For many fledgling musicians, the name of the game is publicity, and Delaware-area cover band Full Tilt has learned this lesson as well as anyone.
It’s not every day a band gets the chance to open for a nationally-recognized musician, but four Delaware County residents have just such an opportunity. Full Tilt, along with fellow Central Ohio band Three Ton Toad, is slated to open for Joe Jonas at The Grill on 21st Street in Newark on Friday. Music will begin at 6 p.m. and go until as late as midnight.
Although the show has undergone changes in date and headlining act in the past month, it remains the largest-scale gig that Full Tilt has been signed to since the band’s formation in November 2010. The band sees Friday’s concert as an opportunity to tap into a larger audience than their own and gain further recognition as a legitimate rock outfit.
“The great thing about it is that, even though our musical styles are absolutely different, it’s an opportunity for this band because we have our own music as well,” drummer Neil Moyer said. “His audience, of however many people that are going to be there, are going to hear us.”
Full Tilt has been playing bars and small venues in Central Ohio for the better part of a year, but the band’s following is limited almost exclusively to the Newark area. Why is this? A lack of large venues in Delaware that can accommodate a four-piece rock band. The members of Full Tilt hope opening for Joe Jonas will open doors for them, possibly leading to a larger fan-base in their home town.
“As good as this band is and as much as people enjoy it, all of our following is on the east side of town,” Moyer said. “To have our fanbase at home would be great.”
“It’s funny. A lot of bands have a fan-base where they’re originally from, because they play right next door. And yet, we travel an hour out of the way,” vocalist Devan Stokosa said. “There aren’t many good rock clubs in Delaware anyway. They’re kind of hard to find.”
Full Tilt got its start when Moyer’s sons started taking music lessons at Crossroads Music in Delaware from bassist Adam Furay. Guitarist Nick Mucci, also an instructor at Crossroads, met up with Moyer and Furay and suggested Stokosa, an old friend of Mucci’s, be given a tryout as a vocalist. The four began practicing together, and on Dec. 18, 2010, Full Tilt played its first hour-long opener.
Booking the early shows was a laborious process, requiring the band to make contacts, convince tavern owners of their worth and other undisclosed “unspeakable things,” Furay joked. An official website at getfulltilt.com and a Facebook page allowed the band to connect with current and potential fans. With copious self-promotion and the support of friends and family, doors eventually began to open for Full Tilt.
“It’s kind of hard here. Unless people hear you, they’re not going to take a chance on giving you a bunch of money and their business. The one hour shows were just for bars, just to say ‘hey, listen, we’re for real, we’re good,’” Moyer said. “You have to build a little resume. You gotta go out and hustle.”
“We hand out business cards like they’re candy,” Stokosa added.
Although marketed primarily as a cover band, Full Tilt is regularly working to craft its own unique sound and produce original music. Each member approaches the musical process in his own way, bringing a variety of sensibilities and influences to the table.
Stokosa takes inspiration from neo-classical metal singers such as Oliver Hartmaan, while Moyer claims influence from noted rock drummers Chad Wackerman and Neil Peart. Mucci cited no particular artists as personal influences, though he said his work with Full Tilt takes cues from 80’s rock guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen. Furay tends to disregard his own personal tastes in favor of complimenting the 70’s and 80’s rock/metal sound the band strives for.
“It’s all about making the song work in that style,” Furay said.
Full Tilt is looking at a stepping stone to the big leagues: the chance to play in front of a large audience while sharing the stage with a world-renowned artist. Such a show could very well lead to bigger and better things for these local musicians.
“We started this band to play covers, have fun and make a little money,” Moyer said. “The band kind of took a turn, and we just didn’t force it. It’s not something you can make someone do… it just kind of comes to you.”