PART 1, MISSOURI:
Formed in January 1990, LAST RITES rose from the ashes of the band, BRAINSTORM. Founding member and Guitarist/Vocalist, Cris D. Corridino, met founding Bass Player, Paul "Murph" Murphy, at an Air Force squadron meeting in November of 1989, at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. This is where Cris was stationed after his 3 1/2 year tour of duty at Rhein Main AB, West Germany. Cris and Murph hit it off, musically, right away, and began talks of starting a band together. They met Drummer, Jeff Cantey, in January of 1990. The three soon began writing new material, as well as borrowing from the playlist of BRAINSTORM (one song being, "What Do I Tell My Children?", and the music for "I'm Still Crazy"). Their first several gigs were mainly outdoor parties, until they got their first break as an opening act in Warrensburg, Missouri. The bar was in the center of town, and a popular hangout for the rougher college kids, and locals. Murphy had openly expressed his desire to ride up to a gig on his Harley, grab his Bass, and play! Well, "Bodies" couldn't have been a better setting for his Rock and Roll dream. He fulfilled his long-sought-after desire, but this was just the beginning of one HELL of a roller coaster ride. Less than a year after, "Murph" introduced the band to his Air Force co-worker (remember, all of us were in the Air Force, but slowly got out, with an exception to Jeff...He joined later...), Gene Ames. Cris and Gene became a SMOKING HOT duo, and the two-guitar-assault was quite a spectacle. "Murph" was a phenomenal showman, who is suffering from severe neck damage now, because of the serious head-bangin' he did. Often inciting a riot in the front row of frothing head-bangers from the audience. The four, with the help of Dave Arrowsmith on Sound, and backing vocals (and a few "lead" vox, here and there), and Daniel LaMantia on Lights, started playing ALL OVER the Mid-West. Daniel was a Tech for BRAINSTORM, when He and Cris were stationed in Germany. Dave was in the AF, and worked very closely with "Murph". Assuming the responsibilities of Manager/Booking Agent/Sound Technician, Dave was a vital key in the on-going success of LAST RITES.
After a night of partying in Kansas City, Mo. with friends Mark and Tiger Orvik (Mark, a member of the famous Section 8 comedy troupe in Dallas/Ft. Worth area), Cris (Dino) was at Mark's apartment, when Nature called. He was frantically looking for some toilet paper, but finding nothing more than the classified ads in The local newspaper...and just when he was about to complete his mission...he noticed an ad for a recording studio. It read: "32-Track Studio, $20.00 per hr., (816) 363-TUNE". That was the beginning of a four year recording adventure with Evan Smalley, the "fifth Beatle" in the Last Rites ensemble. This was due in part to his ability to play several alternative instruments that speckled the entire 12 songs. LAST RITES line-up changed completely over the next 7 years, Cris and Daniel remained the constant...to this day. Donny Haight replaced Jeff Cantey in 1993. He was one of the original architects for the songs "What Do I Tell My Children, and "I'm Still Crazy". Donny re-recorded all of the drums on the CD, "(music from) A Dream From The Heartland", with an exception of "Can You Come Out To Play?", and "Daddy's Little Girl". Jeff Cantey's performance really suited those songs, and was unchanged. "Murph" left the band in the early winter of 1993, and was replaced with local Bass phenom, Mike "Heavy Mel" Moellman. He was a VERY skilled musician, but very young and inexperienced in the ways of Rock. I think we scared him right out of Rock, because he is a phenomenal Jazz Bassist in the Kansas City area these days. When Gene left a few months later, Klent Kahler stepped into a Rhythm guitar slot, and quickly became a great writing partner with Cris. The compositions they wrote together lifted LAST RITES out of the 80's metal era, and straight into a dark, Alternative sound. 1994 was a very interesting year for the boys. Many changes, so much loss...but so much to look forward to. They were leaner, meaner, and ready for something BIG. The CD that was promised since 1991, was finally becoming a reality. The "finishing touches" were comprised of several samples that were recorded during the process, many of the alternative instruments that Evan recorded, and some tweaking here, and there. The reason they were even placed on the CD was because the music had already become some-what dated. The CD's completion was right at the peak of the "Grunge-era", so they delayed the recording by making it into a sound track to a screenplay Cris was writing. It was based on the characters in the song "Big Dreams". The content of that song became the basis of the CD. All the songs arranged in a way to create the story about a young man named "Billy". They wanted this to become a reality, because it gave a "dated-soundin" CD, some validity. The recording was nothing less than spectacular. It had an Ebb and Flow to it that was so far beyond the band, that it was inevitable it would fail. Their styles had already changed, and re-creating the instrumentation on that disc was extremely difficult. So they devised an idea to incorporate "Live" acting, Big Screen images, and an "orchestra pit" band to enact the story of Bill, in a Broadway-style approach. The actors would portray the characters in the screenplay that Cris wrote, while the band played in between acts. The "big screen" would show the dream sequences, and the memory flashbacks (in previously recorded scenes), most likely in black and white. This idea grew, and as time closed in on their departure from the Mid-west to sunny, SW Florida...so did their excitement. It was in March of 1995 that they decided to move, and leave their friends, girlfriend's, and fans...behind. This is a move that is still argued about to this day as to whether or not they should have done it. It was what it was...the beginning of the end for the "name" LAST RITES, and several of the founding members!
