where are they now?
I guess one of the things that people like about stories like this is that, when the credits are about to roll, we see images of each of the characters, along with a brief “where are they now?” item. And I’m happy to do that here as well. So, in order of appearance, here it is:
WSAM Radio: WSAM is still around, at the University of Hartford. They broadcast not only on carrier current AM, but also on cable FM and online as well. You can find them online here. Nobody there has any idea who we were or what we accomplished while we were there; they’re all young, college shmucks now. Wish I was still there with them.
Turn of the Century Records: Right as I was leaving the University of Hartford in 1991, TOTC released a compilation album called My Companion, which included a song called “Twice At The End,” by a young band called Monsterland. Monsterland eventually signed with Seed Records and put out some great music before coming to an abrupt end onstage at Brownie’s in NYC. TOTC was eventually sold, and in a weird coincidence, Jettison Charlie – the great band led by Bob Massey that we loved, but somehow never wound up doing anything with – put out a record with them. The label no longer appears to exist.
The Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth Era
Footstone broke up in 1999, as you know. Ralph is still the singer in Stuyvesant, living in New Jersey. Mark lives in Minneapolis and works for a video company. Dave and Eric both still live in New Jersey and have beautiful children. During the evolution of this blog, Ralph and Diane had a beautiful baby girl.
My old friend Frank appears to be doing well, also – we reconnected via Facebook during the winter of 2008, and he’s got a wonderful family. He still lives in New Jersey and works in the technology business.
Rosary broke up at some point, but I reconnected with Gary at the end of 2009 and he’s doing quite well, and has a lovely daughter (and still has that same engaging yet slightly sarcastic wit that I remember from high school).
Scooby Groove continued to gig around a bit, changed their name when funk-o-metal lost its popularity, and eventually fizzled. At least one of the band members went on to play in The Mooney Suzuki, a pretty decent garagey-type band that is probably best known for “Alive And Amplified,” which was a song on a car commercial.
Melting Hopefuls continued to soldier on for a while after their EP was released, eventually re-forming with a few new members. Today, they’re known as Elk City, and they’ve released a number of outstanding albums over the years. They’re currently signed to Friendly Fire Recordings, a Brooklyn label that also features the Phenomenal Handclap Band. We continue to wish them the best (and continue to buy all their records).
Godspeed released their debut album on Atlantic, toured Europe with Black Sabbath, played with Dio, released a collaborative track with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson on vocals, appeared on Beavis and Butthead…and broke up. Guitarist Tommy Southard reconnected with us through this blog – he and bassist Rob Hultz now play in a band called Solace, who have released five albums and a number of seven-inches and compilation tracks over the years, and played shows all over the world. They are tremendous and we love them. Tommy also is the keeper of the blog The Devil’s Music, a fantastic resource for garage rock and obscure 7″ tracks. He also does a radio program called Forward To The Caves on WLFR, the radio station at Stockton State College in New Jersey, where he plays more fantastic, obscure rock and punk tracks.
cuppa joe kept things alive for a while, even as Doug joined the Peace Corps and went to Kenya. They released another home-made record with a new bass player (Craig Frame from Uncle Seymour), and also produced a great zine called Science Geek. Steve is a successful illustrator, while Doug is a teacher in the Midwest. Both have lovely families, as does Rick Larkin, the bass player during most of the time the band was on Dromedary.
Ya-Ne-Zniyoo put out a few CDs on their own over the years, one of which I reviewed in my Jersey Beat column. Through that review, Steve and I reconnected a few years ago, and have kept in distant touch ever since. He’s still a cultural exchange advocate, still promoting the hell out of the scene, and still working hard at knowing everyone that there is to know.
Frank Fagnano, the guy who engineered and mastered Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth for us, is still doing engineering work and has built up a resume that’s impressive enough that Dromedary Records mysteriously doesn’t appear on it. I never bumped into Frank again after he mastered the record, but found his info online when I was researching for this entry.
Albert Garzon of Community 3 Records, the guy who gave me so much advice at the beginning, is touring the world, playing ragtime piano. He’s also somehow involved with a burlesque revival of some sort that seems really interesting. I lost touch with Albert right after Elizabeth came out, but also found his info online while researching for this entry.
Paulie remains one of my closest friends, married and living in rural New Jersey with his lovely family. Paulie works in the library sciences, and writes this cool blog.
Twin City Imports, our first distributor, went bankrupt.
