MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. -- The song was "Master of Puppets" by Metallica.
"The guitars just possessed me," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Brad Lee, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 airframe mechanic.
Lee said, from the moment he heard the song blaring from a car stereo back in high school he changed. He discarded his drums and began playing the guitar working, to emulate the skill he heard resonating from those speakers.
For most, the adolescent obsession of being in a band usually fades away, but Lee continued pushing, practicing and playing. His hard work has taken him from a student with dreams of grandeur, to the lead guitarist in one of the hottest local acts.
Until a few months ago Lee was a part of Zero 4, a band made entirely of Marines. But as things go in music, priorities change, people change and the band parted ways.
As Zero 4's days were winding down, the band continued to perform with a hodgepodge of local talent intermingled with existing band members. Ryan Taylor and Kevin Reeves, both from the band Slavemachine, joined the band for their final shows.
Slavemachine was also in the mix of reshuffling their line-up and looking for a lead guitarist, a slot they were glad to fill with the recently available Lee, said Taylor. To mark the new lineup, the band decided to change the name as well as the members.
"We felt it was time for a change, fresh music and a fresh name," said Taylor, the frontman for the newly formed Devolution. He said the band's music differs from earlier work by Slavemachine, "it was 'nu metal' and now it's more straightforward metal."
While the band continues to play local shows their sights are set on completing a full studio album by the end of the year. With Lee coming from a different band, the musicians must find a common ground when writing new material.
"They had their own music, and coming out of Zero 4 we had our own music," said Devilution's guitarist.
Originally, the military makeup of Zero 4 was a concern for Taylor, knowing that one phone call could take any of the band members away for months at a time. "We've been lucky that no one has been deployed," he said. "Even if (Lee) has to go away for a while, he always has a spot in Devilution," said Taylor.
While life may change for Lee and the members of the band, they are enjoying what they have while they have it.
"We are living every little boy's dream," said Lee. "Being in the band, performing in front of a crowd with the same love of music as you - it's a rush. There is nothing like it."
Turning his boy-hood dream into a reality took hard work and a constant drive to become better.
"It could really wear you down, having to travel, practice, recording, working, dealing with life's struggles," he said. "You have to be strong on the inside the Marine Corps has definitely helped in that aspect."
Along with the local following the band has accumulated, Marines from Lee's squadron regularly make it out to his shows.
"You won't believe how many people ask, 'when is your next show,'" said Lee. "I give them 100 percent and they give it right back to me 100 percent," he said of the Marines.
"The crowd really gets into it - wild," said Sgt. Patrick Eversull, VMMT-204 airframes mechanic, of the band's concerts.
Eversull, who has been going to Lee's concerts for the better part of the past year, said they always stand out from the rest.
"If they are not headlining, they are usually ten times better (than the other bands)," said Eversull. "They steal the show."
The support from VMMT-204 extends beyond concert attendance. The command has also come through to help Lee continue his dream. At the last minute, his band was given the chance to play on a television show in Virginia.
"We had to be packed and on the road in less than 48 hours," recounted Lee.
His command sped up his liberty approval and got him out the door with enough time to make the show.
"We really rocked the place hard, and it was because of the extra time we had to make things happen," he added.
For more information on upcoming Devilution shows, visit www.myspace.com/slavemachine.