Local Aviatik hoping to reach new heights

Allison Bugg

Junior graphic design major Mike Watson has finally found what he’s been looking for.

The 12-year veteran musician and songwriter is the founding member of Kent- and Akron-based band Aviatik, which is becoming one of his most successful projects yet.

Initially born in May 2003, Aviatik began as a “let’s see what happens” project and has evolved into what Watson describes as a natural coming-together of four talented and experienced musicians.

“A lot of positive things have been happening for us, especially in the past three months,” he said. “We’ve been playing one to two shows every weekend since our Battle of the Bands debut, and it’s been really energizing.”

Band mate John Zarski, a student at the University of Akron, joined Watson and Aviatik after years of experience playing guitar and singing in various bands around the area, many of which were short-lived.

With Watson’s vision combined with Zarski’s eagerness to achieve, the two welcomed Brimfield resident and percussionist Louis Hausknecht into the group in spring 2004.

Watson said the three immediately began working on new material in addition to the songs he and Zarski had already provided. The only aspect left to pursue was a bass player.

“We’ve had the most trouble finding a reliable bassist,” Zarski said. “Mike and I have seen six guys come and go for various reasons.”

Alex Herman became Aviatik’s seventh bass player via long-time friend Hausknecht.

“It’s kind of a funny story actually,” Herman said. “I got a call from Louis one day, and he pretty much told me I was joining the band whether I wanted to or not.”

With the addition of Herman, the band was complete and ready to take the local music scene by storm, Watson said.

Now that the formation of the band is complete, the guys have begun to make a collaborative effort to allow every member’s influences to come together.

Zarski said he wants to see the group achieve a certain state of mind, or mood, through its performances, in essence creating a connection with its audience.

“Right now, we’re not trying to force anything,” he said. “We all love performing, and we want things to happen naturally.”

While Aviatik’s members keep relatively busy outside the band, the group gets together at least twice a week to practice.

“Since we’ve been performing so much, our shows really serve as an on-the-spot practice,” Watson said.

The group also aims to practice with the same intensity and energy as they would during any performance, he said.

As Aviatik continues to experience a level of local success, Watson said the group isn’t slowing down and is planning a regional summer tour, as well as attempting to create an all-acoustic show.

Part of the summer tour will include opening for the Suicide Machines on Thursday, June 12 at the Agora Theatre as part of this year’s Cleveland Music Festival. Ten dollars will get music fans into all shows at the four-day festival.

Contact local music reporter Allison Bugg at [email protected].