Live Tonight!, the Hoboken club where we held our first show, eventually went away. As a club, there was a time that it was a Hoboken alternative to Maxwell’s, a place that booked decent original music and occasional national acts. Eventually it disappeared. Today it’s called the Whiskey Bar, and it hosts cover bands and something called “Hoboken Idol.”
The Wobbles From Side To Side Era
The second company I worked for was eventually sold to a major consumer electronics manufacturer. The cellular division was dissolved. All the people I worked with were let go. The two bosses I worked for no longer work in the industry.
Re-CORE-Ds, the German punk and hardcore label that traded titles with me, thus giving us our first international distribution, seems to have disappeared. Rudy seemed like a nice guy; I hope he’s doing well.
Wop Taco may have recorded once more (I can’t remember, and keep forgetting to ask), and then its respective members went back to their “real” bands, Footstone and American Standard. Over the years, there has been talk of releasing the Appetite for Construction sessions on CD, or even doing a Wop Taco reunion show, but it’s just never materialized.
Bar/None continues to be a great New Jersey indie label. Most recently, they’ve re-released titles from the great New Jersey band The Feelies, and continues to be a home for quality songwriters and bands like Freedy Johnston, Mendoza Line, and The Sharp Things.
Pier Platters, the great Hoboken record store, unfortunately closed in 1995 to make room for a realtor’s office. You can become a fan of the Pier Platters RIP page on Facebook here.
The Jungle Creeps eventually broke up. Their singer, Paula Carino, continues to rock and to write fantastic songs and to enrich people’s lives with her writing. She’s got a new record coming out soon. Listen to her here.
Paul’s Bar & Bowling, the ridiculously cool little pub in Clifton where we used to go and bowl in the practically hidden bowling alley in the back, still exists. It’s at 377 Crooks Ave in Clifton, and they don’t seem to have a website.
Ditch Croaker put out a couple of records on their own in the early ’90s before signing to the Warner Brothers imprint Reprise for one record. Ultimately they released a bunch of full-lengths, seven-inches and compilation tracks on various labels, the last one I can find was released in 1999.
Rich’s friend Dave has a lovely family and is doing well, living in northern New Jersey and listening to great music.
The Flying Suit Era:
Ron Surefire is still carrying the torch. Although Surefire appears to have gone away, as has Ratfish Records, the label that Ron was starting as we were folding, Spirit of Orr, is thriving. Ron also plays in Sunburned Hand of the Man, who are great.
Jenifer Convertible, as you learned in a previous post, broke up. Of its members, Lenny moved to Michigan and started a great band called Minor Planets. He continues to write and perform fantastic music as a solo artist, with the Minor Planets, and occasionally with a reunited Jenifer Convertible. Jim Santo plays guitar in a fantastic band called The Sharp Things, who have released two CDs on Bar/None. He is also the co-owner of a studio in Brooklyn called The Kennel; which he co-owns with JenCon bassist James Pertusi. James also plays in a Brooklyn band called The Ditty Committee. One of the engineers in residence at the Kennel is Wharton Tiers, who produced the Wanna Drag? CD that was supposed to come out on Dromedary.
Gapeseed broke up, at some point. After Dromedary folded, I lost track of all the members 0f Gapeseed, although I remember bassist Mike becoming a high-ranking employee at an internet company. The band used to share rehearsal space with the incredible indie band Poem Rocket, and after Gapeseed dissolved, drummer Pete became Poem Rocket’s drummer. I haven’t been in touch with any of them in years.
Silver Girl Records continued to release records from great bands like All About Chad, Everready, Fluf, Hem, Holiday Flyer, Hula Hoop, Poem Rocket, Ruby Falls, Sportsguitar, Tipili, Veronica Lake and more. They created a few offshoot labels, and a zine, and appear to be dormant at this point.
Toast never reunited after Kittywinder put out their CDs on Zero Hour Records in 1995 and 96, as far as I can tell. After Zero Hour dissolved in 1997, Kittywinder broke up. I managed to find Toast’s guitar player Guy on MySpace; the page credits contributions from Jon Eckstrom, also of Toast. From the MySpace page I learned that Guy owns Two Ton Santa Records, a label that has put out a bunch of cool New Hampshire-based records, including Unbunny, a band that Guy actually plays in.
The Mommyheads broke up after their self-titled Geffen Records debut. The band had actually been dropped from the label before the record was even released, owing to the typical major label shakeup that has doomed so many other bands. As I mentioned in a previous post, the band reunited and released an excellent new album in 2008 following the tragic death of their original drummer. Today, Adam is a successful composer for television commercials. Michael just recently toured Sweden as a solo artist. Jeff left The Mommyheads and joined Sunny Day Real Estate and played on one album, and also played for Granfaloon Bus, a band affiliated with Sam of The Sarnos.
