Split Decision

    1989 – 1990

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Split Decision
Left to right: RTP & Rob Schweitzer
Photo by: Chris Fanelli

Split Decision served as a major turning point in my musical life. In 1988, I met Rob Schweitzer in study hall at the beginning of our sophomore year. Rob was new to town and I went on and on to him about my band M.F.P., how I played guitar, and how I had an unusual style of holding a guitar pick. Rob was very amused and we became friends. My childhood band M.F.P. was in essence a musically based friendship. Truth be told, up to that point we hadn’t really figured out how to become a serious band and quite frankly the thought had never really occurred to us. Talk of a high school band show began to circulate through the halls. Rob, Damien, M.F.P. drummer Brandy and I started making plans to put something together. We knew M.F.P. material would not be appropriate. The concept of Split Decision, as well as the discipline and talent of new friend/guitarist Robert Schweitzer challenged me to once and for all, “put up or shut up”. Rob basically took the reins of musical director. As the guitarist, it was up to him to pick songs that he could learn quickly and perform, and also to pick songs that I could hopefully sing. Damien would switch from guitar to bass for the band. We recorded some demos and were accepted to perform at the show. The four of us went to work and learned a 45 minute set of classic rock covers. The set list included; “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Brown Sugar”, “Purple Haze”, “You Really Got Me”, “Day Tripper”, “I Can’t Explain”, “I Don’t Know”, “Love Removal Machine”, “Crossroads”, “Panama” and a very dicey version of “Stone In Love”. Split Decision worked very hard for 8 solid weeks leading up to the show. When the dress rehearsal finally arrived the night before the show, we were stressed, anxious and excited. The biggest concern was “Stone In Love” by Journey. I was no Steve Perry. Rock Lesson #1, know your range. I managed to squeak my way through the song and upon completion I clearly heard someone yell, “Don’t play that one tomorrow!”. We did NOT play “Stone In Love” the following night. That was a tough, but important moment for me.

The day of the show was probably the most excited I had ever been about doing anything. Finally, I was playing real music with my friends, for my friends. We opened the night with “Good Times, Bad Times” and I clearly remember my legs feeling like jello. I was terrified, but ready. We were on fire and the crowd was way into us. The performance was exactly what I had hoped for and dreamed about. Until…..Rob broke a string on his guitar. Rob had an Ibanez “Jem” (affectionately referred to as “Root Beer” aka “The Steve Vai” model, the kind with a handle and pink pick-ups) which featured an unfortunate tremolo system that completely tanks when you break a string. Damien, Brandy and I spent what seemed like an eternity telling jokes, performing M.F.P. shtick, blues jams and singing Happy Birthday to girls while Rob was off stage frantically changing his string. Rob finally returned and we went back to killing. When we finished playing, I was HIGH. I have always told people that the night was the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. I chased that high for the next 20 years and came close many times, but it was never equaled.

Split decision would play 2 more shows before calling it a day. The next show was a soul crushing arts festival outside under a tent in the pouring rain. (Special mention goes out to Brandy for playing his electronic drums and making us look like total dipshits.) Brandy and his family moved to Florida shortly after. The final Split Decision show was played with Robert Petrasy on drums. This final show was a most fitting and fun end for the band. We played for a senior party at the “controversial” high school English teacher’s house. We set up and played by the inground pool. We were swimming in St. Pauli Girl beer, got loaaaaded and had a blast.



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