PART 2, FLORIDA:
The first "unraveling of the seams" came with the departure of Mike Moellman, three months before they were slated to leave for the beaches of SW FLA. ENTER: Jeff Jones, from ORGAN GRINDER. (That band was a Punk/Thrash/Rockabilly act with WAY too much energy!!! ) He stepped in to fill Moellman's shoes, and did a phenomenal job. Sadly, he did not make the move with them. (This isn't the last we hear of Jeff...BUT...that is another tragic story that will remain a band secret). They were well established in the mid-west, and truly had a shot at some success, by the way things were going. The move to Florida was very trying on the band's personal lives. It definitely took it's toll on them. They managed to get signed in late 1995, to Reindeer Records, out of Portland, Maine. Cris (Dino) has the brilliant idea of calling record companies, and try to get a deal. He tried several companies, but no luck. Determined to find someone who would listen, Cris finally reached Louis Phillipe, the president of Reindeer Records, and convinced him that "(music from) 'A Dream From the Heartland'" was brilliant, and deserved a chance, regardless of the changing music scene. He sent them a contract a month later. They signed that contract while they were playing "Anyway The Wind Blows", "live" on-stage, at "The Lonny Bin", in Port Charlotte, Florida. November 18, 1995. About 250 people witnessed the event, and it was a night we will ALL remember, forever. That was a great Thanksgiving, but something was wrong, and you could feel it. Donny and Klent decided to go back to Missouri, and visit family for the Christmas holiday. When they returned to Port Charlotte, a few weeks later, they were different. Their personal lives were in shambles, and they could not take the pressure of being away from their loved one's, so they dropped the bomb on Super Bowl Sunday, January 28, 1996. They left without saying "good-bye", on Tuesday, January 30, 1996. Less than three months after they signed the one year deal with Reindeer Records, shattering the hopes of a tour, and abandoning a CD they worked for so many years to make. There was also some dispute about the labeling of the first CD's jacket. The Record Company name was not placed correctly on the label, and they wanted them to fix it, but they were broke, and couldn't afford to re-label THOUSANDS of CD's. Louis, and the label, lost faith in LAST RITES, and were dropped after a year. They went drummer-less for a few months and did this acoustic project they fondly called "Heartland" (for obvious reasons). This is where Jeffory W. Marlowe (Flute/Clarinet) joined Cris, and locally respected rock critic, Dawn Scire, began managing them... but they were unmanageable, and depressed. Still shell-shocked from their losses. They did go to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and played most of the LAST RITES songs acoustically, but it wasn't LAST RITES. They almost stayed a few extra days to go play for free at Centennial Park. That decision to stay was "nixed" because of the dwindling funds. So they headed home a day before a terrorist bombing took place in the exact place they were to play the next day. When they arrived home, they fervently looked for a drummer to take the place of founding member, Donny Haight. After 13 auditions, they found Jim Stein, and began work on their 2nd CD, "Persistence...No Excuses (and absolutely no apologies)", which featured much of the band's work prior to Donny and Klent's departure. But when founding member, Paul "Murph" Murphy, left the band...the ending of an era was near. Another problem to plague the band was that "Last Rites" had a copyright. So, the name "Last Rites" was retired. July 11, 1997 was the last gig LAST RITES ever played. From the ashes of "LAST RITES", "CARNIVAL OF SOUL" was born; August, 1997.