Straightface was originally formed by vocalist Joe Zetti, and guitarists Thommie Gwynn and Steve Mazza. They were playing together in a group called Last Call, but when the bass player left, taking the name with him, they recruited bassist and synth player Kevin Cummings, and changed the name to Straightface. Soon after, Dewey Ribustella came aboard to play drums.
The band started out playing three or four times a month, but it didn’t take long for the group to start working three and four nights a week. They performed on Wednesdays at Dillinger’s in Palisades Park, and regularly hit clubs such as Wild Mike’s in Lodi, Rock The House in Wallington, and the Boulevard Pub in Lake Hopatcong.
The band covered mostly heavy rock, including Guns ‘N Roses, Aerosmith, Bad Company, L.A. Guns, Judas Priest, KISS and Metallica in their set. One of the most popular songs was “Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk, along with the only original song they ever did, “How Much Is Too Much.”
In those days, they were considered too heavy for a lot of the circuit clubs. “It kept us out of clubs such as Nickel’s Alley and Walley’s,” remembers Kevin. “Until they saw people flock to see it.” These days, of course, their heavy sounds would fit right in to much of the club scene.
The last Straightface show was on New Year’s Eve, 1993, at Sunrise Boulevard in New York. “We collectively wore out our welcome to each other,” says Kevin. “We were being pressured by booking agents to play more alternative, and we just got a little burnt out on each other.”
After the band split, Steve went on to help from Parts Unknown, and then joined Boneyard. He is now seen all over the area with the group Throwan Rocks. Thommie also was a member of Parts Unknown and Boneyard, and is just finishing a stint with The Willies. Dewey went on to play with Straight Wired, and is now with 52nd Street, the Billy Joel tribute band. Joe reformed Straightface with new members, which stayed together for about a year after the original band broke up.
Kevin has kept busy writing originals, as well as performing with an original band in New York. He has also been active as an actor, with parts as an extra in movies such as Daylight, starring Sylvester Stallone, and the TV series “Law And Order”.
“People were always asking us to do it,” says Kevin, talking about reunion plans. “Jeff, the manager of Mother’s, used to be at Rock The House, and was always one of our biggest supporters. Our old road manager, George, was hanging out with Jeff, and he made a concrete offer. We agreed we would only do it if all five original members did it.”
All the members agreed, although Kevin admits it’s hard to find the time when they can all get together and rehearse. “We’re glad to be back together,” he says. “It’s possible that some of us will continue to play together.”
Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.