Former doubleDrive Singer Donnie Hamby Rocks Again with Violent Plan
By BRIAN HEATON
Few would-be vocalists have the talent and hunger to hit the stage, make a record and tour the world. Those who do might get one bite of the apple and if it doesn't pan out, a return to "regular" life awaits. Fortunately for his fans, Atlanta, Ga.-based singer Donnie Hamby hasn't let a couple of sour bites dictate his appetite for music.
After a six-year absence behind the microphone, the former singer of doubleDrive and Still Rain is back, this time fronting Violent Plan. Joined by his ex-Still Rain bandmate and Switched bassist Corey Lowery, Brad (B.C.) Kochmit of Switched on guitar and Dan Richardson on drums, Violent Plan released its first demo track, "Underneath," on MySpace. The band also played an impromptu gig at a small bar in Birmingham, Ala., in June to test the waters.
The experience was a success, according to Hamby. Violent Plan performed nine new songs and received a good reaction from the crowd, but Hamby was quick to add that the band was taking things slow.
"Violent Plan has to convene when schedules allow," the vocalist explained. "Dan is in Miami and Brad is in Cleveland, so it makes it a bit tricky sometimes, but we allow ourselves time to find a groove and work on material from a performance standpoint."
When pressed about the band's future, Hamby maintained that he really had no expectations, just a desire to write songs and see if they resonate and create opportunities for the group to do something more. With a nose for the business side of music however, the singer admitted he was enamored with the changes in the record industry, and what Violent Plan's place in it could be like.
"I have ideas about how I'd like to move, but mine's not the only voice and I have to consider that," Hamby said. "It's a new day with the music business and I've had plenty of time to think about changes and new approaches. I enjoy the interaction of planning and developing new business ideas … but we'll have to see where this band goes and how it gets there."
Hamby's patient attitude isn't surprising when you consider the lessons learned from his previous two bands. Dropping out of college to form Still Rain in 1989, the vocalist cut his teeth on the road for almost seven years, garnering the group a cult following. Based out of Fayetteville, N.C., Still Rain featured Hamby, Lowery, guitarist Troy McLawhorn, drummer Bevan Davies and Lowery's brother Clint on guitar.
Still Rain was a trial by fire experience for its members. In a span of two weeks, the band was put together, a crew was hired, and they were out touring immediately. Although the band was immensely popular on the local circuit and self-financed two albums, it was never signed to a label, which led to its demise in 1995.
"We were all restless," Hamby recalled. "The guys thought they could become something else if I [wasn't] holding the mic, so they asked me to let them roll and I didn't fight it."
Instead, Hamby began thinking about his next move. In late-1996, he ended up in Atlanta to record song ideas at a friend's studio. Ironically, he tapped his former bandmate Troy McLawhorn to lay down some guitar tracks and the sessions paved the way for Hamby's next band, doubleDrive.
Joined by bassist Josh Sattler and later by drummer Mike Froedge, the quartet bonded over their "road warrior" experiences from the past and similar music interests. About a year later, the band was noticed by a number of record labels, with MCA Records ultimately signing doubleDrive.
Unlike Still Rain, doubleDrive was quickly picked up by mainstream radio. The lead single, "Tattooed Bruise," off of the group's debut album 1000 Yard Stare, received good airplay and the band opened for the likes of thrash metal titans Megadeth and progressive hard rockers Queensr˙che.
doubleDrive, circa 2002. Image courtesy