Announcements Regarding COVID-19

Hairball fans,

We are working closely with promoters and monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak according to the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC. We will be making statements about individual shows that are affected shortly. Our number one priority is the health and well- being of our fans, crew, and band.

We appreciate your patience and understanding in this trying time. Check back for more details and thank you for being the best fans.

-Hairball

UPDATE

The following dates have been postponed or cancelled

Sunday March 15 – Orange Peel (Asheville, NC) – Postponed | New date: TBA
Friday March 20 – Del Lago (Waterloo, NY) – Postponed | New date: November 6, 2020
Saturday March 21 – BergenPAC (Englewood, NJ) – Postponed | New date: November 5, 2020
Friday March 27 – Jackpot Junction (Morton, MN) – Postponed | New date: October 30, 2020
Saturday March 28 – Myth Live (Maplewood, MN) – Postponed | New date: November 28, 2020
Friday April 3 – Pabst Theatre (Milwaukee, WI) – Postponed | New date: February 27, 2021
Saturday April 4 – Honeywell Center (Wabash, IN) – Postponed | New date: September 18, 2020
Friday April 10 – Green Bay Distillery (Green Bay, WI) – Cancelled (All tickets will be refunded at original point of purchase)
Saturday April 11 – Green Bay Distillery (Green Bay, WI) – Postponed | New date: November 27, 2020
Friday April 17 – Miners Memorial Building (Virginia, MN) – Cancelled (All tickets will be refunded at original point of purchase)
Saturday April 18- Bernicks Arena (Sartell, MN) – Postponed | New date: June 19, 2020
Saturday April 25 – Ralston Arena (Omaha, NE) – Postponed | New date: September 25, 2020
Friday May 1 – First Interstate Center for the Arts (Spokane, WA) – Cancelled
Saturday May 2 – Portneauf Health Trust Amphitheatre (Pocatello, ID) – Cancelled
Sunday May 3 – The Pub Station (Billings, MT) – Postponed | New date: TBA
Saturday May 9 – Rust Belt (Moline, IL) – Cancelled
Saturday May 16 – Prairie Knights Casino (Fort Yates, ND) – Postponed | New date: July 4, 2020
Thursday May 21 – Herrinfesta Italiana (Herrin, IL) – Cancelled
Friday May 22 – Rivers Casino (Pittsburgh, PA) – Cancelled
Friday June 12 – Goodhue Volksfest (Goodhue, MN) – Cancelled
Wednesday June 17 – Kickn Up Kountry (Karlstad, MN) – Postponed | New date: June 16, 2021
Saturday June 27 – Thunder in the Valley (Johnstown, PA) – Cancelled

Hairball marks 20 years of celebrating arena rock

What began as something silly two decades ago has become what is billed now as a bombastic celebration of arena rock.

“It started as a joke and it morphed into a career,” said Michael “Happy” Schneider, lead guitarist for Hairball, who perform on March 6 at Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet as part of the Minnesota-based band’s 20th anniversary tour.

“Hairball started in clubs as tongue in cheek to poke fun at some of the 1980s characters. The costumes were silly and there was more adult humor that was fitting for a nightclub atmosphere.

“Slowly over time we just upped the quality of the costumes and more started paying tribute to it but really tried to recreate the vibe and the energy that these artists did. Then we started upping the rock show just like these rock bands did when they toured.”

Everyone’s youth was different, but there are certain things that all of us have in common, and that we want to share with the next generation.

Lead vocalists Joe Dandy, Bobby Jensen and Kris Vox; bassist Brian “HBK” Hollenbeck and drummer Billy Thommes round out the lineup for Hairball.

“It’s really the Mount Rushmore of rock ’n’ roll. The cool thing about Hairball is it may start out being Van Halen. Then five minutes later it turns into Kiss. In another five minutes it maybe turns into Queen and Aerosmith and Alice Cooper,” said Schneider, who has been part of Hairball for 18 years.

“People are definitely going to get a visual assault. It’s not just the music. Hairball is definitely theater. It’s like seeing 20 concerts smashed and condensed into a couple of hours but you’ll know everything we do.

“When you see the costumes and these characters come around the corner, you’re going to know right away that it’s Twisted Sister or whatever it would happen to be. That’s just what we do but we do it louder than anybody else does it and we deliver it with intensity.”

Hairball’s shows also include lights, props and pyrotechnics.

“I really just enjoy feeding off of what’s going on with the audience. I always enjoy the very opening of the show because it’s fun to come out and lay the law down and see the faces and the energy of the people,” Schneider said.

“It’s also cool to see the surprise on the faces of people who maybe have never seen Hairball before. We’re doing stuff from the 1970s. A lot of it is from the 1980s period. If you’re in your 50s and 60s, I’m going to put you back in high school.

“If you are 10 years old I’m going to show you why AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Kiss are so cool. When I see that 10-year-old next to that 50-year-old and I see them both singing the words to the songs, then I know that we’re doing good work and that’s when I think Hairball is as its best.”

Schneider said seeing the band Kiss perform live drew him in to arena rock.

“My very first concert was Kiss in 1978. From the first time when I saw that show, I was hooked,” he said.

“It’s really something that never ended for us. We’re all doing the same things that we did when we were in junior high school. The only difference now is we have insurance and we pull pyro permits.

“We’ve all known each other for decades and many of us have played in different situations. It’s a brotherly relationship because as people we’ve been through so much together because we travel together. We get to experience new places.”

In addition to touring the United States, Hairball has performed in places including Amsterdam, London and Mexico.

