Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dot Vaeth Group - White Collar Worker

A. White Collar Worker

B. Armed Robbery

Baby's Playing Games (Vomit Pigs Cover)

NOTE: The complete version of "Baby's Playing Games" was not on the original 7" release. The clip above was taken from the Deep In The Throat Of Texas comp, as were the other two songs since the fidelity is much better than my 7".

White Collar Worker b/w Armed Robbery/Baby's Playing Games
ESR (No. 1 ), 1978

Brothers David and Doug Townsend grew up on the same street as James Flory. They all attended school together from Elementary on. David took percussion lessons in junior high, but never quite grasped the concept and decided he wanted to play guitar instead. His brother Doug, who actually took guitar lessons, realized how inept he was at the instrument and opted for drums. After James got himself a bass and an amp and the brothers gathered some crummy equipment for themselves, they all started jamming together in David's bedroom.

It was the mid 70s and they were all bored with what was being played on the radio. After they heard a Ramones album, things started to change. They were blown away with what they heard and immediately started working on simple three chord songs they could play. After scrounging together the money for better equipment, the next step was to rent a storage warehouse in Ft. Worth where they could get out of the house and work on riffs as loud as they pleased.

A friend of theirs named Jim Nabors would regularly come to their rehearsals, eventually joining the band as singer. They came up with the name Dot Vaeth Group as homage to an old art teacher named Dorothy Vaeth who used to drink in class. They used to tease her by calling her Dot Vaeth and thought it would be a cool name for the band. They even sent a letter to Mrs. Vaeth to let her know they named their band after her, but never did get a reply.

James and Doug became a tight rhythm section but felt they still needed a lead guitar player. So they ended up recruiting Pat Conley who practiced in the rehearsal space next door. After that, the band decided to move their rehearsals to Pat's trailer in Azle, TX.

Pat introduced the rest of the band to an attorney named Bryce Parker. Bryce, who would later start up Electric Slum Records and be responsible for the Are We Too Late For The Trend compilation, brought out a 2-channel reel to reel and recorded their practice. With amps cranked to 11 in the small trailer, the recording sounded pretty rough. But Bryce insisted on putting out a 7" containing the band's two original songs, "White Collar Worker" and "Armed Robery" on his newly established ESR imprint in an optimistic run of 1,000 copies.

As a teaser, the record closes with a clip of them covering a Vomit Pigs tune called "Baby's Playing Games" that fades out within a few seconds. They were pals with Mike Brock, leader of the Vomit Pigs, and after the VP's released their stellar Take One EP, the Dot Vaeth gang thought it'd be funny to do the 30 second anthem even faster than the VP's did! It wasn't until 1997 that people were able to hear DVG's rendition in its entirety thanks to Existential Vaccum's Deep In The Throat Of Texas compilation album that also includes the two songs from the single, giving "Armed Robbery" an extra couple second intro.

In 1978, Dot Vaeth's set consisted of many cover songs from New York and British punk bands. There were very few groups in the area at that time playing punk besides the Nervebreakers in Dallas and Vomit Pigs in Dangerfield. Since there were no established clubs in Ft. Worth for this type of music yet, Pat would approach club owners and tell them they did Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith covers to get them in the door. Then on audition night they'd get thrown off the stage by their second song, sometimes being physically removed from the building!

It got to the point where they had to start renting out warehouse spaces just to play shows and then charge people a quarter at the door to get in. Eventually they started gigging in Dallas more often, sometimes alongside the Nervebreakers where they'd have more of an audience. Still unable to move anywhere near the 1,000 records that were pressed, they would staple the covers to the wall to make wallpaper and fling the records like frisbees and shatter them. They even set up shop outside a Zeppelin concert once to put records in the hands of unsuspecting show goers.

A friend of theirs named Michael Ritchey owned a lighting company that had developed a new technology to simulate lightning. He was attempting to sell this special effect to Hollywood so he made a promo video with Dot Vaeth Group performing the Ramones "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment." The shoot took place on a cold winter day in a rented warehouse in Irving, TX. Unfortunately they didn't ground David properly when they shot a bolt of lightning out of his guitar and he received quite a shock. Realizing a little too late that they should have put some gym mats down, they remedied the problem and tried again. The video was aired at a party with a bunch of Hollywood industry buffs but ultimately nothing ever came of it.

The band played together for about 3 years until all their equipment was stolen out of a trailer, putting a damper to their progress. Since some of the members had already moved to Dallas while others remained in Ft. Worth, they decided to just throw in the towel.

The original trio of David, Doug and James ended up starting a band called the Infants, who later morphed into Superman's Girlfriend. The brothers both hopped around from band to band for a while, eventually settling in with the Ralphs. After having kids, David stepped away from music altogether. His brother Doug passed away in 2006 after losing a battle with lung cancer. James Flory had stints with Tex and the Saddle Tramps and the late incarnation of the Nervebreakers that toured the east coast. Pat went on to play in Blindate, a band that Doug was also in.

1 comment:

  1. There actually was a club in Fort Worth (starting around 1980) called Zero's New Wave Lounge and it pre-dated the Hot Klub.
    And to be exact, James Flory and the Townsend brothers were from Haltom City. It's a suburb of Fort Worth, but in many ways, a world away.