Meyer Schlossenberg, the drummer for the band Vertigo Red, knows what it’s like to almost make it big. When he was around 22, just out of college, he auditioned for Thee Katatonix, a well-known Baltimore band that had just finished up a tour in England.
“They were kind of grunge before grunge was big,” Schlossenberg said, and landing a job as the band’s new drummer felt like hitting the jackpot.
“That was incredible for me,” he continued. “It’s something that every young musician aspires to. But then once you get that role, it’s not just sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. It’s not all glamour. It’s a serious commitment.”
For the next four years, he toured with the band all over the mid-Atlantic, hitting major venues like Hammerjack’s in Baltimore (the same stage where Guns N’ Roses made its local debut). And about a decade after Schlossenberg joined Thee Katatonix, his current bandmate, Glen Forsbacka, had his own brush with fame.
In Forsbacka’s case, he joined a southern rock group called Four Day Creep, which he said was successful enough to be offered a recording contract from Arista Records. The band didn’t end up signing the contract, but his experience with the music industry left Forsbacka jaded at best.
“I’ll put it this way,” he said. “After that band broke up, I didn’t pick up the bass for two years because I was so disgruntled. And then when I did, I said I was only going to do it for the fun of it, not for the money of it.”
Schlossenberg went through his own troubles when he left Thee Katatonix to get married — a life decision that wasn’t exactly compatible with a competitive touring schedule, he said. But he and Forsbacka still bring a professional mindset to Vertigo Red, their latest venture with two long-time bandmates.
The cover band formed after Schlossenberg and Forsbacka left a band called Soul Easy with guitarists Deno Photinakis and Ken Leclercq. The four men decided to form a new, contemporary cover band with a female vocalist — someone who could handle a versatile range of songs. Enter Briana Marcantoni, the band’s lead vocalist, who finalized the lineup in 2015. As for the name Vertigo Red? Well, Schlossenberg said, it was the only moniker that stuck out of more than a hundred options.
“There are people who think it comes from a book or the Alfred Hitchcock movie, but that’s not the case,” he explained. “I kept suggesting Vertigo and as we kept narrowing the list down, it was one of the only ones that remained. And we added the ‘Red’ to make it more original.”
About half the band’s five members are married with children, but Vertigo Red still plays around 55 to 60 shows a year, according to Schlossenberg. And even though their schedules are different, everyone has the same level of commitment, added Leclercq.
When the band meets in Annapolis for rehearsals, everyone is expected to already know their parts. They’ve even made improvements to their setlist minutes before taking the stage.
“We had a show the weekend after Aretha Franklin passed, and we literally learned ‘Respect’ behind the bar at Looney’s Pub in Bel Air.” Leclercq said. “Because we knew the audience would respond, and we wanted to pay our respects.”
Their hard work has been met with several major bookings, including SunFest in Ocean City and two NFL pregame shows scheduled for later this fall, Schlossenberg said. It’s enough that even he’s satisfied.
“I’m the guy in Vertigo Red that, yeah, I want the most out of music and I always will,” he said. “I’m always wanting to push for more travel, I’m always wanting to do originals. But when you stop and think, there’s a lot of bands that want to get to where we are.”