Just Like Prom Night
Members: Jason Hoffheins, drums and vocals; Justin Levy, vocals and keyboards; Mike Passariello, bass, keyboards and vocals; Dave Ragoza, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Katie Robinette, vocals and keyboards
Who we talked to: Hoffheins, 36
How did you get into music? My parents were both musicians, and I started playing drums when I was, like, 4. I started taking (drum) lessons in elementary school. I've been playing for . . . 32 years. It sounds bad when you put a number on it. (Laughs) I did . . . marching band, jazz band, orchestra, played for musicals and all that stuff (at York Suburban Senior High School). I had several really good friends in high school, and we would just get together in my parents' basement and play. I did not have my first actual gig until after I graduated.
Who were your influences? My father was my first big one. Being a kid of the '80s . . . (I was influenced by) stuff on the radio. Some, I'm proud of. Some, I'm not. I was a huge Duran Duran fan. I'm not ashamed of that. I went through a . . . hair metal (phase and listened to) Cinderella . . . and all that stuff. That, I'm not so sure about. Really when I got into high school. . . you either listened to Rush or Pink Floyd. I kind of gravitated to Rush and that kind of opened up a whole new world of musicianship. Listening to that led to fusion and then into jazz and . . . beyond what was just on the radio.
Have you been in other local bands? When I was . . . 19, I started playing a band that . . . is now called Hexbelt. My first gig was at the Gingerbread Man, which is now the WaterWay (Bar & Grill) with this band. I never met them (and) never heard a note of their music. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never been in a bar. I had to play four hours of music I never heard. That was kind of my baptism into the world of rock 'n' roll. I've been doing it ever since, so it wasn't that traumatic I guess.
When did you decide to form Just Like Prom Night? I met the bass player (Mike Passariello) in about 1993 or 1994. We hit it off immediately. We played together in cover bands back then, and then we started up a band called Cole . . . in York that got pretty decent regional success. We did that from like 1995 to 1997. We always wanted to do . . . stuff that everybody could like. The stuff we had done up to that point was really . . . creative . . . but not immediately commercial, so the fan base was kind of limited. I moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2000 and was down there for almost eight years. (Passariello's) been in this band called Wayne Supergenious. When I came back, the first thing we were talking about was . . . how are we going to make something cool? It took us . . . three years to meet enough other people to make it happen. Our first rehearsal was in August. Our first gig (on New Year's Eve at Roosevelt Tavern) was great.
Your lead singer Katie Robinette has been in a few other local groups. How did you meet her? I met Katie through a studio in Columbia called Right Coast Recording. She had been taking music lessons from a friend of mine. I saw she was in another cover band that was really successful. One day, Mike and I were talking about the idea of doing an actual cover band with the focus being pop mostly from the '80s. I just called (Katie) and she was into it.
How did you come up with the name? I have a group of friends (who) . . . get together once a week and play baseball. A bunch of guys together gets a little juvenile at times. Someone would say something like a double entendre . . . and someone would say, "just like prom night." It's kind of like, "That's what she said" (from the sitcom "The Office"). Then, when it came time to get the band together I thought (Just Like Prom Night) really just said all the things I wanted the band to say. When you think about prom night, you think about a great event, everyone's having fun. Guys don't really dig it, but every girl (who's) heard it is like, "oh my god, that's perfect for an '80s cover band."
Do you have good prom night memories? I didn't go to my junior one, but my senior one was great. I was totally in love with my girlfriend. My prom was in 1991, so it was a little later than most of the stuff we play. My prom was, like, Boyz II Men (and) Bryan Adams.
When is your next gig? We got invited back to the Roosevelt (Tavern) for a big '80s night (March 27). (Dressing up) is optional . . . but people can dress like it's the '80s, act like it's the '80s (and) talk like it's the '80s. We're expecting a really good show. (We're) going to learn a couple new tunes and change it up a bit.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
Just Like Prom Night performs 10 p.m. March 27, at Roosevelt Tavern, 400 W. Philadelphia St. in York. Admission is free.
For details, visit www.roosevelttavern.com.
On the Web
Listen to the interview at www.flipsidepa.com.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory .