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Whatever that indefinable "spark" is that makes a truly great band, it was clear that DriveSHAFT had it from the first time the four members got into a room and started to make music together.

Brothers Charlie and Liam Pace had been playing together for years, ever since that fateful Christmas their parents bought them both guitars. They mucked around for a while, but didn't take things seriously until Charlie's schoolmate Patrick received a drumkit for his birthday a couple of years later. By that time, Charlie had switched to bass and begun teaching himself and Liam how to play covers of the pop hits of the day. They played several school dances and talent contests in this three-piece configuration, which they optimistically christened Gigantic, after the scorching Pixies song of the same name.

They soon realized that they'd never get out of Manchester by playing other people's songs. Charlie began to compose his own music and lyrics and they brought in another guitarist to round out the band. Adam "Sinjin" St. John had made a name shredding in bands all over town, but had recently left his most recent group due to "creative differences". They decided that since they had a new band member and would be playing new music, they also would need a new name.

Enter DriveSHAFT. They began to write their own original material, which brings us to a detail that separates this band from so many others: the fact that the main singer and songwriter is also the bassist. Besides Sting or Paul McCartney, can you even name any other prominent bassist/lyricists? (And before we start getting cranky emails from all you rabid Les Claypool fans out there, we said "prominent", not "critically acclaimed but commercially obscure". Not to slight yer man, but we're trying to make a point here.)

The band members all had dreams that reached far outside northern England, and they began to gig around the UK in earnest. They built their fanbase by touring as much as possible, playing any place that would take them. The intense onstage dynamic between Charlie and Liam created quite a buzz, even at their earliest shows. Word-of-mouth spread quickly and the band soon caught the attention of indie label Rhythm Records in 1999, after DS had been playing together for about a year. Their self-titled debut was released in November 1999.

The British Press were quick to dismiss them as the bastard child of Pearl Jam and REM, which really pissed the band off, as they preferred to be known as the mutant offspring of The Police and The Pixies. (The truth was that they landed somewhere between Ocean Colour Scene and Oasis.) Not that what the music mags said even mattered, because the record-buying public had no interest in what the critics thought and proceeded to go gaga for the first single, "Let Me Ride". This was certainly due in part to the unique video, which was made for a total of 5 quid, or the price of the blank videotape they popped into the security camera at the post office where Patrick's Mum worked. They recorded it in one take, while the office was closed for lunch.

There was such a buzz about the band that when their second single, "(You All) Everybody", was released, it hit the top of both the US and UK charts. Their first US tour started in small clubs. At the end of the tour a year and a half later, they were selling out theaters, thanks to back-to-back top-ten singles.

The band took a much-needed break after the long and taxing DriveSHAFT tour. From all accounts, when they finally went back into the studio to record the follow-up, it was difficult to recapture the creative energy they had felt on the road. The band was feeling both internal and external pressure to not only match the success of their first album, but to top it. After a long and problematic recording process, Oil Change was finally released in March 2002.

The troubles they faced in the studio seemed to follow them as they went out on tour. Minimal airplay and slow ticket sales dogged the band in every country except for Australia, where they became more popular than ever. Unfortunately, this didn't help them avoid getting dropped from Rhythm Records, after the FYT publishing conglomerate bought out the label.

Since we, as fans, were shocked and disappointed, we can only imagine what a tremendous strain this must have been on the band members. They each dealt with the stress in their own ways. Patrick spent his time designing and building his dream home with long-term girlfriend Melissa Reid, whom he married in the summer of 2003. Sinjin focused his energy by recording the experimental and very un-DriveSHAFT-like album called Greek to Me. Liam moved to Australia with his wife and young daughter and it was rumored that he was considering leaving the business altogether. But it was Charlie who seemed the most lost during this period, sometimes appearing in tabloids and on the occasional police blotter.

But as of now (August 2004), things appear to be getting back on track for DriveSHAFT. Charlie recently played a few small solo gigs around Manchester and he has been telling fans that the band is in negotiations to go on tour with An American Band To Be Named Later. Not to mention the solo EP he recently recorded, called Pente. By all accounts, it is much darker than anything DriveSHAFT ever released as a band.

Over the past couple of years, it hasn't been easy to be a DriveSHAFT fan, since the band members have been MIA from the music scene; but we never lost hope. We always knew they would make it back, stronger than ever. It seems like that time is now. But don't call it a comeback, they've been here for years.

And in case you're wondering where the band's name came from, we'll let Patrick tell you in his own words, from an interview in 2000: "We were all drinking heavily the night we came up with the band name. Charlie woke the following day with 'shaft' written on the back of his left hand, and 'drive' scrawled on his right. No one could remember where the idea came from, but we liked the sound of it and it stuck.

But we must advise you, gentle reader, to take this story with a grain of salt, as the DS boys have been known to tell one version of their back story to one journalist, just to turn around and completely contradict it in their very next interview. For all we know, the name could have come from some long-lost family friend called Dexter Stratton. Or something.

However, hopes of the band reforming were smashed when on the 22nd of September 2004 Charlie Pace, the bassist and lyricist of Drive Shaft, was in a plane crash. He was on Oceanic Flight 815, travelling back from Sydney where he had made a recent visit to his brother and Drive Shaft band member, Liam Pace. Until January the following year, it was assumed he had died in the crash. However when 6 survivors of the plane crash appeared on an Indonesian island claiming they had survived for 108 days on an uninhabited island known as Membata, they revealed in a press conference in Honolulu that Charlie Pace had in fact initially survived the plane crash, but later drowned.

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