By Colleen Sparks GSN Staff Writer
While some fathers like to bond with other men over rounds of golf or by coaching their children’s sports teams, one group of dads prefers rocking out in a Chandler man cave and playing gigs at local bars and charitable events.
Besides the joy they experience banging on drums, strumming guitars and singing their hearts out, the members of STEREO REX say their jam sessions and songwriting also have helped lead singer Rex Van Dine, 52, of Gilbert, grieve and cope with the loss of his daughter, Tawni.
She died at age 23 in 2013, leaving behind a son, Jaxon Tryon, now 7, who is being raised by Rex and his wife, Kerry, in their Gilbert home.
The band has a three-song CD dealing with Van Dine’s loss. One song, “Sunday Road,” is about Van Dine’s frustration in trying to help his daughter, who had struggled with drug use. “One I’ll Never Know” is about Van Dine’s realization that his daughter was no longer his little girl. The third, “One Last Time,” is about Rex and Jaxon saying “goodbye” to Tawni.
The support and camaraderie of his fellow STEREO REX band members – drummer Paul Burch, guitarist Bryan Linder on guitar and bassist Brian Hoch – have helped him cope. Van Dine wrote the songs with Burch and former collaborators Dran Drago and JD Arthur. Casey Weaver produced the CD.
“If it wasn’t for these guys, I would have lost my mind,” Van Dine said.
A sign of Van Dine and his family moving forward and the strength his bandmates provide is evident in a video for STEREO REX’s song, “Home” on their CD “Crunch, Crash, Boom.”
In the video, Van Dine interacts with Jaxon in the desert. The song is written from the perspective of Tawni singing to her son from above. The lyrics include words about her always being with him and comforting him if he is sad. Burch produced the video.
“I can’t imagine losing a child,” said Burch, the father of two. “We wanted to be there for him. It’s all Rex pouring his heart out.”
STEREO REX is performing at the Battle of the Bands at 10 p.m. on Sept. 7 at The Patio at The Forum, 2301 S. Stearman Drive in Chandler. The band will also perform an acoustic, family-friendly show from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Nicantoni’s Pizza, 323 S. Gilbert Road in Gilbert.
The band plays charitable events, eager to support anything that helps children and brings awareness to drug abuse.
Every November, STEREO REX plays at American Legion Post 90 in Black Canyon City as part of the Annual Marines Toys for Tots Rides Maricopa. The band will take the stage at a Cutrano AZ Troop Run Inc. event that raises money for fallen soldiers’ children to attend college at Lucie’s Sage & Sand in Glendale in November.
Rex, Burch, Linder and Hoch wrote all the songs together for “Crunch, Crash, Boom.”
The CD is named after the band members’ alter egos. “Crash” is Burch’s nickname because he plays drums, “Crunch” is Linder’s as his guitar sounds like it is crunching and Hoch is called “Boom” because he plays bass.
The band practices together in a studio off Burch’s house in Chandler. Like many local rock bands, the members have day jobs, other than Rex, who is retired.
Burch juggles his career in software and hardware sales at Insight with raising his son, Jaden, 11, and daughter, Ally, 9, with his wife, Paula Burch.
Guitarist Linder, 43, of Mesa, works at an AJ’s Fine Foods store in Scottsdale. Bass player Hoch, 57, a fire protection contractor, lives in Peoria but often makes the drive to Chandler and other parts of the East Valley for the band’s practices and gigs.
Like Rex, Hoch is a rockin’ granddad. He has two adult children with his wife, Terri, and two adult stepchildren and he is also a grandfather to his stepdaughter’s two children.
“I think people get a kick out of that,” Rex said of the band members’ roles as fathers and grandfathers. “You’re never too old” to rock, he added.
Burch said most of the dads they know are “envious” of the foursome for playing in a rock band.
“They see the value,” he said. “They see how awesome it is.”
STEREO REX plays about two shows a month and Burch described their style as “desert brand rock” because it is “dry, but hot. It’s got soul.”
He said he has also heard the group’s style compared to a blend of Gin Blossoms and Buckcherry.
