ROCK MUSIC First in Space keeps its feet on the road
The group has tried radio promotion.
By JOHN BENSON
Imagine a rock world where the players didn't wear mascara, comb their hair to one side and incessantly whine emo style.
Such a location is where the members -- Johnny Stanec (vocals, guitar), Dolus McCormick (guitar), Joe Greenfield (drummer) and Will Kesling (bassist) -- of Youngstown band First in Space likes to call their stylistic home.
"We draw from a lot of different acts," said Stanec. "We're just a fan of catchy, melodic timeless rock'n'roll. It doesn't have to be from a specific era. The kind of music we're trying to make, it's more like a rock'n'roll genre. We're not trying to be a punk band or a hard rock band or a metal band. We don't want to have a genre."
Still, we live in a world of labels. Stanec said that the quartet is inspired by '60s British rock but falls somewhere between R.E.M. and Tom Petty. First In Space has already recorded its debut disc, tentatively titled "This is Not Here," which the outfit hopes to have out in March. Among the notable tracks are the melancholic "I Let You Down" and the Fab Four-inspired "What you Need."
With over 30 live dates under its belt, the foursome has ventured outside of Mahoning County, slowly growing a fan base in Pittsburgh and Akron. As far as its hometown shows, Stanec and company are experiencing a tough and common road for up-and-coming Youngstown bands.
"To be honest, the live original scene in Youngstown has a lot of hurdles," Stanec said. "There's not a lot places to play that get a consistent crowd. You have to do a lot of your own promotion, which is fine, but there just needs to be more clubs and more places, more music venues."
Normally, band promotion includes flyers and Internet postings. However, Stanec and his band mates decided to test radio promotion, an almost unheard of technique from obscure groups, for a show last September at Cedars Lounge. The band bought airtime on KISS-FM 95.9. It worked, with Stanec saying it was one of their best crowds to date. You can see First in Space return to the scene of the crime for another show Saturday at Cedars Lounge.
Not only will the group be playing material from its upcoming album, but also a few choice covers. Recent stage favorites include The Beatles' "Glass Onion" and R.E.M.'s "The One I Love."
Naturally the future remains uncertain for the band, with Stanec admitting there is the temptation the group should move to a larger market. Still, the 2000 Canfield High School graduate doesn't want to leave. Considering the power of the Internet combined with his modest goals, there's really no reason why First in Space can't build success from a Youngstown home base.
"The main goal is, if we could pay the rent and be musicians, that would be success for us," Stanec said. "That's the dream right there for me."