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Penn Hills band re-forms, prepares to record first album

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From the left, Katie Hate: bassist Bobby Fello, guitarist Max Theofilis and drummer Jake Saltzman. The trio will play an upcoming local-band showcase at Mr. Small's in Millvale.

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When Penn Hills band Katie Hate played a late-August show at the Rosedale Beach Club, it was billed as the final show for the original lineup. Drummer Jake Saltzman was graduating and headed off to join the Marine Corps.

But about a month into his training at Parris Island, S.C., a back injury Saltzman had originally suffered in 10th grade recurred, and he was discharged in the fall. He came home to Penn Hills to let his back heal, but it wasn't long before the itch to play was back.

“Instantly,” said Saltzman, 18, said. “I wrote (bassist Bobby Fello and guitarist Max Theofilis) when I found out I was coming back and told them to be ready because I'm coming home — now we're more serious than ever.”

Theofilis and Fello were looking for a new drummer when they heard from Saltzman.

“We figured that meant the band was always destined to be,” said Theofilis. “We came back with a much more inspired attitude than before. So we were eager to get back into the basement as a group again.”

Fello, 19, said he is excited to have the group back together.

“We were more determined than anything,” he said. “Being in a band is fun, but if you want to make it in music, there is a lot of hard work that needs to be put in. We practice five or six days a week, sometimes for two hours at a time. We plan on investing a lot of our hours into the band, but in the end, it'll all be worth it because we are all passionate about music and we get to share the same experience together.”

Saltzman said he has just as much passion for the band as he did for his prospective Marine Corps career.

“I think the one thing I regret the most is basically turning my back on the band more and more as time went on,” Saltzman said. “I joined the Marines because I didn't want to be like an everyday average kid; I wanted something different. But now I realize that I got sent home for a reason and this band is where I'm supposed to be.

“All the dedication and hard work that went into getting ready for the Marines has doubled my devotion to drumming and the band.”

Theofilis, 19, who writes the band's songs, kept himself busy during their hiatus, and when Saltzman returned home, rehearsals included a set of all-new tunes. The band will be taking those songs into Treelady Studios in Turtle Creek to record their first album this winter.

“We'll have 13 songs to record when we hit the studio,” Saltzman said.

On top of that, Katie Hate will play its first show since summer at a Jan. 10 showcase at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale. The band will close the evening joined by acts including Cynimatics, Fiveunder, My Thoughts in Color, Pressin On and Exempt. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $8.

Theofilis could not be more excited for the show.

“I'm looking forward to what this show will mean to us once it's finished,” he said. “We are all ready for what might be ahead of us. I hope somehow that we start to make money doing this, because I want to get out of college.”

Saltzman said he hopes to play to the band's biggest crowd yet, adding that his back injury hasn't slowed him down at all.

“Surprisingly, it never (affects my playing). I can go as crazy as I want and my back never tells me to stop or slow down,” he said.

Fello said the band will debut at least five brand-new tunes at the Mr. Small's show.

“I just love playing shows; we all do,” he said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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