Jody Velletta – vocals
Michael Trabucco – guitars
Mark Conlon – drums, vocals
Chris Elardo – bass, vocals
What led to the naming of your band?
Jody: DoDriver (as opposed to Don’tDriver). It was a complete mispronunciation and reinterpretation of the word ‘screwdriver’ as said by one of Mike’s sons.
When did it form?
Jody: Technically we were formed in 1991 as Jive Injection for about 5 or 6 years, then we turned into Jive 5 for another 4 or 5 then DoDriver. We changed bassists, guitarists and drummers a few times but Mike and I have been in it from the beginning. Chris was an original member, also, and rejoined almost 20 years later! Mark has been in the band over 10 years. 27 years later we’re done fooling around, finally, and have the best combination any band could ever want.
Who writes the music?
Jody: We all do. I write the lyrics and melodies over the riffs and parts that Chris, Mike and Mark put together.
Mike: It starts with A riff. Then we work together to make the best song possible.
Mark: We write collectively, Mike and Chris write riffs and then we start droppin beats and Jody starts humming melodies an then writing lyrics. We all add input on arrangements, harmonies etc.
Chris: As a songwriter, I don’t settle. As Sammy Hagar once said, if the riff or melody doesn’t give you GBF, ‘Goose Bump Fever’, it’s probably not worth remembering. That’s been my musical mantra since day one, and I know the rest of the band would agree.
How would you describe the sound?
Jody: 70’s mixed with 90’s rock.
Mike: Electric-riff hard rock.
Mark: All American Rock and Roll! No hate, no politics, no anger – just good time groove to move by!
Chris: A very good friend of ours recently said it best, after hearing our new album, ‘Hi-Test’: “super-creative, hooky, driving-music-from-heaven” rock and roll. I’m not afraid to say that, while we get off on blowing the tiles off of smaller club’s roofs, we’re made for the big stage – arenas and stadiums. We’re high energy and radio-ready, but we surely have an edge.
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?
Chris: Jody, Michael and I grew up on the hard streets of Kenmore (laughs), and Mark is from another planet, because he’s the nicest, most caring person we’ve ever known, and they don’t make ’em like him ’round these parts.
What are some of the band’s influences?
Chris: As a bassist, my influences are Steve Harris, Geezer Butler, guys like that. As a ‘hack’ guitarist, and songwriter, I take things from so many places, and as wide ranging as Iron Maiden, Coheed & Cambria and Sabbath to The Beatles, Styx, Bad Religion and Steely Dan, and all the one-hit wonders from the 70’s. George Lynch of Dokken influences my chord phrasing immensely. Anything that is catchy, well-written and memorable. That being said, I’m also a sucker for progressive rock bands such as Yes, Genesis, Kansas, Rush, Floyd, etc., to newer ones like Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater and Opeth.
Jody: All the great classic rock bands from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, KISS, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, hair bands, grunge bands.
Mark: Beatles, Big Wreck, Rival Sons, Jellyfish.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
Mark: I took some lessons from the late great Louie Marino for an introduction to reading, but that wasn’t for too long and later in the game.
Mike: Some lessons, then started writing originals.
Chris: 2 years, privately taught, then honing my chops learning every early Iron Maiden album from start to finish.
Jody: I took 2 guitar lessons in 1987 in Kenmore but I hated it! I became the singer by default in high school because I didn’t stick with lessons and everyone else did! I learned to sing by trying to hit notes I shouldn’t have and finding out what my voice could and couldn’t do. Sometimes I still try to hit notes that I have no business trying.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo?
Jody: Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon, West Seneca. Back “in the day” it was The Icon, Continental and Blind Mellons.
Chris: We just played our first show at Rockstarz in May, and I must say the stage, sound and lights were ridiculously awesome. Looking forward to our next show there, October 20.
What’s your day job?
Mark: I am a department manager at ICE… The home of Super Chexx!
