Over and back again
From a solo project to a full-scale attack

by Steve Howell

Toledo band OnceOver officially began in February of 2001. However, unofficially, it actually began on April 20, 2000 under the moniker of Half Empty. Drummer/singer/songwriter Steve Dwyer had recorded a solo CD under that title and landed a show at Frankie's to support the material in April of 2000. The only problem was, Steve didn't have an actual band together, since he'd played all of the instruments in the Half Empty project. Needless to say, the next step was to paste together a support unit three weeks prior to the gig. At the time, Steve was still attending high school, and he enlisted his brother Paul as the drummer. Steve then tapped the shoulders of his friends Nick Archer and Dave Ayling. Archer was recruited as the guitarist, while Ayling was left to the bass. Steve decided that since he'd penned the songs, he would handle vocal duties. The band played five shows that summer, but disbanded shortly thereafter.

"Paul went to OSU (Ohio State University) that fall, and we didn't want to form another band," said Steve.

An interesting thing had happened while the four friends were playing together though. As stated before, Steve's first instrument was the drums, while Paul had experience playing guitar, bass and viola. As for Ayling, it turned out that he had a good voice, and Archer could play the hell out of a bass due to his jazz training on the instrument. At the end of every Half Empty show, the band would switch to this lineup and play a cover of Korn's "Blind." Although they said they didn't want to form a new group, all of the members realized that something clicked on that song.

After Paul had left for college, he would return to Toledo every three to four weeks to visit. On one particular weekend, Steve and Paul were hanging out at Charlie's restaurant on Central Avenue. They discussed the chemistry that the band seemed to have when they played the instruments they were actually trained on, and the two of them decided to make a go of it once again. The brothers wanted to be serious about the new project and began writing new material immediately. The only problem was, they had fell out of touch with Archer and Ayling. Paul and Steve contacted Archer via AOL Instant Messenger, and after asking him if he wanted to play again with the reformed lineup, Archer responded with an enthusiastic "Yes." Now, the only trouble would be getting Ayling, or at least Paul thought so.

"Paul asked me, 'Have you asked Dave about singing?,'" said Steve. "I responded, 'No, but [Ayling] has nothing better to do.'"

Steve went on to say where the origin of the group's revised name, OnceOver, came from.

"We didn't want the band to be a sideshow," said Steve. "You don't look at [the group] once. We're here to stay."

Ayling, Paul and Steve began to write new material at the end of February 2001. What they came up with was five new songs. OnceOver also revived a portion of Steve's old Half Empty material. A month later, the band was recording a six-song CD sampler, which landed them a show at the Main Event's Music Fest on June 16. A day before the show however, tragedy struck as Steve was playing the Strawberry Festival in Holland, Ohio with the band Glinda's Bubble. A storm had kicked up high winds, which led to the tent Glinda's Bubble was performing in to blow down. Amps and other gear were flooded, but the worst part of the experience occurred when Steve was struck by two poles, one which pinned and fractured his leg, and the other, which broke his nose. Steve was fitted with an air cast following the incident and still played the Music Fest the next day.

"I got interviewed for a segment called 'Playing through Pain' on TV," said Steve. "It was broadcast on channel 11 [WTOL]."

After the performance, OnceOver garnered favorable reviews from Northwest Ohio publications. The monthly music magazine, Glass Eye, voted the group "most impressive new band." Following the write up, OnceOver was asked to play the first Moshing World Order event in Northwest Ohio. The show acted as a release party for the band's demos.

"The demo sucked, and we quit distributing it at the end of that fall," said Steve.

The band wanted to record a quality product, so they started working on new material. However, a week before entering the studio, tragedy struck yet again. And, you guessed it, Steve was the victim. This time, he had broken his arm. Since they had some time to kill, Paul and Steve discussed the possibility of adding a second guitarist to the band.

"We started thinking about getting a new guitar player, but we couldn't think of anybody who would fit in," said Paul.

OnceOver had played a few shows with another Toledo band called Everyday Pain prior to Steve's broken arm, and for some reason, drummer Nate Periat stuck out. Steve and Paul had hit it off with Periat, and they didn't realize that he also played guitar. As luck would have it, Periat quit Everyday Pain in October of 2001, which opened his availability to play in OnceOver. Steve went on to say that Periat provided the refueling of the band's gas tank. The new lineup quickly wrote four new songs for their recording sessions and released the self-titled disc on June 18 at Frankie's in Toledo. With the release of the new CD, OnceOver found themselves in the number five spot on MP3's 'New Metal' chart.

As for their part in Northwest Ohio's ongoing struggle in the battle of original music that matters, what are the thoughts of OnceOver?

"I feel like in the music scene, we're the lunch table that nobody wants to go to," said Steve.

You can catch the band at Frankie's, 308 Main St., on June 28 and July 19.

OnceOver's self-titled full-length can be found at Boogie Records, Allied Record Exchange, Madhatter, CD Warehouse and on the group's Web site at www.onceover.cc.

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