Torn and Frayed returns, two decades after winning the Graffiti Rock Challenge | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Torn and Frayed returns, two decades after winning the Graffiti Rock Challenge

"Osh and these guys brought me back from the rock 'n' roll graveyard."

Old friends are the best friends, and the members of Torn and Frayed know this is true. The beloved local rock 'n' roll heroes have taken some hits, suffered some heart-wrenching losses, broken up, moved and joined other bands, but ultimately all roads lead them back to each other.

The band began more than two decades ago with Mark Scheer (lead vocals), Rocky Lamonde (bass), John Gibson (drums), and Vinnie Q (lead guitar). Though the original line-up of rockers that won the 1992 Graffiti Rock Challenge has changed over the years, the goal remains the same.

The band's connection and chemistry runs deep. "We've been friends for so long, other bands just don't feel the same," Scheer explains.

Gibson left the band shortly after the Rock Challenge. In 1993, Scott Wilson and Paul Shook moved home from Los Angeles when they got the word from Shook's former Tigers bandmate Norman Nardini that Torn and Frayed were interested in them. At that time, Torn and Frayed was playing constantly to bigger and bigger crowds as the band's notoriety grew.

Torn and Frayed band
Photo courtesy of Steve Kalinsky
They go way back: Torn and Frayed (from left, Rocky Lamonde, Mark Scheer, Vinnie Q, Darryl Thumm, Scott Wilson)

Shook left the band in 1994, and the members re-regrouped with Darryl Thumm in 1998, playing sporadically. The band broke up and got back together four or five times before each member joined other bands (The Cosmosonics, Science Fiction Idols, Five Star Dive, and Bill Toms and Hard Rain, to name a few).

Shook passed away in 2007 and Torn and Frayed reunited briefly to honor him at a tribute show at Moondogs. By that time, the lineup was Scheer, Lamonde, Wilson, Q and Thumm. Though they all enjoyed playing together again, the reunion was brief.

Last year, another musician and friend, Tommy Osh, died. Osh had been in Trash Vegas with Scheer, in addition to playing with scene favorites The Ultimatics and The Addicts.

Torn and Frayed got together once again to honor him. The Osh tribute show at the Rex was like coming home: The old magic was back and they all knew it.

"Osh was the reason we reunited," says Scheer. "He epitomized rock 'n' roll. This is a tribute to him in a sense."

"Osh and these guys brought me back from the rock 'n' roll graveyard," drummer Wilson notes emphatically. Wilson had stopped playing completely to deal with substance-abuse issues. Now, clean and sober for many years, it's as if he never missed a beat.

Excited to be playing together again, Torn and Frayed headed into Red Medicine Recording Studio with Sean McDonald. The result is Living Rock and Roll, a four-song, original offering. The old infectious rock sound is still there and the band is tight, but the music is better than ever. From the haunting "Crazy for You" to the bombastic rock of the title track, the album can't miss. The band attributes the success of the EP to being able to work with "the best guy in the city," Q says, referring to McDonald. "Sean's a musician and he gets it."

Torn and Frayed enjoys being a band now more than ever. Everyone is more professional, diligent, prepared and focused. With a repertoire of more than 100 songs, the group is ready to record a full-length album and play more shows. As Wilson says, "We're a dedicated, devoted band."