Originally from Johnson City, Tennessee, Spank! The 80s found a fan base in Columbia. Since the year 2000, Tom Mann, Chris Simmons and David Shirley have been living out the '80s reincarnation of their band Spank!.
Playing at bars and numerous Greek life events, this sparkling, neon-clad group of dudes have been delivering the '80s to our generation.
The dynamic trio found their love of performing music in different ways. Chris Simmons, drummer and vocalist for the band, said he started in high school, playing different styles from jazz to country and got a degree in music education.
Tom Mann, lead vocalist and guitarist, said his love of playing music is a way of life. David Shirley, guitarist and vocalist, has a different reason for being in the band.
“I started because of free beer and chicks,” Shirley said.
Spank! was not always an '80s band. Spank! has lived many lives.
“We’ve played pretty much all kinds of different music, but this particular incarnation of Spank! focuses on '80s stuff," Simmons said.
Mann said the band chose the '80s because “it’s fun music" and "it seems to work well for what [they're] trying to do.”
The band prides itself on being able to appeal to an array of populations.
“College kids still love it. We’ll play high school events, and they love it, and older folks. We’ll play a wedding, and the older folks are out there dancing,” Mann said.
Part of the experience that has been most notable among fans is the eye-catching outfits and sets.
“When we walk in, we want people to know we’re with the band — we are the band," Mann said. "When we get on stage, we want to be larger than life."
The four-hour drive from Tennessee to Columbia is made worthwhile by the amount of good energy Columbia has been able to bring to its shows, according to Shirley.
“All of our best shows have been in Columbia ... and I’m saying crazy shows," Shirley said.
Teagan Domurat, vice president of risk management for Alpha Chi Omega sorority, has seen and booked many Spank! shows for various Greek events.
“Even people that don’t necessarily like '80s ... [Spank! is for] people who are just looking to have a good time and hang out,” Domurat said.
Domurat said freshmen who haven't had the chance to see the band should check out this live music here in Columbia. The most memorable performances are about audience participation. According to Simmons, the band puts its fans first.
“For me, and really the band in general, it's whenever everybody is having a really good time and you’re getting a good response from the audience, those [moments] tend to stand out,” Simmons said. “We try to focus more on the audiences, and we might even do a song, and if it doesn't go well after about four or five times, even though we like it, we’ll throw it out because it’s not having any success."
Due to the pandemic, Spank! has not been able to play for USC students since early spring, but thanks to McKenzie Schmeling, a fourth-year sport and entertainment management student and artist liaison for the upcoming Colaroo concert, fans can expect to see the band on Nov. 20.
Schmeling, a longtime fan of Spank!, said she recommends the band to “anybody that wants to go and have fun.”
“They will ultimately become your favorite band,” Schmeling said.