Michael Hernandez (STEEL TEAR, AERIAL, SEDUCER, LOST CITY, SHOCK CIRCUS, DOG MAFIA) was born in Ogden Utah on June 20, 1964. Mike grew up loving music and it was artists such as Ted Nugent and Aerosmith that inspired Mike to pursue a life of rock ‘n roll. As a teenager in the early ‘80s, Mike would go see some of the top local acts (THE TOOLS, MANNEQUIN, THE JACK) as they played the Salt Lake circuits. Many of the members of these top bands took notice of Mike and knew he would one day be a rockstar. Danny Dickman (lead guitarist for THE TOOLS) said “Mike was the cutest little shit that came to our shows and I knew he would eventually become a dynamic frontman.” Mark Morrison (THE JACK, VICE, HARLOT) thought of Mike when he formed his band VICE, and later reflected, “Mike was this cute little singer that all the ladies loved, and I knew he’d draw a big crowd, but Mike’s glam style vocals just weren’t quite the sound VICE was looking for.” But Mark knew Mike would make it fronting a band that fit that vocal style.
Mike joined up with a band called STEEL TEAR in 1984 with future LIXX bassist Mark Heasley. STEEL TEAR cut a demo, but shortly disbanded due to creative differences. Mike was on the hunt to front a new band when he found an ad at a local music shop for a band called WEDGE and they were looking for a new singer. Mike called them up and tried out. As a result, Mike was asked to join. At the time Mike was working at the Cottonwood Ski Connection and he arranged to have the band practice there, but they had to wait to practice until after the neighboring Baskin Robins restaurant closed. While doing some paperwork, Mike noticed a Snowbird poster that said, “Aerial Tram.” Mike thought that the name “Aerial” would be a great name for his band. He quickly convinced the rest of the guys that the name WEDGE wasn’t going to cut it, and they changed the name to AERIAL.
AERIAL consisted of Mike on vocals, Paul Watson on guitar, Chris Doman (ANTIX) on bass, Chad Bennet on drums and Kent Burk on keyboards. The band began to playout locally with their first show at R Comforts in 1985. However, Paul Watson soon moved away, and the rest of the band fizzled out. Mike was on the hunt for some new musicians to keep AERIAL alive. Mike recruited Rod Merrill (OBSESSION, DARK HAVEN), Darren Palacios on guitars and Darrin Coss on drums. But this version of AERIAL was short lived too, and Mike had to bring in all new members again. Mike first invited his old band-mate in STEEL TEAR, Jeff Varner, as well as Scott Kelsch to play guitar. Mike added Brent Parkin on drums and Gary Galvin (CIRKUS, OUTSIDE INFINITY) on bass. After playing the local scene for a while, the band began to have some inner conflict and decided to part ways. Mike went on to join the Utah-based band SEDUCER which featured Perry “Tazman” Murphy (HARD KNOX) on guitar, Todd O’Brian (ANGEL REIGN) on bass and Garren Godferson (KIDD BLAST) on drums. Mike eventually convinced the band to change its name to AERIAL. The rest of the band agreed with the name change and AERIAL was back in action.
In 1987, AERIAL began to get some local attention and attendance at concerts started to increase. Mike thought it was time to bring in another guitar player to add to the band’s guitar-driven music. Mike invited a previous member, Jeff Varner, but the tension between Jeff and Perry was quickly evident. Perry left AERIAL and moved on to HARD KNOX where he found some success. While AERIAL searched for another guitarist, the band members began to grow apart and parted ways. Mike refused to give up on AERIAL and completely reinvented the band with a new line-up consisting of Tim McLaughlin (URBAN BLEU) on bass, Danny Robbins (URBAN BLEU, COLT 46) on drums, Brent James and Joe Bertagnolli on guitars. This was the first touring lineup for AERIAL, but they realized that many of the shows were booked in bars and Tim McLaughlin was underage. This forced AERIAL to let Tim go and they were on the lookout for another bassist. Mike ran into Timmy “Champagne” White (HARD RYDE, AERIAL, CHAMPAGNE, MEGATTACK) who was the bassist in rival band HARD RYDE. Mike suggested that Timmy should leave his band and come join him in a real band. Timmy Joined up with Mike and the band was back to playing live shows in front of packed clubs. But as fate guessed it, this version of the band was also short-lived. Mike and Tim were now on the hunt to find some musicians that would have the same passion and desire for AERIAL’s success as they had. Tim called up his old HARD RYDE band-mates, guitarist Clint Moss (MAD RACKET, HARD RYDE, AERIAL) and drummer Rob Tucker (HARD RYDE, CHAMPAGNE) and asked them to join AERIAL. They agreed, and the band was ready to get serious and lay down some topnotch songs.
