Like any other town, Denver has its share of cover bands. For the most part, the outfits here don't just merely perform somebody else's music, but rather they put time, energy and effort into really channeling the acts and eras they're emulating. Often times these acts tend to get overlooked because, well, they're playing somebody else's music. That changes today. Behold our latest feature, Cover Band of the Week (or, perhaps more accurately, every few weeks, as, let's be honest: there's a finite number of bands). This week, allow us to introduce you to That Eighties Band.
Over the past decade, That Eighties Band (Travis LeRoy, Mick Springfield, Amy E., Kevin Coverdale and Kate English) has wooed drunken throngs with its sweet, sweet covers from the Reagan-era, a time when Aqua Net was a must, mullets reigned supreme, socks were optional and jeans were inexplicably pegged to the point of cutting off circulation.
In advance of its show this Friday, August 30, at the Sports Column, we stopped by one of That Eighties Band's recent gigs at Baker Street Pub in the DTC for a quick chat with the group's Robert Smith-evoking frontman Travis LeRoy. Not only was he wicked cool, but he made us love the '80s all over again.
Westword: So how long has That Eighties Band been together?
Travis LeRoy: I started the band about ten years ago; we're coming up on our tenth year. The guitar player has been with me the whole time, the drummer has been with us for five years, and the singers have been with us for a couple of years.
What prompted you to say: "We're gonna be a cover band, and we're gonna be the most kick ass cover band in the universe?"
You know, when I stopped doing original music, I like stopped playing music for a little while, and then I kinda missed it. And so I wanted to get back in, and I always loved '80s music. And I thought, "I'm just gonna do something that focuses on that decade and on all the great bands I remember, and try to bring back the '80s to Denver," because it was such a great time for music -- it's what I loved.
It was great to put something together that had the same spirit of the '80s. It was really to do something just for fun; we didn't have any huge expectations for it, and then it just started growing and getting more popular. And now it's turned into this thing where we're doing like ninety shows a year every year -- we're playing all over the country.
What is you all time favorite Denver venue?
Wow. There are so many cool places in Denver, but I would, by far, say Fado Irish Pub. I mean they gave us our first shot, and we are so grateful for that.
Out of every cover song you've ever performed, what's your all-time favorite song to play, and why?
I would say "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. To me, that kind of sums up what the '80s was about. It was the best song written in any decade actually. It's an '80s anthem and people love it, and I think that anybody that grew up back then remembers that song -- and remembers Bon Jovi and how huge they were.
Do you have one song in particular that you associate with a fan memory?
I don't know. This one's hard because we play over 100 songs and...I mean, I think we've played some of these songs more than the original artists.
But do you have a favorite fan memory at all? Somebody that started crying? Some lady that threw all of her clothes on stage?
Oh! Yeah. I remember a lady came up and told me that her dad had passed away a couple weeks prior and she asked us if we could play "Don't Stop Believin''" by Journey, and we did that, and she was really emotional. It was very sweet to see.
I love that song, but now it's taken on an entirely different and sad meaning. Thanks.
Right. Right. This is what happens. Everyone has a different experience.
Is there any song you refuse to play?
If the crowd likes it, we will play it, but if you're going to make me choose one... Hmmm... It would definitely be "Walking on Sunshine." Definitely not my favorite.
The costumes you guys wear are pretty...detailed. You all dress very '80s, from the drummer to you. Everybody has their '80s gear on, which is pretty cool -- plus, you guys aren't all matchy matchy. Does the dressing up the same night after night get boring?
No. I mean, when I first started this, I'd get a little nervous walking in to a club with eyeliner and my hair all spiked up and everything, but then I found the more I went with that, the more people responded. It's all a part of bringing the '80s back. We don't want to come off like we're mocking the '80s; we wanna be authentic and respectful of it. We want to have the image be a very accurate portrayal of that era.
Did you have to study pictures and videos of Robert Smith, or were you just a huge fan and could replicate it with no problem?
My music idols when I was growing up were Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue and Robert Smith from the Cure. So that's the kind of image that I have. Kind of a mix of those guys with a little modern spin on it.
Do you have groupies?
Travis: Well, I don't like to call them "groupies." I like to call them "friends."
Like "special friends?"
[laughing) No, I mean, we appreciate everyone who comes to our show, but nothing too crazy like that.
What's your best groupie/"friend" story?
I don't really have a groupie story, but I do have the coolest story about an Avalanche party.
Like the hockey team?
Yeah! So Adam Foote had seen us. As a matter of fact, just this past Saturday, he and Paul Stastny they came out again. I couldn't believe it.
Yeah! So, the story is Foote saw us, and for his final game with the Avalanche, he had a big party at his house. And it was the entire Avalanche team all dressed up like '80s rockers; it was just their girlfriends/wives and us. And it was like a small party and they looked awesome. They looked like they were in the band as much as we did. Matt Duchene, he came up and jammed with us. They were just completely into the songs, and they couldn't have been nicer guys. Also, the bachelor or bachelorette couple was there?
Oh! The firefighter guy, right?
Yeah. Trista and the firefighter.
Eclectic crowd. Speaking of crazy crowds, do you do weddings?
Yeah, we do about twenty a year.
Do you like doing them? And, more importantly, what's the coolest wedding you've ever done?
Oh my god. It's crazy that you asked that because we actually just performed at Warren Buffet's nephew's wedding!
What?!?! The Warren Buffet? Did you know beforehand?
No. We were speaking to them via email. And before we started playing our show, they were playing this dramatic, Olympic music. And so somebody in the band was like, "What's the name of the groom?" So we looked it up and we were like "Dude! That's Warren Buffet's nephew!" And then we researched a little bit more and, like, the grandma of this guy was Warren Buffet's sister.
Yeah. And so then we started playing, and we were wondering if he was really there, so we were looking around, and there he was! Of course, we didn't go bother him, but it was pretty surreal seeing him out there. And again, they couldn't have been a nicer crowd.
The big question is: "Did Warren Buffet dance?"
We don't think so. Actually he had just been recovering from a cancer treatment we think...
Oh well. Bring the house down.
Right. So I don't think he was feeling the greatest. Anyway, when we researched things a bit more, it turns out the groom proposed to his wife at a Berkshire Hathaway meeting in front of thousands of people, so it was all over the news. Of course, we didn't find this all out until after. Thank God, or we probably would have been a lot more nervous.
So with the weddings and the concerts and all the fans...do you see yourself doing this forever?
No. As much as I may like to, nothing in the music industry lasts forever.
You think you'll get tired of it?
Put it this way: Sometime between now and when I'm eighty, it's not going to be cool if I'm up there, and I want to get out before then. I don't know when that moment will be, but until then, I am truly enjoying everything we get to do in this band.