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April 20, 2012 | 1:13pm ET


Rock Steady
 Rockers Stellar Revival have a deep connection to the game of hockey.

LOS ANGELES -- While the NHL desperately needs to get their act together fast regarding how the game is judged and how punishment is doled out for bad behavior, they've turned the corner in understanding that the sport needs to become an event and have a greater appeal to a mass audience, not just hockey fans.

Not a better example came than during Game 3 of the Canucks-Kings game in Los Angeles Sunday evening. Among the celebs in the crowd were David Beckham, Will Ferrell and the newest addition to the constellation of stars who think the game is a fine way to spend an off night while recovering from injury, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.

We're always seeking a story that has a connection between entertainment and hockey, so when the call came from EMI Records suggesting a story about their newly signed band called Stellar Revival, our interest was piqued especially when the pitch came that the band members were huge hockey fans.

The group originated in South Florida as the foundering members started gigging in their teens in a precursor band called Copasetic. When the group imploded, lead singer Rino Cerbone and bassist Dan Urcoli recruited three new members and Stellar Revival was born. While developing their craft, their paths crossed Canadian producer Brian Howes, who credits include work with Hinder, Daughtry and Nickelback. In a classic storybook ending, the band flew to Vancouver to collaborate with Howes and signed to management then quickly to EMI Records after producing some hot tracks for their A&R team.

While it wouldn't surprise you to find out that the group rooting interest backs the Vancouver Canucks, it's not for the British Columbia connection they have.
When we lined up to chat with Rino, the band's cheerful, optimistic head man, the fact that he's Roberto Luongo's brother-in-law made him the perfect subject to chat in the midst of their tour in support of "Love, Lust and Bad Company."

We see the band's moniker is a commentary on how pop music has strayed away from the straight up rock and roll and towards the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

As Rino explains, the band work is a stellar revival of rock and roll.

"Bands like Foo Fighters and Nickelback are doing it but we need more straight forward rock and roll, that's what we're trying to do," he said. "Hopefully, we want the torch passed to us."

The band's outlook on life is embodied in the album's title track. "It's has an 80s feel to it. It's about having a good time whether it's a love affair, a lustful night or hanging out with some wild people. It's about throwing caution to the wind."

And while there was a flurry of activity once the band formed the current unit, it's not lost on Rino that he had been working the dive bars for the better part of a decade in South Florida. The lack of a breakthrough never deterred him.

"You only live once," he said. "If you don't try to do what you really want to in life, you'll turn around in later in life and think about things you could have done. That 'what if' mentality is a killer, it's so detrimental because you only get one shot. We believed in our music and ourselves and most importantly, in each other. We feel we have something special here."

The addition of producer Howes has been a vital one.

"Great producers are ones that push you. Honestly, Brian pushed me to the point of frustration while we recorded this album," he admitted. "At the end of the process, I thanked him for making me the best I could be in the moment."

Howes also provided a security blanket for the band in one aspect of the business.

"You hear the stories about how once you sign to a big label how they control everything, the suits even tell you what to eat," Rino recants. "The great thing about Brian in this process is that he respected and listened to our opinions on what the end product should be. That what a producer should do, they hear you out and at the same time, show you the way to be the best."

Musically, the band collaborated on all the music and Rino laid down the words, his motivation for painting the picture comes after the tracks are laid down.

"You get a drum beat, a guitar riff and boom, there's a song. I'll get inspired and feel what direction the song is going in and I'll start writing. It's pretty simple, not only because we're good musicians, but we have really good chemistry."

Rino lists Brandon Boyd from Incubus, Chad Kroeger from Nickelback ("I know they get a lot of heat, but I respect that they're great businessmen") and New Found Glory.

The mention of chemistry opened the door about the necessity of a rock band to have harmony (not the singing kind) to be successful.

Bands like Oasis, with the infamous spats between the Gallagher brothers specifically comes to mind, but Rino thinks it's a huge barrier to success.

"You may get success, but it won't be for long," he said. "You need to have a foundation and that love for each other; it needs to be to a family."

Cerbone's roots have kept him grounded as the band's success climbs, "I'm from a big Italian family and what you learn is to respect everybody, you have to be firm in your beliefs and respect each other. My band mates are my brothers; it makes things so much easier."

The chemistry needs helps the boys laugh off the tough times they've met over the years as Rino recanted a story about the worst gig he's ever done.

"Back in our Copasetic days, we had a gig in St. Augustine, Florida, a placed called Fusion. We thought it was a club called Fusion, but it was a (bleeping) sushi restaurant," he explained, laughing through the recollection. "We walk in and the joint is old, grimy, weird and scary and there were eight people there. I was thinking we'd probably paid in California rolls."

Rino's onstage personality mirrors how he goes about his life; he's not one of those lead singers whose persona only comes out while fronting the band.

As for his connection to hockey, "I was a Florida Panthers fan since 1993 and when Roberto joined the family, he was my brother. So when that trade went down and he put on that Vancouver Canucks jersey, that day I was a Canucks fan too."

Though they're on stage at the same time as their beloved Canucks hit the ice most nights, the road is not unfriendly for them to catch the game.

"I thank my lucky stars that (touring mates Theory of a Deadman) are Vancouverites and big Canucks fans too," he said. "The other night when the show was over we hit the bus, got on the road and watched the game."

Though just at the genesis of his career, Rino seems like the type of cat who will deal well with the fame and excess the ride to the top contains.

"There's no reason for you to be an asshole because you're successful," he said. "You have to stay humble, grounded and remember where you came from. It's sounds cheesy, but it's true; we're musicians and when we get really successful, we have to realize we're living a dream that millions wish could come true for them. You can't take for granted something that others would die to do."




EMI has placed Stellar Revival on tour with headliners Theory of a Deadman ahead of a schedule May 8 album release. The tour has them exclusively in the lower 48 with stops in Buffalo and Chicago still on the docket. To get to know the boys even better, you can visit their Facebook page, www.stellarrevival.com.

Dennis Bernstein is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period Magazine. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


 

 

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