Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Shortness of Breath

Gary Denick and his bandmates may be on the far side of 40, but Denick maintains that Shortness of Breath can hold its own.


“Even though we are, in some cases, ten, 15, or 20 years older than some of our peers and colleagues, we can still talk music, and we are still part of this musicians brotherhood,” Denick said.


In fact, the group may even put on a more energetic live show than some of the 20-something musicians who dominate the rock club circuit. It’s that energy that Denick praises most when discussing the band – and he credits it in no small part to the fans that come to see them play, describing how their energy fuels the band and the band’s energy feeds the crowds in a “symbiotic relationship” formed through playing classic rock covers and interacting with the audience. After a three-year absence, they’ll be hoping to bring their energetic show back to Bangkok Blues this Friday at 7 p.m.

Shortness of Breath was formed in December 2005, when Denick, Tedd Steele and Ian Moon met through an online musicians connection listing. The trio played together and, upon realizing they meshed well and could potentially form a band, set about picking a name.

The name is, in part, an allusion to their age, as Denick said it came about when the group was short of breath after hauling all of their equipment into practices. But Denick says the naughtiness of the SOB acronym isn’t lost on any of the band members.

Thus two IT workers and a former recording studio technician became known as Shortness of Breath. For Denick, it’s fulfilling a rock and roll fantasy begun years ago when he talked his father into buying him a guitar for Christmas.

“I remember seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and thinking, ‘wow, that looks like fun,'” Denick said. “I worked at [playing the guitar] viciously, and I’ve been playing it ever since.”

The band began by playing classic rock covers, but admitted to their songwriting desires and eventually wrote and recorded two CDs of original content – a self-titled EP and their most recent release, “Dirty Job.” As they’ve developed a fan following around Front Royal, playing regularly at the Royal Oak Tavern and the Lucky Star Lounge, audiences sometimes request their original work. But when it comes to closing out the set on a high note, Denick and his band mates return to the classic rock covers, opting to play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who or “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young to “endeavor to blow the roof off the place. And most of the time, it works pretty well,” Denick said.

With band members juggling career and family obligations, Denick says that getting together to practice and play keeps all involved very busy, as the group generally plays four gigs a month. Despite the schedule, Shortness of Breath is looking toward growth, hoping to continue to write and record and expand its tour circuit outside of Virginia, but they haven’t lost focus on what brought them together in the first place.

“It’s all about fun for us,” Denick said. “We’re all at a point in life where if it’s not fun, then there’s no reason to do it. But we’re all having fun.”

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