Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Ejectors - Hydro-Head

A. Hydro-Head

B. Little Johnny

Hydro-Head b/w Little Johnny
VVV (VVV-005), 1981

By 1980, the Dallas/Fort Worth area punk scene was in full swing. Early pioneers the Nervebreakers, Dot Vaeth Group, and Vomit Pigs helped paved the way for the next wave of bands that included the Telefones, Ralphs, Teenage Queers, NCM, and the Fort Worth Cats. A new group called the Ejectors sprung into action after its core members spent their teenage nights sneaking into clubs like Zeros and the Hot Klub to see these bands perform.

The Ejectors began rehearsing at guitar player Scott Pausel’s house. Ashley Parrish took on lead guitar, while Richard Dotson played bass and Lance Fuller attempted to play the drums. It was quickly apparent that Lance wasn’t suited for drums, so he stepped down as musician. However, he did remain close to the band thereafter, taking on duties such as roadie.

The boys knew Scott Tuomey from growing up in the same neighborhood and after hearing him sing along to music at a house party, they invited him to join the band. Completing the line-up was Fred West who was one year older than the others. He responded to a flyer his girlfriend had picked up at a record shop stating a punk band was looking for a drummer. Figuring it would be a fun experience, Fred tried out and immediately hit it off with the other guys.

The songwriting process was pretty lax. Sometimes Richard would come up with a bass line, then Fred would play a rockin’ beat and the rest of the band would contribute ideas. Other times someone would come to the table with a more refined idea for a song and the others would help with the finishing touches. The one thing that remained a constant was the use of humorous lyrics.

The Ejectors played on a regular basis for a two year period at the Speakeasy, Hot Klub, Metamorphosis and other clubs that catered to punk around Dallas and Fort Worth. Realizing they could earn much more money playing cover tunes at dances, they spent many nights working that market as well. The band came up with a repertoire of around 70 cover songs that they’d showcase at private parties, school functions and even country clubs. Keeping things up tempo and with a lot of angst and distortion, the musical style ran the gamut of Stones and Kinks classics to the punk stylings of the Clash and Sex Pistols. They even had three female guest vocalists sing on B-52s songs with them.

When playing regular club gigs they’d often share the stage with the Ralphs and Fort Worth Cats, two bands that were a little older and more established, but treated them as equals. In fact, when Cats drummer Johnny Willett was unavailable for gigs, they’d often ask Fred to fill in. After the Ejectors built a solid local following and decided it was time to record a single, it was Ralph Williams of the Ralphs who produced their record.

“Hydro-Head” and “Little Johnny” were recorded quickly in a studio called Rainbow Sound that was primarily used for Christian music. When finished, they presented the songs to Neal Caldwell for possible inclusion on his VVV imprint. The VVV record label was originally created by Neal in order to release singles for his own bands, the Schematics and later NCM, though he did allow other bands to use the namesake to help give the scene solidarity. Neal agreed to let the Ejectors use the VVV seal of approval and ultimately the name recognition gave the band opportunities to play with other more established groups.

The guys had to vote to decide which track to call the A-side of the single and “Hydro-Head” came out the winner. They initially pressed 1,200 copies of the record and it sold out immediately. So another larger batch of 1,300 was printed up and moved quickly as well. Besides giving a ton away to friends, the single sold extremely well at parties, private functions and through the dozen or so shops like VVV and Peaches that they dropped them off at.

Shortly after the release of the single, Scott Pausel left the band and they continued on as a four piece. They recorded an album’s worth of material but never got around to releasing it. By 1982 the scene was headed in a different direction and the boys agreed they had fun while it lasted but it was time to call it quits and concentrate on school.

They all earned degrees in their chosen fields with Scott Tuomey becoming a high school teacher and Ashley becoming an attorney. Richard works in IT, while Scott Pausel is a regional sales manager and Fred works in the travel industry and is an investor.

Although the band only released the one single, the Ejectors could be heard on several other records. The Live At The Hot Klub LP features the song “Fade With The Summer.” “Hydro-Head” was later featured on the 1992 compilation album, Bloodstains Across Texas. The same year, George Gimarc’s Tales From The Edge, Vol 6 CD included an unreleased Ejectors song called “George Jetson.” A year after that, EV Records released the Sacred Cattle EP with yet another unreleased track, “Slam Dance.” Things were quiet for a while until 2006 when Italian label Rave-Up Records had the band dig up the original master tapes of their unreleased album. After nearly 25 years of sitting in a closet, those songs finally saw the light of day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Boy Elroy & The Jetsons - Don't Know Why

A. Don't Know Why

B. Before I Go

Don't Know Why b/w Before I Go
Astro Productions (SO 17381), 1983

Mark Mann and his brother Chas grew up in a ski resort area of New Jersey before their parents moved the family to Largo, FL. The two had played music together since they were young and in 1980 both made their way to Gainesville where Chas began attending school at the University of Florida. The area provided a healthy environment for original bands because there were so many places to perform and record.

Boy Elroy and the Jetsons started with Mark (who took on the persona of Boy Elroy) on lead guitar and vocals, Chas on drums, and Rick Shafer on bass. Rick worked at a local music store where Mark and Chas would hang out. They told him about their plans to form a band and asked if he was interested in joining. The three of them began rehearsing together after that and eventually brought in a UF student named Martin Gold who added lead and rhythm guitar.

They were all into guitar-based rock like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty. The band worked up a large catalog of original songs to mix in with the requisite covers that got them gigs. Most clubs didn't want bands playing original material so when they'd send a song list out to the places they wanted to play, they'd load it with covers and only mention a few originals to secure themselves a slot. Once they took stage, they’d sneak in as many of their own songs as they could. The band utilized the fact that there were five big clubs in town along with a bunch of smaller venues to ensure they were gigging every weekend. Of course they played plenty of fraternity parties as well.

The original line-up of Boy Elroy and the Jetsons released just one self-financed 7" single designed as a promotional tool to help them get signed to a record deal and go on tour. It was recorded in a couple days by Bob McPeek who owned Mirror Image, the premier recording studio in Gainesville. The songs were mastered and pressed in Nashville in a limited run and the single disappeared quickly. Boy Elroy and the Jetsons received radio play on local Rock 104 which helped them build a great following. The band even had the opportunity to play in front of 70,000 people at the 1983 Gator Growl, which is the pep rally for the start of the football season. Still, a major record deal never came their way.

In August of 1983, Rick and Martin were replaced by Fritz Godin and Reb Field. The new incarnation recorded one more song with Bob McPeek, "Silver Sweater," which they contributed to the Sink Hole Tapes compilation album. In the end, the band was barely making enough money to sustain itself and when other opportunities to make real money came along, everyone went their separate ways.

Martin went on to become an architect and is currently the director of the School of Architecture at the University of Florida and is playing in two music projects. Rick went on to open his own music store and now has his own sound and lighting company. Chas is a big time executive working with companies like Disney, Paramount Studios, and Starbucks. Mark is still playing music full time in Florida as a solo act.