Tom A. Eakin (b. November 19, 1964) is an American vocalist from Cleveland, Ohio
Tom Dark was born in Cleveland, Ohio, which he refers to as the “land of almost”, on November 19th, 1964, where he still lives, residing with his wife/entertainment lawyer Mary Ellen Tomazic (a.k.a. Scary Ellen, WCSB DJ/Cleveland State University, show “Millions of Dead Chickenheads”) in Cleveland, Ohio. Growing up on a steady diet of music, magazines (Creem/Rock Scene) b-movie monsters, horror hosts, wrestling and roller derby, his interest in rock ‘n’ roll really began to take place when the punk rock scene exploded in the late 70’s. Tom discovered lots of bands and scenes all over the country (esp. in England, the west coast, New York and his own backyard of northeast Ohio), collecting vinyl, fanzines and attending shows that made him want to start a band of his own.
The Decapitators and The Dark
By 1980, Tom formed his first band The Decapitators with his brother Scott Eakin on bass and friends Robert Griffin on guitar, David Araca drums. Scott and David left and were replaced by David Richman on drums, no bass player. The Decapitators played out once in November of that year, at a rec center below a church called the Well in Shaker Heights, Ohio, doing an hour and a half of covers (Pagans, Dead Boys, Germs, Ramones, etc) and ten originals. They were not asked back to play and broke up a few months later; no recordings were made. A year later in 1981 at high school, Tom ran into Robert and they decided to reform the band again, but under a different name with Scott and David, becoming The Dark. They quickly recorded for the “Cleveland Confidential” compilation album on Terminal Records with the song “I Can Wait” (which has been reissued on vinyl by Thermionic Records and on CD by Overground Records.) They made their debut at Tucky’s in downtown Cleveland on January 9th, 1982, with Mike Hudson of The Pagans fame becoming their manager after the gig for the year (see Mike Hudson’s book “Diary of a Punk” about his life, the Pagans, managing The Dark, etc.) By the third show, Jimi Imij of Zero Defex recorded The Dark on his boombox at a record store in Kent, Ohio, called Garbage Inc. and put several songs from that show on a cassette tape compilation titled “There is More” that the fanzine Slam put out. Being so young, always sticking to their punk roots, The Dark started to become more interested musically in what later became the term Hardcore with their hair getting shorter and songs becoming faster. They created their own style mixing punk and hardcore with deathrock (Christian Death, 45 Grave, TSOL “Dance with Me” album), adding a moody goth feel to the songs, making them their own.
The New Hope Compilation
By 1983, cities and record labels everywhere started to put out lots of compilation albums, putting their scenes and bands on the map. For some reason, northeast Ohio didn’t have one, so Tom Dark decided to put one out himself. While helping out bands, putting on shows and benefits, Tom raised enough money to put out “The New Hope” compilation album (on his own New Hope Records (1983) featuring 11 bands including The Dark doing the songs:”You Got What You Wanted”, “Sacrifice” and “Screeching Metal”) to good reviews, giving the bands exposure and getting word out about the scene. (It was later released as a double vinyl album/download by Smog Veil in 2010, with extra songs by The Dark, “Put Your Hand through the Plastic” and “Last Day”, and others.) A second release was also put out on New Hope by Outerwear titled “The Outerwear Limits”, a cassette album, which came in a plastic bag filled with prizes and lyrics, but nothing else by the label was released after that. In February 1984, The Dark went into Island Studios and recorded a full-length album, to be released at a later date. The Dark at that point had played all over Ohio, going out of state once to Pittsburgh, Pa. and opening for many bands that became legendary such as: The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, GBH, Negative Approach, The Necros, The Five, Agnostic Front, and Cause For Alarm, to name a few. By that year, Robert lost interest and The Dark was put to rest. Years later, The Dark appeared on two more compilations, “They Pelted Us with Rocks & Garbage” a vinyl album (on Negative Print /Fungus/After Hour Records) in 1985 (a review in Spin Magazine mentioned “Fire in the Church” by The Dark as being one of the stand out tracks) and “High Road to Obscurity” with “No Eyes” on CD in 2000 (Grand Theft Audio/GTA.) In 2006, a double CD (78 tracks) was released, also on Grand Theft Audio/GTA, of all the missing and lost recordings by The Dark from the 80s, it included all the studio material, demos, compilation tracks, remixes, a live radio broadcast and live concert, resulting in a reunion by three of the remaining members after 23 years for the “Cleveland’s Screaming” concert series in the summer of 2006. Drummer David N. Araca died of a brain aneurism in the mid 90’s at age 26.
