A while back a few of us musician friends in the Chicagoland area had breakfast, talking about the type of music we would love to play, but could never find a band to perform. All of us grew up in the 80s, being exposed to a palate of music from punk, to New Wave, to old school rap, to hair bands.
While some cover bands today play some of the well-worn 80s sing-a-longs, we yearned to rediscover the less-played music that brought in dynamic instrumentation and vocals.
We talked about playing music from bands like Level 42, The Tubes, The Fixx, and others that filled your stereo speakers with energy! We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a band that played songs where people say: “Oh Yeah! I LOVE that song.”? These are the songs that you remember fondly, but haven’t heard performed live in decades.
Mixtape Junkies were born. We went out and filled out the band with the best musicians and singers we knew. Our ambitious “Oh Yeah” Project had started. Years later, we are still as excited about this project as when we started and have enjoyed entertaining people.
Meet The Band
Dave Benziger, Guitar
Dave was inspired to pick up the guitar after hearing Brian May’s guitar work on the song “We Will Rock You”. Being an extremely out of shape sixth grader, Dave put down the guitar because it was “too heavy”.
Then Dave saw how girls reacted to guys who sing and play guitar, so he picked the guitar back up and practiced instead of doing his homework. (Later in life he would find out that it wasn’t the guitar that the girls were crazy about, it was the singing. Learn from his mistakes, kids.)
Dave’s been playing professionally (just ask the IRS) since the early 90s, and his two proudest musical achievements have been a life-changing letter from Brian May himself complimenting Dave on his guitar work, and the other being chosen a worldwide, top 10 finalist in Guitar Player Magazine’s 2009 “Guitar Superstar” competition.
Paul Gere, Keyboards
Paul has always loved music. He started piano and vocal lessons at an early age and later studied for several years under a Minneapolis jazz master. His passion for playing the keys exploded somewhere in junior high when he discovered that he could play and sing his favorite songs from the radio, write and sing his own music, beginning his dynamic career in live rock bands. Paul holds a music minor from Luther College with an emphasis on composition and vocal performance.
Paul has played in many bands over the years including a popular Midwest 80’s cover/originals act that toured across a ten state region and built followings in a number of major metro markets. The band has performed a number of reunion shows in recent years. Locally, Paul has played with a number of Chicago area bands and is a founding member of Mixtape Junkies. Paul takes pride in nailing the sounds and keyboard parts for any song he plays and delivers his parts without backing tracks or sequences, instead choosing to deliver authentic performances in real time. Paul’s early influences include Journey, Styx, Supertramp, Joe Jackson, Kansas and Howard Jones. Paul is a proud player of Yamaha and Korg flagship instruments and recommends Radial, EV, Shure and Westone equipment.
Steve Schneck, Bass
Steve has been in bands since the heyday of mixtapes (a.k.a. High School in the 80s). Despite being mostly a prog rock nerd, he grew up listening and playing 80s music of all flavors. Over the last 25 years Steve has gigged and recorded with a number of bands, performing at major venues and festivals throughout Chicagoland and playing live on Chicago radio.
After decades of musical experiences, Steve gets to go back to where it all started musically for him, surrounded by great peeps and killer musicians. Maybe he’ll drop a poorly-timed Rush or Yes bass line in there somewhere, but what else would you expect ….
Chris Brown, Lead Vocals
Chris comes from an a cappella back ground having sung with Chicago’s premier a cappella vocal group Ac•Rock for the last 25 years. Over the years he taken the stage with many well known bands and comedians and now…Mixtape Junkies. He has recorded eight albums with Ac•Rock and while that part of his journey has come to an end, he wanted to continue his tradition of not carrying any instruments in this band (maybe a shaker). You will probably catch him before a gig just sitting back, having a drink, and watching while the other guys move all the heavy equipment…and eating Rocco’s girlfriend’s homemade dip.
He also continues his love of singing as a worship and music director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (Celebration Campus) in Naperville. Now he and this incredibly talented band of musicians are looking forward to taking you back to the days when mixtapes were all the rage… and making YOU a Mixtape Junkie!
Rocco Marcello, Drums
Rocco has been knocking around in rock bands since he was in junior high. He stopped playing for a while shortly after he got married in the mid 90’s because he started to have a family and thought that was what he was supposed to do. His marriage fell to pieces and he said “screw it; I’m going back to playing the drums”. He’s not really a “monster player” but he’s got a decent sense of time and feel and this allows him to play in bands. If Dave Benziger didn’t recommend him to us, we wouldn’t even know who he was. We practice at his place and his girlfriend sometimes gives us dip and chips. He’s so lazy that he texts his children to bring down water into his basement when we’re practicing instead of going and getting it for himself.