn’t worked out with Mike and he moved on and the band went back to being a trio. The band didn’t play out as much and spent more time writing. They started to record their first CD in a basement studio in Indiana tracking drums. It turned out to be a complete nightmare. The engineer liked to run levels to his ADAT machines hot, so they would peak occasionally. They thought he knew what he was doing but when they got the tapes from him, the drum tracks were unusable. They went back a second time and this time he didn’t cream the meters but used a gate on the drums and parts of the tracks were gated out, not recorded. At that point they took matters into their own hands. George had put together a little recording gear so they hauled that to Jerry’s garage to record the drums for the third time. Tom and Jerry built this little drum iso booth in Jerry’s garage hoping it would help get a good drum mix. There may be pictures of this somewhere and if there are, they’ll be on the site too. It helped a little but they wound up using a combo of Jerry’s real drums and sampled drums on the CD. The whole process, beginning to end took about three years. Yes, three years! Everyone worked fulltime jobs, had growing families so they worked on it when they could. Everyone was happy it was done, finally, and of course not really happy with how it turned out!

Time marched on, Tom moved to Indiana so getting to rehearsal was a problem sometimes, traffic was a bitch on I80. Tom and Jerry ran their own businesses so long hours for them were a drag and an everyday thing. The band practiced less but kept writing and wanted to record a second CD. During that stretch the band built a studio with a drum room and separate control room. Also during that time Tom’s health was deteriorating. The studio got finished in May and the band started to rehearse there in preparation for the recording. In August Tom passed away. Jerry and George wanted to something for Tom’s wife and kids so they put on a benefit at a local bar with the help of many good friends. In less than two months they rushed to record the second CD to sell at the benefit. They recorded and mixed 6 songs getting the much-needed help from friends and old band mates. They only had two tracks with Tom singing on them from old writing demos but wanted to include them on the CD. Tom had to be on it. Playing in the Fog is the title of the second CD. It seemed to fit because that’s what it was like without Tom. The CD cover picture is Tom fishing in the UP of Michigan and was taken by Jerry on one on their many fishing trips. Talk about fish stories!

Since then Jerry and George have continued to write and record, a long slow process due to the lack of available time but The Spiders rock on.
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