David Zweig sent in this beauty which he titles "Why I’m A Gibson Man."
Suede Potato underwent many incarnations over the years, including the poor marketing sense of changing our name with each new gig until we settled on the Potato sometime in eleventh grade. In ’89 the lineup was Ken on drums, Darren on bass, Jason on keys, Alex on lead vocals, and Jon and me on guitars.
Our first gig, when we were then known as Pressure Point, was in the junior high cafeteria. It was the inaugural evening of Teen Night, a non-alcohol “safe alternative” activity that the PTA had dreamt up. We were the headliners. Our moms dropped us off a few hours in advance to get ready. Unloading my gear from the trunk of our sedan I caught Darren’s eye as he wheeled his amp across the parking lot. We didn’t need to say anything. We both knew, finally: we were cool.
Jon’s two friends, Pat and Dan, a year older, from another school, and both with long hair, arrived shortly thereafter with a PA system and knowledge of how to work it. They were to help with set up and to run the board during the gig. They played Rush’s Moving Pictures over the PA while we hung out before the crowd arrived. As if they weren’t already unreachable – (see: year older, long hair, owners of a PA) – Dan played the opening riff of “Limelight” on my guitar.
As we ran sound checks and kicked back waiting for the crowd to arrive, I felt utterly relaxed and in my element. This is exactly what I should be doing, I thought as I finished off my can of Sunkist. My anxiety started to build, though, as I watched the clock tick toward showtime and the kids start to file in. The place was packed. I think the whole grade came out. We were, after all, a genuine rock band and their peers. And for exactly one night in junior high, we actually were cool. My nerves never truly subsided, but I was able to channel them into a positive force of rock power as we tore through U2, Clapton, and REM hits. The Led Zep medley, that would later become a staple of our sets for the duration of the band’s run, was a searing tour de force. We even played two originals, one each by Jon and me. (Jon’s tune was catchier than mine, though his chord progression was suspiciously close to “R.O.C.K. in the USA” and was secretly mocked by the rest of the band.)
During the finale of the show each of us took a solo. While I was in the zone during our performance up to that point, my nerves roared like Sunkist fizz in my ear as Jon ripped his solo and mine was just two bars away. I was a rhythm man and a wild strummer, still am, and enjoyed the physicality of playing, not noodling up and down the fretboard. Solos, let alone naked ones where all the other instruments drop out, were alien territory. I had a little pentatonic riff memorized. It wouldn’t shred like Jon’s but it was soulful and dirty, the way good rock should be. I was playing a Strat replica in those early days. It had the volume knob and two tone knobs in a diagonal row just below the humbucker pickup. I gripped the neck tight and stared at the sweat and smudge marks trailing off the pickups. Jon’s last note rung out, the measure finished. Go time. I barred the E and B strings, gritted my teeth and winced passionately doing my simple pull-offs and hammer-ons making dramatic flourishes with my right hand. Yet within a few notes something had gone horribly wrong. There was no sound. Since the band had dropped out, there was only the sound of Ken keeping the beat as the audience watched my scrunched Rock God face quickly morph to one of terror and confusion. I pictured myself as they saw me, a mime madly plucking silent strings. Somehow, after just a couple seconds I figured out that my volume knob was all the way in the off position. I manically, angrily wound it forward but my two bars were up and the band kicked back in.
I hit a couple big power chords in unison with the band as we closed out the set. Weirdly, each chord got successively quieter. At that moment I grasped what had happened, twice. My hand had been strumming so wildly that I hit the volume knob on each downstroke, turning it a quarter turn with each pass. What sick person would design a guitar with the volume knob right next to where your hand strums? Within a month I had a ’62 SG
Reissue. All four of its knobs way off, safely to the side.
As Ken’s ride and crash sizzled out from their final hit the crowd chanted for an encore. Since we had played everything we knew we launched into “Sunshine of Your Love” for a second time.
"Sweet pentatonic riffs!"
"Something’s horribly wrong! There’s no sound! "
"What the fuck?! Is it the amp? The chord? No, it’s the volume knob!"
David Zweig sent in this beauty which he titles "Why I’m A Gibson Man."
