Published on September 18th, 2012 | by Stefan Rogenmoser0
The M-Tank Saga: Part Two
Reunions cast doubts on the indefinite hiatus
Local musician/photographer Stefan Rogenmoser is the keyboardist with Sans Jose (formerly known as Go For Launch), but he’s qualified to tell the story of fellow rock act M-Tank. Both bands share members — guitarists Scott Dence and Jim Faust. When M-Tank suffered a severe car wreck last summer, Rogenmoser and his colleagues came together to support their peers. This is the second installment of Rogenmoser’s two-part story about M-Tank’s misadventure and Dence’s year-long recovery.
“This is the ending of an odyssey, but that doesn’t really bother me / This begins another dark age, it’s not like I remember anyway” —“Modern Way”
Local band M-Tank’s career in rock music has been a choppy one since forming in Charleston in 2008 under the name Mystery Tank. Since then, drummer/singer Jason Walter relocated to Augusta, Ga., and the band bounced through a series of lineup changes. But Walter and guitarist Scott Dence remain M-Tank’s core members, sharing singing and songwriting duties.
In spring 2011, Walter Lane of Augusta joined on bass.
“M-Tank’s never played a show without Scott or me,” Walter says. “It was me, Jim [Faust] and Scott for a long time. I was jamming with guys around [Augusta] in the Ex-Lovers Club. We started the band and played some shows and stuff. Basically, we broke up. I took Walter [Lane], who was playing bass for that band, to M-Tank. He tends bar at Sky City. He could play most shows. If he couldn’t play in Charleston, Jim could play with us. If he could play with us, we’d play as a four piece. It’s kind of like having players that can sub in and out. My favorite shows were as a four piece. Walter was a permanent member once he joined, and Jim came along and was really vital.”
Dence describes the band’s sound as lo-fi garage. “Jason was really influenced by ‘70s punk , and I was more influenced by older rock ‘n’ roll like the Beatles and ‘60s-era pop music,” Dence says. “It was a blend of those. Jason was really into Television and the Ramones and a lot of the New York ’77-era punk stuff.”
M-Tank’s tangle of punkish rock styles won over a number of local fans in 2009 and 2010. Lily Slay, singer/guitarist with local band the Royal Tinfoil remembers when her band was first asked to do a show with M-Tank in 2011 at the Tin Roof. “We’d never heard them before,” she says. “I was completely blown away and totally nervous to follow them. I hadn’t seen anything like it in Charleston before. I was tour-weary and uninspired, but they totally put a garage rock defibrillator on my former impression of the local scene. Ever since then, we tried to book with them and see them whenever possible.”
Twice, Go For Launch played entire sets of Dence’s M-Tank songs at the Tin Roof under the names Cat People and Cat Person (in Oct. 2011 and Jan. 2012) respectively. Walter attended the October show and sold chapters from a forthcoming homemade graphic novels he’d written based on the summer tour. The set ended with a cover of Dence’s favorite Ramones song, “53rd & 3rd.” During the bridge, Walter jumped on stage and sang Dee Dee Ramone’s vocal line perfectly.
Last November, just a few months after their accident, M-Tank played their first reunion show in Augusta at the Firehouse. “It was really great,” Walter recalls. “Fuckin’ awesome as shit.”
“We played the Friday before Thanksgiving in Augusta with No Bunny,” Dence adds. “It was our first time playing since the wreck. We didn’t even practice. We only did 10 songs. It was a short set. It was fun to just do them again.”
Dence didn’t want the accident to be band’s last memory. “If that was the last show, it was a good way to end it,” he says. “It was a well-attended show. We’ve got a pretty good following in Augusta. It was a lot like the Charleston following … a lot of people in other bands. It was cool.”
While M-Tank’s future seems doubtful, Dence and Walter continue to collaborate. They played an impromptu mini-set of two songs at the Tattooed Moose in August after Sans Jose and Southern Femisphere played. This last-second M-Tank reunion was enjoyed by a handful of old fans in the room who sang along to every word.
Walter says M-Tank is essentially on an hiatus these days, but there’s no bad blood between the members and there’s no reason to say the band will never play again.
“It’s way up in the air about getting back together for good,” Dence says. “It doesn’t look good for that. It probably won’t happen … but never say never. It’s not in any foreseeable future.”
Lately, Dence has been hard at work with his new garage punk project, the Boring Portals, alongside Brett Nash, Joel Hamilton, and Emily Connor. Walter has continued to work on his graphic novel series Modern Unicorn, and he drew all the illustrations for M-Tank’s homemade CDs and EPs. The band never produced a full-length album, but their lo-fi, home-recorded songs are available for download at their Revernation.com page.
If you run into Dence, Walter, or Lane this week, buy them a beer and wish them well. They’ve all been through a lot.
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