Next stop, Europe

Ted Hamilton

Student’s dreams come true, now he wants to go overseas

Besides being an integrated social studies major, senior Josh Gatka plays bass guitar for the band Eternal Legacy. The metal/classical band’s next show is at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland on November 4. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

All students have heard the clich‚s: “follow your dreams” and “never give up.” One Kent State student did just that when his band, Eternal Legacy, was the opening act for his power metal idols Epica and Kamelot.

“I like power metal because it combines classical music with the anger, energy and passion of heavy metal,” said Joshua Gatka, junior integrated social studies major.

Last year, Gatka won a guitar contest on campus put on by the TechKnowOverload Tour. He competed against seven other guitarists.

“I didn’t think I’d win it,” he said. “I signed up first, so I had to play first. I set the standard and everyone followed.”

He said it was judged on crowd response, and he won by playing songs that most people would know.

“I went up there and started shredding,” he said. “I played things like ‘Cowboys from Hell’ by Pantera and ‘Crazy Train’ by Ozzy.”

Gatka said to him, winning a guitar was like winning a trophy. He said he has wanted to play on stage ever since he was little.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I first heard ‘Master of Puppets’ by Metallica when I was 6 years old,” he said.

Gatka taught himself how to play the guitar six years ago.

“A lot of my heroes taught themselves,” he said.

However, he hit a block in 2005.

“After awhile I needed hands-on instructions,” Gatka said.

When he reached his limitations, a friend introduced him to Shaun Vanek, 20, a guitar teacher at Cleveland Music and Lentine’s Music. Vanek is also the lead guitarist for Eternal Legacy.

“I started teaching (Josh) two summers ago,” Vanek said. “He was proficient at instruments, but needed a boost.”

Gatka was different from his other students, he said.

“What makes Josh unique is he is self-motivated,” Vanek said. “He’s there because he wants to be. Lots of students are there because they have to.”

It was qualities such as these that members of Eternal Legacy were looking for when they asked Gatka to be their new bass player.

“It was a huge ego boost for me when my guitar teacher asked me to switch to bass and play for Eternal Legacy,” Gatka said.

Vanek said they won “The Battle for Kamelot,” a competition to see who would open up for the power metal legends.

“We work-ed very hard to earn the position,” Vanek said. “We put on a hell of a show, and through our hard work we got on the billing. It was still kind of a shock for us.”

Kamelot was the first power metal band Gatka listened to, he said.

“The first time I heard Kamelot, I started looking for more power metal,” he said. “I would have been happy just to watch them. They put on one hell of a show, and that I opened for them blows my mind.”

Shaun Zuhosky, sophomore music education major, has seen Eternal Legacy twice and said Gatka really brings something to the band.

“Eternal Legacy shows a lot of energy and (Josh) definitely adds to it,” he said. “I would say the band is more solid now.”

He said Gatka’s playing was very technical on stage.

“I was impressed,” Zuhosky said. “What he was playing was not easy at all; he was basically shredding on a bass.”

Gatka said he thinks Eternal Legacy is one of the best power metal acts in the United States.

“We really want to start playing out of state,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get to go over to Europe.”

Power metal is a popular genre of music in Europe, Vanek said.

“Power metal is just now starting to take off over here, but in Europe it’s already popular,” he said. “Our focus is to play some festivals over there.”

After the “Kamelot” concert, the guitarist from Epica said he would really like to play with Eternal Legacy again, and one fan asked Gatka to sign a program from a metal festival.

“It was a bit of an ego boost,” Gatka said. “I always have the attitude that I’m just a fan on stage.”

Contact features correspondent Ted Hamilton at [email protected].