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MP3 The Underdogs - American't

A Green Day inspired rock band from KY. Pure Rockin mid 90''s Pop Punk with a touch of new school.

12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Punk, ROCK: Modern Rock

A Brief History of The Underdogs

The idea probably started in the fall of 1999. One day, Mike was hanging around the courtyard of Saxony Village with an acoustic guitar. He was playing some really funny song called "Gas Station." Immediately, I thought that my brother Brandon and I had to start a band with this guy. I remember telling Brandon, "with songs like ''Gas Station,'' we could start up a really funny punk band!" I ask Mike to come over and start jamming with Brandon and me.

The Underdogs started with the three of us writing songs in the Adkins'' basement. Mike kind of had a tough time writing guitar riffs at first, so we would write the majority of our first songs from his vocal melodies and lyrics. From this style of writing, we ended up with tunes like "Pieces" and "My Guitar."

Prior to starting the band, Mike was coming into the practice room with an entirely different music background. The previous year, Mike had listened to a lot of pop rock music, which has greatly influenced his vocal style until this day. Brandon and I spent the majority of 96-99 listening to music from the Mutant Pop Records catalog. Some of our favorites included The Connie Dungs, The Automatics, After School Special, Underhand, The Proms, and Dirt Bike Annie. While there is a lot of energy to these bands, there is a real looseness to this style of pop punk. Both aspects of this music have stayed with Brandon and me until this day.

What started off as a Green Day inspired rock band, turn into a more sophisticated punk rock band. I remember buying a copy of Jawbreaker "24 Hour Revenge Therapy" when my father took me to Camelot music for my 18th birthday. Shortly after this purchase, I picked up Sicko''s "A Brief History...." and then later found a copy of The Lemonheads "Come on Feel the Lemonheads" at a pawn Shop in Portsmouth, Ohio. Super Drag is another great band that influenced The Underdogs and The Vacants at this time. When this music started playing on our stereo, songs like "Get Away" and "Fair Well" were written. We even began to cover Jawbreaker''s "Boxcar" at practice.

After getting about 8 songs together, we started playing shows in the Portsmouth area. These shows consisted of all ages shows at the Portsmouth Jaycees, all age park shows, and parties. After a couple of shows, we met up with a really talented Portsmouth musician by the name of Jason Whisman. Jason and I were also doing Mutha 8-Track at the time, and he would hint around about playing guitar for the band. After mentioning this to Mike and Brandon, they both seemed really excited about adding him to the lineup. Jason added a whole lot to the band and help a great deal in the song writing process.

In the summer of 2000, The Underdogs recorded an 8 song CD with Ed Fields. Ed is known in the Portsmouth/Ashland area for recording The Connie Dung''s early work. He is also know for his work with a Satanic heavily metal band called Sick World. Working with Ed was a lot of fun, but the recording atmosphere was a little too laid back. You could literally cut the cigarette smoke in the engineers both with a knife. There where no major mistakes on the recording, but I think things could have been a little tighter on the "Odds are Against Us".

After recording the CD and playing a few more shows, Jason moved to Virginia. This brought the Underdogs back to a three-piece. During this time frame, Mike started playing guitar for The Vacants. With a 7" record out with a really great Columbus, Ohio punk rock band called The Bedrockers and a CDEP release on Mutant Pop records, we obliviously gave more attention to this project. The Underdogs still played, but the majority of the show offers where happening for The Vacants.

During this period I also ran an all age venue out of a basement in Portsmouth called The Basement. The place was a real shit whole, but it was the perfect location for shows in our area. We played with a number of amazing bands, and made a bunch of great friends. The most vivid memory was probably seeing a Michigan band called Wack Trucks. In the years that I have played, I have not met a nicer and talented group of guys. Rick and I are still really good friends, and his solo project Rick Johnson Rock and Roll Machine is a frequent of the Portsmouth music scene. Rick is also busy with an amazing ska band called Mustard Plug.

