BACK TO THE FUTURE with WET CEMENT Local \'90s Pub/Rock Legends Rebuild Their Musical Foundation

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 640   By: Robert E Martin

28th June, 2007     0

As with any good story the tale of Wet Cement is one that consists of enthusiastic beginnings, achievements & accomplishment, not-so-happy endings, and a determination to learn from the past in order to forge new beginnings, ultimately rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of miscalculation, stronger and more vital than ever before.

Consisting of former Burnaround front-man Tony Furlo on vocals & guitar; fellow guitarist/vocalist Bill Erdman, drummer Vince Gaskew and bassist Mark Weiler (most recently of Jedi Mind Trip), Wet Cement first formed in the later days of 1993, enjoying a solid five-year run as one of the most popular, entertaining, and vital alternative rock bands roaming the local club circuit in the 1990s.

At a time when the 'Grunge' movement in rock was first exploding with the sounds of Nirvana and Soundgarden, Wet Cement (along with fellow contemporaries The Jitters and Shovel) enjoyed a consistently packed itinerary as one of the most successful club bands of that era.

Today, nine years after their break-up, Wet Cement has decided to join forces once again with each original member taking position in the spotlight that once shined so brilliantly on one of the mid-Michigan area's most promising and entertaining musical ensembles.

Today, the group is focused on making their major debut at Rog's Bar, 2350 S. Michigan in Saginaw, on Saturday, July 7th with a huge tent show, followed by regular appearances at Rog's every other Thursday.
"We've been thinking about getting back together for awhile," reflects Billy Erdman. "Each of us individually had been talking about it for a few years, and once we got kicked out of our other bands, we decided to go for it," he laughs.

"I point it all on serendipity," interjects the ever-evanescent Tony Furlo. "Everything lined up at the right spot.  We'd been discussing a reunion for quite some time, only couldn't enact it until all the elements came together.  Finally, we just decided to book a gig and go for it. We performed our 'ice-breaker' at the Hamilton St. Pub and it felt like time hadn't passed."

"I would say that up until 10 or 11 days before our first gig we got together twice, which was the first time all four of us came together in the same room for close to ten years," notes Billy. "I agree with Tony. It felt like yesterday."

"We were strong ten years ago and ten years later we're even stronger," asserts Tony. "Obviously, you experience those butterflies & jitters, but the minute we got back together in the basement, it felt really good. We finally just said, 'To hell with it, let's pull this off."

It is both obvious and apparent that each member of Wet Cement is re-discovering a fresh appreciation for one another.

"Personally, I just got tired of the scene," comments Vince. "When you work as steady and hard as we did over the span of five years, it takes a lot out of you.  I only got involved with music because of the joy it gave me, and when that started to fade, I decided the best course of action was to take a break from it all."

"Fortunately, I managed to work steady after the band broke up," reflects Mark. "But I can appreciate what Vince is saying, because there came a time where I needed to get away from it as well, so I moved to Ann Arbor for awhile."

"You've got to figure that being 21 to 25 years old, spending five nights together a week, doing that for five years is a long time," adds Tony. "We got sick of one another and between the alcohol, drugs, and altered states, for me it got to a point where it was time to go.  I don't profess to say I'm the easiest guy to get along with. In fact, I'm kind of a jerk sober, so the smallest little thing would set me off," laughs Tony. So what exactly set the wheels of healing and reunion in motion for the band? Basically, two words: mutual respect.    

"At the end of the day, I'm in it for the music and the fun involved with creating it," states Vince. "To this day, I've never found a better musical chemistry with any other group of musicians, pure and simple."

"I agree," notes Billy. "Over the years I've assembled duos and developed a substantial solo career (Editor's Note: Recently Bill received a standing ovation for his solo performance at a club gig in New Orleans).  But it isn't the same energy as performing with a band; and for me, this is that band."

Arguably, the biggest transformation with Wet Cement is focused  - and in many ways embodied - by the new lease on life discovered by Tony, whom in recent years has experienced an acute sense of woe from living life on the edge.
"It's no secret that I was out of circulation for awhile," reflects Tony. "But thanks to the birth of my daughter, and laying low spending plenty of time with her, I've learned what's really important in life."

"You have to remember that I was the poster-boy for Jagermeister!" he laughs. "After awhile, as my own success grew, I lost sight of the music  - and at the end of the day, that's all that truly matters.  It's very easy and a freaking cliché to say that I became side-lined by getting too immersed in the 'trappings' of rock 'n roll - the booze, the girls, the partying - but that's basically what happened."

"The goal of making music and being in a band is to have a good time and create some fun for people at the end of the day," continues Tony. "So it's easy to cross the line, especially when you're passionate about music like I am. If you look at all the greats like Jim Morrison, Hendrix, Alice In Chains, they became too passionate and flew too close to the flame.  I don't want that.  The music & my family are more important."

In terms of musicianship and enthusiasm, the mood of Wet Cement is as solid as the energy driving the band.  "Everything feels right between us, which creates a more inspired performance," states Billy.  "We've all improved over time as musicians, so the bar we set for ourselves is higher.  That keeps it exciting."

"Wet Cement is back," sums up Tony. "Our fan base is strong and younger kids seem to enjoy what we're doing, so bring it on! I don't see anything holding us back."


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