Phil writes: Being Italian, there was always music around. Everybody in the family sang and played something (although not always that well.) My father started me singing literally before I could even talk, so I was always singing. As I got older I learned to play the guitar, piano and other instruments, just so I could at least back myself up, even if not the greatest.
I met Rudy Moro, who did promo for 7 UP. He was putting on a show for the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens. He was going to have a sort of battle of the bands and asked me if I would sing something as a special guest. So I got my trusty guitar and off we went to the Worlds Fair in the New Jersey Pavilion. I had given him a list of about 30 songs I could do -- all all covers -- and, to make a long story short, being there was such a great reception for me, he had me do ALL of them that night. Man, if that don’t get you high, nothing will.
As time was passing, I did manage to write a couple of songs along the way. I had an acetate demo made at Sanders Recording Stucio for about $4, and decided I would take the Brill Building by storm. The first 20 or so places I went gave me a cordial no thank you. Then I happened to enter the office of Blast Records. Therein I found Vinnie Catalano and Pete Alonzo who had, for some reason, slept over that previous night in the office. We chatted a bit and finally Vinnie said, “so let’s hear it”. I carefully took it out of the sleeve and Vinnie put it on his turntable. He and Pete went bonkers and said they had a bunch of songs that would be perfect for me. Now dig this, I only had those couple of songs and I told them I couldn’t record unless I did my own material! Is that the dumbest shit you ever heard??!! How many teens do you now that would turn down a deal??!!Listen to Phil rock it, and marvel at his sound. Here is Half Past High
Steev from Florida writes: This article from my high school newspaper captures a turning point in the early life of Egyptian Joyride, a young and ridiculously self-important new wave rock band that was perpetually only a single line-up change away from becoming one of the most successful local bands to perform original music in a small pocket of the north Florida music scene usually dominated by blues rock and heavy metal cover bands. We were, of course, also complete idiots.
The band's original guitarist and reluctant front-man, Cary Mainous, first introduced me to bassist Jason George on Jason's first day out of jail. Granted he had only served a short term for failure to pay off some parking citations which hardly qualifying him as a hardened criminal. But while
As a shy and easily impressed 15 year-old, desperate for the acceptance and approval of my college-age band mates, I found my new band mate's possible criminal background terrifying and thrilling at the same time.
One important omission in the article: it was a fairly public secret that we didn't actually win the contest described in the article-at least, we didn't win it fair and square. Truth is, we cheated to the point of absurdity, not only by pestering everyone we knew in town to call in to the radio station as many times as humanly possibly, but also by disguising our own voices and calling the station as many times as we could ourselves (these were the days before caller ID was common, so this was a low-risk scam at the time). Not that it mattered. Our crudely four-tracked entry, despite the best efforts of our new front-man, failed to impress college radio listeners at the next level of competition and that life-transforming EMI record deal we dreamt of in those days never materialized.
Soon, Chris took over leadership of the group, and
The band only finally started coming undone when I refused to drop out of high school before the start of my senior year, so that the band could "go on the road full-time" (as far as I know, neither Chris or Jason really had any idea what that meant or any concrete plans for how to go about doing it.)
Our final performance was a fund-raiser benefit for WKGC, that same small, local college radio station that had helped us establish ourselves and done so much to help promote us over the years since. Throughout that show, the security guards at the on-campus venue hosting the event threatened to cut the power to the PA system several times, because Jason refused to stop swearing drunkenly into the mic. Then suddenly, in one of his not unprecedented random onstage outbursts, Chris joined in with Jason and began cursing belligerently too, just before launching into a new song we had recently started including in some of our sets. It was named "WKGC Song" and the hook (such as it was) went like this: "KGC-set me free! KGC-let me be!"
It was probably clear to anyone in the audience at that moment that in our minds, this was a defining moment in the history of rock and roll. Then, about halfway into the song, someone finally cut the power to the PA for good.
Here is one of the thumpingly good tracks Egyptian Joyride recorded for a local music compilation that was sold on-campus and around town to raise money for WKGC. According to the author, the mixes are a noisy, muddled mess, but as he claims, " that was just how we rolled in those days." The track is called Attitude.