For the Spring Hill heavy metal band St. Valentines Massacre, the big time is calling.
Once a popular area club band, the quintet is looking toward a busy summer on the road to promote its first full-length, major-label CD, Awakening.
The band's inaugural tour, which kicks off Saturday with a concert and CD release party at the Bourbon Street Concert Club in New Port Richey, will consist of 20 shows spread throughout the East Coast.
Seventeen-year-old lead guitarist Tyler Jordan, who joined the band in April of last year, said he can hardly wait to hit the highway.
"Everyone's been waiting a long time for this," said Jordan, who recently graduated from Central High School. "It's a dream come true for us."
Getting together in the summer of 2005, vocalist Tony Rodriguez, guitarist Paul Starr (born Paul Zakar), bassist Alan Olshefski and drummer Andre Canale enjoyed a typical garage band existence, playing small clubs, dances — even bowling alleys — in and around Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties. As the band's following grew, so did the group's vision for the music.
"It got more and more serious for us," Olshefski said. "We started to promote ourselves more and look for more opportunities to get the music out there."
In 2006, St. Valentines Massacre recorded its first demo CD and entered and won the Emergenza battle of the bands competition in Tampa. Next up was a featured spot on the west coast Florida leg of the 2007 Warped Tour.
Meanwhile, the band's music — a blend of heavy metal, punk and blues-rock known to diehard fans as "screamo" — began attracting an even wider audience via SVM's MySpace page.
"We did a three-song recording called Eulogy that got something like 10,000 plays in three days," Olshefski said. "When that happened, we started to feel like this could be a big thing."
Megaforce/MRI Records thought so, too, and in October, the label, which is distributed by Sony Records, offered St. Valentines Massacre a record deal. Awakening, which was recorded in Rodriguez's home studio and mixed at Morrisound Studios in Tampa, represents some of the band's most evocative work.
"We're getting a lot of good response so far," Olshefski said. "The Best Buy in New Port Richey is already sold out of them."
Olshefski, a 2001 graduate of Springstead High School, credits SVM's success to diligence, hard work and a little luck. He and his bandmates are looking forward to finally traveling outside the area to perform for fans they have only communicated with on the Internet.
"This band loves to play," he said. "When they come to see us, we'll give them the best we can give them."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.