Local band looks to keep on rockin' and rollin'
By Kyle Vuille
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
“It’s just like practice,” said Eric Palmer, frontman of Double Bak, joked, referring to the band’s drummer, Ben Sportsman’s, late arrival for the band’s interview.
Sportsman, however, was not late for the band’s most recent show, the class of 87’s reunion at The Oasis Friday, July 21, and that’s a good thing because the band was in its element that night.
“It was one of the best gigs I’ve played in years,” said Sportsman. “It felt good.”
Double Bak originated under the name XXX about 15 years ago with Palmer and Sportsman and some other musicians who have since moved on.
The band called it quits five years and reformed as Double Bak.
The current lineup includes Palmer on lead guitar and vocals, Jon Bailey on guitar, Sean Wooten on bass and back up vocals and Sportsman on drums. Another member and inside joke between band members is Gary, the nickname for Bailey’s sizable beard, which they say hits the low notes on Bailey’s guitar and drinks like a fish.
Double Bak has a variety of influences, but the bigger ones include Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, and other metal groups. Palmer summed it up as mostly “heavy metal.”
The current band members have been playing together for about a year, only playing a couple of gigs since then.
Sportsman said one of the reasons for the lack of shows is the market has quieted down a bit compared to what it was 10 years ago. Front man Palmer noted the music scene has died out in recent years with venues closing around town.
Wooten recalls playing two nights a week for about 10 years starting the mid 80s.
“It used to be amazing, when I first moved here, and started XXX, it was amazing, get top dollar, get booked every weekend if we wanted to and this town has died, all the big bars like the Jordan and Twilight have closed and sold out and so really the only place in town, a bar, that has live music is The Oasis,” Palmer said.
Band members agreed that the recent gig at the Oasis was one of the better gigs they’ve had in awhile, noting the crowd participation and the venue was conducive for a good show.
Other reasons the band’s gigs are limited include just age and life getting in the way.
“Singing gets to be a thing,” said Wooten, referring to himself and Palmer losing their voices during shows.
All the members, despite being rock stars at heart, still have lives and day jobs.
Palmer does drywall, painting, various contracting work, and owns a car wash. Wooten works for a phone company. Bailey works as a dispatcher as well as a warehouse manager. Sportsman works as a carpet layer.
On a positive note, the band also spoke of how bigger opportunities have sprouted because people’s tastes changed. One example is the county fair, where there has been a shift from always having country music bands to hosting more and more rock bands.
“It was really only til we came along, they started having rock bands at the fair,” Sportsman said. “They realized it was a better draw than country so now we have bands like Seether,” Sportsman said.
Sportsman, who grew up in Glendive, remembers 2007 being the first year the county fair hosted rock bands and the turn out being phenomenal. Double Bak opened for the band, Warrant that year. Warrant is famous for their song, “Sweet Cherry Pie.”
“It was a huge crowd, we got up and played, and it was packed full of people,” Palmer recalled.
Times have also changed in terms in the thrill of seeing live bands.
“When I grew up too, I hated DJs and still do. Man, if I want to hear the record, I’ll just stay home and play it,” Palmer said. “I want to see him grate it.”
The band’s next local show will be at Glendive’s Chamber of Commerce BBQ in the Badlands on Sept. 30 at the county fairgrounds.
Reach Kyle Vuille at