Lex van den Berghe had his taste of fame while participating in Survivor 3: Africa, but a taste was all he needed. Of Survivor, that is.
"It was a blink, just something I did, like someones summer vacation," Lex told Patch, of the wild and twisted adventure that dropped him into the Kenyan wilderness 11 years ago, equipped with 15 strangers and not much else.
And while the charismatic 49-year-old father of two may have won the hearts of viewers for being "Down to earth. Smart. The best player with the best personality," he'd rather be home in the small pond of Santa Cruz than surviving in Africa's Shaba National Reserve for the viewing pleasure of 30 million in the United States alone.
His life in Santa Cruz is laid back, but it's anything but quiet.
Lex sweats through T-shirts on a regular basis, drumming for a few bands, including Maids of Honor, a group of four longtime friends and world class musicians.
In April, the Maids released their third album, Perc, on Halfway to Hell records. Rated 5 stars on iTunes and cd baby Perc is a taut six-song EP, and shining example of just how young "geezer rock" can sound.
Maybe this shouldn't be surprising for a band who lists "beer" and "rock" as their interests.
"We all have 22-year-olds trapped in our 40-year-old bodies, we still party like 22-year-olds. We're young at heart, we'll probably forever be 20-something," said Lex.
Thats how the band started, and that's how it will continue: old friends bonding over beer, music, and an endless fountain of dark humor.
"Years and years ago I had a studio in Scotts Valley, and we used to have these kind of jam nights with all of our friends... It would be like 20 or 30 people there playing," said guitarist Greg Camp, who's accomplishments include writing hit songs for Smash Mouth.
"Over the years it sort of whittled down to the core members of Maids of Honor," said Camp, who is currently producing an album for the pop/punk band Good Charlotte.
Formerly known as "Blood Bath and Beyond," for the band's habit of playing covers that sounded killer at house parties, and rocking out for 18-hour stretches in a studio on the westside, to open up a floodgate of original material.
Three albums later, the short and sweet Perc is the manifestation of a band at its prime, having the best time in the world.
"Ultimately its about the energy, Marshall stacks, a lot of swagger and just a lot of live energy," said Lex. "It's bone simple, two guitars, drums, bass and virtually no overdubbing, just the energy of a live band kicking ass and just rocking out."
Time Machine, is the sixth and final song on the EP, written by Camp. It has an over the top lyric in the best punk tradition about having a time machine and still not changing a "f------ thing."
"It's about going through life and not really feeling like you have any regrets at all, and if you had a time machine you basically wouldn't change anything, you would just do it all the same, which is pretty much how we all feel I think," says Camp, whose song "All Star" was nominated for a Grammy.
Aside from Lex and Camp, Kelly Catastro plays vocals and also writes songs, and John Barrett plays guitar. What's unique about them is that they all sing—and they're all good at it.
"We've all played in bands with lead singers, and by definition, most of the time, lead singers are assholes," said Lex. "And at the very least they're prima donnas, especially if they don't play an instruments. We all share lead vocals and we switch up vocals. There's always going to be three guys who have your back with harmonies and it's just going to be a democracy in every sense of the word."
While Camp works on film and music projects in New York City, a tight local fan club waits for more to come, and there is no question that the Maids of Honor will be playing again soon. They still rehearse in a secret studio/man cave on the westside.
"I've never been in a situation out here where it felt the same way," said Camp, of the Maids.
Everyone in the band has an artistic "other" thing that they do, Camp said. Kelly Castro is a photographer and artist, Barrett is a skilled videographer, and Lex...
"Lex is just kind of a walking piece of art, he is the charasmatic, he's the person that speaks the most.. Lex is just such a great charasmatic show person," said Camp.
Perc was produced by Jerry Ososkie at J31 Studios in April. The name came from a friend of the band's, a prison guard, who is nicknamed Perc, because he is anything but perky.
***Email the author for two free mp3 downloads, including Time Machine, off Perc. Or get one here: http://www.mp3ye.eu/the-maids-of-honor-black-and-blue-mp3-download_363110.html