October 2008

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Scorgiemania!

Dale Mincey (former guitarist of New Math) says, “This whole “Scorgiemania” phenomenon drove me to my basement to dig for forgotten memories.”

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“Gary, Chris and I (Roy) are really excited about the prospect of playing the “old songs” again and are psyched about the show, seeing everybody and hearing some great music. We thought it would be a blast to redo an old New Math song with the benefit of what today‘s technology can provide in terms of the ease and quality of recording so in typical D.I.Y. Scorgies fashion we re-recorded “Garden of Delight” with the singer/guitarist who will be joining us at the reunion show. The first New Math song in 25 years…..yipes. The tune with the full back story of how it came together is available to download for free at: http://www.myspace.com/newmathnow

It looks as though Mark will also be joining us on keys at the reunion show giving us 4/5ths of the final and longest lasting incarnation of the group………now if only we could talk Kevin into joining us………….”

The Degrads I Saw Bobby (Sobbing in the Lobby)`

The Degrads I Saw Bobby (Sobbing in the Lobby)`

You may remember us as the early ’80s punk-poppers fronted by a pseudo-Johnny Rottenish twerp in amateurishly-home-decorated pop art clothing (er, sorry, that was me).

Our self-released single, “I Saw Bobbie Sobbing in the Lobby,” got a nod from Trouser Press (“Quirky fun from upstate NY”) and, five years later, ended up as part of a novelty ping-pong game called Bobbie-Ball, available at Village Green and Archimage. Now, twenty years after Bobbie-Ball, it’s a collectible record. (I don’t know what happened to the ping-pong balls.)

The Degrads broke up in 1984, and by the end of that year no band members remained in the Rochester area. An Elwitt brother or two showed up later on in the Nutley Brass, the Silly Pillows, Sea Monkeys, (pre-Nada Surf NYC band) The Cost of Living, and other musical entities.

N.B. I have video, audio, and still images to share, but I’m not having any luck uploading them at the moment. For now, I offer you Degrads links on MySpace and YouTube.

Peter Presstone was, and still is, a prolific songwriter. I may be biased, having spent so much time with him. Of the few board tapes I have that have been converted to digital (big thanks to Dave Anderson at Saxon Recording, and an official Press Tone himself), the song count is close to 70. And this is probably over a 3 year stretch, give or take, and not all songs are on the tapes I have. In the bands that followed, namely, Pets & Small Children which became the Chinchillas, our song list tops out over 400, and that’s from roughly 1985 until today.

Yet it’s not only his ability to pen songs that get my admiration, but the ease at which he nails both melody and hooks. That’s one of the reasons I’ve hung with him for so long (well, that and I think he still owes me money). I’ll post some of the nicer stuff in a bit, but Peter also has a dark side. Songs like “It Must Be April,”  whose chorus goes, “Where is my mother, where is my father, they took them down to the burners,” talking about the Holocaust. Another song, which you’ll see below (if I code it correctly), was called “Rape,” and it was a rough and raucous song, which features some dissonant tri-tone guitar work at the end. The lead is also Peter, since he did most of the leads when I joined up, and his style is a kind of play from the gut approach that may not be polished, but nevertheless stands out.

Also, the dedication on this one, where Scott says “this goes out to Luke and Laura,” is not about Luke the DJ. Fans of General Hospital can fill you in on that story.

That’s what Johnny Thunders said when he read the front cover of the kick drum the night we opened up for him. I can’t remember if it was before or after he blew up Peter’s amp, but he said it. I might have had a tape as proof, maybe I gave it to Peter, but I don’t know where it is.