Sam from The Sarnos was the guy who guided me through San Franciso and Berkeley on the opening night of the Mommyheads’ tour for Flying Suit. Sam and I are also back in touch, and he is doing very well. He lived across the street from Aquarius Records in San Francisco, the only record store that actively reached out to us and wanted to buy our records direct. Aquarius is still out there, doing great.
Very incestuous, all these Dromedary bands and friends.
Carrie Bradley, the magnificent violinist who’s solo material was contained on the tape sent to me by Ron of Surefire, which was the tape that also introduced us to Toast and The Mommyheads, eventually went on to play with The Breeders. She now plays in a duo called the Great Auk. We never did meet, and I never wound up putting out any of her music. But the song “Green Glass,” that I loved so much, wound up coming out on the album Big Grapefruit Cleanup Job, by Bradley’s band Ed’s Redeeming Qualities.
Little My, the last of the four bands on “The Tape,” broke up at some point. One of the members of that band, however, was Adam McCauley, who also played in the band Nest that, at Mike from Toast’s suggestion, sent us a copy of their awesome demo late in our life as a label. McCauley is also an illustrator who played in the band Warm Wires – a band that somehow evolved out of Nest.
Dots Will Echo continue to exist, playing shows at the Sidewalk Cafe under the Dots Will Echo name. The band is usually, however, just Nick on acoustic guitar and vocals, with a drummer as an accompaniment. Nick continues to write amazingly melodic and beautiful songs. He also performs as “Norton Antivirus,” playing experimental guitar. He’s great.
Love Sexy went away. Today, it’s an Irish themed sports bar called McCarthy’s Pub. The booking guy eventually became the booking guy at Under Acme, the club we loved so much. Under Acme eventually changed its name to Acme Underground, and now is called Ace of Clubs.
Jettison Charlie, the band that sent the awesome demo we never followed up on, broke up. Their singer, Bob Massey, now plays in the Gena Rowlands band, and writes screenplays. The drummer, Chris Adler, plays in the popular metal band Lamb Of God.
John S. Hall continued to make great music with The Body Has A Head and later with a re-formed King Missile. Eventually he became a lawyer. Maybe I should have listened to him when he told me to put out the Schoolhouse Rock compilation despite Atlantic’s buying the rights from ABC. Maybe that would have changed the course of Dromedary.
Chocolate USA released a second album on Bar/None and then disbanded. We never wound up re-gaining contact with their singer, Julian, after he “disappeared” in the early ’90s (after we talked about releasing a 7″). Evidently we weren’t looking very hard, as Julian was Julian Koster, a member of the famous Elephant 6 Collective. Julian is also a member of Neutral Milk Hotel. I’d say he’s done very well. I’m happy for him. I’m sure he has no recollection of us.
The Lippy Era:
Friends Romans Countrymen released a few CDs on their own and then moved on. Sean and Brian became half of the band Stuyvesant, with Ralph from Footstone on vocals. They continue to rock.
Blenderette eventually broke up. Jeremy, their singer and guitarist, formed a band called Maximum Jack, a power pop band that was even better than Blenderette. Eventually, Maximum Jack broke up and Jeremy moved south and joined The Reigning Sound, a fantastic band with a number of records out on various indie labels. Today, Jeremy plays in Harlan T. Bobo a band called the Burning Sands and, a true musicologist, does a great radio show on WEVL in Memphis.
Kid With Man Head, the surf punk band that did a few shows with Footstone toward the end of Mach I, eventually broke up. Their bass player, Gay Elvis, mellowed out and got into a much better band called Readymade Breakup.
Rich Masio is my high school friend who was an aspiring music journalist when we released Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth, an established music journalist with Oculus magazine when we released nurture, an internet pioneer with SonicNet when we were first doing email marketing, and a label manager when we were desperately looking for a distribution deal. Today he’s in charge of content development at IODA, the largest distributor of digital music. Since he got there, he’s waited for me to get my shit together, and over the years, has occasionally reached out, either with a “How’s the family?” or a “When are you going to put your music on the net?”
Jim Testa still runs Jersey Beat. The issue for which I wrote my last column may or may not have ever come out, but Jim has remained a die-hard supporter of local music and punk. Jersey Beat is now exclusively online. Jim also hosts an online radio show on Blowup Radio, where he plays lots of local music – including Footstone.
