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Joey Schaaf - A musical biography
According to my father Jazz is the first music that I heard on the day I was brought home from the hospital when I was born. One of my father's favorite stories was how he plugged my ears with cotton so I wouldn't hear any music until he got me home, took out the cotton and played "Jazz Me Blues" by Bix Biederbeck. My father loved and played Dixieland and Big Band jazz all the his life. Because of him music, especially jazz was infused into me practically from birth.
At age two I packed my grocery bag with my stuffed animals, my toy guitar and drum sticks and headed out the door for my first tour. I only made it to the backyard. At Christmas time my grandfather used to play the song "Little Drummer Boy" and sing it to me with his rich German accent which first made me think about playing the drums.
In 1972 when I was twelve years old, my parents started the Central Florida Hot Jazz Society. They brought in acts like Count Basie, Glenn Miller's band and many more. I went to every show and met all the musicians. I had to because my parents put on the shows. It was way cool and I liked being there for the music and meeting the musicians. We also traveled to New Orleans for jazz festivals where I heard and met Kid Ory, Wild Bill Davidson, Bobby Hackett , Speigal Wilcox, Pete Fountain and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I also met Woody Allen and Louise Lasser when they were playing clarinet and wash board respectively at the Jazz Heritage Museum with a dixieland band there. I heard a lot of jazz and watched the musicians intensely every where we went. The rhythms, the melodies became embedded within me. There was quite often a Dixieland Jazz band in my livingroom playing until the wee hours of the morning. I am sure that these experiences have had a major influence on the music I make although I did not turn out to be a jazz musician.
By age six I was tinkering on the piano, picking out the theme from Exodus on the piano my mother bought for me. She thought I should have piano lessons and I went along with her idea. After a summer of torturous piano lessons, which despite the crabby old teacher I did excellently, I quit and began playing the coronet in the band at my middle school in 7th grade. I also began playing Dixieland at home with my dad at night when he played. I played 1st chair trumpet, baritone and coronet throughout middle school, 10th and 11th grade of high school. The new band director in my 12th grade year said that it was required that I play in the marching band if I wanted to play in the stage/jazz/rock band. I hated marching band and quit the school band altogether. So I surfed all summer instead of marching in the 120 degree parking lot for 5 hours a day 5 days a week in the hot Florida summer sun. It was well worth the trade off.
As I turned 16, I formed my first band with my childhood friend Johnny Lemke. It was called "Radio Flyer". We both played guitar and sang, but in Radio Flyer I played electric piano. Johnny taught me a lot of Beatles songs on guitar which I transposed from the guitar to piano. I studied my Mel Bay guitar chord encyclopedia and began to write songs with the new chords I was learning. Johnny and I hung out and jammed everyday after school and at night around camp fires out in the woods on posted no trespassing radio tower property occasionally being chased off by stick wielding rednecks in pick up trucks and police helicopters. Radio Flyer played our first show at the battle of the bands in Orlando, Florida in 1976. We didn't win that day but I knew then that I wanted more then ever to do it again win or loose.
By the time I was 18 my friend Chip Cooper turned me on to The Clash. I went crazy for the revolution in their music, the energy of their sound, and discovered a whole world of new music that was Punk Rock. The Clash were a huge influence on me and quickly became my favorite band. Johnny loved The Beatles and when I said, "The Beatles are dead, The Clash live he became really upset with me. Because of this we ended up going our separate musical ways but still remain friends after all these years.
In the following eight years I was in these three bands; The Fallout, The Rockers, and The X Dreams.
I was the singer, song writer, guitarist, and manager for The Fallout between 1980-1982. The Fallout played punk originals and few Clash songs as well. We emulated The Clash with our political ideas, music, and the way we dressed, hence the nickname we were given,"Joey Clash and the Clash Boys". The city of Orlando hadn't seen much punk rock at this point and we scared most of club owners and it was hard to get a show. I booked the Bad Brains on their first tour in 1981. We opened up the show of course. When we arrived at the club to set up for the show the club owner saw us he locked the doors, turned off the lights and put up the closed sign as we approached the building. So we had to find another club quickly and did at The Park Ave. Pub in Winter Park, FL. We played for donations placed into a hat that was passed around. We barely made enough money to get my PA amp.out of hock. The money I got for hocking the PA went to pay the Bad Brains their $200 guarantee and Phil Tucker the Fallout bassist and I worked a part-time newspaper delivery job to get our PA head back. People in Orlando who were there at the show then still remember it well. The place was so packed people were sitting on top of the vending machines to squeeze in. The Fallout also played the "Battle of the Bands" in Orlando. We were the only band to get a standing ovation with the crowd screaming for more, but in the end we didn't win. The winner of course was the local radio station's favorite big hair metal band who sponsored the event. The Fallout stayed together for a couple of years playing with not only the Bad Brains, but also Minor Threat both on their first US tour and also with other bands that were beginning to emerge in the early 80's.
