About Figurehead

Next show: watch this space!

Figurehead represents a bit of a departure from the usual Chicago cover band experience. Sure, the band plays many of the cover-scene mainstay songs. But they also delve further into the decades, the bands, finding lost gems – songs you may have forgotten you love and will be thrilled to hear again. Featuring former members of past Chicago cover and original bands, Figurehead performs a wide selection of music from the 1950s to the present – focusing mainly on classic and alternative rock but sometimes veering into country or even Texas Swing.  If you only see two things in your life, one should probably be Figurehead, and the other…well, that’s entirely up to you, isn’t it?

Brad Thomas: Guitar, vocals

Brad was classically trained as a drummer since age five and played in several bands beginning in high school, most notably Full Swing, Common Ground, The Hundred Handed and Devastation Wagon. Brad, like many egocentric drummers, had the desire to get out from behind the kit and try his hand at wielding an axe. This is where you’ll find him in the current line-up of Figurehead. Playing drums for so many years has helped Brad become “one of the greatest rhythm guitarists in Chicago.” His style, along with a continuously growing arsenal of guitars, meshes wonderfully with Joe’s lead guitar, and gels seamlessly with the rest of the rhythm section of John and Mark. Famed actress Winona Ryder may or may not have been heard to say that “(Brad) Thomas is one of those unique artists who absolutely leaves it all on stage…In addition, he is an exceptionally smart dresser and has a seemingly endless shoe collection.”  Outside of playing music, Brad’s hobbies include limited space travel, word searches and an obsessive drive to engineer and construct the world’s first, fully-functional, safe and eco-fueled jet pack. As Brad has said, “what good is wireless technology for my guitar if I don’t have a jet pack?” (FYI, none of Brad’s bio was written or approved by Brad.)

Joe Griffin: Guitar, vocals

Joe has played in cover and original bands since junior high school, and spent much of the late 1980s and early 1990s on Michigan’s bar and fraternity-party circuits as lead guitarist and vocalist for the Others. In the mid-1990s he performed with the Chicago cover band Mr. Peabody. He has honed his stagecraft playing to every type of crowd, from intimate coffeehouse sets to the thousands of attendees of the 2005 and 2006 Chicago Auto Shows. He currently composes music for film and theatre, and is part of the experimental group Donny Who Loved Bowling. A guitarist since age 6, Joe first played music with John when they were in junior high school and they’ve been playing together ever since. Visit Joe’s solo site here.

John Toljanic: Bass, vocals, footie synth

Last week we finished our demo and since then the guys have been nagging me to self-promote on the internet.
I’ve been playing the bass for thirty years. Trust me.
In that time I’ve changed bands more often than I’ve changed the strings on any of my Fender basses.
I love playing with these guys so I say…
Viva Figurehead.

Mark FelcanSmith: Drums

Mark started his first band in grade 8. He continued playing through high school, covering some of the great tunes of the early 80’s as well as writing originals. It was during high school as part of the drumline that he developed his core chops and proficiency as a drummer. He spent his college years playing in the drumline and percussion ensembles, including a steel drum band, Latin percussion ensemble, marimba quartet, and playing in the pit for theater plays, and an opera. In the early 90’s Mark was consistently playing in multiple bands, writing and performing original music. Often his time was split between playing percussion in an eclectic group of strings, woodwinds, piano, and guitars, and his alternative jazz-rock outfits. All the bands played around Chicago throughout the early to mid 90’s. Bands included Tangled Up!, Fuzz Chumps, Three Years Ghost, Elysium, and Early.