Shiva Speedway eventually broke up, although I think I lost touch with Pam long before that happened. Their singer, Heidi Saperstein, released two absolutely killer CDs on Kimchee Records (I received them both for my Jersey Beat column, and I believe I reviewed them both over the years). She’s since changed her name to Heidi Lee and is playing with a band called the Snow Leopards, a commercial rock/power pop band that cites Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, and Motown among their influences.
Moviola, on the other hand, is still together, and still making phenomenal music. They’ve evolved tremendously over the years, creating absolutely wonderful roots rock that’s as awesome as anything else you’ll hear. They continue to record for Anyway Records, and also for Ron Surefire’s label, Spirit of Orr. Recently, a Rhapsody music blogger named Moviola’s Dead Knowledge album the #6 roots music album of the decade.
Fred just kept going, eventually selling his company and riding off into the sunset. Life works that way sometimes.
Shirk Circus eventually broke up, but rising from their ashes was The Dark Brothers, a more stripped-down, garage-influenced band that’s actually even better than Shirk Circus were.
The Razortone Era:
Ted Leo, Ralph’s friend from high school that was going to contribute an album to Razortone despite the fact that we’d never met (still haven’t), is the front man in one of the most popular bands in indie rock, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. They’ve played all over the place, have been all over TV, and are releasing a brand-new record on Matador in the spring of 2010. Some of my friends already have it. I’m just not cool enough for that yet.
The remaining members of The Groomsmen and their families are doing very well. Rich’s wife Lissette eventually remarried a guy named Chris, who is really nice, and very good to her. They had twins a few years back – Sandy and I are godparents to one of them – and we still see them a few times a year. Matt married an absolutely amazing woman, and is now a communication professor at a nearby college – occasionally, he’ll still pull out the drums for a special occasion. And Mike, the guitarist, lives in Minneapolis with his wife and plays guitar in an acoustic pop band called Atomic Flea.
Maxwell’s still kicks ass. It’s still the best club in New Jersey, despite the changes in ownership in the mid ’90s. They’re back with stable owners, and continuously book the best live music out there. In fact, on February 6, 2009, Foostone will be playing there – a “proper” reunion show – along with a reunited Friends, Romans, Countrymen and The Dark Brothers, which is Josh from Shirk Circus’ new band.
Yep. Footstone really decided to play that “proper” reunion. If you live in New Jersey or New York, and you’ve been following this story, please – come out to Maxwell’s and see what this was all about.
I guess now that I’m more than 3,000 words into this entry, it’s safe to assume that most people have stopped reading, and that the only ones left are the people who have been the most loyal readers of this blog.
As such, I can share a little secret that nobody else will know about until Monday’s much shorter entry.
That Footstone/FRC/Dark Brothers show at Maxwell’s on February 6 will also mark the debut of a brand-new, re-launched Dromedary Records.
Over the course of this blog, many of our friends have tried to convince us to do it, and while we were resistant at first, we finally decided that it would be a lot of fun. So we teamed up with Matthew Kaplan, the guy who helped us out with so much legal advice back in the day (and who is now a successful music lawyer), and Rich Masio, the guy who never stopped believing in what we were doing, to re-establish the label and distribute our music online, through all the major online retailers. We reached out to Brian Musikoff, originally of Friends, Romans, Countrymen and now of Stuyvesant, and asked him to update the Dromedary logo – take Rich’s work from 1993 and borrow from it, but update it to be a bit more contemporary, and still more retro. We got help from Jim Santo of Jenifer Convertible (and now of the Sharp Things), who designed a website for Dromedary – finally. And we introduced a new person into the family – Perry Serpa, also of the Sharp Things, who runs a music marketing company called Good Cop PR. Perry is going to help us rebuild relationships with the print and web media.
We’re now working on our release schedule for 2010, but suffice to say it will be super-exciting – especially for the people who have discovered this blog over the past year. We’ll be releasing music from Footstone, cuppa joe, and a bunch of other great bands that we can’t talk about yet because we haven’t gotten paperwork signed (no more verbal contracts anymore; I’m a grown-up now).
And since you’re still reading, please allow me to thank you from the innermost parts of my soul for reading this story and for sticking with me for the past year. Living the experience was enriching and rewarding. Writing about it was life-changing. And I truly appreciate every person who has read even a single word of it.
I’ll see you Monday, when we can spring the news on everyone else.
Thank you so much, and Happy New Year.