Small band to make big city debut

By John Ostapowicz

The Stage of Dreams is a local heavy metal band near the Youngstown area. Lead singer Daniel Butch, along with drummer Shaun McConnell, lead guitarists Dion Pomponio and Darren Stalnecker, and bass guitarist Chris Marriotti put together an untraditional metal band. 

The Stage of Dreams competed in the Wacken Metal Battle USA and has come farther than any other local band by winning the semi-final round in January and the Akron regional final March 26. 

The band will play the Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles May 7 to compete in the national final of the competition and to represent Ohio. 

If The Stage of Dreams wins in Los Angeles, it will travel to Wacken, Germany, to represent the United States in the Metal Battle at Wacken Open Air. The festival is known as the world’s largest outdoor metal festival, with 29 other represented countries. 

Butch has sung in primarily cover bands such as Haymaker and Edward Be Thy Name, but with the success of The Stage of Dreams, it is now his main focus. 

“I’ve got to focus on what I really want to do and I couldn’t because half of my life was spent doing covers,” Butch said. 

Butch hopes this will be the big break for the band as many record labels, booking agents and managers will be in attendance. Popular bands such as Slipknot, Judas Priest, Rammstein and many more will also make an appearance. 

The band is unique as it has plans for five different phases that combine different music genres into a new sound. Phase one is a combination of hard rock, blues and a hint of metal, and it features original members, rhythm and lead guitarist Don Conti and bass guitarist Jerry Dungan.

In this phase, the band’s two Extended play’s, “CONTRA” and “FLICTION,” were originally meant to be a full-length album but were released separately.  

The band is currently in phase two, which is influenced by traditional metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica. It wasn’t until this phase that Pomponio, Stalnecker and Marriotti were featured in the band’s music, switching to a completely different line up.

“FROM THE SHADOWS THEY STRIKE” is the newest EP from the band, which features four newly released tracks. “DragonFly,” which was released Oct. 22, 2021, is the band’s most popular song with 12,836 streams on Spotify. 

Phase three is Butch’s master plan for the band, which is a full-scale heavy metal rock opera. It features a written script, costumes, set pieces and 12 new songs. 

Butch is currently working on the sets in his garage with the help of band members, friends and family. 

“I’ve started building the production for The Stage of Dreams live show in my garage, building platforms, painting all the backdrops, and it all takes time,” Butch said.