May 20--Through changes in style and personnel, Destination West marches on as one of the more well-known bands on the Northeast Pennsylvania music scene.
This year, the Scranton-based hard rock outfit reached a true milestone -- its 10th anniversary. On Sunday, the band's current lineup -- lead singer/guitarist Mike Baresse, drummer Mick Barrett, lead guitarist Steve Walski and bassist Robert Hallock -- will celebrate with a big show at the V-Spot, 906 Providence Road.
The show, set for 3 to 10 p.m., also will feature performances by six other local acts. Admission is $5.
"The V-Spot is one of the best places around for live music," said Mr. Baresse, noting the band will trot out a couple of new original tunes at the show. "Everyone should show up, because it's going to be a great time."
Much has happened in the last decade for Destination West, which traces its roots to West Scranton High School, where Mr. Baresse and Mr. Barrett met. They started jamming for the sheer thrill of it in Mr. Barrett's basement.
"I met Mick in ninth grade. I was always messing around with guitar, but I played sports so I didn't have much time for music," Mr. Baresse said.
"I'm glad I met Mike, because we have this weird sort of connection. We just get along," Mr. Barrett said.
After high school, the two stayed in touch. When Mr. Baresse and another friend started thinking about putting together a band, Mr. Baresse knew exactly who to call to play drums.
Around this time, people were really into ska- and reggae-influenced bands like Sublime, and that early three-piece incarnation of Destination West more or less offered that same sort of mellow vibe. The band's name, in fact, is a tribute to California-based bands like Sublime, Mr. Baresse said.
Over time, though, the band expanded and amped up its sound considerably, drawing on grunge and hard rock influences like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Rush, System of a Down and Pantera.
"We started writing heavier riffs. Mick is heavily influenced by metal. So we just started incorporating that a lot more," Mr. Baresse said. "We just became more of an aggressive band."
Mr. Walski originally joined the band as a bassist, but then switched to lead guitar, allowing Mr. Baresse to focus on singing and rhythm guitar. "I wanted a guy who could shred," said Mr. Baresse, referring to Mr. Walski.
In March 2010, Mr. Hallock took over on bass. A veteran of the local scene, he's been "a major addition," Mr. Baresse said, both for his musical and marketing skills.
"Believe it or not, my first practice was a recording session. He (Mr. Baresse) threw me to the wolves," Mr. Hallock cracked. "We really hit it off."
Destination West has written and recorded several albums' worth of material over the years. This fall, the members plan to release their next CD.
But, given the local scene's adoration of cover bands, the band has no problem playing other people's songs, so long as they like those songs, Mr. Baresse said. Your average Destination West show might include some Guns N' Roses, some Tool, some Metallica.
And it doesn't have to be all heavy stuff, either. For instance, the Aerosmith power ballad "Cryin'" can be found in the band's repertoire.
"We have some ballads. We have harmonies," Mr. Baresse said. "You're not seeing just a bunch of pissed off guys. I crack jokes."
"I like for my mom to be able to listen to us, but I also like her to skip a track every once in a while," Mr. Barrett said with a laugh.
The guys all have separate side projects -- including Mr. Baresse and Mr. Hallock's acoustic Destination West Duo -- so they don't get too many opportunities to rehearse. However, that really doesn't matter at this point, considering how well they gel, Mr. Hallock said.
"We're all on the same page. At this point, we play with our eyes closed," he said. "We just have really good chemistry. There's no egos or anything. It's just very easy to make decisions and write songs.
"We stick to our style, and we don't compromise. We play what people like, and we stick to that."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, @jmcauliffeTT on TwitterDestination West
Genre: Hard rock/heavy metal
Members: Mike Baresse, lead vocals/guitar; Mick Barrett, drums; Steve Walski, lead guitar; Robert Hallock, bass
For fans of: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Godsmack, Guns N' Roses, Metallica
Online: www.reverbnation.com/destwest; www.face book.com/halrob
Up next: The band will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a show Sunday from 3 to 10 p.m. at the V-Spot, 906 Providence Road. Six other acts will perform on the bill -- Unlikely Heroes, Jon Dressler, The Switch, Jackson Vee, EverRage and Rick and John from Nowhere Slow. Admission is $5.
And, on Friday, May 31, Destination West will share a bill with national recording artists Red at Brews Brothers West, 75 Main St., Luzerne. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $13.
(c)2013 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)
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