Signal 99 bids farewell to bass player at Studio 18

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

FARMINGTON, April 4, 2013

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(Times photo – Shondiin Silversmith)

Signal 99 band members, from left to right, include Hank Haven (bass player), Mark Curley (drummer), and Chuck Haven (front man). The band posed with a farewell cake during their farewell show on March 30. At least 100 people showed up to wish Hank Haven farewell.

F ans cheered in appreciation as members of Signal 99 hugged on stage after playing their last show with bassist Hank Haven.

Signal 99 played in front of crowd of at least 100 people. Everyone piled into Studio 18, a small performing space in Farmington, N.M., two miles east of the Sun Ray Casino.

Hank Haven has been a part of Signal 99 since 2006, after it was originally formed in 2005 as a solo project by his older brother, Chuck Haven. Hank, 30, is leaving Signal 99 because of his multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed with MS in March of 2010.

"It was emotional at the end. Honestly I did shed some tears," Hank said about his last performance with Signal 99. "I didn't want it to end, but it had to. I'm going to miss it."

As for the concert, "It couldn't have gone anymore perfect, it was a good end," said Signal 99 front man Chuck Haven.

They played several fan favorites including "Candy," "Zombie Star," "The Gospel," "Banner of Corpses" and "Armed and Dangerous."

"I finally came to terms that it's time to hang it up," Hank Haven said. "I'm finally at peace with myself, and I'm just tired."

Hank originally thought his farewell show was going to be dead, but he was surprised when parking ran out at Studio 18, and many people had to park on the back road.

"Just seeing all these people here, it's touching," he said.

After seven years of playing bass for the Farmington-based metal band, he said he will miss the fans most of all.

"Hopefully my influence, and what I did on stage," is what Haven hopes they remember the most about him. "Hopefully a little youngling will follow my footsteps."

Hank Haven said that Signal 99 has made his run as a bassist memorable because he has been given the opportunity to open for bands he grew up with, such as Powerman 5000, Sevendust, and Mushroom head.

"That's what I loved the most," Hank Haven said, adding that he was most proud of was when they won the Battle of the Bands competition to open up at the 2011 Uproar Festival that featured major artist like Avenged Sevenfold.

Chuck said Signal 99 will continue on as a band, but this is one chapter that had to come to a close. He said it's time his brother focuses on his health and family.

"The new bassist will have some big shoes to fill," Chuck said, noting he and Hank will be selecting Hank's replacement together. He said that Signal 99 is looking for someone who is willing to dedicate his time to the band, commit to his position as a bassist and have a sense of character and stage presence.

"We do a lot of driving, so someone with the same passion to survive the road," Chuck added jokingly.

Signal 99 band members all agreed that one of the things they'll miss is their road trips together as a band.

"Whether it is down the road or across state, there was always something going on," said Hank.

One memory that stands out was when the band was headed to a show in Texas and they ended up being searched by border control. This resulted in them arriving late for their performance because they were held for two hours, but they still rocked out at that show.

"A big thanks to Hank," Chuck said. "We wouldn't have gotten this far without him."

Signal 99 drummer Mark Curley said that after five years with Signal 99, "these guys are my brothers, and it's going to be hard but we're going to continue and wish the best for Hank. We'll keep doing this for him."

Signal 99 is in the middle of producing a new album with hopes of releasing it by fall.

Sleeping with Sorrow frontman Derek Ellington said, "We love Signal 99 and Hank. They're basically what every local band looks up to."

Ellington said the first time he heard of Signal 99 was when he was in high school in 2006, and Hank caught his attention the most because of his stage presence.

When Hank dressed for a show, he would either paint his face or wear a gas mask with spikes sticking out of it.

"He was the image of Signal 99," said Togkte front man Taogle Maza about Hank. "When you think Signal 99 you think Hank."

Added Jalen Lee, vocalist of WxAxR, "It's nice to have a farewell show because it's nice showing people caring about people. It could be a new chapter for Signal 99, who knows? We'll see what happens."

"As they say, all great things must come to an end," said WxAxR Drummer Tyrell Lewis. "I trust that they'll be bigger and better. That's all they're going to do is progress."

Anthony Lopez, drummer for Fatally Dying Within, said, "You can never really replace somebody else."

He said that Hank's original sound with Signal 99 will always be there, and it will be hard to find someone to match it.

Opening acts for the show consisted of WxAxR, Mobscurity, Fatally Dying Within, Sleeping with Sorrow and Paranormal Slaughter.

Band members from WxAxR, Fatally Dying Within and Sleeping with Sorrow said it has been an honor playing for Hank's farewell show, and they all wish him the best.

Toadlena, N.M. resident Shayleen Price, 23, has been a fan of Signal 99 since she was 19, and she said it's sad seeing Hank go.

"It's going to be hard to see someone else (on stage), not taking his place but helping out," she said. "Signal 99 will always have a place in my heart - the best local band around Farmington."

Kenny King, 11, of Gallup was at the show with his mother Lorinda Nez-King. He said he's been a fan of Signal 99 since 2010 and he's sad that Hank's leaving the band. He said his favorite of the night was Gafy.

"It was heartfelt," said Lorinda Nez-King about Signal 99's performance, especially when the band ended the show and they all came in for a hug. "They're a great band and we'll support them all the time."

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