Dennis Brown - guitar, vocals
Frank Forray - bass guitar, backing vocals
Richie Brooks - drums, backing vocals
Dennis began his musical journey at the age of 9 in San Pedro, CA, by taking piano lessons at the local community college. After taking the beginning and intermediate lessons, it was time to step it up a notch and take private lessons. Dennis had the unfortunate experience of having a teacher who was "all work and no play". Less than six months in, Dennis didn't want anything to do with private lessons. "The teacher that I had completely ruined my desire to learn. Even at a young age, I kept thinking to myself, 'why is this feeling more and more like school?'. I was verbally disciplined each time I hit a wrong note and playing newly learned compositions seemed like taking a test. I was better off at that age playing for fun at my leisure."
As Dennis ended his formal training for piano he went on to do the things that most kids do. After hearing Van Halen for the first time in an Audio store, that all changed. It was 1982 and Van Halen was blaring through the stores' stereos in unison. "The sound of Eddie's guitar just hit me like a punch in the gut. I was told the music I was hearing was Van Halen". Between 1982 and the end of 1983, Dennis made sure to get each of the five Van Halen cassettes available. During those years, Dennis enrolled at the same junior college for guitar lessons that he had for piano lessons years earlier. The difference was that when private lessons began, there was no end in sight! His teacher would encourage Dennis to bring tapes of things which he wanted to learn as the 2nd part of each lesson. By that time it was 1984-1985 so bringing cassettes of Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, and Iron Maiden was a must.
Frank and Dennis met in high school and as the story goes, they formed their first band over a discussion with friends right there at school. This led to their first full-on "garage band". "We had something to aim for though", Dennis recalls. "High School parties!". "We were having a blast as a band unit!" It was a reminder of why Dennis started playing music in the first place. "We all attended our first concerts together. That was some serious motivation!" Frank and Dennis got more opportunities to play in front of big crowds including High School lunch concerts, a talent show and yes, more high school parties.
Dennis went to Junior college before heading off to the local university and to his delight, the others did too, meaning the band was still intact. "We started to get attention because we still looked young enough that people were surprised when we could play our instruments. We were lucky to play in Hollywood while the music scene was thriving and KNAC 105.5 was on the air". Growing up in San Pedro, California, Dennis remembers the bi-monthly trip over the Vincent Thomas Bridge to see his favorite bands at the Long Beach Arena. "Frank and I still dug all the same bands we had listened to in high school. It was uncanny how similar our musical tastes were from the start.
The last several years put Dennis in the position of being the lead singer as well as guitarist of Ninth Circle. "The ongoing theme of having fun playing music has continued. Being a three-piece allows us to do what we want to do and not worry if our lead singer will show up to practice ... or even to the gig for that matter! 3 cd's later and another one on the way in 2019, the formula seems to be working.
Richie "Captain Black" Brooks is a multi-instrumentalist who’s been playing drums and bass since the age of 7 and 8 respectively. Richie plays drums, bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards. Richie grew up around his musical brother and sister. His older brother, who was in a band at the time with current Warrant guitarist, Joey Allen, helped him learn to play the bass via the guitar. In 7th grade he met current No Doubt guitarist, Tom Dumont and started a band playing mostly Rush and Judas Priest while playing bass. They would play gigs around the Irvine area including middle school, high school and dances. Over the years Richie has played in several different bands in California and in Colorado. Richie also currently plays guitar in the So Cal band, Chain Web who he was an original member playing bass and left for almost 20 years. He also plays drums and bass in the internet project, Mental Vudu.
Frank goes on, “obviously we’ve known Richie for a while and as soon as I mentioned his name to Dennis it was a serious no brainer! He always have a good time hanging with Richie and n. w that he’s in the band I can’t think of better fit; he’s a great fun guy to hang with and he’s an incredible drummer! We’re stoked to have him as part of the Ninth Circle family!”
