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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By Julie Garisto
Published November 30, 2007
Sewn together: Matt Bartholomay, rhythm guitar, 16; Dan Mitchell, trombone, 20; Woody Bond, drums, 18; Jeremy Willis, lead vocals and guitar, 18; Mike Bartholomay, bass, 19; Dan Smyth, trumpet, 21; and Mike Petresky, saxophone, 16.
Brotherly love: Mike and Matt Bartholomay, who grew up in Alpharetta, Ga., started the band in 2005, "straight outta Carrollwood." They and friends Willis and Bond attended Chamberlain High, getting together over the course of the year. The Dans, graduates of Wharton, joined by August 2006. Petresky completed the lineup in September 2006.
Their headquarters: They all hang out and practice at the Bartholomay house, under the supervision of a dad who used to play in bands too.
Their sound: Rapid beats, punk-style guitar and horns.
You might have seen them with: Can't Do It, Safety and Arm the Poor
Jeff sings: What sets the band apart from many like-minded acts their age is Willis' vocal talent. He doesn't just shout. He sang in chorus since middle school and can belt out a hilarious parody of the Plain White T's Hey There, Delilah.
Influences: Rancid, Operation Ivy, Less Than Jake, Aquabats. They also dig first-wave acts Desmond Dekker and the Skatalites.
"Captain Scruffles": Their nickname for Matt Welch, the fluffy-bearded manager of Transitions Art Gallery at the Skatepark of Tampa. Welch gives the guys pointers and critiques their shows at the popular music spot for minors.
Lost in Plant City: "We went to Plant City for a house party, but that was a disaster," says Mike B. "We ended up looking for the place for four hours, trying to find it." Adds Mike B.: "We were supposed to see a sign that said, 'Jesus saves.' We never found it."
New CD in April: The guys just purchased recording equipment and plan to release their first album in the spring. If you ask them, their MySpace tunes (myspace.com/thepantsband ) don't portray how the band sounds live, lacking the horns that spike their sound. Says Willis: "I hate to sound like one of those bands that say after a year, 'We've progressed so much,' but we really have progressed so much."
Tunes: Willis writes lyrics for most of the tunes and the band collaborates on compositions. April 20, the most popular song live, has fans singing along at nearly every show. Written by Matt B., it's inspired by a friend who succumbed to peer pressure to smoke marijuana. Says Willis: "There's a band from Brandon who are a bunch of potheads and thought that song was about them. They tried to start a fight with us."
TV shows they watch together: The Office and Futurama. "I want to get a tattoo of Bender," Mitchell says.
Check them out: Saturday 8 p.m. at Skafest with Magadog and others. Crowbar, Ybor City. $10. All ages. (813) 241-8600.