“I haven’t taken this off in years,” Jeff Hadley said, motioning to his metallic ball necklace. “Literally, I’ve lost a few jobs because I wouldn’t take it off.”
At this, the drummer’s friends, fellow members of melodic hard rock quartet Crovax, issue surprised laughter.
“I took out one of my napes for a job,” singer Brandon Dautrich said, fingering one of the silver piercings lining the back of his neck.
Jeff shrugs. “At the time, I was young and dumb, but it’s been a while. We went into a Hot Topic and I bought it. I like it. I think I was, what, 14, 15?”
Ten years later today, all one has to do is understand the symbolism to make sense of the attachment; strung alongside the metal balls and the wedding ring that was too small for Jeff’s finger is a Tool brooch.
The progressive metal band is not only a long-time favorite for him, but also the common bond of Crovax, the band he’s been a part of for the better half of his adult years.
The band’s foundations date back to Limon High School, where Jeff attended after moving from Indiana. Halfway through freshman year, he met two classmates he could jam with after classes: occupational therapy graduate Elisha Cook and physics graduate Shon Cook, the band’s respective bassist and guitarist.
The after-school trio was shaken up after graduation — Elisha and Shon started classes at Colorado College while Jeff moved back to Indiana. But they kept playing, becoming regulars on campus and around Colorado Springs. Jeff would make his way back for every show.
The Crovax sound began to take shape — in between course work — as an instrumental jam band, but struggled to find a singer whose vocals connected with the melodies.
“It was kind of funny, the singers that we’d audition,” Elisha said. “You don’t mesh with certain people, and we didn’t mesh with certain people.”
At the time, the three brought on guest singers for individual performances, but didn’t seem to click with anyone.
They had, at least, settled on a title. Out of the list of names a friend had been tossing around for his cat, Shon had taken a liking to Crovax.
Following graduation, Shon and Elisha moved to Fort Collins to start grad school at CSU. Currently, Elisha is pursuing a masters’ in occupational therapy, while Shon is seeking a physics Ph.D.
Meanwhile, Brandon, an area musician and 7-11 employee, was looking to leave behind a Springs music scene he didn’t care much for. The north was looking good.
“There’s two kinds of bands in Colorado Springs: there’s hip-hop, and then there’s death metal,” Brandon said. “I moved (to Fort Collins) specifically because of the music scene.”
He says it was of strange coincidence that he’d connect with Shon and Elisha, two familiar faces he knew only in passing in his time in Colorado Springs.
“Honestly, we barely knew each other. I was selling them their taquitos,” he said.
After coming into touch with the two over MySpace, Brandon was given a shot. Shon and Elisha sent him a demo of the band’s instrumental tracks to lay down his vocals and then send it back.
“As soon as we put it in, it was ‘Oh yeah, absolutely, this is a for sure deal,'” Shon said.
Brandon fit the mold they were looking for.
“We needed someone that could carry a tune, but could also sing,” Elisha said. “You wouldn’t believe how hard that is to find those kinds of people. People would either be able to get that really loud yell, but then they couldn’t sing worth a crap.”
Crovax straddles between brawny riffs and rickety freeform bass lines that draw Les Claypool comparisons, but they aim to balance the chunky with the smooth.
“There’s a lot of just really heavy metal bands that just .” Brandon said, pausing before letting loose a familiar guttural roar as an example. “I can’t stand that. Melody is important, especially for me, because I don’t play anything in the band. It’s extremely important to us, to stay melodic while still managing to be pretty heavy.”
With the three situated in Fort Collins, Jeff wrapped up his Indiana dealings and took permanent residence in town last February. Crovax was complete.
But things have gotten off to a slow start in Fort Collins. So far, they’ve had one performance.
They have a full set list laid out, but time in the recording studio is expensive. Shon and Elisha, a couple since high school, took some time off after getting hitched in July. Then there’s the fact that, as grad students, they are constantly working and studying.
“It’s more like research,” Shon said of his Ph.D. work. “I’ll go in every day, work on my experiment, do the experiment, work on results and do preliminary writing.”
He added that his schedule has been pretty flexible compared to the work he did in obtaining his masters, “teaching classes and homework.” Elisha is in that position, but much of her learning takes place at Foothills Gateway, where she works with adults with developmental disabilities.
“I’m a direct care provider, so I work in homes with clients,” Elisha said. “It’s been a challenge, this semester especially. But I think it’ll even out.”
Brandon and Jeff are busy with their day-to-day lives too; Brandon works as a bank teller, while Jeff is looking to start classes at CSU sometime soon.
Despite the schedules, each member manages to set time aside for Sunday – time to practice and relax as a band. This month, however, some evenings will have to be set aside for performances: Crovax will be opening “Rock Party 2008” at Hodi’s Half Note’s Saturday at 8 p.m. On Sept. 25, they’re performing in the Skyhigh Music Festival at Aggie Theater.
But until they rock the Red Rocks, they’ll be sticking to the day jobs.
“I’m a rock star with a physics hobby,” Shon said. “Ya gotta have physics to pay the bills.”
Staff writer Erik Myers can be reached at email@example.com.