STEREO REX’s CD has hard rock and ballads that are “so different from each other,” Burch added. The band also likes to play their own version of other groups’ songs, including Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and a bluesy take on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
“Some dads, they’re into going to watch the big game,” Burch said. “They’ll go tailgating. We just do (music) just for the love of it. There’s something forever’s gonna be there. It’s more meaningful. It matters.”
The four members of STEREO REX are experienced musicians.
Burch and Rex grew up in New Mexico, though they did not meet each other until they were both living in the Valley.
Burch, who has lived in Chandler for eight years, started playing drums at age 13 and played in marching band in high school in New Mexico. He also spent a short time studying film at Scottsdale Community College after moving to the Valley.
Rex moved around often as a child and graduated from Chandler High School in 1982.
“I love to sing,” he said. “I play a little guitar.”
His two brothers sang and played guitar and Rex sang in choir in school growing up, saying his eighth-grade choir teacher influenced and encouraged him.
Hoch has played in several other rock bands and taught himself how to play bass about 18 years ago.
He grew up in California and moved to Arizona, going to high school in Tucson, before joining the Navy and being stationed in California, Hawaii and Washington states. Hoch moved to the Valley more than 10 years ago and answered a humorous Craigslist ad Burch and Rex posted seeking a bass player for STEREO REX.
“We have a fun little thing going here,” he said. “We’re all dads; a couple of us are grandpas. We have day jobs. A lot of this revolves around family. My grandkids just love our music. Anytime we put on one of the videos, they just dance around. It’s very family-friendly.”
Hoch said he was not the only bass player who vied for a spot in STEREO REX. While playing with the band at a gig, the other band members decided they wanted him to join the group.
“We had a lot of fun,” Hoch said. “At the end of the set, Rex actually proposed to me, got down on his knee, asked if I’d be their bass player.”
Linder has been playing the guitar since he was about 13 and his father was a drummer. This is the first band he has been in.
“Just the chemistry is good,” Linder said. “We all get along. It is a nice outlet.”
STEREO REX has been together since 2014.
“He is a sensational songwriter,” Burch said of Rex. “Rex is really good about just telling a story. He’s that good.”
Laura Lyon, of Phoenix, is a big STEREO REX fan and her best friend’s aunt is bass player Hoch’s wife, Terri.
“All four of them are just extremely talented,” Lyon said. “Everything they do just blows me away. I love their covers so much now. I would rather hear the STEREO REX version.”
One cover song she loves hearing STEREO REX play is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Lyon has also heard STEREO REX’s version of Micahel Jackson’s “Bad” and A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran.”
“This is how diverse they are,” she said. “Rex is the most amazing person you will ever meet. He will give you the shirt off his back. I think he’s really the glue to the band. He’s very diplomatic.”
A legal secretary, Lyon said she is a “rocker at heart.”
“What I love about them is they’re fun,” she said. “Their lead guitarist, he can shred. He is so amazing. They get people dancing. They invite people to sing with them.”
Lyon praised STEREO REX for writing and performing songs about Rex losing Tawni.
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute and it’s healthy for Rex,” she said.
Burch said when he first heard Rex playing a melody that later was used in one of the songs about Tawni on his guitar at a mutual friend’s party he knew something special was there.
“I heard him strumming and singing and said, ‘We really should try to put something together,’” Burch said.
While the band members enjoy playing for the fun of it and are not expecting to become famous, they have had some encounters with fame.
STEREO REX was chosen to play with Eddie Money at a charity event in Scottsdale for the last two years.
“All of the coolest things seem to be happening,” Burch said.
Hoch and the other band members were also thrilled to play Money’s songs while the legendary rocker sang.
“He is a riot,” Hoch said. “He is so funny. He grew up in New York. My wife’s from Brooklyn so they hit it off really well when they met.”
Hoch said he would love for STEREO REX to perform as an opening band for nationally known bands when they hit the stage at festivals in Arizona.
Rex would like the band to play a show to help a Christian rehabilitation center that treats people trying to overcome addictions.
To learn more about STEREO REX, visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/stereorex. More details about the band and their videos are also on the group’s website at stereorex.com. “Crunch, Crash, Boom” can be purchased on amazon.com. Their music can also be found on iTunes and YouTube.