When Flashback Heart Attack formed, they intended on writing original killer rock songs that allow them to rise as the next great Orange County rock band. After the band initially sputtered along, and barely breaking even financially, they stumbled into their calling as one of the top cover bands in the area that managed to garner a larger following.
With an assist from notorious Sunset Strip spoof rockers Steel Panther, Flashback Heart Attack began their assault on ‘80s music. There was an instant, mutual admiration between the two outfits, and guitarist Don Bronze relayed to them his idea about wearing red leather suits and would act like they’re from the decade of decadence. Unlike the kinda, sorta but not really hair metal their pals practiced, the quartet embraced the new wave era of ‘80s rock.
Performing with the Panther allowed them to quickly gain an engaged following that put them on the fast track to cover band stardom. They’ve played Las Vegas, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and even Ellis Island.
“I think it’s because we sound big,” Bronze says over the phone ahead of band practice. “We don’t sound like a cover band. We sound like a rock band playing cover songs. We sound good in big rooms.”
On the recommendation of fellow Laguna Beach native Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, the band suddenly saw its schedule fill up. Through the years, they’ve jammed with Richard Fortus and Frank Ferrer — the current rhythm guitarist and drummer for Guns N’ Roses for those of you scoring at home — and have been been hired as backing musicians for ‘80s bands. “It’s never bad to be in the company of those guys like Ferrer and Fortus,” Bronze says.
As Flashback Heart Attack found after they played a charity function, sometimes you never know who you’re going to dazzle in the crowd, or in this case, behind the lens.
“The funny thing is that we didn’t go to anyone,” Bronze explains. “Billie (Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong) was shooting video of us at that charity event and I didn’t even realize it was him until later on when someone told us they posted video of us. Jamming with Mike Ness of Social Distortion came out of the same thing of playing a charity event. He saw us and decided to play a couple of songs with us.”
However, their centerpiece gig has surrounded NAMM. Like they have for the past four years, the group will perform in front of their peers and sponsors at the Anaheim Hilton. Last year, the band played Mötorhead’s “Ace of Spades” as a tribute to Lemmy who died weeks before in front of the band’s drummer Mikkey Dee. This year’s set will see them cover fallen icons like David Bowie (though they jammed on “Suffragette City” last year) Prince, and George Michael. Rumor has it that the band is trying to wrangle fellow Michael fan Fred Durst to hop on stage to give the British pop star the sendoff they say he deserves. He’s not confirmed as of yet, but Bronze is holding out hope that the Limp Bizkit frontman will join them this Saturday night.
After this upcoming gig, the band has plans to both hop in the studio and to hit the road for over a hundred shows, which is their usual number in a given calendar year. As Flashback Heart Attack continues to grow and win over new fans with their enthusiastic takes on classics like “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Blister in the Sun,” “Rebel Yell” and “Jessie’s Girl” they maintained a sharp focus that has allowed them to carve out a successful niche.
“I love playing music regardless of it being original music or covers,” Bronze says. “The transition was neat because coming from an originals band, we just brought that heavy attitude with it. Now people are flying us out to play gigs. I think more than anything else, it keeps you humble and makes you appreciate what you get to do.”