With The Dark broken up, Charlie Ditto’s band (or Charlie Ditteaux as he was known on the recordings), the Easter Monkeys, who he played bass for and sang on a few numbers, broke up as well. (The Easter Monkeys were one of Tom’s favorite bands, whom he interviewed in his one and only fanzine Spread, issue #1 of a small run, back in the early 80s.) Charlie wanted to form a new band and contacted Tom and drummer David Araca to play. In 1985, they placed an ad in the paper looking for a guitar player, Andrew Lesica answered it and Knifedance was born. They debuted on 6/13/85 at the Cleveland Underground. The band’s sound for the next two and half years was hi-energy, yet raw rock ‘n’ roll with a punk/blues feel to it, loud and drenched in volume/feedback. A 3-song demo on 4-track was recorded by Gary Lupico (r.i.p.) on 8/18/85 at their practice space, it was given out to clubs to get shows, but was never released to the public. By 1986 David Araca left, while a second recording was being set up in a studio named Angel in South Euclid, Ohio. Drummer Sean Saley (who was in the band for a few months, but never played out live with them, and had moved to Washington D.C.) was flown in to rehearse and complete the session. A month later, Ant Petti joined on drums. In 1987, After Hour Records out of Cleveland was interested in putting out a release by the group, so another recording session was set up at a studio called Great Tracks (near downtown.) A lot of money was spent on the recording, yet no one was happy with it; at the same time, another record label just starting up, Amphetamine Reptile (Minneapolis, Mn.) wanted to do a 7 inch single, and local Cleveland label St. Valentine, a 12 inch e.p. Nothing happened with any of the labels, so the recording was shelved.
The Wolf Hour lineup and Hit & Run Records
Guitarist Andrew Lesica the same year disappeared after a gig and was replaced by Tom’s brother Scott Eakin, giving the band a better sound, even giving some of the older songs new life, in a more Detroit hard rock/metal style, keeping true to their punk roots. In 1988 Tom formed Hit & Run Records, took 4 songs from the previous recordings and released the 12 inch e.p. “Who Then is Sane”, getting their name out there and hitting the road for two and a half weeks touring the Midwest /down South. Taking another stab at recording, they entered the recording studio Mars and hired friend / legend / Pere Ubu / East Monkeys guitarist Jim Jones (r.i.p.) to produce, and by 1989, the full-length album “Wolf Hour” was released on Hit & Run. A license deal with Double A Records in Europe/ West Germany was set up, resulting in the release of “Wolf Hour” (1200 pressed on clear vinyl) and the song “On Fire” appearing on the record compilation “Going Nowhere Slow”. At home, Jim Clevo put the song “Driven” on one of his CD compilations titled “Another Listen is in Order” as well, giving more exposure to the band. A second tour was set up, this time for a month and a half, hitting the Midwest, down South and the west coast. Along the way, many of the shows got cancelled, and to make matters worse, the booking agent out of Seattle who was to take care of booking the rest of the tour, lied to band, taking their money and leaving town. Frustrated, with tensions growing, Knifedance played one more date in Minneapolis, Mn. opening for Nirvana with drummer Ant quitting afterward. At the end of 1989/1990, Sean Watkins took over on drums. During this period, not much happened except for a few new tunes, some shows and a big write-up in “Your Flesh” magazine by friend /rocker Jeff Dahl. Double A records talked about doing a tour of Europe, which they began working on, but due to problems, the record label went under and no tour happened; from there Charlie Ditto quit. Scott Eakin’s old bandmates from False Hope, Chris Smith (rhythm guitar) and Sam Lopiccolo (bass) joined the very next day and with that, the band’s sound became even more intense and hard hitting. They entered Mars recording studio once again and laid down ten songs, mixing two for a 7 inch single on Hit & Run, with cover artwork by Antiseen vocalist/frontman Jeff Clayton. The rest of the recording was to be mixed at a later date, while a tour of the entire United States was being set up, half the group decided at the last minute not to do the tour, so Knifedance ended on 11/1/90 with the 7 inch single coming out that day. Three reunions happened in 2002, 2006 and 2007 with the release of the CD titled “Discography 1985-1990” (2006) of the band’s entire record catalog on Tom’s new record label Red Hour, formed in 1994. The short/mini documentary film “Cleveland Hardcore 1985” also showed up on the internet years later, with early footage of Knifedance being interviewed.
Dynamite Jack and Stepsister
A year later in 1991, Tom and roommate/friend Bobby J. (guitar) got together with Scott Lasch (bass) and Tom’s brother Scott Eakin (drums) and formed Dynamite Jack. The band lasted for a couple of years, doing tons of shows and writing lots of material, live they were loud and called “painfully unlistenable” after a review from local paper US Rocker (now gone.) They started to record an album, but never finished it after Tom quit due to musical differences in 1994. No recordings exist or were released. The remaining members carried on under different names, with a couple new singers, going in a different musical direction, releasing one CD. The same year, Tom started up Step Sister with his brother Scott on drums and the Marec brothers (Chris and Andrew from Spike ‘n’ Vain / Soul Vandals) both on guitar.
