Recently while working my day job in set lighting, Janeane Garofalo sang "Don't Crash the Car" to me after a co-worker told her I played drums on it. Twenty four years later and people still remember that song. That was a nice feeling, and it got me thinking about those days. Gotta love the 80's, vinyl, cassettes, V8's, leaded gas and all. I decided to jot all this stuff down because the memory banks aren't what they used to be.
Moving from my home in PA to Los Angeles I was lucky enough to be at the right place/time and found myself in the middle of the LA punk/alternative scene. From 1987-1989 I drummed for Mary’s Danish playing three tracks on ‘There Goes the Wondertruck.’ Don’t Crash the Car Tonight received critical commercial and college airplay, and the video was often seen on MTV. Robert Hilburn of the LA Times voted us one of “LA’s best up and coming bands" with Steve Hochman (LA Times) calling us the best live act that same year. It seemed like one minute I was working in the hospital laundry in my hometown, and the next minute I am hanging out at shows with George Wendt, Jodie Foster, Perry Ferrell, Flea and Anthony.
We got to play with bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thelonious Monster, Dramarama, Tav Falco & Panther Burns with Alex Chilton, Beat Farmers, Firehose, Gina Schock, Geza X, The Pandora's, Buck Naked and the Bare Bottom Boys, Easter (with Mike Ness) and countless other great local and touring acts. Shows at Raji’s, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Palomino, Celebrity Theater and The John Anson Ford Theater were among my favorites. My first recording session was engineered by Rudy Guess with Mary's Danish. He was such a patient and fun guy to work with. The lessons I learned from Rudy are with me today. The most important lesson was to just have fun and enjoy the experience. I was in the band about two days and we were recording demo's. I didn't even know the tunes yet, and can still picture our singer looking through the glass cueing me on the changes. At the end of one song, Rudy gave me the signal to do a roll. Some call it 'Bucket-a-Fish.' That totally put me at ease, funny how ya remember that. We also recorded at Radio Tokyo. The Minutemen, Janes Addiction, The Long Ryders, The Bangles, Black Flag, Sonic Youth and The Decendents were a few of the artists that recorded there.
From 1989-1993 I was in The Leonards. We also played with some really cool artists. The Rave Ups, Rain Parade,Dream Syndicate, Rosie Flores, The Muffs, Goo Goo Dolls, The Gun Club, Tommy Stinson, Billy Bremner, Peter Case, Beat Farmers, Thelonious Monster, among others. The guitar player from Weezer told Lenny that their debut show was opening for us at Club Lingerie. I recall Eddie Vedder and Chili Pepper Chad (Leonards friend from the Detroit days) being at several of our shows. Here is a nice mention about our disc in Trouser Press. Lenny, Tom, and I even got to play with Mars Bonfire (wrote 'Born to be Wild') on a compilation. Playing the clubs listed above we also toured the country several times playing CBGB’s, Pittsburgh’s own The Electric Banana, Steamboat in Austin, Fitzgerald's in Houston, and The Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans. One of our recordings was recently featured on TV's Ugly Betty. Paul Dugre recorded the first demo I did with the band. His PMS studio in downtown LA was amazing. I believe Los Lobos recorded Kiko there.
In 1994 I played with 33 1/3 Revolutions. John DiMambro and Dave Smalley (both in Down by Law) and Tony Rugelo. (The Question) We recorded a cool cover of Time is On My Side. I played with John again in The Sprague Brothers. Their singing/playing was phenomenal, and I learned a ton about music from that experience.
From 1995-1998 some friends (Kevin Barber) and I put together CC & The Jackpot Prize. This fun funky soul revue gave me the opportunity to play shows with Fishbone and Bud E Luv. Fishbone called us 'the guys in the white tuxedo's.'
Currently I am playing in The Forty Nineteens and The Leonards. The Forty Nineteens new CD “No Expiration Date” on Heyday Records was produced/engineered by David Newton of the Mighty Lemon Drops and Thee Mighty Angels, and mastered by Paul Du Gre. We've supported The Fleshtones, Gin Blossoms, Gilby Clarke, and Gene Loves Jezebel. Recently I was included on the Pittsburgh Music History Hall of Fame website. It was indeed quite an honor.