There was other amazing bands during this era who would play a number of shows with us. Dead Letter Department was an amazing band from Toronto, Canada that would play in our area during the summers of 2000 and 2001. These 3 guys taught us a lot about song writing and playing with full force during live performances. The guys toured Europe, and I lost touch with them shortly after their venture.

Uncle Scam was another band that would frequent Portsmouth. These guys where geniuses with music concepts. I remember one time their guitar player Jessie mentioned a project that never happened involving a low-fi (which would be recorded on a 4-track) and high-fi (recorded at the Recording Workshop) disc. They would write song after song, and play really long sets for a punk rock band. I know these guys are still play in bands around Columbus, Ohio.

After 2001, things really started to slow down for the band. Between 2002-2005, Mike began to give more of his attention to his family and work, Vacant''s front-man Joey Blackheart moved to Columbus, and I began to give the majority of my time to Shawnee State''s education program. During this time frame, Brandon and I did a couple of other bands. One band was a Jawbreaker/Police hybrid with a guy named Seth Cummins called Are is for Rocket. This band only lasted about 9 months and found some success in the Portsmouth area. Prior to starting the band I went through a 3 or 4 month time frame of severe depression, which influenced the darker lyrics and heavier guitar riffs.

When Are is for Rocket finished up, Wayne Griffith (The Connie Dungs/A Radio with Guts), Brandon, Johnny Wishman (The Bible Beaters), Trinity Hurst, and I started a Guided by Voices inspired power-pop band called Fiver the Rabbit. Despite some typical rock-and-roll drama, this band found some success with a Michigan based label called Rastan Records. This label is ran by Rick Johnson. There where also a hand full of shows played around Columbus, Portsmouth, and Huntington. Fiver the Rabbit still exists. Trint is currently working on a new line up for the band, and maintains the Fiver the Rabbit myspace (https://www.tradebit.com

The Underdogs did a few shows during this period, but they were few and fare between. Allen McNutt played second guitar. As each member has influenced the band, Allen had taken the band into a heavier direction. While some of Allen''s musical tastes could not be integrated into The Underdogs music, some of his influences made a massive impact on the music. Everyone in the band was floored by the Refused full-length"The Shape of Punk to Come". These factors resulted with songs like "Empty V" and "Alright".

In 2005, My other little brother Jeremy started playing bass with the band and I switched to Guitar. Jeremy had just finished fronting a band called No Applause, which sounded like a cross between Green Day and Scared of Chaka. Jeremy was always good friends with Mike, so it seemed pretty logical to get him in the band. It''s pretty great having a band with 2 of your brothers. If something bad happens, you always have a mom and dad to turn to.

Playing with Johnny in Fiver the Rabbit improved my guitar playing tremendously. When Fiver the Rabbit started, I really struggled with bar cords. When the band called it a day, I was able to play guitar leads and hit jazz cords. This is all due to Johnny''s talent as a teacher and guitar player.

This brings us up to date. Brandon kind of took over the roll of keeping everyone up-to-date with good music, I started to sing some of the songs, Jeremy gets the majority of the people to shows, and Mike is the glue that holds everything together. Right now the band has 10 great songs that are going to be recorded by our good friend Kirk Madden in the winter 2006. Watch for the next Underdogs CD to be released in early 2007.

My name is Ryan Adkins and I am a "rock-and-roll" school teacher. I have been playing in bands, collecting underground records, and complaining about tunes on the radio for 12 years. I would like to pay some respect to my brothers Brandon and Jeremy, my good friend Mike Fannin, Jason Wishman and Allen Mcnutt for lending their talents to the band, Johnny Wishman for being an amazing music teacher, God, my sister Sarah for checking this article, the other members of my family, my wife Audra, Travis Klienman, Josh Idings, Joey Blackheart, Rick Johnson, Danny Action, and a punk rock band called The Underdogs. It''s kind of a common name, but it is a name that has meant a lot to the individuals who have been playing in the band for 6 years.

- Ryan Adkins (November, 2006)

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