"I'm not exactly sure when the first time I saw Ninth Circle play but there was such a great professionalism and feel about the band. It just drew me to them. Great vocals, bass, guitar, drums, it had it all for me. Then the next time I saw them, I bought The Power of One and Legions of the Brave. I was just as blown away as I was when I first saw them!! From then on I started to go to more shows and wanted to get to know the guys. I was 'jonesing' to jam with them in ANY capacity. On several occasions I suggested we get together and jam. Then during their recording process of this upcoming CD, I didn't hear from them in while. Then out of the blue I got the Facebook message that would change my life! They were looking for a new drummer!! Funny story- even after hanging out and talking music and helping them set up and tear down, I guess I never let them know what instrument(s) I play....."
I'm absolutely humbled and stoked to begin playing with these guys and grow Ninth Circle!!
For Frank Forray, coming of age in the early '80s set the foundation of what was to become a life-long infatuation and love affair with heavy metal music. It was 1982, the year of "Number of the Beast", "Screaming for Vengeance", "Diver Down" and "Speak of the Devil" albums which all left a lasting impression of the type of music that would capture the imagination of a curious 10-year-old for years to come.
Frank was always musically curious, he played violin between the ages of 8 and 12 until the program he was involved with went away. According to Frank, "I think playing the violin was my parent's way of hoping that my Hungarian heritage would find me musically and that somehow I could channel the spirit of Franz Liszt. No luck, I had more Maiden than Liszt in my blood".
As he got older and more infatuated with heavy metal, and as its popularity grew in the early '80s, he knew he had to be involved in it someway. "I had converted my Pancho Gonzales tennis racquet into a guitar, complete with strings made by tying rubber bands together, so that I could jam along with Def Leppard's "High 'n Dry" cassette which was my ritual before my Saturday morning soccer games. Of course, the 'racquet' coming out of my 'guitar' was nonexistent", notes Frank.
1986 was the year that it all changed. It was Frank's freshman year of high school and this is where he met Dennis; as Frank puts it, "two good Catholic kids in Catholic school listening to the "Devil's music". He was the first person I ever knew who had an electric guitar, so an idea ran through my head...we should start a band! Instantly our curious friends jumped in; one said he would sing, another said he would play drums and another said he would play rhythm guitar. So it was set, the band was my idea and I was out of it before it started. So I turned to Dennis and he said, "Why don't you play bass?" With a puzzled response of, 'huh?' that was my introduction to bass guitar."
So to be in the band Frank had to buy a bass guitar. He cut his neighbor's lawn twice a month for $12 and saved every dollar so that he could buy a Sear's Roebuck bass guitar. He still has it hanging on the wall of his studio. And from there started his bass playing quest and he never looked back.
Frank predominantly plays Fender precision bass guitars. He figured if they were good enough for Steve Harris, they were good enough for him to play as he was learning… and they were. Over the years he has tried other styles and makes of bass guitars, but he always comes back to Fender p-basses. "They just fit my physical attack-like style of playing", says Frank.
Writing music came naturally to Frank, "I write the type of music I hear in my head and what I think Dennis would enjoy playing. I don't have any formal training in playing bass or writing, so I'm pretty much self-taught. I predominantly write by myself; the music first, bass second and then lyrics. I write everything on my classical guitar and then translate it to electric guitar and bass. Dennis and I have a pretty good system; if I struggle with lyrics for a song I tell him to write something. This was the case with 'Our Last Days' and 'Prisoner of the World'. Sometimes he writes a song around a really killer riff and that will inspire me to write lyrics such was the case with 'Hour 21' and 'If It Bleeds'".
Frank's main influences are Steve Harris, Phil Lynott, Billy Sheehan, Cliff Burton, and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. His style of play is Steve Harris and Phil Lynott. His stage presence comes from Steve Harris, Cliff Burton, and Billy Sheehan. Billy inspires him to adlib and takes chances musically. And his composing and recording influences come from Steve Harris and Yngwie.
For someone who had no clue what bass guitar was, Frank absolutely loves playing bass and has so much fun that he couldn't see himself playing another instrument in a band. And as for the type of music he plays, "heavy metal is it! No matter how unpopular or un-cool it may have been over my 20 years of playing in a heavy metal band, it's in my blood", Frank proudly states.
"It can never be too much metal!"