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Blog about those who tried to rock
June 5, 2008 1:49 PM   Subscribe

For Those Who Tried To Rock is a blog about the bands that never went anywhere, for example. Urbicide, The Tribulations and Only One. The band photos are usually accompanied by mp3s and short testimonies, such as this one about Soft Option: "Flock of Seagulls owned Liverpool when we came together but we were really Depeche Mode fans. Trouble was, we only had one Synth – the Roland pictured above – so on the more complicated songs we covered like Everything Counts (see cassette below) I had to play parts on a Melodica – the small keyboard you blow into. It was my Mother's idea. We went to an all boys school, so the gigs were boys only, which meant we did not get laid but the nights we played were some of the greatest of my adolescence." [via Carrie Brownstein's Monitor Mix]
posted by Kattullus (50 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is going to be awesome! thanks, kattullus!
posted by msconduct at 2:00 PM on June 5, 2008


Cool, but eerily familiar...

But during Sophomore year, there was tension in the band. Jon had gotten a girlfriend and was missing practices. By two votes to one, we decided to vote him out. I was the only one who voted against, but it was decided that I would be the one to call him and break the news of his ouster, based on the fact that I was the only one who didn't have any classes with him that year.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:05 PM on June 5, 2008


Good stuff. Bands that will never get anywhere are a subject near and dear to me.
posted by COBRA! at 2:09 PM on June 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the Urbicide link:

We took the best of everything we had seen at CBGB’s – Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Minor Threat, Meatmen, Die Kreuzen, SSD – and threw it in the blender.

Sounds like every also-ran mid-80s hardcore band, including the really lame one I was in.
posted by ornate insect at 2:13 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


These dudes were like the Gods of the thrash metal scene in the five square mile radius around where I grew up. I would venture to guess that at least two of them are currently locked up and the rest have those little steering column alcohol detectors you have to breath into every couple minutes built into their roofer's trucks.
posted by The Straightener at 2:18 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


We took the best of everything we had seen at CBGB’s – Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Minor Threat, Meatmen, Die Kreuzen, SSD – and threw it in the blender.

Sounds like every also-ran mid-80s hardcore band, including the really lame one I was in.


One of the weirdest things about bandhood, I think, is that every band always thinks they sound like a big mixture of all of the bands they like, when they really sound like somthing totally, totally different. I spent years telling people I was in a group that sounded like mid-period Stones crossed with Uncle Tupelo and a soupcon of the Zeppelin. ANd listening back to the recordings, no fucking way on all counts.
posted by COBRA! at 2:23 PM on June 5, 2008


COBRA!, I am loving this comic. Thank you very much...
posted by rooftop secrets at 2:26 PM on June 5, 2008


thanks!
posted by COBRA! at 2:29 PM on June 5, 2008


Don't feel bad, COBRA! I think that reverse-diagnosis of what makes x sound/feel/look like leads to just about every misguided creative attempt in any medium.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:29 PM on June 5, 2008


Puts me very much in mind of Cassette from My Ex, which I believe has been Mefi'd before. I lurve how all these music related shennanigans are starting to pop up now that it is so easy to stream. It's like indie/aspirational band culture has suddenly become a total summation of the cultural side of Average Young America mostly by embracing the fact that that is ok. When did this happen?
posted by matthewstopheles at 2:30 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was a fat kid.
Too fat to be in a band.
posted by Dizzy at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2008


mid-period Stones crossed with Uncle Tupelo and a soupcon of the Zeppelin

Thrown in the Flat Duo Jets, and voilà, you've got the White Stripes.

(Je sens juste un soupçon d'Zeppelin--très magnifique!)
posted by ornate insect at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2008


Oh lord, I hope they accept my story. We've been talking about doing a Behind the Music for my high school ska band before our 20th reunion. We thought we were The Shit. In reality we were shit. So many great stories. The time we all showed up at a Winchell's Donut House to play a show unannounced to the poor souls who worked there. The time we played a rich girl's 16th birthday party and conned her parents out of another $200 "because we had to buy sheet music." Driving around in a 23 window VW bus with the top down, full band with horns playing One Step Beyond or Nite Club or whatever. Good times.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:38 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dizzy, you could be in Bowling For Soup.

