By Andy Kent
Naples Daily News
Forget about the highly anticipated reunion of The Police during Sunday’s Grammy Awards. Another three-man band is creating quite a buzz around Germain Arena — on and off the ice.
They’re calling themselves Red Line And Back, quite a catchy name for three hockey players on the Florida Everblades looking perhaps to parlay their off-ice hobby into a recording contract. Forward Brad Parsons is on rhythm guitar, rookie defenseman Steve Czech (pictured) is the lead guitarist and defenseman Brett Peterson fronts the group as lead vocalist.
“I tell you what, there are some talented guys in that dressing room, especially Czech, he’s solid and can really play guitar well,” says Everblades head coach Gerry Fleming. “As for Chubbs (Peterson) he can sing like Satchmo, although I haven’t heard too much of him, but they need to take baby steps when it comes to landing a gig or a contract.”
Czech, 24, is the veteran musician of the trio, first picking up a guitar almost seven years ago at the start of his juniors playing career in the United States Hockey League. He learned from his roommate in juniors, then at the start of this season he asked around the room if anyone else played, and that’s when Parsons raised his hand.
At 27 and a graduate of Princeton University, Parsons has taken on the role of manager for the band and is carefully thinking up marketing ideas as they become more polished. But his real incentive for taking up the guitar three years ago was to pick up girls, a sentiment echoed by Czech, whose favorite guitarist is Slash of Guns ‘N’ Roses fame.
“Chicks love penalty killers and guitar players,” Czech jokes. “But seriously, it’s a relaxing hobby and after games I would just sit there and wind down by playing. I’ve been doing it by myself for so long that it was nice to hook up with Parsons and find someone who shares my love for music.”
Recently, Parsons and Czech laid down their first acoustic track, an impressive rendition of the GNR single “Patience,” without the vocals. Thanks to modern technology, they were able to make the recording inside the apartment Czech shares with teammates Jonathan Lehun and Dustin Johner, aptly dubbed “The Studio.”
All that was needed was Czech’s laptop computer equipped with a special recording program and a built-in microphone.
Parsons describes Peterson’s voice as a cross between Axl Rose and Michael Jackson, but a recording with his vocals has yet to make the rounds.
“He adds his own unique style to the band and makes up his own lyrics,” says Parsons, who termed that first recording by the two guitarists as flawless. “I just love acoustic songs, especially acoustic versions of rock songs, and I always liked the guitar. I’d been around bonfires where there were guys playing guitars and everyone was singing along and I envied them, so I wanted to pick it up and learn.”
Although he doesn’t credit his guitar playing for introducing him to his wife of one year, Lizzy, Parsons’ quiet sense of humor seems to mesh well with Peterson’s more upbeat personality and Czech’s calm, George Harrison-like aura.
Any search for video or homemade recordings of a young Peterson belting out tunes likely will turn up empty. He wasn’t classically trained or forced to sing in the church choir; he just remembers his mother and father telling him he was a bad singer.
“I don’t even think my sound’s out there yet, it could be the new sound,” Peterson says. “It’s just unique. It’s whatever I want it to be, but there’s no real person I follow or who I can compare my voice to. Singing is just something I used to do when I was doing really hard skating to try and take my mind off of skating. I’d make myself laugh by singing, so I would sing and it would make the hard skates not seem so bad.”
Peterson lists R&B music as his favorite because of the beats and the ability to still hear the words. He and his sister grew up on Prince, and he still likes the iconic musician’s older songs.
The origin of the band’s name is rather simple and was basically an attempt to fuse their two passions — hockey and music — into a name. Peterson came up with Red Line And Back, which replaced the first name Czech came up with Triple Lindy.
All of a sudden, other members of the Everblades not only are taking a liking to the group’s music, but are discovering the calming power of music themselves. Johner just bought a guitar and has asked Czech to teach him; ex-Blades Bill Kinkel and Niko Tuomi were learning to play; and rookie goaltender David Shantz also breaks out his guitar every so often and plays some Jimi Hendrix songs. But no drummer or bassist has been found to round out the group.
“Together, Brad and I can probably play about seven or eight songs, but alone I can probably play more since I’ve been playing longer,” Czech says. “And Chubbs actually does have a really good voice, maybe we’ll put him on American Idol. We’re just having fun with it right now and continue to try and put some songs together.”
Parsons admittedly characterizes what he, Czech and Peterson are doing as a hobby that allows them to escape the daily grind of hockey for however long they are strumming their guitars and singing songs. They treat it like some of their teammates treat golf.
But with the proper amount of practice and brainstorming, the three haven’t ruled out doing more to develop a following for Red Line And Back.
“We would love to go to an open mike night or whatever and play,” Parsons says. “Neither Czech nor I can sing really well, though, but Chubbs is good. So maybe the three of us can get together sometime and go to an open mike and see what people think of us.”