Step Sister started out playing a very raw, stripped down version of the blues, mixing lots of drinking, sloppy guitar playing and the sounds of The Stooges first recording, the “No New York” no wave compilation album, the Laughing Hyenas, Pussy Galore and The Lord Highway Fixers. Two guitars, drums, vocals, no bass – here is some brief history. The first version of Step Sister cut a demo with lo-fi legend Jim Shepard and his buddy Squid in Columbus, Ohio in March of 1995 in an old schoolhouse. A year later Scott Silverman joins on bass, they did a one week tour of Ohio/Pennsylvania with destro rock kings of the south, Antiseen. During another recording session at their practice space, tensions built, a fight broke out between members, and the Marec brothers quit. The sound of the band became more polished and rock sounding; a single “Shoeshine”/”Jesus in a Bottle” was recorded at the end of the year (1995) with the band a three piece and released in January 1996 on Tom’s new label, Red Hour Records, its first release. The song “Chinatown” made it onto the CLE magazine compilation CD, “Cleveland…So Much to Answer For” (summer 1996) as well. During that time Caroline Eckles joined on bass, but quit in October (1996), only recording a couple of songs with the band (September 1996) and playing a few shows. By February 1997 Scott Silverman was fired and Tom and brother Scott looked for new members. 1998 saw the release of “Straight Up, No Chaser”, a CD of all the studio recordings from 1995-96 with a live radio broadcast and a song from the Jim Shepard demo; this was Red Hour’s second release. Ex-Knifedance guitarist Andrew Lesica and Alex both joined up on guitar (no bass) enough to play out and record. Andrew Lesica was fired (August 98) with fill-ins Chris Bender and Dan (?) playing a few shows. Alex’s friend Steel joined on bass (December 98.) In 1999, Alex was fired, with original member Andrew Marec returning on guitar. An e.p. on 7 inch vinyl “Big Bad World”/”Joannah”/”Driven” was released that year from the recording session done at Step Sister’s practice space with Andrew Lesica/Alex, making this Red Hour’s third release. They entered into the studio by the end of 1999; Smog Veil Records was interested in the last two recordings, and released both on one CD disc/download by 2001. “Sugar Sweat 8 Track” (with Andrew Lesica/Alex) /”Second Hand Smoke” (with Andrew Marec/Steel.) The song “Coming Down Hard” appeared on the Ox compilation 43 CD through Ox Magazine.
In 2000, Steel bailed (February) and was replaced by Tony Erba (April), they played one show (June) with Andrew Marec and he was replaced by Aaron Dowell on guitar (July). The band’s sound went into full gear, more in the high energy, Detroit style/direction of Stooges, MC5 and the Dogs. They made a name for themselves with constant gigging, touring and merchandise. “Autopilot Stuck on Get Down” was released a year later (2001) on Smog Veil Records (CD/download) and Attila Csapo was added on second guitar (April), giving the band a bigger, better sound. They did a split 7 inch vinyl e.p. titled “Keepin’ it in the Family” with The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs on Smog Veil Records, with the songs “Down in the Dirt”/”You Ain’t Worth the Foam in My Piss” and appear on the compilation CD “Pie and Ears Vol. 2” with the song “Wild Ride” (Smog Veil). By the end of 2002, early 2003 Step Sister came to an end with Tom and Scott leaving due to musical and personality differences. A book of Step Sister lyrics titled “If He’s the Singer, then What the Hell is He Saying?” (Red Hour Records 4) and the CD “Black Hearts, Bleed Red” (Red Hour Records 5) were both released in 2003 and the song “Get My Way” appeared on the “Rocked n Loaded Vol. 2” compilation through Rock and Roll Purgatory magazine.
Cleveland’s Screaming and Reunions
With Step Sister gone, Tom Dark decided to take a break from doing bands part time. A series of reunion concerts began in 2005 titled “Cleveland’s Screaming”, bringing together old punk/hardcore bands from the 80s. “Cleveland’s Screaming” 2 (summer 2006) saw the reunion of The Dark (with three of the original members.) The reunion coincided with the release of the double CD “Scream Until We Die”. The discs have The Dark’s entire studio recordings, demos, compilation tracks, a live show and radio broadcast released through GTA/Grand Theft Audio. “Cleveland’s Screaming 3” (November 2006) had Knifedance (although a mini reunion with 3 of its members in 2002 came first, playing a memorial/benefit show in honor of a fan’s passing) and the release of the Knifedance CD “Discography 1985-1990” on Red Hour Records (its 6th release) including all their recordings put out by Hit & Run Records back in the day. They reunited once more in January 2007 for Scary Ellen’s birthday (Mary Ellen Tomazic, dj and queen of the airwaves for WCSB, Cleveland State University’s student run radio station in the 80s.) A month later Tom’s brother Scott F. Eakin died of a heart attack, he was only 38.
