This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press on November 26, 2003
The lowdown: Back in March 2000, when guitarist Danny Methric, bassist Tony DeNardo and drummer Matt Rost began their blues-rock band the Muggs, the trio's biggest worry was switching mind-sets from their original plan to form a four-piece. "We had to totally rethink the writing process," Methric says.
But Sept. 4, 2001, two days after their first gig, DeNardo suffered a near-fatal stroke.
The setback: The members of the Muggs were riding high. They had just played their first show, the 2001 Mussel Beach Party, at their favorite local hangout, the Cadieux Cafe. By the next week, however, their world had turned upside down. After a hemorrhagic stroke --thought to be the result of an undetected birth defect -- DeNardo spent a month and a half in the hospital.
The phrase "lucky to be alive" became a constant refrain.
"I lost my speech," DeNardo says, "and my right side was completely paralyzed. But all I thought was, 'How am I going to play bass again?' "
Rejecting a defeatist attitude, he took the advice of Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith and took up the keyboard. By hooking a Fender Rhodes piano up to a bass amp, DeNardo is able to get a sound very close to his old electric bass. "Plus," he says with his still paralyzed right arm in a brace, "the left is the bass side, so I lucked out that way."
Almost two years after the tragedy, the Muggs returned to the Cadieux Cafe, for a triumphant welcome-back gig -- at the 2003 Mussel Beach Party in August.
The sound: Friends and bandmates since their freshman year at Notre Dame High School, Methric and DeNardo, both 30, finally decided to tackle the blues after years together in straight rock bands. DeNardo says, "We figured we'd do what comes naturally and write blues songs that rock."
The Muggs' current sound has a psychedelic bluesy feel, not unlike another power trio, the James Gang. As for the keyboard subbing for traditional bass guitar, Methric says, "People are really growing to like the bass on the piano. Some people like it better."
Reaching the limit: How many bands can one man handle? Methric, who also plays guitar for hard-rock band the Paybacks and his side-project, Over Under Sideways Down, laughs and says, "I think three might be the limit."