For the record, I'm still a fat kid, though not quite that fat.
posted by maxwelton at 2:52 PM on June 5, 2008


Great site, lovely post! I'm listening to Van Dyke Parks/Randy Newman's "Vine Street" and browsing.

That's the tape that we made,
but I'm sad to say it never made the grade.

That was me, third guitar;
I wonder where the others are

posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:06 PM on June 5, 2008


But during Sophomore year, there was tension in the band. Jon had gotten a girlfriend and was missing practices.

This happened to me once. The allure of oral sex superseded the allure of playing Misfits covers and derivative hardcore, and I was booted. Then the other two guys couldn't find anyone who played bass worth a damn and I was back in. The guitarist went on to play in several cult favorite Houston hardcore bands, and the drummer now plays guitar in the popular teeny-punk band All American Rejects. I posted on their forum once and asked him to drop me a line and jokingly threatened to find our old demos and reveal them to their teen girl fans. Never heard from him. I, on the other hand, went on to a succession of more crappy bands that never went anywhere before losing interest in guitar rock and getting into electronic music.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:11 PM on June 5, 2008


I had to play parts on a Melodica – the small keyboard you blow into

Also, no one should look down on the melodica. Augustus Pablo made amazing sounds with it, and Joy Division/New Order used it memorably on a few songs (the intro to Love Vigilantes, off the top of my head).
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:17 PM on June 5, 2008


Yeah, but Augustus Pablo is like the Clara Rockmore of the melodica--hearing him play it mostly makes you realize how bad everybody else is.
posted by box at 3:25 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't miss: Hall of Douchebags [Pics]
posted by BeerFilter at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2008


This brings to mind The Common Cold, perhaps the greatest Cure cover band to ever not play any instruments.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:34 PM on June 5, 2008


Sounds like every also-ran mid-80s hardcore band, including the really lame one I was in.

OK, ornate insect, out with it, man: which band was it? You've come this far, let's take this all the way!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:41 PM on June 5, 2008


which band was it?

Was it The Bald Kids Who Yell About Unity And The Scene And Veganism? Man, I loved them.

WHYYY
AM IIII
GOIN' INSAAAANE

WHYYYY
AM IIII
THE ONE TO BLAAAAAAME
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:52 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I'm pretty sure that A Flock of Seagulls never actually owned Liverpool, though they were fortunate enough to ink a fairly big deal, causing them a degree of local emnity. I think those guys are just saying that to explain the pretty cool quasi-Flock hairstyle on Soft Option Number 1.

I wonder why Dave Tonner's parents don't get a thank you on the cassette? Adolescent rebellion? They weren't supportive like the parents of the other two? Or perhaps he was an orphan, living in care?

And where the fuck was Liverpool College? Apparently, it's some sort of minor public school, but I've lived in this city my whole life and never met anyone who went there, or even heard of the place until today. Go get me some Murphys, fags, and be quick about it. And then serenade me with your Depeche Mode-influenced musical stylings, while you oil my manly thighs with the grease from the side of your nose, or I'll roast all three of you over that open fire!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:54 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Only One...s

It's funny how when you're 15 you think you're soooo original re: band names. We lifted ours straight from a 1970's cop drama, for example; a quick internet search found a couple dozen other bands with the same name, and despite this we kept it until we graduated high school (and broke up) two years later.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:26 PM on June 5, 2008


OK, ornate insect, out with it, man: which band was it? You've come this far, let's take this all the way!

Trust me, you've never heard of us. We never recorded anything other than a really crappy demo tape, rarely played live, and disbanded after less than a year. I was in 10th grade and replaced a 10 year old singer whose mom didn't want him in the band b/c he was ruining his vocal cords.

