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Driver 13


by John Noyd
September 2001

When Shawn Anthony Brown returned to Wisconsin last fall, he had a long drive to contemplate his future.  His first time to Wisconsin was nearly ten years ago when Last Crack recruited him as their new lead singer. That road led to a European record deal, playing before tens of thousands of people and munching on sandwiches back stage with Ozzy and Sepultura. Splitting from Last Crack to form Spiritus, Shawn eventually grew tired of low wages and indifferent response from local radio. Returning to his native North Carolina, he dabbled in bands and jams that honed his awesome voice and brought him in contact with the woman who eventually became his wife. Still, something was missing. So, encouraged by his Madison friends who spun tales of Spiritus getting airplay and a renewed interest from radio for the local scene, Shawn packed his bags, kissed his wife goodbye and came back to seek his musical destiny. Thirteen hours later he got out of the car with his dreams intact and a name for his new band Driver (now Driver 13).

Hooking up with some of his old bandmates, Shawn actually came back to form two bands, Grip and Driver. While Grip fell to the wayside, Driverflourished, fronted by Shawn and piloted by Kerry Koppen, Mike Hagen and John Stone (Smolak). Pooling their experience in countless local bands and a profound love for Tool and Led Zeppelin, Driver creates a swampy, low end mix of industrial strength rock and spooked-out metal with traces of Middle Eastern warbling and iron-fisted rap. Shawn describes it as a chunkier, more evolved Spiritus .

Settled into the area with his wife, dog Tyler and steady employment, Shawn sees Driver’s future not as a breakout act to be courted by the industry, but rather a solid live band looking for local notoriety.  While they are cutting a single at Sleepless Nights later this year, there are no plans for CDs and national exposure. It doesn’t matter, Shawn says, how talented you are, the music industry is only interested in a look, a gimmick, the latest trend. Following their own muse, Driver shows samurai grace under extreme pressure, screaming when the spirit moves them, and shaking out the demons at the drop of a hat. Appearing at Bomblastica 2001 on September 22nd, they are sure to seize the night with their particular brand of feverish metal.


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