Nick Rose/Daily Journal
Left to right: Matthew Eernisse, aka Jake Viceroy; David Weiskopf, aka J.C. Sleet; and Dennis Gast, aka ‘Diamond’ Donnie Fame, perform in their band Hairstrike at the San Mateo County Fair.
What happens when you combine a computer programmer, an attorney, a manager and an air conditioning sales estimator?
Hairstrike — an ’80s metal band revival, complete with spandex, Aqua Net, shredding guitars and shrieking vocals.
The band, comprised of the Peninsula’s Chris Gallegos, Matthew Eernisse, David Weiskopf and Dennis Gast, just formed eight months ago and enjoyed two performances Monday night at the San Mateo County Fair’s Blues & Brews stage. The four men all take on personas when they step on stage though, with Gallegos taking on the role of the stoic Cole Stone; Eernisse transforming into Jake Viceroy on lead vocals; Weiskopf becomes J.C. Sleet as lead guitarist and drums player Gast becomes “Diamond” Donnie Fame.
“All of us have mundane, regular lives,” said Eernisse, 45, a former engineer at Microsoft who created the band’s website. “This is my version of poker night.”
The band, which covers ’80s hits such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Rock and Roll All Night” and “Anyway You Want It,” formed through a Craigslist ad that Weiskopf, 42, a lawyer, posted. At first, Hairstrike went through a bit of a Spinal Tap syndrome when it first formed, going through five or six drummers, Eernisse said. Weiskopf had done a similar band in Seattle.
“There’s nothing quite like the feeling of playing songs you’ve loved,” Gast, 49, said. “When I get back there (on the stage), I get lost.”
Gast, a native of San Mateo, has played three times at the fair, the first being 36 years ago as a junior high school student. The band wears wigs that come from the House of Humor in Redwood City and a costume shop on Folsom Street in San Francisco. Gast shared a photo of himself with long locks back in the ’80s.
“That was real hair,” said Gast, who dons a blonde curly wig and tattoos these days. “I don’t have any now.”
The men all have families who are supportive of the music. The band rehearses about once a week in Redwood City.
“I’ve been through a couple of bands with him already,” said Xochilt Gast, Dennis’ wife. “I actually encouraged him to go back. He used to play country and he said, ‘I don’t know if I want to play rock ’n’ roll again.’ I said ‘It’s your roots.’ Now it’s non-stop. … I never liked the ’80s and I’ve learned to like this now.”
A name that was a bad pun made sense, Eernisse said.
“We have a sufficiently rock ’n’ roll cheesy logo in the old school rock ’n’ roll font,” he said.
The guys treat the music as a serious endeavor though.
“Although we are just a bunch of old dudes reliving our childhood rock star fantasies, I personally take the music very seriously and playing at the fair last night meant a lot to me,” Gast said Tuesday.
For more information, or to book Hairstrike, go to hairstrike.com. You can also find them at facebook.com/pages/Hairstrike/539862106054222.
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