On another note, The Only One referred to in this post seem oblivious to the fact that there was a band called The Only Ones (a fairly good one actually, and presumably familiar to many of you; here they are).
posted by ornate insect at 4:40 PM on June 5, 2008


If you like this, you should also check out My First Band, which specializes in 1960s era garage bands. Although my previous post on the website dates all the way back to 2002, I'm happy to say the site is still going strong.
posted by jonp72 at 4:53 PM on June 5, 2008


Oh what could have been. We were the Prayer Chamber. We saw several faces and we rocked some of them.
posted by Sailormom at 4:54 PM on June 5, 2008


We were the Prayer Chamber

Name like that gotta be a goth band.
posted by ornate insect at 4:58 PM on June 5, 2008


All of the bands I played in pre-date the MP3 era, let alone Youtube. Listening back to my old demo tapes: MAN, AM I GLAD. Sometimes, obscurity is a blessing.
posted by spoobnooble at 5:06 PM on June 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sailormom rocked yer face OK!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on June 5, 2008


Flock of Seagulls owned Liverpool when we came together

I think they're getting the spelling wrong there. The band name is actually spelled "Echo and the Bunnymen".

Also, no mention of Pretty Flowers?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:53 PM on June 5, 2008


There's a really great Lloyd Cole song called "Tried to Rock": "What it takes to rock/ Is that which I have not."
posted by goatdog at 5:54 PM on June 5, 2008


I've lost the weight.
Now it's my ego that needs the double-wide...
posted by Dizzy at 6:02 PM on June 5, 2008


Also, no one should look down on the melodica. Augustus Pablo made amazing sounds with it, and Joy Division/New Order used it memorably on a few songs (the intro to Love Vigilantes, off the top of my head).

Don't forget The Hooters!

Aw, man, I bet you totally forgot The Hooters.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 6:04 PM on June 5, 2008


Yay for the Hooters!
I took over Bazilian's apartment in Philly in '90 on 3rd and Vine across from the Painted Bride--- he was going to tour with "The Wall" I think, and his spouse was designing clothes in NYC I seem to recall.
He left (sans recording equipment, natch) his basement studio mostly intact (scruffy, cardboard over drywall walls, lotsa power outlets) so I could work out of there to do voice-overs.
I lived and starved there for 6 years. I miss that place.
posted by Dizzy at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2008


I could start a blog like this just featuring all the failed bands I've been in...

Let's see--I was in about a half-dozen crappy straight-edge hardcore bands in North Florida before I turned 15 (you know the type--bands with names like No Choice, Violent Change, Edgehammer, Justice, etc.).

Then there was my first "real" band in the late 80s, Egyptian Joyride. We were an REM and Drivin' and Cryin' inspired college rock band whose other members were all much older than I was (I was 15; the other guys were in their early to mid-twenties). EJ broke up when the other guys got pissed at me because I wouldn't drop out of high school to "go on tour" (they had no tour dates lined up, but whatever).

Then I made the transition from drums to front-man in a couple of melodic hardcore bands. One of them, absurdly, was called Hedz on Fire, IIRC. Then there was Workhouse, kind of a cross between Yes and Jawbox that I played drums and sang lead for.

Then finally, by late high school/early college I was a solid enough guitarist to start fronting a band as the lead guitar player. That band was first named Freeze the Revelers, then we eventually became Killing Darlings, which some of my hipper friends have since persuaded me was an awful name. We eventually got to be pretty popular in our home town and the surrounding areas (hometown heros, as they say). Our biggest headlining show drew a crowd of over 1200 (although to be fair, there were, like, six other bands on the bill, and we were in the middle of nowhere, so we were pretty much the only game in town).

Anyway, sorry for rambling down memory lane. Thanks for this site. Guess I've got a lot of writing to do...
posted by saulgoodman at 6:20 PM on June 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Egyptian Joyride? No offense, but that's one of the dorkiest new-wave band-names I ever heard. In other words, it's sublime.
posted by ornate insect at 6:27 PM on June 5, 2008


ornate: I know. The guy who came up with it literally just glanced over at his music collection and let his gaze fall on a couple of random cassette tapes for inspiration. The one that caught his eye was "Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians." That's where the Egyptian part of the name came from. The "Joyride" part he just improvised.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2008


The band name is actually spelled "Echo and the Bunnymen".