Chris: Trucking Supervisor, but I’m working towards my dream job – playing in front of thousands…
Jody: Live music/events coordinator at Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls, NY.
What was the last live music performance that you caught?
Jody: Peter Frampton and Steve Miller at Artpark, every show at Artpark in fact (for work).
Chris: Stryper, in Cleveland.
Mark: We went as a band to see Big Wreck a year or 2 ago and we had a BLAST!
Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Or a combination of both?
Jody/Chris: 99.9% original, pretty much from day one.
If you could play/sing with one famous band/musician (any time in history), what/who would that be?
Chris: I don’t even have to jam with any of them, but I want to be a fly on the wall during any of the writing sessions – singular or as a group – the Beatles ever had, because there has never been another artist/band/songwriter in the history of music to amass a near-flawless catalog of music.
Mike: Tough question. Peter Gabriel.
Mark: Tough question, I would love to sing a duet with Sinatra or Harry Connick Jr., I would love to sing harmonies with the Beatles, it would be amazing to Jam with Dream Theater (not that I could keep up hahaha) but most of all, I’d love to sing with my Mamma just one more time.
You’ve shared the stage with I,Mother Earth, The Tea Party, Moist, Teenage Head, Staind, Oleander, Emerson Hart of Tonic, Soul Asylum, Finger Eleven, Queensryche, Quiet Riot, KISS, and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. Out of those which was the most memorable experience and why?
Jody: KISS was probably the most surreal. Growing up a huge fan and becoming a musician because of them and then getting to play on the same stage in our own home town was absolutely mind-blowing. Though it wasn’t the biggest crowd, that was with Smash Mouth on New Year’s Eve 2011, approximately 15,000 people outside on the warmest December 31st I can remember (in the low 50’s!). The Soul Asylum show was great too, fans thought we were part of the tour and wanted autographs and pictures with us. They bought more merch from us than they did from Soul Asylum! They are all memorable for one reason or another, most good, one bad but we’ll be “Quiet” about which one that was.
Mark: KISS! Hands down! To play with “The Hottest Band in The World on the biggest stage in your own home town……. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!
You’ve played all over the world. What country/city was your favorite?
Jody: My favorite place to play in Europe was Hexenhaus in Ulm, Germany. Super cool venue, looked like a castle on the outside and a cavernous, haunted house/Halloween prop shop/metal club on the inside.The fans were crazy and kept asking for one more song! I always love playing at home for the simple fact that the people are great in western NY and will tell you their opinion rather than blow smoke, we appreciate that. It’s something that makes us play better and brings to light the things that we can improve upon.
Chris: It’s a tie, between Ulm – we played this old, converted castle called the Hexenhaus – and Werdohl, Germany. In both cities, the crowds were absolutely bonkers. Touring Europe is something we’ll never forget, and we can’t wait to go back.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
Jody: We don’t have a label, we’re DIY’ers all the way. Our “studio” is in our rehearsal space which is a dank, dark basement. We recorded our latest CD ‘Hi-Test’ there, and released it in May 2018. The band recorded all of the tracks with the help of our friend Matt Edwards then we had it mixed and mastered by Steve Sopchak at Square Studio in Syracuse. We are extremely proud of it and, at the risk of sounding cliche, can say for certain that it is our best album. The songs are catchy, the production is great and it has an overall positive feel to it that the five other albums didn’t quite have.
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Jody: We’re playing August 10th at the Evening Star in the Falls, but Aug 25th at the Tudor Lounge (with our good buddies, Kidd Delicious) is our next Buffalo-proper gig.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with a hand crank phonograph and one album, what would that album be?
Mike: That’s tough. Kiss, ‘Alive’.
Chris: Pink Floyd, ‘Animals’.
Jody: Ugh! I hate this! Jellyfish, ‘Spilt Milk’.
Mark: DoDriver, ‘Hi-Test’. After that, there are many runner-ups!
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