Hairball’s fans have helped keep the band going while on the road as well as through personal struggles such as Schneider’s diagnosis of Stage 3 esophageal cancer.

“We are completely about having a good time and taking you away from your problems. We are the great escape and that’s what’s important,” said Schneider, who has been in remission for nearly two years.

“You can bet that I do not take for granted the fact that Hairball has been going for 20 years and every month that I get to be on stage and play and share what I love so much with people. This Hairball production keeps getting bigger.

“If you’re into being happy and smiling and enjoying good rock ’n’ roll, we’ll see you at the Rialto.”

Hairball

When: 7:30 p.m. March 6

Where: Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet

Tickets: $27.50-$35

Information: 815-726-6600; rialtosquare.com/event/hairball

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown

Taking do or dye attitude, Hairball isn’t teasing with a night of shear madness

Doing a phone interview while waiting in line at a suburban Minneapolis Home Depot, Michael Schneider probably doesn’t elicit very many stares.

But give the man some leather pants, a pair of platform boots and a shred-ready ax, then, he is ready to rock your world.

“I have the best job in the world,” Schneider, guitarist for the arena rock tribute band Hairball, explained. “I get to live out my childhood dream every time I go on stage.”

Billing itself as a “Rock & Roll experience you won’t forget,” Hairball combines lights, video screens, pyrotechnics as well as the music of Van Halen, KISS, Motley Crue, Queen, Journey and Aerosmith, all in one two-and-a-half hour show.

In total, Hairball has curated a catalog of headbanging hits for the past 20 years. Schneider, who also goes by the nickname “Happy,” has been tangled up in the touring troupe for more than 18 of those years.

Hairball will be in concert at 8 p.m. Friday at the Tyson Events Center, 401 Gordon Drive.

“We aren’t your typical ’80’s Tribute’ band,” Schneider said. “Hairball is an event, an attitude and a way of life that will never go away.”

FLAMING YOUTH

Indeed, Schneider has wanted to live the rock and roll lifestyle ever since he witnessed his first concert.

“You’ll always remember your first time,” he said. “My first concert was KISS and I saw them in 1978. I was in the sixth grade at the time. The entire stadium was on its feet during the entire show. It was the sound the excitement that drew me in.”

Well, that and the music, of course.

“I had every 45 that Boston ever recorded and the Doobie Brothers and the Eagles,” Schneider said. “I loved them all.”

hairball trio
Hairball allows people to relive their youth, according to Michael Schneider, the tribute group’s lead guitarist for the past 18 years.

POWER TO THE MUSIC

Schneider remembered the energy as a musician in his own bands as well as when he joined Hairball.

“There is nothing like seeing a rock band in a big arena setting,” he explained. “You need to experience the booming sound, the special effects and the circus-like atmosphere in person.”

LIVIN’ ON THE EDGE

According to Schneider, everybody harbors a secret — or not so secret — to become a rock star.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re Alice Cooper or AC/DC, you wanna be in the spotlight,” he said. “You wanna hear the screams.”

hairball singer at mic
Hairball brings the music of Van Halen, KISS, Queen and Motley Crue together on the same stage at the Tyson Event Center, Friday night.

Plus with Hairball, audiences are hearing the cream of the crop during every show.

DON’T STOP ME KNOW

“At every Hairball show, you’ll be hearing a smorgasbord of classics from 12 – 15 different bands,” Schneider said. “We’re sort of the buffet line of rock. If you’re lucky, you may have seen Elvis or Led Zeppelin in concert while they were in their prime.”

“With Hairball, you get to experience all of the music that you love all at the same time,” he added.

OK, whose music does Schneider love?

hairball leather pants
Rock gods and leather pants are a perfect match when it comes to Hairball, which combines 80s anthem rock, special effects and pyrotechnics.

“Obviously, I love a lot of the old sounds and my tastes changes all the time,” he admitted. “I may be listening to everybody from The Carpenters to Cheap Trick.”

ANYWAY YOU WANT IT 

Certainly, Schneider draws inspiration from such seminal rockers as guitarists Pete Townshend, Brian May and Angus Young.

“When you hear guys like Townshend back in the day, there’s an intensity and a fury like nothing else,” he said. “It will always be cool.”

This is what Schneider aims to bring to every Hairball concert.

hairball guitarist COVER
Ever want to be a guitar hero? Veteran Hairball guitarist Michael “Happy” Schneider has been the group’s house shredder for the past 18 years.

“I consider our shows to be unsafe safe places,” he mentioned with a laugh. “We are playing the music that turned us into rock fans in the first place.”

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD

Nowadays, Schneider knows Hairball aficionados can come from all ages.

“We have everybody from children of the 80s to elementary school kids,” he said. “You can go on YouTube and see live performances from practically every artist. It really is something when you’re playing Led Zeppelin and notice an 8-year-old kid mouthing every word.”

DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY

According to Schneider, this is what keeps Hairball going, year after year.

“You know that expression: the book is better than the movie? Hairball brings our music that many have hear as records. We take that music to the next level,” he said. “Stadium rock needs to be heard in a big setting.”

Meeting with fans, Schneider said he’s helping them relive a favorite part of their past.

“We get to perform the book of rock and roll while our audience can embrace their youth for just a while longer,” he said.

And what about those kids who are hearing legendary tunes, live, for the first time?

That’s how Schneider first experienced KISS more than 40 years ago.

“Rock and roll is exciting and crazy and it will never die,” he said. “Welcome because this may be the first day of the rest of your lives.”