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Dustin Tooker

Dustin Tooker's Biography

Survival. Something that's often taken for granted, yet it can be a struggle just to maintain existence. The members of Grade 8 know this. Not only have they all managed to keep their heads above water in the treacherous environment of the music business, they have channeled their trials and frustrations into music that is both intense and meaningful. An epic combination of east coast hardcore, melodic metal, and bleeding edge electronics. A blistering testament to the ultimate impotence of the forces that have worked against them.

Dustin and Ryan Tooker planted the seeds of what would become Grade 8 in the mid 90's, in their home state of New Jersey. Ryan was a last minute choice to fill in on vocals for guitarist Dustin's then band. Their natural chemistry worked well and they continued playing over the next few years with various rhythm sections. The brothers then moved to Southern California where their charisma and work ethic impressed those they met, eventually leading to a record deal with Lava / Atlantic. They worked various interesting jobs in the entertainment industry in their spare time, knowing that once their professional music career began, there would be no turning back.

As they created their self titled debut, a new rhythm section was formed and the band prepared to tour. Grade 8 proved themselves an intense live force touring with Mudvayne, The Murderdolls, Anthrax and the Ozzfest. It was on that final tour that the tenacity of Dustin and Ryan caught the attention of their peers. When business issues nearly forced the band off the tour, they fought back by riding with other bands and borrowing equipment, refusing to quit.

After that victory of will, they found themselves in another rough spot. The single "Brick by Brick" had reached #1 on the college rock charts and tracks were appearing in high profile video games and television series, such as "True Crime: Streets of LA" and "The Sopranos", but they once again found themselves searching for a bassist and drummer to provide the key rhythmic assault. Then an amazing opportunity presented itself: a new manager willing to relocate the brothers to Las Vegas, where they would be able to regroup and prepare to begin the battle for survival anew. The necessary elements came together with preternatural speed.

Brian 'Stitch' Foster had been playing bass in Los Angeles for several years. Since moving from Ohio he had put in hard time with several promising bands. Unfortunately acts of fate kept these projects from reaching fruition. Those experiences gave him the opportunity to hone his skills: in song craft and in mediating the personality clashes that occur in any band situation. The Tookers knew him through Paige Haley, and after viewing his vicious stage presence, he was also pulled to sin city.

After several auditions and a false start with another drummer, Grade 8 found themselves on a radio show in Modesto, CA. One of the opening acts had a drummer that they were quite impressed with. Phone numbers were exchanged and a year latter the phone call was made. Enter Josh Garcia whose home town is the sleepy valley of Sonora, CA. Josh started playing drums at the tender age of thirteen and was the final ingredient that would allow Grade 8 to move forward.

The four musicians moved into a secluded house in a desert area, building "Fight Club" style bunks to sleep in. They worked on new material for hours every day in the shed they shared with black widows and scorpions. At night they explored America's largest adult playground. Several months later they had created the songs that comprise their second record, "Resurrection". Tightly wound tales of desire, adversity, and victory that ooze with the hunger and drive of those that refuse to succumb. From the unstoppable raw thrust of the title track to the eerie ghost town vibe of "Ignore", Grade 8 presents a dynamic blend of textured rock. "Fallen Angel" is highlighted by Dustin's creative use of guitar effects and Josh's unstoppable double kick technique. Ryan's growth as a vocalist is readily apparent on "Fighting Me", exploring more melodic territory while retaining the power and flow of previous material. Stitch and Josh form an ultra tight unit, whether laying back into a groove or launching a thrash attack. This wall of sound is complimented by solid songwriting and the lust of those who have fought to survive and demand to thrive.

The trials of the members of Grade 8 have only left them more determined to succeed. More importantly they have led them all to this point. The invisible hand of fate has placed them in a position where their individual talents combine to create an etity much greater than the sum of its parts. With a dynamic sound, a commitment to high energy live spectacle and a solid plan to create a lasting, hard core fan base, Grade 8 are not content to simply survive. They will dominate.

Dustin Tooker's Gear
Dustin Tooker

Gear List

MSP10 Studio