Originally published on Page A1 of the York Daily Record/Sunday News on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
By LAUREN BOYER
Daily Record/Sunday News
No one at the Lyndon Diner made a passing glance Tuesday morning at the three middle-aged men sitting around a table of orange juice and coffee.
Then the fourth, Chad Taylor, arrived almost an hour later.
Still, no one requested an autograph. Maybe no one recognized them.
“It happens,” Patrick Dahlheimer said, digging into an omelet before a city press conference Tuesday morning. “We’re at Target. At the checkout counter, my son, just looking for some attention, goes, ‘So, dad, when are you going on tour again with the Gracious Few?’ and announces it, just waiting to see if anybody else will jump.”
The 40-year-old bassist keeps a low profile, raising a family in Spring Garden Township far from the hectic chaos of big city musical hubs.
For him, York is a place of memories – where he, Taylor and Chad Gracey launched their career of platinum albums and hits like “Lightning Crashes” with victory at the Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School talent show.
It’s where the boys, who later toured the world with former frontman Ed Kowalczyk, did what any teenager would do:
Spent that prize money at Showbiz Pizza.
Now, more than 20 years later, they – along with friend Bill Hynes – plan to write a bigger check to the town where they started a “small, little worldwide revolution,” said Taylor, 41, who now lives in Lancaster. “It’s coming back to where we started from”
The four men, known collectively as Think Loud Development, purchased a 110-year-old building in Reading and a building on East York Street formerly occupied by Bi-Comp, a printing company.
Both projects will be contracted by York Township-based Kinsley Construction.
The York building, purchased for $164,000, will undergo a $10 million renovation. The building will house Think Loud’s headquarters, a music studio, apartments and a “tech company” that could create 70 to 100 jobs, Hynes said.
Hynes said his team is also submitting a proposal for a 5.2 acre parcel, home to the Keystone Colorworks building, in the Northwest Triangle in York.
“What politicians and other developers can’t do, the music community can do,” Hynes added. “These guys have 60 million fans worldwide, and they’re very much still relevant.”
The 39-year-old Northampton County real estate developer, whose portfolio includes multi-family housing communities in Arizona and Colorado, met the three bandmates through a mutual friend.
“I wasn’t really a big music fan,” Hynes said. “Basically, it wasn’t until being with them all the time that I had a better appreciation for music . . .”
Dahlheimer cut in.
“What he’s saying is, if you hang out with us all day, you might not like the music, but you’ll find out we’re really nice guys,” he joked. “Right? Then you’d have to like the music. ‘Oh, those guys are so nice, I have to like the music.’”
And then there’s that song with the expletive in the title.
The one from their 1994 album Throwing Copper. The one some argue is a slam against the town Think Loud hopes to redevelop.
“That song is about any teenager and whatever town he lives in and that period of life where everything is big and bad to you,” Dahlheimer said. “That place in life. That’s where we were for a moment, as I think a lot of kids are. It so happened we lived in York.”
Plus, the song was written in Lancaster by Kowalczyk, who “isn’t part of this deal,” Taylor said.
“Songs are everywhere. They’re just kind of out there floating around,” said Gracey, who travels between York and his home in California. “And I think if you open yourself up to be receptive, they’ll come to you. I think there are probably a lot of stories and songs in that neck of the woods in York city.”
If that’s true, maybe Live’s next hit will include one of their favorite downtown hangouts — a list that includes Bistro 19, The Left Bank, the White Rose Bar & Grill, and Victor’s.
Or, perhaps, the beat-up cot on a green metal frame draped in yellowed old sheets. Or two broken, abandoned toilets caked in construction dust.
That’s just a fraction of the rubble inside their newly acquired 106-year-old building, which has been vacant for at least four years. There’s work to be done.
“The idea isn’t to go into any particular neighborhood and gentrify it,” Taylor said. “We want to empower the local community and empower the people that are there.”