Infidels helps Cedars celebrate anniversary

Panama’s loss is Youngstown’s gain.

The band Infidels — Pete Drivere, guitar and vocals; John Hlumyk, bass and vocals; John Koury, drums and vocals; and David Lisko, guitar and vocals — was a regular at Cedars Lounge in downtown Youngstown in the 1980s, but it hasn’t played a public, local headlining gig in nearly five years or released an album in nearly 15 years.

The first wait will be eliminated this weekend when Infidels helps Cedars West End celebrate its fifth anniversary at its current location with a concert on Saturday. And Koury said the band also has been spending time at Drivere’s Youngstown studio, Ampreon Recorder, working on what would be the band’s fourth album.

Lisko’s day job keeps him traveling, which makes it difficult for the band to play out, but that job also has provided some nice perks. Infidels opened for Cheap Trick at a corporate convention in San Diego several years ago, and the the Youngstown show originally was booked to coincide with convention gig in Panama that fell through.

“We’d started getting ready, working out songs for that,” Koury said. “As long as we’re ready to go, we might as well book a night at Cedars.”

Koury said fans can expect hear about a half dozen tracks each from “9:25 and Seven Seconds,” “Wondrous Strange” and “All for Nothing,” but they also plan to play a few of the new songs. The only problem is that Koury can’t guarantee they’ll be Infidels songs.

Drivere, Hlumyk and Koury also play together in the Deadbeat Poets with founder Frank Secich and in the current incarnation of Blue Ash with Secich and Jim Kendzor.

“It’s all very incestuous,” Koury said.

One of the things that distinguishes Infidels’ sound — more punkish on the first album, more polished on the third but always perfect power pop — is that all four members write and sing lead vocals. Koury said he can’t speak for Drivere and Hlumyk, but he doesn’t write with any particular band in mind.

“I’ll write a song, play it, get opinions and see which side of the fence it falls on,” he said. “Just record it and see who’s on it. If Dave’s on it, we’ll throw it on an Infidels’ record.”

There are a lot of projects in various stages of completion, and Koury isn’t sure where song will land. A Blue Ash EP is more than halfway finished. Deadbeat Poets has about 14 to 15 songs to pick from for its next record (Koury said the band usually records about 20 before whittling down to 12 tracks), and there’s seven or eight Infidels songs.

The time Drivere, Hlumyk and Koury have spent playing together in recent years makes it easier to get ready for the occasional Infidels show when Lisko is available, Koury said, but there’s always been something special about that lineup.

“These guys, in my book, are consummate musicians,” he said. “They make me sound like I know what I’m doing. When the Infidels first broke up, I thought, ‘I’m going to form my own band,’ and you think it’s going to be easy because what you had actually worked for a long time. Then you start dealing with other personalities and, ‘Oh, this isn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.’

“When we got back together, Pete plugs in, strums that first chord and we all come in — this is it. It all feels like home to me.”

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