Hawaii-based deaf band
is music to fans’ ears

After more than 30 years,
Beethoven’s Nightmare
comes out with a debut CD

In the 1970s, three deaf college students gathered habitually in a Gallaudet University dorm room to make rock music and nurse dreams of becoming stars.

More than 30 years -- and many broken barriers -- later, the trio that's billed as the only all-deaf rock band in the world has come out with a debut album.

The CD, which is the first known in the world to feature an all-deaf rock band, is another milestone for Hawaii-based Beethoven's Nightmare, which has played venues around the United States and wowed audiences and record executives alike.

"After 30 years, it's finally paid off," said Ed Chevy, the band's bassist and an American Sign Language teacher, at a CD release party yesterday in Hawaii Public Radio's Atherton Studio. "We want to say music is a universal language. ... This kind of music helps us express ourselves."

Ron Tish, owner of Koke-Kula Records & Publishing, agreed to produce the band's CD after hearing about them through Susan Miller, the director of the University of Hawaii's Center of Disabilities Studies and a longtime fan of the band.

Tish said he worked with the band extensively to tune their music for "hearing" ears. The deaf musicians had excellent rhythm, Tish said, but were off-key -- usually playing too high or too low.

He also brought in hearing-abled backup singers -- Hawaii residents and siblings Troy and Cheesa Laureta, both of whom have life-threatening asthma -- and guitar, percussion and keyboard players.

Tish said that in his promotion of the band's CD, he wants to downplay "the sympathy aspect" of the band and "up-play the phenomenon."

All-deaf band Beethoven's Nightmare released their CD "Turn It Up Louder" yesterday at Hawaii Public Radio's Atherton Studio. Deaf musician Ed Chevy, middle, and backup singers Troy Laureta, left, and Cheesa Laureta, sing and sign one of their songs.

"These guys had the courage to stick it out for 30 years," he said, while sitting at a piano at the Atherton Studio before yesterday's event.

Chevy, whose real last name is Corey, said the band wanted their CD to be a "crossover album -- the hearing culture working with the deaf culture." And the title track on the band's CD, called "Turn It Up Louder," speaks to the band's aim of bridging deaf and hearing people through music.

"Turning up the volume so 'hearing' people can hear what 'deaf' say and feel," the song starts out, with a 1950s' style sound, which the band calls "retro rock-and-roll."

The chorus of the song, which comes in a stanza later, continues with the theme: "If you're wondering what we're all about, we're the only deaf band in the world. And if you can't understand all the words all we need to do is turn it up louder!"

Chevy wrote most of the songs on "Turn It Up Louder" and almost all of them reference his and his band members' deafness.

One is called, "It's Just a Deaf Thing."

In "Crash It Out," the CD's seventh song, Chevy sings, "Attempting to break the deaf sound barrier with a heavy steady beat. Talking about crash it out."

Chevy says a second CD is already in the works, and fellow band members -- Steve Longo, of Oakland, Calif., and Bob Hiltermann, of Hollywood, Calif., -- are already mulling over new songs.

Beethoven's Nightmare

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