Potbelly Musician Since: 2011
Favorite Sandwich: Italian
Dave Semans is a hard-working musician performing hundreds of gigs per year. He plays in three tribute bands all devoted to 80s hair bands and hard rock – not to mention the eyeliner, spandex and big hair that go with it. His uncompromising dedication to his music has allowed him to support a family as an independent musician doing what he loves.
What kind of material do you play at Potbelly?
I do 80s and 90s rock. A lot of hair band stuff and 90s alternative. All the stuff that was popular when I was in high school.
Who are some of your influences?
Kiss, Poison, and Guns N’ Roses.
You also play jazz, right?
I ended up in Texas to pursue my degree in jazz performance because I couldn’t go to college and get a degree in Metal. So I decided to study Jazz. I only do 3-4 jazz gigs a year but probably about 7-8 gigs a week doing Metal.
Tell us your favorite memory about playing at Potbelly.
Having a person request one of my favorite songs that’s pretty obscure. It was a song called Banditos by the Refreshments. He didn’t think I’d be able to do it or that I’d have even heard of the song before. The guy was just ecstatic.
How did you start playing hair band covers with Poison Cherry?
I'd been playing the originals scene in Dallas for a couple years, and I was really tired of not making any money. I found the opportunity to play the music I love so I put a band together, and I figured it would go over really well with outrageous outfits and a fun stage show.
How is your acoustic tribute band, Hair Ballad Allstars, different?
We have the capacity to stretch outside of that genre, and we can play a lot more venues that couldn’t afford the other bands. It’s me and the singer from Guns 4 Roses – just the two of us so we’re able to book a lot more frequently.
And you also play with Guns 4 Roses?
My partner from Hair Ballad Allstars got picked up by a Guns N’ Roses tribute band that was forming. When one of their guys left, they asked me to come in. I worked with all the guys before and I love the music.
With all these gigs, teaching guitar lessons and playing at Potbelly, you’re living completely off of your music?
Yeah, there were ups and downs though. I had gotten to a point where I could do that and then my wife and I had triplets. It took me about 7 or 8 years to get to the point where I didn’t need any other income to support a family.
So what’s it like to live off of your passion?
It’s awesome [laughs]. It’s definitely a job and there are days when I don’t necessarily want to go to work because I just want to play with my kids. But when I pull back and remember that I get to do this instead of sitting in a cubicle!