After AERIAL compiled a group of new songs, they began to play out as much as they could. The band was pleased with the amount of local success that they were having as the crowds grew larger and the band became tighter. At this point, Mike was happy that the band was still intact. The band decided to hit the road to see if they could find more national success. As they toured the US Northwest, they found a second home in Spokane, Washington. While in Washington, the band decided it was time to record a few songs. They entered Lion Production Studios with engineer Gary Hanson (LION). AERIAL recorded the songs “Cuz I Know”, “Crazy Over You”, “Out of Control” and “Is It Over.” As they continued to tour, they set up many shows that required the band to play two sets. They refused to turn down gigs, but they didn’t have enough material to fill four complete sets, so they had to get creative. Every night, early in the tour, the band would fake about twenty minutes of technical difficulties to kill some time in order to fulfill the two-set requirement. Mike would also tell the crowd that they had just received a special request from a name he would make up on the spot and then the band would repeat a song from their set. With these few tricks, AERIAL was able to continue touring. After their first year on tour, AERIAL had enough songs written to play the night without technical difficulties or phantom song requests.
AERIAL continued to tour playing with other national acts such as GUARDIAN, HEAD EAST, OLIVER MAGNUM, DANGEROUS TOYS, NITRO, APRIL WINE, TUFF, PRETTY BOY FLOYD and LONDON. Extensive touring and little time off caused tension in the band, which was warded off by drugs and plenty of action with local groupies as they traveled. The band toured for three straight years into the summer of 1990. At this point, Aerial decided to take a break. Mike moved to Las Vegas and joined the band “LOST CITY.” In 1992, AERIAL reunited to do a two-night show in Salt Lake City at the club Rafters. The Salt Lake crowd was glad to have AERIAL back and playing better than ever. After the Salt Lake show, the band took some time off. The show at Rafters would be the last show with this line-up.
AERIAL reformed in 1998 with Jimmy Felt (AERIAL, MIND RAPE) on guitar and Donny Anderson (SHOCK CIRCUS, AERIAL) on drums. This lineup recorded the “Unfinished Business” demo with Robert Sweet (STRYPER) playing on the song “Almighty Warrior.” Donny was from Las Vegas and was unwilling to move to Salt Lake City, so the band was forced to look for another drummer. They found a great drummer in Ivan “Jay” Conatser (AERIAL, SHADOW). In 2002, the band entered the studio again to cut the EP “I’ve Seen It All” which mostly consisted of songs that were written in the ‘80s but were only recorded live up to that point. The EP also had a remake of the 1990 song “Is It Over,” but this time recorded as an up-tempo rocker instead of a ballad.
In 2005, Timmy left the band for a brief time and was replaced by the well-accomplished bassist, Tom Browning (SLY BOOTS, CHAMPAGNE, AERIAL). Timmy returned in 2006, the same year he played with the reunited MEGATTACK. AERIAL continued to open for such bands as BANG TANGO, DOKKEN, KROKUS, STEPHEN PEARCY, RATT, BRITNY FOX, ADLER’S APPETITE, FRANK HANNON BAND, MICHAEL SHENKER GROUP and WINGER.
It was in July 2007 when AERIAL accomplished one of its proudest moments as Mike Hernandez was able to play a huge show in front of his hometown of Ogden. AERIAL opened the show for L.A. GUNS, FIREHOUSE and WARRANT at the Ogden Amphitheatre. The crowd loved having Mike back in town for such an event and they cheered on their hometown hero as he belted out some of AERIAL’s classic tunes. In 2008, AERIAL entered Counterpoint Studios to record their most popular songs (many that had never been recorded previously) in the release “Reentry.” The band continued to play live and draw a great crowd. Sadly, on November 14, 2008, Timmy “Champagne” White passed away. This was a very sad and somber time for AERIAL and the entire Salt Lake music community as they mourned the loss of a true legend. Timmy was loved by everyone and he never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Timmy will always be loved and missed. This album (Crazy Over You) is dedicated to the loving memory of Timmy “Champagne” White.
Shortly after Timmy’s passing, Jimmy departed the band to focus on heavier music. Mike did not want to give up on AERIAL and he brought in Wendy White (Timmy’s wife) on bass alongside Jon Ward (ANTIX, RELOADED) until she learned the music. Mike also brought in Kurt Johnson (VAMP, HARLOT, DOGS DAY, ASPHALT JUNGLE, AERIAL) and his son Randy both on guitar.
Though AERIAL has gone through numerous lineup changes, the band has always been true to the melodic hard rock and metal sound that fans have always loved. AERIAL released the album “Mean Little Kid” in 2013 and has continued playing out and bringing in the crowds.
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