Flu Shots have the cure for area music lovers
Though area cover band Flu Shots has been rocking local stages for the last 15 years, most of the members comprising the group have been playing music together for much, much longer than that.
That’s because before they were known as the Flu Shots, three of the four members currently in the group were involved with another longtime staple on the area music scene — Strickly Business — which played locally for 15 years and had established a big following of its own. But after the last remaining original member of that band, Eric Spong, had to give up playing the drums due to back issues, the group changed its name, even though three members — Kevin Mix, Tim Tyler and Greg Sauers — had been playing in it for years at the time.
After taking some time off, the three remaining band members eventually regrouped with new drummer, Adam Westover, in 2003, and have been playing together under the Flu Shots name ever since.
“Even though we had an existing following at the time, it just wasn’t the same band anymore, so we needed to change the name,” said Tyler, who plays bass and does backup vocals. “When you change someone out like that, it is amazing how big of a change that can be.”
Mix, the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, said that adding Westover “changed everybody’s attitude and changed the way play.”
Funnily enough, the name Flu Shots was chosen for the group because back in their Strickly Business days the band played a gig at a small-town firehall that had done flu shots for its community earlier in the day, so the marquee outside said “flu shots” instead of “Strickly Business.”
“We were like ‘Who is this band?’ For the rest of the night we called ourselves the Flu Shots,” said Tyler. “Years later, when the time came for a new name, that name came back up and it had history.”
In the years since becoming the Flu Shots, the group has seen some reconfigurations with its lineup. After eight years with the band, lead guitarist Sauers decided to take a break from playing, which opened the door for Ben Rosato to take over his duties with the group. Then, after five years playing with the band, Rosato walked away from the Flu Shots to spend more time with his family.
Not to worry, the band had the perfect replacement for him — Sauers — who rejoined in 2017.
“Greg went hiatus for a while because he was leaving town, and now he is back and it feels like the family is back together,” said Tyler.
“This group is a band of brothers, even though it seems like we change a member every 10 to 15 years,” Mix said. “We tell the guys, if you are going to join in with us we are going to be like brothers.”
Nowadays the band plays three to four shows a month, regularly playing gigs at local bars, clubs, parties and carnivals. Being a self-described “radio rock” cover band, they take on any pop-rock tunes from the 60s to the present, and maintain a repertoire of nearly 100 songs. A typical set for the band runs about 40 songs over a three-hour span.
“We have a keep-them-dancing mentality,” Mix said. “So, if they are going to dance to it, we will play it. If they aren’t going to dance to it, we might still play it because we like the song, but it won’t last.
“I tell people they are going to know all the songs and they are going to be able to sing along to most of them,” Mix added.
Though the band does covers exclusively, they do like to change things up and put their own spin on the tunes they play.
“We try to do everything in our own flavor,” said Tyler. “We are not those artists and we don’t try to be those artists. I think there are some things we do better, and there are some things we probably don’t do as well.”
Though the band has already been playing together for a long time, the members have no plans of slowing down anytime in the near future.
“The end point for the band will be when I finally kill (Kevin) or he kills me,” Tyler said, with a laugh. “Every day hundreds of bands get together and hundreds of bands break up. It is a true honor for me to have played him Kevin for 25 years. He is one of my biggest influences and nobody has driven me harder in my musical endeavors than he has. We have almost come to blows many times, but I can call this guy anytime and he is there.”
That was a sentiment shared by Mix.
“As long as we are walking and breathing, and somebody is out there enjoying it, we will still be playing,” he said.