OHIO BOYS: A tribute to Tom Petty, the Damn Torpedoes formed some ten years ago when singer-guitarist Ty Hurless, who grew up in the Canton/Massillon area, graduated from Perry High School in 1981 and got his degree in accounting from the University of Akron, moved to Austin, where he met singer-bassist Geno Stroia. Also from Northeast Ohio, Stroia grew up in Alliance and graduated from the University of Akron. The two met each other in Austin by happenstance. "It was just an odd set of circumstances," says Hurless. "I was in a band with a mutual friend who knew Geno, who was going to join our band. He joined the band, and it didn't come up immediately, but at some point, we found out that we were both Ohio boys who grew up there and went to the University of Akron and graduated in 1991 and all of this stuff. We've been friends ever since." In 2007, Stroia opened Red Leaf School of Music in Austin, where he still teaches today in addition to touring, writing and producing. Hurless gives guitar lessons there too.
PETTY WOULD BE PROUD: In 2009, Hurless and Stroia put together the Damn Torpedoes, a Tom Petty tribute act. Hurless says another Austin-based tribute act, Skyrocket, inspired him to put together something similar. That group featured local musicians who played original music in other acts. "The Tom Petty thing seemed like a good way to go for me," he says. "He has an insane number of hits." The group played its first gig on Tom Petty's 59th birthday. "That show was very nerve-wracking because I had never been the full-time front man of a band up to that point," says Hurless. "We were new and not as tight back then, but the spirit was always there, and it hasn't changed all that much. The excitement and enthusiasm and spirit for the music was there from that very first show. We didn't even know that first show was on his birthday. It just happened that way."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band's version of "Don't Come Around Here No More" sounds like a carbon copy of Petty's and even includes the snarling vocals and shimmering synthesizer riff. The band currently knows about 70 Petty songs. "There's so much to mine from, it's really crazy," says Hurless. "Making the set list can be daunting. I have to throw songs out but then I want to bring ones we haven't played in a long time. It's a good problem to have."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: thedamntorpedoes.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Damn Torpedoes perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 7, at West Side Bowl in Youngstown, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Winchester in Lakewood, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the ninth annual Rockin' Out Cancer event in Alliance and at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 11 at Musica in Akron.