Kent band has been Twist-in’ since the ’80s

Allison Bugg

Norm Milavec, Tim Younessi, Brian Fricky from “The Twistoffs” played Friday night at Club Khameleon in Kent.

Credit: Beth Rankin

A jazz and funk-filled night can include rhythm guitars and keyboards, but adding a spirited three-piece horn section to the mix is like adding sprinkles to an ice cream sundae.

The Kent-based band known as the TwistOffs provides such a treat at every show. The group has been touring locally and nationally for more than a decade and shows little signs of slowing down.

Lead singer and rhythm guitar player Erik Walter said the band has been musically evolving throughout its long-established history.

“We’ve had many different members over the years,” he said. “And that allows our music to vary, but we’re still a rock-and-roll band, and we like to play very upbeat music.”

Walter said the wide-ranging sound of the TwistOffs began with punk, but moved on to a more R&B and funk sound with the addition of a saxophone, trumpet and trombone player.

The current TwistOffs members include Brian Fricky on trumpet, Tim Younessi on saxophone, Norm Malavek on trombone, Patrick Wilbraham on lead guitar, Kevin Walter on bass, Peter Hereaux on drums and Erik Walter on lead vocals and rhythm guitar.

Walter said he writes the core of the songs, including all lyrics, and everybody else writes their own material.

The group has recorded six albums since the late ‘80s, including a live show from Peabody’s in Cleveland. The band also is working on a CD for a fall release.

Although the TwistOffs has done a lot of touring, including Mexico and Canada, Walter said the band prefers playing local and regional shows.

“Touring 230 nights a year and adding up thousands of miles on the road became very physically, mentally and emotionally demanding,” he said. “After a while you lose sight of why you got into this business in the first place, and I got into it for the music and the excitement of playing.”

After years of touring, Walter said the group signed on with Sol 3 Records in New York City in the late ‘90s. However, the label ended up filing for bankruptcy, and the band began working independently again.

At one time, the TwistOffs played shows for a living, but these days every member has established another job, Walter said.

“To be honest,” he said, “I want to be able to look back and enjoy what I’m doing. It’s not a whole lot of fun stressing out about bookkeeping and taking care of managerial work.”

For a list of upcoming shows, go to

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