Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rockers - Self Titled EP

A1. I Want To Tell You

A2. Come Back

B1. Don't Leave Me Tonight

B2. Understanding

THE ROCKERS (San Francisco, CA)
Self Titled EP
Alcatraz (AS-28001), 1980

John Perga played in his first band, The Village Raiders, in 1966. It was then in San Mateo, CA that he was introduced to brothers Phillip and Dennis Schraub. All three were very heavily influenced by British Invasion bands, strong vocal harmonies, and the high production value of those 60's recordings.

They formed their first band together in the Spring of 1967 with John singing, Phil on guitar, Dennis on drums and a bass player named Parker Jones. Originally called The Druids, they changed their name to The Mood by 1968 and put out a short-run single that had covers of the Move's "Night Of Fear" on one side and the Small Faces' "Put Yourself Together" on the flip. After that, they replaced Parker with a bass player named Don Ruiz and changed their name to Lompoc. Though they rehearsed quite a bit with this line-up, they only played a few shows before parting ways.

A couple years later Phil and John started writing songs again. They recorded some demos to shop around in hopes of getting duo acoustic gigs. They played the rough tape to Phil's brother Dennis who then decided to work with them in his newly built 4-track home studio. Dennis played the drums, engineered the sessions, and then mixed it all into completed song. Though they named the project Smash, they never played shows or went any further with it.

Then in 1977, John and Phil finally decided to put an active live band together. They focused on writing power pop tunes with melodies that incorporated two and three-part harmonies. By this time Dennis was married and focusing on his career as an engineer, so he was in no position to join the band. They ended up recruiting a drummer named George Hastings who had previously played in a band with Phil. And then George brought in Carl Jeppesen on bass to complete the line-up. At last, their hope of bringing loud, powerful pop to the live stage was finally coming to fruition.

At the time, John was working as a jeweler and given the stage name Johnny Rock, which in turn led to the band being known as Johnny Rock and the Rockers. But after just a few gigs they decided to shorten it to simply, The Rockers. Around that time an executive decision was made which forced George out of the band. They put up an ad and found Bryan Allinsmith, a harder hitting drummer who had just left a band called Rage and better fit the bill.

The Rockers would primarily play shows in the Bay area at clubs like the Palms Cafe, International Cafe, Comeback Inn, and others. They started off doing weekday gigs but slowly built a strong enough following to earn themselves weekend dates as well as a slot opening up for the Go-Go's at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco in '79. When Ness Aquino took over the Mab, The Rockers became one of his favorite acts, so they'd often get to play the stage there on Friday nights.

At the end of 1979, they went to Mobius Music in San Francisco to record four songs with Oliver DiCicco at the helm. The basic tracks were recorded live on 16-track, 2" tape with very minimal overdubs, and then they laid down the vocals. Though Phil's brother Dennis wasn't in the band, he still played an integral role, acting as manager and producer. He, the band and DiCicco worked together to mix the songs, trying to emulate the sound of a British Invasion recording. The finished tapes were then brought to Bob Carbone in LA to be mastered. The end result is a highly polished, terrific sounding 7" EP, which many regard today as a power pop masterpiece.

Dennis and the band created Alcatraz Records to release the EP. Foggy recollections believe that 1,000 copies were pressed but lost receipts can't verify that. The boys drove to every record outlet they could find to get copies in stores. Tower Records took a big chunk of them and before long they were sold out. The record received positive reviews in BAM and other Bay area papers. They even got some college air play.

Carl left the band after that, so they set out to find a new bass player. They first brought in Sheridan Oakes, who filled the void for a little while, but ultimately was replaced by their long time friend, John San Filippo. At that point a name change was in order and The Finders were born. Cheap Rewards Records will be issuing an official repressing of the Rockers EP as well as an LP collection of Finders material later this summer.

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