By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
But just as soon as Nadine made their finest rock record, finding that ineffable, rhythmic groove, they lost it -- drummer Merv Shrock split on January 14, 2003. "When you have a personality conflict, and you can't let go, there's really nothing you can do," Tkach says. "There were two big Leos in the band, and that just didn't work."
For Nadine, making it work meant adding Jimmy Griffin, a slashing, flashing guitar player, part Keith Richards, part Ace Frehley, who, before joining the band in the fall of 2002, had worked the heavier side of the St. Louis scene. Before grunge killed off glam metal in the '90s, his band King of the Hill appeared on MTV and packed east side clubs like Stages.
But just as Nadine hoped to move from narrowly defined Americana, Griffin wanted a break from bands who were eternally cranked to ten. "As I've gotten older," he says, "I was playing these all-ages shows, where the girls in the front row were fifteen. I didn't want to be that guy any more. So what do you do after eyeliner and nail polish and looking like a freak? Nadine was the next logical step for me."
The band's newest member, drummer Brian Zielie, hails from that same hard-rock, cover-band world, but like Griffin, he wasn't long for it. "I got out of trying to making it with a band, the business and cliques," Zielie says. "I pretty much decided I'd never do the touring-band thing again."
Griffin and the handful of songs he heard before auditioning changed his mind. "I didn't know that much about Nadine," Zielie says. "People would say, 'You're going to play with that country band?' It's true that they had a fan base and a certain sound, and then Jimmy and I come in and we're wrecking it. Sometimes I wonder if people can handle what's happening."
All the changes, all the line-up shifts, all the seven years of work have brought Nadine to another turning point. This spring, the band signed to Trampoline Records, an LA outfit headed by Pete Yorn, Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers and Mark Dauer of the Jukebox Junkies. There are no guarantees, but the deal with Trampoline means the band finally has a shot at an elusive stateside exposure.
Like the rest of Nadine, Tkach -- who has already been down the major-label road with her other band, Hazeldine -- sees the changes, keeps her hopes but pins nothing on them.
"I'm trying to develop my own relationship to making music on my own terms," Tkach says. "I don't think we harbor illusions. I do know that Trampoline loves our record, and it's not because I get a good bikini wax. Whether we play the House of Blues in LA or on Craig Kilborne's show, that's all incidental. That doesn't mean any more to me than anything else. I just want to live a true life."