I met Ian in the late ‘90s. We went to Cheektowaga Central High School together. At the time, he was already well immersed in aspirations of conquering the live theater circuit. He always had a knack for singing, so even though I was already gravitating toward metal, I needed Ian to be my lead vocalist. I couldn’t help but think that somehow, some way, piecing together a band comprised of an unpracticed heavy metal drummer, an equally inexperienced bassist, a bassist with aspirations of singing and playing lead guitar, and a lead singer with actual talent would somehow work. Indeed, this was my FIRST. BAND. EVER. We were called “Heavy Visual” (lmao) and we were as “interesting” as the band name suggests. Stylistically, I’d have to say we were some kind of nu metal/hard rock/Broadway musical sounding amalgamation. I played my very first live show with Heavy Visual at Showplace Theatre in Buffalo, NY on August 11th, 2001. You never forget the date of your first show. The friends and family who came out to see us were polite enough to get us through our set, naturally. I think we played one more show after that at The Funhouse on Abbott Rd in Lackawanna before calling it quits. We were a confused bunch back then, still figuring out who we were as musicians, and as people. But that as they say, is the past.

Now, 21 years later, Ian has blossomed into the live performer we all knew he had the potential to be. Ian makes Buffalo proud with his charisma, his boundless singing voice, his animated antics, and most recently, his ode to Andy Kaufman in the form of an album called Screw You, Kaufman, under the moniker, Tony Clifton. The album goes about twenty-eight minutes strong, is comprised of ten tracks (all covers), and showcases the limitless vocal styles and characters embedded within Ian’s complex mind. For a preview, peep the personality of the album art:

Ian has been exceptionally gifted as long as I’ve known him. He was a talented musician before I’d decided that I even wanted to attempt learning music in any capacity myself. He is as versatile, as he is entertaining, and as captivating, as he is comedic. We are lucky to have someone like him in our local theater scene.

In conclusion, but ironically enough, going back to the beginning of this tale, Ian’s next “metal” band after Heavy Visual was called SMILING AMPUTEE. If anyone reading this has that demo, I NEED IT. I used to have one. Frankly, I might still have it somewhere, but I’ve moved so many times over the past 20 years, who knows.

Thank you for decades of entertainment, Ian. And here’s to decades more!

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