John Oberg

My entire life, from early childhood, has always revolved around music.

During kindergarden and first grade, I took piano lessons, but I never seemed to be able to coordinate both hands, and quickly lost interest. From there I moved on to the viola, which I started playing in third grade in the Suzuki program. I continued playing throughout my school career, playing in many different orchestras and ensembles, including the Jamestown Orchestra of Youth (JOY), and the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. The GBYO was an especially enriching experience - I got to play with some amazingly talented musicians in a very professional setting, and worked with some wonderful teachers and leaders - we even played concerts in conjunction with the Buffalo Philharmonic and various world-famous classical musicians. As much as I loved playing the viola, though, I wound up giving it up after graduating high school for a few reasons- the viola I used throughout my "career" was a school instrument and I never had the resources to buy one of my own; also playing was causing me some serious back problems (which still bother me today). I do miss playing and will probably pick it back up again someday.

The main reason for giving up the viola, however, was my love affair with the guitar. I remember one day, my parents weren't home, and my brother, sister, and I decided we were going to check out this new MTV channel everyone at school was talking about (it had just been recently added to the cable channel lineup, but we weren't allowed to watch it). The first video we saw was Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer, and it rocked my world. At that moment, I *KNEW* I had to play guitar! Immediately I began saving up my money from delivering newspapers and pestering my parents about getting a guitar. I finally saved up enough money, and we went to Germain and Pappalardo's, where I acquired a small Fender Squier 15-watt amp and the now-infamous Bullet (ping!) for a grand total of $150. I was hooked! I played constantly, mostly teaching myself with the help of Mel Bay :) Eventually, I started taking lessons from a guy named Bob Jones. That lasted for a few months, but we parted ways after an incident where he ruined one of my guitars - I'll spare you the sordid details on that, but let's just say I wasn't too happy. For a long time after that, I continued working on my own, and put together a "band" of sorts with my good friends Matt Johnson and Ken Hansen. We had aspirations of becoming the next Rush, but never got anywhere with it - in fact, we only ever managed to play one gig, as the intermission band for an elementary school talent show. But, we had fun nonetheless :) Later, while I was in high school, I got to a plateau in my playing, and decided that once again I should seek out a teacher. I was lucky enough to be friends with one of the greatest guitar players on the planet - Randy Depas (of Midnight Rodeo and Jack The Dog fame). That man can ROCK, and I've always been a big fan. He was gracious enough to take me on as a student, and I can honestly say that most of my technical skills on the guitar are a direct result of his expert teaching. Thanks Randy!!

After I got out of high school, I really wanted to get another band going. My long-time friend Joe Genco, who I was living with at the time, and I were half-assed working on putting something together, and he introduced me to Erik McCray. We instantly hit it off, and quickly set about finding other musicians to play with us. We rented a room at the Gokey Center (oh the stories I could tell you about that room ;) and started practicing... we would jam on Rush and Dream Theater, and work on coming up with our own stuff. We originally picked up Frank Consiglio to play bass, and while that worked out for a while, eventually we grew apart in the directions we wanted to go musically, so we let him go and brought in Kenny Hollie. Kenny was an excellent funk bass player and added some interesting flavor to what we were working on - and we could even make him do the thrashier stuff when we hounded him about it :) Unfortunately, things fell apart - internal squabbles, lack of booking gigs, etc. and we all parted ways. Little did I know that our paths would cross again...

For a long time after that, I stumbled around in the desolate wasteland of the Jamestown music scene, trying to find other like-minded musicians... I jammed with a lot of people, and sometimes we clicked, but nothing came out of any of those endeavours. I kept in touch and occasionally jammed with Erik, and he had told me that he joined a metal band called Desecrator. Well, one day, out of the blue, he called me up and told me that they had just lost their guitar player and needed one fast for a gig they had coming up in Ralleigh NC. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to work with Erik again, and set up an audition. Things went well, I played the gig, and eventually got the invite to join the band permanently. That's when I learned about Two For Flinching - i.e. the means by which we funded Desecrator. It was great, two bands for the price of one, and all of the music was stuff I loved! I've always considered myself lucky to have finally found the right group of people to work with. Two For Flinching is family to me, and I hope that we keep this going for a long, long time to come!