Bunnymen were certainly contenders, but I'd argue that there was no one band that asserted dominance over the city at that time -- or ever, for that matter. Even during the heyday of the Beatles, there was an equally large contingent that preferred a local R&B group called The Chants. The Chants were never likely to sell as well, because it was a black band, but many of the local girls preferred the Chants to the Beatles -- and they were covering much of the same repertoire at the time. I still see Sugar Dean popping up on the TV in small roles every now and again.

But '82 was like Merseybeat all over again. The city was filled with hot new bands. Alongside the Bunnymen, you had Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, A Teardrop Explodes, Pete Burns' Dead or Alive, Jayne Casey's various vehicles like Pink Military Stands Alone/Big in Japan, and my own favourites, Wah! Heat.

Here's a copy of a Pete Frame family tree showing just how vibrant the music scene was in Liverpool in 1980. In fact, that whole Music...isms blog is probably worthy of a FPP all of its very ownsome.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:15 PM on June 5, 2008


The Yamaha synth you got for your Bar Mitzvah

Holy crow. Yes, I did get a Yamaha synth for my bar mitzvah. And it served me well in lots of terrible high school bands never heard by anyone but ourselves: Dark Continent, Logic Bomb, The Lindbergh Babies...
posted by escabeche at 7:39 PM on June 5, 2008


Logic Bomb?

Reminds me of a philosophy-themed punk band I wanted to start called The Vienna Circle Jerks, replete with songs like "Neurath's Boat," "The Logical Syntax of Anarchy," and "I Don't Give a Schlick."
posted by ornate insect at 8:04 PM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Over a decade ago I was on a Quixotic kick to singlehandedly save the promising bands of North Texas (those that tickled my fancy) from certain extinction. My goal was to tell everyone I could get to sit still long enough about how wonderful all these bands are and how everyone really should stop wasting their money on top forty international celebrities and instead invest in local talent that's better quality, closer to home, and less expensive.

Naturally, I failed.

Still, my music collection is priceless to me, and I wouldn't trade those hot summer nights in Deep Ellum for nothin'. Good to see I'm not the only one who has on occasion written about those who tried to rock.

However, I don't like the word "try."

It's like the word "love."

People have abused the word so much, it has lost any significance of meaning.

They did not just "try" to rock.

They did rock. Some of them still do.

In the hearts of too precious few, they always will.

I will always love them for that reason; they did more than try.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:29 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think Killing Darlings is a great band name, saulgoodman.
posted by Kattullus at 3:55 AM on June 6, 2008



Also, no mention of Pretty Flowers?


You mean the new 'it' band everyone is talking about?
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2008


I'm embarrassed now that I wasn't in my first band until I was 17, but it was a doozy.

It was a metal band that I got in by saying I knew how to play bass (at the time I didn't). The lead singer would always say "We're Genocide, as in killing people" when he would introduce us.

From there I've been in a handful of other bands some good and some bad, but because of them I've been to some weird small towns and neighborhoods I would have otherwise missed.
posted by drezdn at 9:13 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"We're Genocide, as in killing people"

Best heavy metal band rallying cry, ever.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 AM on June 6, 2008


"HELLO CLEVELAND!"
-cheers-
"WE'RE GENOCIDE!"
-more cheers-
"AS IN, KILLING PEOPLE!"
-crickets-
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2008


i was in a band called Skylark because two of the members had Buick Skylarks. Then we changed our name to Victoria's Secret. Ahh, high school.

I was also in a band called Buck. It was basically a subset of this three-piece (power trio?) band I was in, but when the bass player had to go to the bathroom or something, the drummer and I became Buck and played a medley "putting it down" and "rowboat" by Beck.
posted by snofoam at 11:34 AM on June 6, 2008


I think 'Buck Skylark' is a good name.
posted by box at 11:39 AM on June 6, 2008


The only "proper" band (meaning "played more than once, had rehearsals, wasn't an elaborate joke") was called Marvin Loves Paczkis. I played (horribly) drums. We recorded in the basement of my pal Peter's house, and I doubt any tapes survive. At the time, we were going for pop-punk. Now I think I could come up with a justification as "noise," but that'd just be window-dressing for our suckage.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on June 6, 2008


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