The band was created in Dallas, Texas, USA, in 1983 when members of 2 local bands joined forces. Joey Darcangelo was lead vocalist for the band Sabotage. Ru Spearman and Michael Laurence were the guitar players for the band Rokker. Those three guys were the founding members of Bellicose.
The first track that Joey co-wrote with Ru and Michael was “Run for Cover”. Joey remembers: “In the beginning we lived and breathed Bellicose. We would spend endless hours just sitting around playing guitars and humming melodies and scratching down lyric ideas and drinking lots of beer!! It was a lot of fun back then. There was so much creative energy and music pouring out of each of us, it was sometimes hard to keep up with. It didn’t take long to recognize the magic that was the sound of Bellicose that came from this collaborative nucleus.”
Bellicose recorded various demos on different seasons. Those demos were not released to the public. The sole purpose of any demo track was to shop to the major labels. Bellicose stayed very busy in both writing and recording in order to be able to pitch new material to the labels every three months.
A key point to the band’s career was the signing with MKM management. Upon signing with MKM, they proposed that the band record and release their official debut album privately. The idea was to give the band a more professional polished presence as Bellicose were still trying to get signed by a major label. The band’s debut “Love On Ice” was recorded at Sound Logic Studio in Dallas, TX and released on CD in 1989. Joey remembers: “It took about 6 months to put all the tracks together for the CD. It was a matter of track selection, mixing and or re-recording of some of the songs to 24 track to keep the sound of the mixes consistent. Tim “Chopper” Grugle our drummer deserves a lot of the credit for the end result of the tracks and the sonic sounds that made it to the CD. He spent countless nights mixing and re-mixing the songs on that CD to ensure that when it was ready to be packaged, it was the best that it could be.” Some of the best music that the band was working on since 1983 was finally officially recorded and presented to the fans. Joey points: “Those were the songs that a lot of our fans were familiar with and sang along to at our shows. To think of the CD without them was crazy. If anything, to the band, the CD was a gift to our fans. Bellicose fans were true and very loyal… We fed off their love and energy many nights for many years!”
The “Love on Ice” recording line-up consisted of Joey Darcangelo (vocals), Michael Laurence (guitar), Ru Spearman (guitar), Tim “Chopper” Grugle (drums) and Steven Grillo (bass). The band has faced various lineup changes through the years: Starting from the beginning the original line-up consisted of Joey Darcangelo (vocals), Michael Laurence (guitar), Ru Spearman (guitar), Staley Rogers (bass) and Mike Gage (drums) (1984). Staley left the band just after the first demo was recorded (1985). The band recruited Rick Rivera upon Staley’s departure (1985). Rick was with the band for a short stint before Steven Grillo was recruited for the bass slot (1986). It was shortly after that, that Mike Gage left the band. Upon Mike’s leaving the band auditioned a lot of drummers before finally finding the right guy for the job: Tim “Chopper” Grugle (1986). About a year after Tim joined the band, Steven Grillo (bass) left and Staley Rogers returned to the Bellicose fold (1987). Another year went by and Staley departed yet again leaving the spot open for Zak Johnson to fill (1988). The very last personnel change was Chris Vasquez in the guitar spot upon Michael Laurence’s departure (1991).
So the debut album was out, the band’s management team did in fact launch a promotional campaign soon after the album release. They sent the CD to all of the major record labels, college radio stations, local and national magazines but the results were not those expected. Joey remembers: “1989 was the beginning of the end mainly from a musical landscape perspective, as bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains & Hole had already been out and generating a new buzz. It was only when Pearl Jam came along and kicked in the doors that the rest just poured in to become the new “grunge” scene. When this happened, if you weren’t already signed, you probably weren’t going to be. In short, you missed the boat.” Bellicose did not give up: by the 90’s they were still writing new music and the management was diligently still pitching the new material to the labels for a recording contract. New music was born but new difficulties appeared as well: Michael Laurence and the band parted ways, leaving a pretty big void in the “creative nucleus”. A replacement was found on the face of Chris Vasquez, another local player who was very familiar with the band. Joey points: “For the most part it just didn’t feel the same, and with Michael leaving it just didn’t sound the same either. All the years together working creatively with both Michael and Ru forged a chemistry that was sadly non-existent with the new line up. It wasn’t long before one by one we decided to hang it up and find our own ways again.” So that pretty much was the end of Bellicose. Forever? Well… no.
Most of the band members remained friends and still kept in touch. So in 2013 Bellicose reunited! The current lineup is: Joey Darcangelo (vocals), Ru Spearman (guitar & vocals), Eric Keathley (guitar & vocals), Zak Johnson (bass & vocals), Tim “Chopper” Grugle (drums). Some killer live shows and this re release of their out of print debut are the first pages of a new chapter. We all hope and wait for more music by Bellicose! It seems they are back for good!
Chris Papadakis, March 2014