Family band

Nov 082006
Authors: Geoff Johnson

Mark Towne stinks after a show. He’s quick to say so.

As the drummer of Vices I Admire, a Fort Collins-grown band that’s been around in its current form since 2002, Towne works up a sweat.

The rest of the crew consists of Dave Curtis, 25, vocals; Mickey Dollar, 25, electric guitar; and Rob Marston, 25, bass guitar.

The members may not be related by blood, but they’re as close as can be without ancestors in common.

Scouting the location of a show at Road 34 Bike Shop and Bar, 1213 W. Elizabeth St., VIA takes time to speak with the Collegian.

At first, the band is sipping on Fat Tire and 2 Below quietly. They stare – mouths open, practically drooling – at two giant amplifiers on the small stage on which they’ll be playing. “That looks like a lot of noise for this little place,” says Towne.

“They have nachos here,” he says. “That’s awesome.”

Dollar jokingly explains that the band will try to climb the social ladder with the Road 34 show – “From ‘crumb bum’ to bum.”

Happy family

“We fight more like a family than a band,” says Curtis.

The band has at one point or another done everything together. They have lived together in the same house – and practiced together in the same basement – since the spring of 2003, when Towne, the youngest of the group, moved out of CSU’s Durward Hall.

Towne works at the dining hall of the Durrell Center on campus, and has gotten each member of the band a job there at one point or another. “I have the ability to hire people,” he said.

And they party together.

Spending so much time together, Dollar says, “We do get on each others’ nerves.”

“Like when Mickey punched me in the spine,” Towne laughs.

Curtis adds, smiling, “These guys are really annoying.”

The music

VIA is difficult to place in a genre.

How many bands incorporate whistle solos (this is exactly what it sounds like: a solo comprised of Curtis – who is quite the whistler – whistling) like VIA does in the song “Monster?”

The band’s EP, “Plan B” (the title an homage to their former band name), floats between genres – with the above-mentioned “Monster” at times reminiscent of rock-rappers Linkin Park.

Curtis’ voice hovers somewhere between Brandon Boyd of Incubus (before “Make Yourself”; think Boyd in the album “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.”) and Kurt Cobain (from Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged In New York”).

“(The music we make) is introspective and mood-inducing,” Towne says.

Curtis cuts in, “Emo-”

Towne interrupts him. “Don’t call it that,” he says. “But we do some softer, slower stuff.”

Live, though, Towne says the band is more about heating things up.

Show-goers can expect “something you can shake your ass to – music that conveys emotion.”

Sipping on his micro-brew, Towne says it “will be like good (sex).”

“We’ll rise it up for a little while – go fast,” he says. “Then slow it down a bit – drive ’em crazy.”

“My sex is really pretty fickle,” Dollar adds.


The band began in early 2002 under the name Shade Spade Nine.

Dollar and Marston had played music together since they attended Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, and ended up at CSU together. They put out an ad for a singer and found Curtis.

Finding a drummer wasn’t as easy. “Brian,” the original drummer, wasn’t the best fit.

“He wanted to cover a bunch of country songs,” Curtis says.

Almost serendipitously, though, Curtis found Towne in speech class in August of 2002 – in Mark’s first week of college.

“I mentioned to someone (in class) that I played drums,” Towne says. “He heard me, and asked me to come play.”

Curtis chides, “(‘Brian’) was a better person (than Towne), but Mark is a better drummer.”

With the addition of Towne, the band became “Plan B,” and the band has had basically the same membership ever since.

After their first show at the Ram’s Village clubhouse in November of 2002, the band traveled extensively in Colorado, playing shows in Denver and its surrounding suburbs, Colorado Springs and mountain towns like Breckenridge.

The band also twice toured the southwest – once in the summer of 2004 and again mid-2006 – each trip featuring stops in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The band changed its long-standing name, Plan B, in 2005 due to what Dollar describes jokingly as “fear of competition.”

The group cites a slew of other bands, products and companies with the name Plan B.

“Like the (morning-after) contraceptive,” Dollar says.


At a Monday night practice session in preparation for the Saturday show at Road 34, after figuring out Saturday’s set list while watching “Hellraiser 2” on cable, VIA gathers in the same basement they’ve practiced in for nearly four years.

The basement walls are papered with band memorabilia, including old Plan B posters, new Vices I Admire posters and an old drum head scrawled with what was once every song in the band’s repertoire.

The room is lit in red.

As they begin the band stands as four corners of a square. They face one another. It looks like playground foursquare, but noisier.

In preparation for the show, the band is certainly energetic, as advertised.

Curtis’ entire body vibrates with each note he hits.

Dollar literally convulses and bounces about and curls around his instrument as he plays guitar.

Marston sways and nods.

It is unclear as to whether Towne is singing along or if he is just someone whose facial expressions rapidly change as he exerts himself.

Halfway through the set, particularly happy with a stirring rendition of “Monster,” Curtis says, “Now we’re warmed up.”

“And I stink,” Towne says, taking off his shirt.

Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.


Vices I Admire will play in Scene Magazine’s battle of the bands this Saturday at The City Limits Lounge (320 S. Link Lane).

Bands will play throughout the evening. VIA will play a 20-minute set at 12:40am.

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