The origins of TENSION began in 1978 when 15-year old guitarist/vocalist, Tom Gattis, relocated from Wyoming to Maryland with the intention of forming a high energy, heavy rock band. Tom placed an ad for musicians in a local paper and the ad was quickly answered by a long haired (and bearded) high school classmate of his, 16-year old Marty Friedman (Marty would later go on to Hawaii, Vixen, Aloha, Cacophony, and Megadeth). Tom was amazed at how perfectly Marty could play Ace Frehley leads, and Marty liked Tom’s punk, snotty rhythm style. The two then recruited bassist Steve Leter and drummer Chris Tinto, and in late 1978 DEUCE was born.
Chris and Steve left the band in early 1979. Upon the recommendation of a local drum instructor, Tom decided to audition a young drummer named Billy Giddings. Billy had no problem letting people know how good he was, but the difference between him and your average braggart was that Billy would back it up by tearing opposing drummers to shreds no matter how old or experienced they were. The bass position was filled by the unlikely Mike Davis, and the classic DEUCE line-up was formed.
In mid ‘79 DEUCE was starting to draw large crowds at a practice area known as ‘The Barn”, which Tom’s mother built for the band. These band jams would draw anywhere from 20 to 100 metal starved kids a night, complete with an open air marketplace for drugs and alcohol, as well as hosting some classic DEUCE jams to date. In late ‘79, yet another line-up experiment took place as Tom stepped away from the microphone. With the addition of lead singer Eddie Day, DEUCE expanded to a five piece. This would last until 1980, when Eddie was booted and the four piece line-up was back in tact.
In 1980 the colorful Mike Davis was replaced by Chris Hall who played bass in a rival band called Ace. Later that same year, Marty left the band and moved to Hawaii. He was then replaced by lead guitarist Timmy Meadows, who was the younger brother of Angel axeman, Punky Meadows. In the later part of 1980, DEUCE went into the studio a recorded a 7” single, ‘I’m Saved’ c/w ‘Bad Boys’ (this single has become a gem in the metal collectors market), which received very positive reviews worldwide.
One night in late 1981, the woodstove used to heat “The Barn” threw a spark and caught the barn on fire. By morning everything was gone, barn and all of the equipment. The band used the insurance money to buy new equipment and ended up relocating to jam in Billy’s basement. Undaunted by the tragedy, DEUCE continued. Ironically, the barn fire turned out to be a blessing because now they were forced to play live elsewhere, besides the barn.
In late 1982, Chris was replaced by a friend of Meadows named Mike Francis. By 1983, DEUCE was gaining popularity fast by opening for acts like Ratt, Queensryche, Grim Reaper, Talas, etc., as well as continuously gigging at local bars. The underground metal scene was rising, the gigging continued, the buzz was circulating, and then record label interest arose.
A young record company, Torrid Records, (who also released the first Exodus LP) was interested in signing the band. Just before signing in 1985, Mike Francis quit and was replaced by the amazing bassist, Timmy O’Connor. In October of 1985, the band flew to Capitol Records studio in L.A. to record their debut album. Problems arose when the equipment rented for the album sounded horrible, almost unplayable, but the band persisted and continued to record. At one session, the band received news that there was another band with a copyrighted name of DEUCE, so Billy suggested the band's name be changed to TENSION. The name seemed to fit perfectly at the time, so it stuck.
One year later, the LP “Breaking Point” was finally released to receive amazing reviews. Despite poor distribution, no promotion, and a lack of interest from the record company, the album was consistently No. 1 on playlists worldwide, especially throughout Europe and Germany. However, the band was unhappy with the album production, artwork, layout, etc..
The gigging continued mostly in their home area. They landed opening spots for Metal Church, Megadeth, Exciter, etc., but not much else was really happening. In 1987, the band went into the studio and recorded a 3 song EP called “Epitome”. This recording finally captured and contained the sound that they were searching for. The excitement and enthusiasm began to grow within the band again, but sadly that would not last too long as Torrid never released the EP.
Due to all of the frustration involved, broken promises and everything going wrong the band was at a crossroads. The members were losing interest, royalties weren’t being paid, and nobody wanted to continue. In 1988, Tom quit the band and moved to New Mexico to pursue a college education. TENSION was gone. In the years that followed to this date, the album “Breaking Point” has achieved the status of being a classic metal album worldwide.
Since 1988 most members have continued playing music in various projects, most notably Tom Gattis who went on to record three CDs with WARDOG and one CD with BALLISTIC (which also featured TENSION bassist Tim O'Connor). These projects included a couple treks gigging throughout Europe, highlighted by WARDOG being joined on stage by legendary Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson at the "Bang Your Head Festival" in Germany in 1998.
After years and years of requests and inquiries about a reunion of TENSION by European promoters and journalists alike, the declining has stopped and the timing is right. March of 2011 saw the first rehearsals of the reunited TENSION, which have started in a very vibrant fury...stay tuned as future plans progress...