Meet Chris Bender and Dave Semans, Mega-Fans Turned Rock Stars
Did you ever dream of being a rock star? Riff playing, guitar smashing, outrageous outfits, big hair and screaming fans sound like the life you could get used to? Planoites Chris Bender and Dave Semans found a way to be in their all-time favorite rock bands by creating two tribute bands: Guns 4 Roses and Walk this Way.
Chris and Dave took vastly different routes to becoming musicians. Chris Bender was a military kid who bounced around the country growing up. He moved to Plano to intern for Raytheon and later attend SMU for his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering. As a student in Florida he taught himself to play bass guitar using a new-fangled invention in the 90s called the internet.
Dave Semans, originally from Casa Grande, Arizona, attended University of North Texas and pursued a degree in Jazz Performance. He’s been a part of several bands and teaches guitar.
So how on earth did these two come together to form two tribute bands where they pretend to be mega rock stars? Craigslist.
Chris, who still works for Raytheon, and Dave, who works for the City of Plano at Oak Point Recreation Center, met when Chris posted an ad on Craigslist looking for musicians. Ever the engineer, Chris had the wild idea of engineering one band dedicated to performing the musical repertoire of his two favorite bands, Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith.
At the time, Dave played in an 80s band and was looking for something new. So he answered the ad, as did a couple more bandmates from the DFW area and a lead singer from Austin.
The band came together and luckily, as Chris points out, “we skipped the hard part of having to write our own music and make a name for ourselves. We essentially have a formula to follow. It’s part music, part acting.” Watching these guys impersonate the real musicians is something to behold. You tend to forget they aren’t the real band–that’s how good they are.
These guys tour like rock royalty as well, performing about 30 shows a year. They’ve played shows for as few as two people and as many as 26,000. In the end though, Dave explains that “no matter the number of people in the audience you have to give the same performance. You have to keep that energy, that momentum going and give your best show every time.”
Chris and Dave have families, too, so they enjoy being the band that a lot of kids see for their first concert. The band tailors each show to the occasion and the audience.
The guys laugh saying sometimes they don’t know how comical their lives will get when they book shows. They regale tales of private jets, no sleep, back to back shows, parties in L.A., as well as off-the-beaten path locales like the First Nation village they played in Canada, where the only way to get to the gig was by snow mobile, with makeshift sleds dragging their gear.
The musicians get to enjoy the best of both worlds with both full time careers and musical alter egos. Chris says, “at times it feels surreal, that being in a band was always something that happened on tv, not in real life.” Dave feels blessed to have the ability to pursue his love of music. He jokes, “I always thought I’d end up as an accountant or something!”
Been wondering if the guys have met their famous counter parts? The answer is yes. Chris says it’s always happened naturally while attending shows or being in the right place at the right time. After all, being in a tribute band means you’re the ultimate fan.
You’ve got the chance to see the fellas in Walk this Way’s gig on Friday, October 21 at 6:30pm at the Shops at Willow Bend as part of the outdoor “Concerts in the Courtyard” series.Guns 4 Roses Band Website > Walk This Way Band Website >