As the countdown for Greater Andover Days continues, preparations are coming together for the Friday Night Tailgate Party.
And with a theme of "Made in Andover," what could be more appropriate than an encore performance at the Tailgate party of The Banned. That's because the group's frontman, Shannon Grate, hails from Andover.
A 1987 graduate of Andover High School, Grate didn't get into music until many years later. Saying he was "always doing something," Grate was in his mid-30s before he gave music a shot. It sort of happened because of what he wasn't hearing from local groups.
"I kept seeing the bands in Wichita and thought maybe I should give it a shot," Grate said. "They weren't playing the songs I wanted to hear, and I thought I could hang with them."
Grate put an ad online and someone answered it, asking him to come for an audition. He got into that band, which was the forerunner of his current group, changed some things and just kind of took over.
That was 6 1/2 years ago, and he's still going strong. So is the band, but with a slightly different name.
"We wanted something simple and right to the point," Grate said. "My wife came up with the name. I think she said it and someone else said 'That sounds good.'
"It's a play on words, I guess. One of my favorite bands is Motley Crue. It's just a cool name, and we've been banned from some places."
Currently The Banned consists of Jordan Bollig on lead guitar, bassist Carlos Cervantes, Sean Borst on drums, and Grate is the lead singer. He's also been known to play a little guitar and tambourine.
The Banned play a lot of songs from groups like Motley Crue, Whitesnake, The Cult, White Lion, Poison and Guns N' Roses. When asked to describe what type of music they play, Grate had to stop and think of the proper nomenclature.
"I guess it would be the '80s hair band music or pop rock 'n' roll. Stuff that was popular on MTV back in the day," he said. "I wouldn't call it heavy metal. I would call it hard rock. 'Hair metal' would be a good way of calling it."
The hair is one thing you will definitely notice about The Banned. Grate has been quoted as saying, "The hair is the most important part of the band."
"It's because we're an '80s hair band," he said. "It would be kind of weird if we had short hair and played rock 'n' roll songs from the '80s. Everyone had long hair back then in the bands."
Page 2 of 2 - They play about 30 times a year, which is fine with Grate. He doesn't like playing every weekend, preferring to spend that time hanging out at home or playing golf.
In 2010 they opened the block party at River Fest for Grand Funk Railroad. Grate said it was really cool to play in front of about 12,000 people.
Last year the Greater Andover Days committee approached Grate about playing at the first-ever tailgate party but had no money to pay them. Grate went out and hustled about $2,000 from sponsors so his group would get paid for the gig. He did that this year as well.
"Don't know if I can do it next year; it's tough," he said. "I hate going to ask people in the community for money."
Grate thought last year's Tailgate Party was a success, despite the unknown factor of a first event.
"Last year was the first tailgate party and people didn't know what to expect. It's a good chance for businesses to come out and market their businesses," he said. "I was told later everyone had a blast. The Andover days committee was happy with that. That's why we're having it again."
There is one thing people can definitely expect at this year's tailgate party. The Banned is gonna have a good time in as family friendly of an environment as possible.
"If you like '80s rock 'n' roll, this is the place to be," Grate said.