1. Work an entire day at your day job.
2. Learn 10 new songs inside of an hour. (Sudden request from the purchaser)
3. Drive 2 hours to a gig.
4. Carry huge heavy gear and set up entire band rig in 1/2 hour. (because the club owner didn’t let you in the door on time because people were eating)
5. Play 4 hours, after a late start. (including the 10 songs you learned earlier, if you can remember them after arguing with the club owner that it takes more than a half hour to set up and soundcheck)
6. Carry huge heavy gear again (but this time while tripping over and getting yelled at by dozens of drunk people telling you your band sucks because you didn’t play country, Skynard, and AC/DC.
7. Ride your amplifiers through the parking lot to see who can reach their truck first, without smashing cars, gear, or yourselves. (necessary stress relief for athletes)
8. Drive 4 hours through a blinding snowstorm in the middle of the night without getting stopped by cops looking for DUIs.
9. Change flat tire. (You ran over broken beer bottles in the parking lot of the bar earlier, but didn’t realise it until you had driven way out into the middle of nowhere.)
10. After one hour of sleep, get up and drive another 2 hours and set everything back up for the next gig. (This club owner wants you set up by 8:00am for your gig that night, because he wants you out of the way while people are eating.)
It was April of 2002 when we founded. By July we were gigging regularly in full circus costume, with everybody looking at us like we were crazy. Our first gig was at the Playing Field in Kaukauna (July 27).
The original line-up only lasted about 6 months, but was as follows.
After 6 months, Scott Scheuerell was let go for differences of opinion, and replaced by Scotty Schroeder, who graciously stepped in on very short notice. (I think one week!)
Ironically, the person who brought Scotty Schroeder into the mix-Craig Hawkinson-was also let go for differences of opinion about onw year into the gigging history.
My personal favorite band line-up came next, when Steve Schreiber joined the group to replace Craig Hawkinson on guitar. He was an old friend of mine from the Wausau area, who used to come and see me play in a previous band (Vienna Skies).
Steve was an amazing player, but the gigging scene grew old for Steve after only about 1 1/2 years. Steve found that staying out extremely late in clubs and playing 4-hour shows was just too demanding.
Then, about 2 1/2 years after our first gig, the only remaining current member of Sonic Circus joined the group. After a grueling audition process, Scotty Meyer was chosen out of about 15 guitarists. He was from the blues scene, but he had the potential talent to switch genres and make it work as a rock guitarist, and he did, and still does, almost 10 years after the founding of the band.
This line-up stuck for the next 2-3 years until I was offered a job teaching German in Neenah. (big mistake to take the job) I knew I couldn’t handle the pressures of a new teaching job along with the band schedule, but the promise of great benefits convinced me that it was time to leave the band and take the teaching job. (Little did I know that the benefits would dry up, along with the entire job only a few years later, but that’s another story.) If I had known then what I know now, I’d probably still be with the band.
There was another factor that tore me away from the band, which was my terrible back problems. In fact, it probably looked like I left the band simply because of the back problems. It may have been part of the story, but the real reason was the teaching job. Without that, I would have somehow made it work with the bad back. The band members were wonderful with helping carry and set up my gear, and even if I would have had to lay on a bed on stage, I would have done it. But, I just couldn’t make all three things work at the same time. (teaching, band, and bad back)
I was replaced by Susan Davis who quickly adapted and took the pressure off of me, as I was very worried about leaving the band in a lurch. I believe this was in early 2008.
Well, that’s all I really remember, since I was gone after that.
July 27,2012 marks the 10 year anniversary for the band and the show must go on! The band is still going strong with original singer Dennis Peters and longtime guitarist Scotty Meyer (www.SonicCircus.me). Many changes in the last 10 years and I have been proud to be a part of at least 7 of those forming years. Let’s see, I remember it just like it was yesterday… (diddly-doot, diddly-doot, diddly-doot)
A lot of band member changes over the years even though the core of the band remained virtually the same for the first couple of years. Scotty Schroeder joined the band 6 months after we started and we would not see another core change with the exception of Guitarist for many years. Steve Schreiber replaced Craig Hawkinson on Guitar in 2003 and a blues guitarist by the name of Scotty Meyer joined in 2005.
Singer: Dennis Peters Missy Krueger Billy Schommer Dennis Peters
Keys: Johnny Palecek Susan Davis Tony Navis
Drums: Scotty Schroeder Greg Thiel Mike Rowland
Bass: Dan Comperini Dave Geschke Chris Okkerse Paul Jaeger
Guitar: Craig Hankinson Steve Schreiber Scotty Meyer
I remember the long trips to and from the shows especially the Wausau trip in the middle of a blinding snow storm. Johnny, Scotty, and I often rode together in Scotty’s truck. The stories told at 3 in the morning after playing all night are priceless. We would always stop at the nearest gas station for gas station food and coffee to sober up. I was mortified when Johnny took off in the truck a little too fast one night triggering by big jumbo steaming hot cup of coffee to land in Scotty’s lap.
The nights would always end in a food fight in front of my house much to the chagrin of my wife and anyone else sleeping at that time in the morning. My favorite trick was to put the left over gas station donuts under Scotty’s windshield wiper and turn it on full blast to smear its jelly filling all over his windshield. Of course he never kept his windshield wiper fluid full.
To be continued…
This site is dedicated to the local music scene and to the history of Sonic Circus. Sonic Circus started back around May 2002. It was a magical time for the band. We wanted to put together a band like no other in the Fox Cities area of Wisconsin. The entire show came together in roughly 2-3 months and our first show was July 27, 2002. We worked our butts off to play the best possible music and put on an energetic show. We certainly had success in the years that followed and certainly some low points. This is a jumping off point to document the life and times of those involved with the Sonic Circus. Don’t forget to click on the timeline above. I am still trying to compile all the timeline information so please correct me if I forgot something or just remembered it wrong.
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