Coming from a band that recently announced its breakup, the public airing of grievances is perhaps no surprise. What may be, however, is the complete lack of acrimony from either musician as he tells the tale. Shadburne laughs as he compliments the guitarist for never missing a note, while Tomko, a giant grin stretched across his boyish face, recalls considering landing strategies even while still in mid-air.
See also: Stream Via Dove's Fugue State Now For Free
With obvious mutual admiration and friendship between the two, you might wonder why they decided to make their June 6 appearance at the Firebird a farewell show. But Via Dove is a band that's known for its professionalism. Self-awareness, perhaps, comes with the territory.
"It really does feel like the right time," Shadburne says.
"It was an easy conversation to have," adds Tomko. "Let's end it now before it's too late to do it on our own terms."
The roots of what would become Via Dove trace back to Murray State University in western Kentucky. That's where Shadburne, a Louisville native, met Aaron Vaught, who would eventually become the band's guitarist. The two began writing songs in 2004, and when Shadburne moved to St. Louis in late 2006, Vaught followed soon after.
Through the pair's friendship with another Kentucky musician, singer Dustin Burnett of the October, they met Burnett's brother Reid, who would sign on as Via Dove's drummer. Bassist Mike North came next.
At the time Tomko was booking acts for the Bluebird (now the Firebird). His first impression of the band had as much to do with its music as its attitude.
"It's hard to find a band like that," Tomko says -- one that was, in his words, "solid, worked hard and nice."
Via Dove started to spread its wings around the time Tomko was putting together the first An Under Cover Weekend project in 2007. It has become a hugely anticipated annual event, and it turned out to be pivotal in Via Dove's development.
For the 2009 weekend, the band wanted to perform songs by the Rolling Stones; Beck was its second choice. Tomko, who disliked the Stones, wanted to go with the Beck idea until his Bluebird partner, Mike Cracchiolo, talked him into the Rolling Stones -- thanks largely, Tomko says, to Cracchiolo's faith in Shadburne's skills as a frontman.
Via Dove's turn as the Stones was a success, and it ultimately led to the band reassessing its identity. Though the group's members were ready to release an album, their tribute night reminded them of what they liked to play: fast and loose rock & roll.
They ended up scrapping most of the album.
Continue to page two for more.