Located on a quiet Wickliffe cul de sac, Steve Delchin's suburban home hardly looks like the headquarters for a heavy metal group. The lush lawn is meticulously manicured and even the finished basement, which Delchin has turned into a rehearsal space, is a clean, well-lit place, though a plastic skeleton and fake gravestone suggest an interest in the macabre. Weights and a treadmill take up half the room, and the band's gear is set up in the other half.
"We don't get any complaints from the neighbors because it's well–insulated down here," says Delchin, who works as an attorney for a local firm. He and his bandmates — bassist Jon Engeman, drummer Bob "Savage" Schwartz and his brother, guitarist Bob Delchin — became a sensation two years ago when they released a campy music video for the tune "The King That Never Was." The video went viral (Yahoo crowned it "The Most Epically Awful Video of 2011") and has amassed close to one million views on YouTube.
Now, the band is back at it and has just released a new music video for the tune "Witch Hunt." The track hasn't gained the same amount of traction as "The King That Never Was," but that simply suggests the guys might be getting better at their craft.
Band members first met two years ago at a "metal party night" that one of their friends hosted at his Euclid home. Then, a few months later, they met up again at another such event and decided to jam. They played a few cover songs and things clicked.
"It was a lot of fun," Delchin says when asked about that initial performance. "Even though it was just in front of our friends, it was cool."
Later that year, Delchin decided to host yet another "metal night" at his home; it would feature the band's first "real performance." Delchin set up a small stage in the basement and even made up flyers. He invited friend Bill Peters, owner of the locally based metal label Auburn Records. Peters liked the band enough that he booked them for the Auburn anniversary concert that took place a few months later at the Beachland Ballroom.
"Doors opened at 5 and they played at 4," jokes Peters.
"We were nervous because we had never played in a public setting," says Delchin. "I had never even done a soundcheck. I didn't know what I was doing. We didn't have any experience."
"We didn't make fools of ourselves," says Bob Delchin.
The band started to get gigs, but it was getting to be too much work to rehearse and prep, and the guys decided to put the emphasis on making music videos rather than playing lots of live shows.
The group had only one original tune, "The King That Never Was," a song Steve Delchin wrote when he was still in high school, so they decided that song would become their first music video. Delchin watched several YouTube tutorials on shooting video and then took the band out to Squire's Castle to shoot the medieval-themed video with a couple of $59 Kodak pocket cameras.
"I felt like I was dragging everyone there," says Delchin, adding that the initial video just included shots of the band performing. But he eventually decided he needed "characters," so he recruited Peters to play a wizard and asked a few big-bosomed female friends to join the video shoot too.
"I thought I was just going to be standing in the background," says Peters. "I was trapped, and I just had to do it."
Delchin says the band initially thought the video would get a couple of hundred views. But once it was posted on some heavy metal websites, it just took off. Revolver magazine called it the "viral video of the day." Metal Sucks called it the greatest video ever. Attack of the Show did a feature on the band, and the video appeared on Netherlands TV. Yahoo voted it "The Most Epically Awful Video of 2011," putting the video at the top of its year-end list, where it even displaced Rebecca Black's "Friday."
"It was great exposure," says Delchin. "We had no expectations for it. It was at the point when I was on the front page of Yahoo while dressed as a knight and riding a horse that I figured I needed to tell some people at work."
"We're successful at our day jobs so if people want to make fun of our music, that doesn't faze us," says Bob Delchin. "We're not aspiring to be famous musicians."
Undeterred by the nasty comments posted on YouTube, the band soldiered on and went to the Mansfield Reformatory to record its next music video for the tune "Metal Coma."
"We wanted to do something different and big so we have a scene when the metalheads are escaping from their cells," Delchin says of the video. "We wanted to do a zombie theme but without the zombies."
Last fall, the band started work on its third music video. The song "Witch Hunt" required a graveyard so the band went to the Riverside Cemetery to shoot some of the scenes.
"We thought the Salem witch trials would be good because I could go crazy with the special effects," Delchin says.
The guys also shot a court scene at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. Filmed in high definition, the video features better production values. As a result, the comments on YouTube haven't been as scathing. Not that Delchin minds the criticism. To him, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
"So many bands rush to put out a CD but nothing happens," he says. "We're getting the exposure just from doing one song at a time and releasing the videos. When we put out a song, everyone remembers it and knows the song. That's cool. That's what you want. It's been a slow process, but we just don't have that much free time. But it's been fun. And we all share a vision for music. We're all just metalheads."Check out Alternative Reality's new music video, Witch Hunt, below.