The Downshifters by ROD HARMON Bradenton Herald - Friday, May 10, 2002
Paxton, lead vocalist and guitarist of the Downshifters, loves to spin tales. "We come from Las Vegas, and played our first gig in Anchorage, Alaska," the tattooed motorcycle enthusiast said. "Wally (Edwards), our manager, found us one day walking down some railroad tracks." Drummer Kevin Kuras chimes in. "Yeah, I was actually tied to the tracks, and Wally saved me," he said. Of course, none of that is true. The guys in the Downshifters have been part of the music scene for so long, they're tired of all the trappings that come with the territory. That includes articles on bands that read like a bad movie review: "Non-stop, high-energy entertainment from start to finish! The feel-good band of the year!" In reality, the Downshifters are a new incarnation of Screwface, an intense, in-your-face rock band that broke up Dec. 7 - yes, that's right, Pearl Harbor day - after four years of playing up and down Tampa Bay. Although the band was well-known in the alternative rock scene, Paxton (no last name), Kuras and guitarist Mike Zouhar wanted to branch out into different genres, so they decided to ditch the harsh-sounding Screwface name altogether and make a fresh start. "Basically, we drowned out," Kuras said. "We took Screwface as far as we could, but that anger rock is pretty much over. We just want to have fun now." To get the more melodic, old-style rock sound they wanted, the trio recruited Cory Karish on stand-up bass. At 25, he's the youngest member of the band, but the Rev. Horton Heat devotee has given the group the kick in the pants it needed, Paxton said. "He's probably a better musician than any of us, but he's really, really humble," he said. "He brought renewed enthusiasm for the music I write." The new name came from Paxton's love for motorcycles, and reflected the band's change from loud and angry metal to meat-and-potatoes rock. "When you're going uphill, and things are tough, you gotta downshift," Paxton said. "We were stuck, and we needed a change." Screwface fans needn't worry, though. According to Paxton, the band's sound has been evolving into that of the Downshifters for quite some time. The cover of their demo CD describes it as "rockabilly/cow punk/greaser rock," and songs such as "I Do" and "Back Seat Driver" pack a wallop. Whatever name the band uses, it's still rock 'n' roll. "We do not want to be background noise," Kuras said. "When we play a show, we play a show."

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