Tom Dark Solo
Between reunions, in early 2004, Tom got the idea to put together a solo album, involving different bands and people backing him up and started working on it. His brother Scott Eakin was playing drums for locals The Driven High (formerly Hot Damn, the last band he played for before passing away) with sisters Karen and Michelle Gortner. They wrote and recorded a couple of songs at Planet Studio in Brunswick, Ohio in 2004. Brother Ed (r.i.p.) and Brother Ant of the local duo Uncle Scratch’s Gospel revival put down a couple of tracks at the same studio as well, a year later in 2005. Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys/Rocket from the Tombs), The Blowtops (Buffalo, New York) and the Luxury Pushers (Dayton, Ohio) were all to be involved in the project, yet due to scheduling problems, it didn’t happen. Tom pulled out a couple of unreleased tracks from the vaults by his old bands The Dark and Step Sister with a few samples and released “Scorpio Rising” on CD in 2009, Red Hour’s seventh release and download through Smog Veil Records.
Tom’s brother Scott F. Eakin and friend David N. Araca both had played in The Guns, a legendary hardcore punk band back in the 80s (1982-1987) in Cleveland, Ohio, that left behind only a few tracks on a couple of compilation albums (“The New Hope”/1983, “They Pelted Us with Rocks & Garbage”/1985) and CD (“Cleveland…So Much to Answer For”/1996.) Together they also recorded a full length album and demo, and some record labels were interested in putting it out (Enigma, Trans Dada, GTA/Grand Theft Audio.) Due to money problems, timing and just plain bad luck, it never happened as planned, but the material was illegally bootlegged in 1994 by the label Dark Empire. Finally Frank Mauceri from Smog Veil Records stepped in and asked Tom from Red Hour about doing a Guns album as a split between the labels. In May of 2012, a double vinyl album with download was released with all the lost 80s recordings (album, demo, compilation cuts, practices and live tracks). This was Red Hour’s eighth release, Smog Veil 109. “Cleveland’s Screaming” not only reunited bands (including The Guns in 2005/2006, resulting in a studio reunion CD “Attack” on SFE records /2006, before the 80s recordings were released), but became a documentary film about the hardcore punk scene in northeast Ohio back in the 80s, shot by Brad “No Sweat” Warner; it has rare live footage and interviews with members of both The Dark and Guns and many others. It was released as a double dvd by Red Hour Records, its 11th release in December of 2016. The Guns “Attack” album was released as a download in 2015 (Smog Veil Records/2015). Also check out the short mini documentary film “Cleveland Hardcore 1985” on the internet as well. It has footage of The Guns playing live and being interviewed, a must see!
In 2009 Tom got the calling to do a band again, and with his love of horror movies, Halloween and the dark side of life, he and friend Tom “Mad Again” Madigan formed the horror punk band Dead Federation in January of 2010. With a few line-up changes along the way, they have released an 8-song Demo (self- titled and released) in 2011 and the e.p. “We Await” on CD through Red Hour (its ninth release) and on download through the horror punk label Dr Cyclops Records, in 2012. They also appear on two download compilations #2 and #3 for Horrorpunks.com. The final band lineup was: Tom Dark: lead vocals, X46 (Jeff Hardy): guitar/back- up vocals, Tommy Rocker Jr: drums, Mike “Shoobs” Schubert: second guitar and on bass, Caitie O’Shea. Dead Federation ended in September of 2016.
Black Static Eye
In March of 2017, Tom and drummer Jeff Pell (Idiot Humans, Shadow of Fear, Basket Case, Garten Kirkhof, Dutch Babies) joined forces with guitarist Mike "Shoobs" Schubert (Dead Federation, Nimrods, Missile Toe) and bassist Dave Olajos (Mexican Coke), forming Black Static Eye. Together they mix a loud, abrasive work of blues, garage and post punk, making it their own. Look for more information on them to be updated in the future.
- The Decapitators (1979-1980)
- The Dark (1981-1984)
- Knifedance (1984-1990)
- Dynamite Jack (1991-1994)
- Step Sister (1994-2003)
- Dead Federation (2003-2016)
- Black Static Eye (2017)
List of Record Labels
- New Hope Records (1983-1984)
- Hit & Run Records (1988-1994)
- Red Hour Records (1994-present)
Scream Until We Die (2xCD, Comp) 2006; Grand Theft Audio GTA-063
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tom.dark.1800