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Most musicians' day jobs merely provide economic sustenance between gigs; a way to make ends meet. Then there's Jack McDowell of stickfigure. His day job not only let him pursue his musical career, it also allowed him to earn the 1993 Cy Young Award. For eleven years, as Jack was recording five albums and touring the country with two different bands, he also held a day job as a three-time All-Star Major League Pitcher.

That was then, this is now.

McDowell is now free to pursue his musical passion full-time, and stickfigure, his band of the past eight years, just put out a power-pop gem with their third release, Ape of the Kings.

With a sound that conjures up images of the Beatles, Tom Petty, R.E..M., and The Replacements, stickfigure is out to ingrain their sound into the heads of music fans everywhere. "This is a record that comes at a perfect time for us. It is the summation of a lot of hard work, writing maturity and the enduring relationship of great musicians," says McDowell, singer and guitarist for the band.

Stickfigure formed in 1992 following a Smithereens tour with Jack's former band, V.I.E.W., as the opening act. Original and current stickfigure guitarist Michael Hamilton held sound engineer duties for those shows, and later produced V.I.E.W.'s second and final project, the four song E.P., "Replace the Mind." "Mike and I developed both a great working relationship and a personal friendship during those recordings," McDowell recalls. "When it came time for the next batch of songs to be recorded, I again contacted Mike to produce the project."

Those recordings would become stickfigure's 12-song debut album Just A Thought, which was released in 1994 by Chicago indie label Monsterdisc. "I felt strongly that the songs and the direction I was heading in were definitely not right for V.I.E.W. I chose stickfigure as a new band name, because it represented the music; raw, stripped down, and no b.s.! Also, I was referred to as 'stickfigure' in my younger years," laughs McDowell.

Both McDowell and Hamilton shared production and guitar duties on Just A Thought, and five bass players, (including McDowell), would lend their talents to the low end. One of the bass players who participated was the Smithereens' own Mike Mesaros. Mesaros appeared on four tracks on Just a Thought, and became stickfigure's permanent bassist.

Without a drummer for the newly formed stickfigure, Hamilton and Mesaros approached mutual friend Frank Funaro to complete the band. This line-up remained intact for three years and the recording of stickfigure's follow-up album Feedbag, which was released by Boston's Monolyth/ Soundproof label. Feedbag also saw McDowell take over the producer's chair. "I had a raw/ indie sound in mind. I wanted to see if I could get it on tape myself," explains McDowell. McDowell began recording in his Cleveland basement and returned with a blistering 13-song release. Feedbag is a guitar lover's dream: loud, raucous and in your face. Don Dixon's mixing efforts intensified the passion and angst the songs conveyed.

In 1998 , with Jack's blessing, Funaro took over the drum seat for Cracker and McDowell went back into the basement to begin work on what would become stickfigure's current record, Ape of the Kings.

McDowell recounts that, "There was a two year period in 1998-99 when my baseball career took a negative turn for health reasons. I knew that the possibility of retirement was a reality and I was beginning to write the next record. A lot of amazing material came from riding that emotional roller coaster and I feel it transferred perfectly into song. While the songs aren't specifically about baseball, any writer will tell you that their emotional state at the time of writing dictates the feel of the music."

From the whimsical "Call Me Crazy" and "No One Has To Know" to the passion, and blazing guitars of "The Grave" and "Hour of Day," the thirteen songs on Ape of the Kings ride that roller coaster to guitar pop perfection. Prior to signing with Colorado based What Are Records? in early 2002, stickfigure's "The Grave" was already reaching radio audiences on Top 40, alternative and adult contemporary stations. Future singles will include," Hey Man," and "Just Like Them."