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“Path To Midian’s” Bruce Morrison Reminisces

Left, is lead guitarist Paul Dontigney Jr., lead vocalist and frontrunner Bruce Morrison is center left, center right is guitarist Erik Spiller, Mark Nicol, right is on drums.

Last week the Herald covered the formation of local metal band, “Path to Midian” and some of their future plans. Their frontrunner, Bruce Morrison told many stories of his time in the band “Bronx Zoo” and spoke on why he believes Path to Midian has the opportunity for greatness.

“Bronx Zoo” was a Glam Rock band that formed in 1989 and played until 1992. They were made up of 4 members; Bruce Morrison, Angelo Torres, Kevin Duckworth and Ronny Schneider. 

They toured all over the United States in their time together and Morrison had many stories to tell, both local and distant. “‘Bronx Zoo’ came about when it was at the height of all the really over the top glam rock stuff. It was at the beginning. We had four guys that were like, ‘Hey this might be the new thing.’ We weren’t straight into ‘Let’s wear makeup and hairspray,’ and all that but the performance part of it, we were at the beginning not very polished musicians but we found the people that fit the parts right, as far as not the look but the attitude. We got lucky and started getting gigs when I was like 16 at places like Granny’s Rocker in Edwardsville. The house band ‘Baywolfe,’ they were the owners and they would go, ‘Hey you guys can play a set on our gear.’ Then we started getting gigs. Then we were like, why are we playing other people’s music?’ We wanted to write.”

Morrison continued. “We just piled in our friend’s garage for over 10 hours a day to write stuff and just jam. That’s all we wanted to do every day. We gained a following pretty quickly. Playing Carbondale Illinois really put us over the top because we just hit it off with the college town right at the beginning, playing Sunday nights for $100 a night. It got so crazy that they were like, ‘You wanna play weekends?’ and we blew up.’”

Discussing his early years, Morrison explained how “Bronx Zoo” came to be banned from some places for their rowdy attitudes, but the quality of their music kept people coming back. “We actually got banned from Gatsby’s down in Carbondale because we were just really rude. The owner happened to be there one night and he was like, ‘You guys gotta stop cussing, you gotta stop doing this.’ Whatever was more outlandish was better. We’d have full on pitcher fights of beer. They’d throw pitchers of beer at us, we’d throw it at them. Anybody that said anything or looked at us the wrong way, we’d just throw stuff, it was out of control. (The owner of Gatsby’s) was like, ‘You guys can’t play here.’ Luckily we were good enough they let us play weekends there. We tamed it down a little bit. Once we got to play and we got good at the cover thing and tried to write songs and tried to make a band out of it, we saw how that happened. We went from playing 50 or 60 people on a Sunday night to where they had to turn people away on Friday and had to give us two nights. It just worked. We played University of Mississippi homecoming one year, just because word started to spread across the whole country and we got our independent record deal with GFI records, which we just didn’t know what we were doing with. If we would have had more time and money behind us I think we had something. It’s all we wanted to do. We didn’t even care about eating, we were just like, “Let’s go in the garage and play.” If we could have played 7 nights a week we would have.“

Although he has changed a lot since his time in “Bronx Zoo,” Morrison still remembers a lot of the most exciting and craziest moments from that time and discussed what happened when he was confronted by difficulties caused by another band. “We were playing with some big band at Joplin Memorial Hall and we got there and the headliner was like, ‘Oh we have to fix a light in our lighting rig.’ Then they told us, ‘No you can’t even enter the stage area.’ I told them, ‘Well, go put the bulb in.’ The show was 7:30 or 8:00 and they literally let us set up like 10 minutes before show time. Preparation was zero and we’re angry and mad and then there’s probably 2000 people there. We’re doing the show and about the third song people are feeling it. Then all of a sudden I’m singing and it cuts out. All you heard was acoustic drums. No guitars and no vocals. They turned off the power and the curtains closed on us. I jump down in front of the proscenium to see what was going on and they don’t close the curtain on me. Angelo, our drummer, is still playing and going crazy. The place goes silent and I’m a 19 year old kid and I’m screaming ‘they turned the power off!’ and everyone starts booing. I tell everyone I’m doing autographs at the same time the (headliner band’s) show starts so that started some stuff. We rushed the dressing room of this band. I got far enough in to grab an old sterling silver food tray and threw it. Those old theaters have those big mirrors with all the bulbs around it and it just went boom. We got dragged out by security. We were slated to make like $1000 and the mirror cost like $3500. The rest of the guys were like, ‘Hey man, can you not throw things?’”

Reminiscing more on his time in “Bronx Zoo,” Morrison spoke about some of the problems he had with his CD back in the day. “There have been a lot of people like, ‘Well, we listened to your cd and it’s nothing like you were live.’ It’s because we had no control over what we were doing. We got roped into, ‘hey you record in 3 weeks and yep that’s good.’ We didn’t know. When you are 18 years old you’re like, “Wow there’s a CD coming out!” and we thought it sounded great until we started matching up with some of the demos we did. You hear the song on cd and you hear us live, it’s like, ‘Wow, it’s two completely different songs.’ The inflection and the flavor came out as the years went on.”

He also discussed what people who have never heard his music should expect and that he believes “Path to Midian” is the best thing he’s done so far, with more to come. “I would tell (people) if they’ve never heard us but are a fan of hard rock or rock with an edge, if you find some ‘Bronx Zoo’ stuff, it’s like night and day (between then and now.) We’d go in the garage and they’d be like, ‘here’s the riff, sing!’ and we’d be done. Now, with ‘Path to Midian’ we compose. Now we can say, ‘That doesn’t sound right,’ and we work on it collectively. We have a new song that we can record whenever we start rehearsing again. I listened to something (other members of the band) had written maybe 10 years ago and I just started singing, making up melodies, and it’s already done. If you ever saw ‘Bronx Zoo’ and you appreciate what we did, that whole era, just take that and look at what a kid I was at 17, 18, 19. Even though I’m an old man now, I’m still doing it. The opportunity to accomplish things is far greater than it’s ever been for me, to be a part of this. People say, “Oh you’re a metal band,” and I try to tell people there’s a difference between loud, noisy and metal. People hear it and they aren’t a fan (of metal) and they are like, ‘Oh it’s something I can understand!’ I approach everything I can from a melody standpoint because I grew up listening to R&B stuff. I think it catches people off guard. We’ve had a lot of people say, ‘We did not think this is what you would sound like.’ This is the best project I’ve ever been in.”

“Path to Midian” is set to release their next single, “The Reaper” in February and will have an animated music video to go with it.

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