As a preliminary post though, I thought I’d mention the speed of the band, one thing we were accused of a lot. There were some songs that went by real quick, and I figured I’d use what is on this site, and some stuff from board tapes I salvaged. If you check the video section, you’ll see New Math doing “They Walk Among You.” Not their fastest number, but it’s up there, and it clocks in at around 120 beats per minute (bpm). And if you check the first video by Personal Effects, “Darlin,” a more uptempo number, it whizzes by at around 155 bpm. If you check the song below called “Who Needs You” from a recording in the early 80’s, you’ll notice a much more brisk tempo, one that tops out just shy of 260 bpm. Not all songs were that fast, of course, and nothing will blaze by that quickly on November 21 at the German House, because we’re all older and bloated. And not to sound too much like Grandpa Simpson on the front porch yelling at neighborhood kids, but back in the day we were loud and fast, like rock and roll is supposed to be. More stories to come, of course, but I figured I’d get at least one post up before I’m pushing up daisies.

“Who Needs You” by The Press Tones 

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Due to a technical glitch, some posts that had been pending got lost in the shuffle. We apologize. This post was from Robert Slide. He ultimately added it as a comment but I’m putting it up here as a post. Other missing in action posts precede this one.

Before Scorgies, there were only Hair-Band and Biker clubs. I had recently come back from a trip to NYC, visiting friends who took me to the emerging punk scene in the Bowery. As soon as I returned to Rochester, I went to House of Guitars, bought a $99 Hondo bass and hooked up with my friend, Dale to play Stooges songs in his Bly Street basement. We stumbled on what would become New Math during an audition for “Guitarist ready to ride the New Wave”. At the time Kevin, who was just back from London (and calling himself New Math), Gary and Paul were playing under the name Erector Set. Dale tried out and was “hired”, Gary was switching between guitar and bass when Dale mentioned I had a bass; writing down Kevin and Gary’s phone numbers on a piece of paper from my car that had the lyrics to “Raw Power” sealed my position as bass player – which was really just an extension of Gary’s bass skills. Let me be clear about one thing – I am not a musician, I had only owed an instrument for about a month before playing our first gig as New Math in the basement of R.I.T. thanks, in part, to WCMF DJ, Suzanne King. The name Robert Slide came from my inability (without vocal prompting) to do a bass slide while trying to cover The Velvet Underground song “White Light – White Heat”. A lot of the rest has been addressed here on this blog and elsewhere. I never played with new math at Scorgies, but did play there with the band I was with after my stint with New Math: The Targets, but that, as they say, is another story…

Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

I remember The Heartbreakers show at Scorgies.

Richard Hell and Walter Luhr had dropped out for that one.

I really wanted the Bowery Boys to open one of the 2 shows but we were’nt part of the clique that had started and were more or less getting squeezed out of the scene we helped create.                                         Egomania was’nt my thing so I layed low. Most of the new people made me sick, they weren’t even musicians, but scenesters with instruments.

It’s funny though because the poster says “featuring Walter Luhr”. I don’t remember him being there.

I hung with them in the dressing room before the show and on the way to the stage, I asked Johnny to play “Can’t put your arms around a memory”  in the set. He did and dedicated it to Walter.

I remember hearing Johnny saying “This ones for Walltah”

As I recall, it was Johnny, Luigi, Big Tony, and Jerry Nolan.

They arrived early evening and I helped Jerry and Johnny score some naughty stuff and we spent about 20 minutes at my bands practice place.

While waiting for the man we jammed on some blues, Afterwards, Jerry said Johnny wants to know if I want to join there band. It was wierd because Johnny was standing there looking at me like  Jerry was his interpreter. I politely declined and explained I had a band already (and wasn’t into that naughty stuff that kills people). It was exciting hanging with them but the thought of joining a band of junkies was a real turnoff for me. I was battling depression and barely clinging on to life as it was. I was never into getting famous at all, but I sure like it when we made some bread playing rock and roll.

The landlord liked getting his rent as well.

Johnny gave me a, DON’T YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE, YOU STUPID ASS ? kind of look.

I didn’t care. I hung out with them again in the dressing room later that night but few words were exchanged. The contract had them going on about midnight and they rolled in at about 5 after One.  Scorgie was really pissed but they played a very hot set. There is a tape floating around somewhere of that show. I think Big Tony (bass) came into the upstairs dressing room first, followed by Luigi (2nd guitar).        I was freaked out by Luigi because he came in, sat down, put his feet on the coffe table, pulled out a switchblade and started cleaning his fingernails.

