BY MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAR
Persistence has been the key for Craig Dai as he’s attempted to keep his rock band Boneye alive.
It’s been a bit of a journey, featuring three breakups and a rotation of several members along the way. Now, three years later, the 44-year-old singer finally has a cohesive group and they’re ready to put that chemistry on display at Clearwater Rock Fest this weekend.
“It’s going on almost a year in November,” Dai said. “We’ve been rolling like a steamboat, man.”
Dai said it was “typical band crap” that caused the band to shuffle members in and out, everything from infighting and people wanting to go different directions to the members’ personalities just not clicking.
But the idea of a disconnect within this melody-oriented group now is ludicrous, despite their varying backgrounds, which all include previous band experience, he said. Each of the four members agree this group is the best band experience they’ve been a part of, allowing Dai to finally breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s a really positive vibe,” said Austin Hagel, Boneye’s 19-year-old guitarist. “It’s nice because it’s like friendly business when we all get together. It’s straightforward, it’s not necessarily laid back, but it’s not in your face either. It’s nice, gentle balance.”
In the beginning, one of the members participating in the game of Boneye musical chairs was the band’s current drummer Jeffery Van Blaricum, who left the group in 2011 before returning in November after a call from Dai helped change his mind.
“Craig kind of did a cleaning of house,” said Van Blaricum, adding the change of original members played a role in his decision to rejoin the group.
Van Blaricum, the self-proclaimed “grand pappy” of the group, admitted there was another rather significant factor that enticed him to reunite with Dai: his wife, Maria, joining the band with him.
“Maria was a bit of an understudy in the first version of the band,” Jeffery Van Blaricum said. “She’d come to practices and listen to the songs, so when she came in with me this time, we had a pretty tight rhythm section.”
Maria isn’t an understudy anymore. She’s a “bad ass” female bass player in a male-dominated genre that isn’t afraid to let you know how tight of a rhythm section she and her husband combine to make.
“There’s a lot of really good, tight energy to our music because Jeffery and I are so close,” she said. “It’s actually the best band experience I’ve ever had.”
The bass player is also one half of the oddity her and Jeffery represent.
“We’re kind of an anomaly in that my wife is African American and she loves metal,” Van Blaricum said. “We’re an interracial couple and we’re playing in a rock-metal band. People love it, and they love her. It’s all perks for us.”From then on, Dai had the second and third members of the group solidified. And it was a trip to a pawn shop in Spokane in October that would land him his final member, Hagel.
“I was sitting down playing some old heavy metal on this old slayer and he recognized it and we talked about Halloween costumes and dressing up as another old metal icon, Pete Diamond,” Hagel said. “He liked my playing on that slayer and he was really interested, then he invited me to jam.”
Hagel said because of his upper-middle class upbringing and current enrollment at Whitworth — a private Christian university — he’s often been sheltered from certain areas of society and certain genres of music. But regardless of the generation gap between him and the rest of the group, his love of ’80s metal that was popular before he was born, allows him to fit right in.
Once Hagel made the group complete, it was time for Boneye to begin doing shows and making music, which included some very emotional songwriting from Dai, who draws a great deal of inspiration from his time as a combat medic in Desert Storm.
Prior to the war, Dai was an angry person because of the absence of his father, his stepfather being a jerk and his mother being “lost in her own little world,” he said. Desert Storm left him with nightmares in his head, but also gave him material to write lyrics such as “What do you see when you sleep/what are the dreams that you keep” and “Are you scared of your life/pain or pleasure, what you see” in their song “Let it go.”
“I’m not an angry person anymore,” he said. “I haven’t fired a weapon since I was in the military. I look at the world as a place of opportunity instead of discouragement.”
Through a period of trial and error with a slew of band members, Dai now has what he describes as “the best four he’s ever played with.”
Dugar can be contacted at (208) 883-4628 or email@example.com.