I thought to myself, maan, these New York dudes are pretty tough.

I recalled this to Luigi and he laughed, it is but a vague memory to him now but he remembers giving the knife to Angella Bowie as a gift.

(I remember my ex drummer Scott coming in the dressing room too and remarking on how he should have stayed on drums or something of that nature. He had jumped the Bowery ship to sing for the Prestones, and he was perfect for that band so it all worked out fine.)

So Jerry, Johnny, and Big Tony are dead now, and I have been playing a few shows with Luigi lately here in New York.  We live near each other in Alphabet City.

My latest band (The Bowery Boys) has played a few shows with Walter Luhr’s band The Waldo’s.            Walter is a very smooth rocker and a cool guy. He still plays songs by Johnny Blunders.                              (as he so endearingly refers to him)

I prefer to see musicians grow old gracefully rather than die too young, leaving so much left undone.

I hung with Johnny briefly about a month before he died, when he came to Rochester to play at Jazzberries and record with the Chesterfields. I gave him the mini statue of liberty pin off my leather jacket and he immediately put it on his leather jacket. He looked very empty in his eyes and I was sad for him when I left. He signed some albums for my girl (at the time) Diane. He spelled it DIE an.    I still have the albums.       Johnny died about 4 or 5 weeks later. I was shocked but not suprised.

The set he played at Jazzberries was stellar. A focused, mature, fairly sober Johnny Thunders and a great sax player (who also is passed on). There is a video circulating.

POP CULTURE IS A KILLER SOMETIMES.                                                                                                                 Children beware.                                                                                                                                                            Peace                                                                                                                                                                      {:->

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Hey does anyone remember Del Roy Rebop? Or the all girl band the Antoinette’s? The Lead singer of the Antoinette’s- Meegan Voss has a band called the Verbs now. I believe they are based out of NYC.  I remember seeing both of those bands more than a few times at Scorgies. Also a Canadian band out of Hamilton- shoot I can’t remember their name- but they had a great song called “I’m Surfing On Heroin”. I think I actually have it on my IPod….Just can’t seem to remember their name right now…Must have been all the drugs…But I know I saw them at Scorgies as well! Great memories of those days at Scorgies. I only spent 3 years at Scorgies- early to mid 80’s, but it was every night for sure and I wonder how I did it…That time was probably the most significant time in my life that molded and shaped so much of how I look at the music world today…Great Memories! Thanks!

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While I wasn’t a ‘regular-regular’ at Scorgies the way Simon Ribas, Jason Brown, or Andrea Kohler were, I sure did hit the club on opportune nights.  Besides the Ramones show, which blew me away, my best memories from my days at Scorgies were easily the nights that Cleveland’s I-Tal played down under Andrews Street.

I-Tal sounded and felt a lot more like a reggae band right off the boat from Kingston, or Montego Bay, rather than an indigenous band from the ‘Mistake by the Lake.’  I-Tal had a groovin’ guitar player, killer roots rock rythems, and reliable percussion.  Many a night I closed my eyes on the dance floor, and let their hypnotic music wash over me.

I recall one time I-Tal played Rochester, but not Scorgies.  I went to Bulls Head Plaza, to a basement club, and grooved all night.  Does anyone recall the name of that club?

Look forward to seeing some of the old crew on Friday, 11/21/08.  Thanks.

Chris Wilmot, Co-Publisher, smugtownbeacon.com

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As mention else were on this site. I had a high school band called The Sonic Reducers. We parted ways with our singer and somehow we found ex-Presstones singer Jimmy Freeze! Jimmy re-named the band The Twisted Hearts and we practiced in the basement of my parents home in Brighton.  Jimmy shows up and sez we have a gig at Scorgies!!! It was opening for STIFF recording artists WIld Willy Barrett & John Otway.

We played the gig. As I remember there wasn’t a lot of people there but I really didn’t care. I was finally on the stage where I would see New Math, The Hi-techs, The Bowery Boys, Delroy Rebop and many more!!!

Please post your first Scorgies gig!!!

Brian Goodman

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