After the break up of The Fallout I joined a reggae band called "The Rockers" as their guitarist. I played with them for about a year. We played around Orlando's reggae club scene and once did a show down in Key West at a little place called "Emery's Front Porch Tavern". It was the dive across the side street next to the famous "Sloppy Joe's". One day the leaders of the band decided that they wanted to play dance / disco / rap style music. That not being my thing so I moved on. I remember the day Bob Marley died, we were practicing and called it off. I thought that we should keep playing and do some Bob Marley songs to honor him, but the leaders of the band were too bummed out to play anymore that day. I think Bob Marley would have wanted us to keep playing.
Tom Holyz, the sax player who played in The Fallout had become a really good drummer. He and I with Joe Fenwick on bass started a new band called The XDREAMS. The Music scene had grown in Orlando but was still dominated by heavy metal and classic rock cover bar bands and Punk was still underground and pure. I wrote songs combining punk and a modern psychedelic rock sound creating what I called "Cosmic-Psyc-Punk-Rock'n Roll". The lyrics were metaphysical in nature and the music had a spacey yet punk edge to it as well. We played lots of shows around Central Florida. The XDREAMS were the house band on a public access cable tv show called "Where it's at in Orlando" which I wrote the theme song of the same name. We played all original music, mostly the "Cosmic-Psyc-Punk-Rock'n Roll" stuff and some straight up Punk. The show was recorded live on tape at mall parking lots and at a Fuddrucker's restaurant and aired in the wee hours of the morning. I never saw a single show. The XDREAMS also did a couple of music videos and a 30 minute mini-movie called "Random Factors". These were produced by Joe Fenwick's for his college television video production class projects.
About this time I had an epiphany and went out to my truck and sat there writing a song called "Time to move along". My band mates who were also my room mates all came out and asked me what I was doing sitting out there for an hour. I told them it was time for me to leave Orlando and go to California and I was writing a song to tell them. In the fall of 1986 I sold most everything I owned, loaded the rest of it in my Toyota pick-up truck, and drove to San Francisco to become part of the music scene and make a new life. I asked the rest of the band to go with me but they didn't want to leave Orlando.
In Oct. of 1986 I arrived in San Francisco, CA with no job, hardly any money and nowhere to live. A very nice young women Jane ( "Ten Tall Men" and "Yeastie Girls" fame ) offered the basement of the Maximum Rock n Roll magazine's house. I stayed there for two weeks while I found work and a place to live. While I was there I had access to the vast collection of the Maximum Rock n Roll magazine record collection. There were hundreds if not thousands of records to choose from and mostly all punk rock. I listened to as many as I could while I was there and discovered all kinds of bands that I had never heard of. I used what little money I could spare to buy cassette tapes and recorded as much of this new music as I could with the permission of MRR of course.This was very exciting and inspiring to discover this treasure trove of new music hidden in the basement. While I was there at the MRR magazine house I met Tim Yohanan the founder of MRR magazine. Tim Yohanan had an idea for an all age club for everyone, including kids who could come and see bands and have their bands play too. Not wanting to deal with cops or every San Jose DUI attorney in the area no drugs, violence, alcohol, racism, or discrimination was to be allowed.. Tim Yohanan, Martin Sprouts and I went to Berkeley, CA one night and checked out the club for the first time. It was just an empty warehouse then but was soon converted into the "Gilman Street Project" now known as 924 Gilman Street. This new underground punk club was where many of today's well known bands cut their teeth, bands such as Green Day, Rancid, Dance Hall Crashers, Operation Ivy, Schlong, AFI, Agent Orange, MDC, RKL, Corrupted Morals, Fang, The Dwarves SF, Sticky, Sweet Baby Jesus, Poltry Magic, Crimpshrine, Christ On Parade, Offspring and tons more.This is where I found the music scene I had been searching for all my life!. On the first night the club opened I placed an ad for musicians on the bulletin board and within a week I received calls.
The first people I jammed with were Tim Romain (bass) and Joel Scherzer (drums). Later they introduced me to Dave Mello and his brother Pat Mello. In the future these four musicians would play a big part in my life as friends and fellow band mates. Dave Mello and I jammed a couple of times in his garage and once Pat Mello came down with his bass and joined in. Then one day Jesse Michaels, Tim Armstrong (known as "LINT" back then) and Matt Freeman came and asked Dave to be the drummer in their new band "Operation Ivy" and Dave accepted. At this time I had moved from Oakland, CA to Albany, CA which is the same small town which all of these people I have mentioned grew up and lived. We all used to hang out together at my house at 1053 Kains St. jamming, recording and doing art. When a room became available Matt and Tim moved in and shared it. This was during the peak of the OpIvy period. Our house quickly became OpIvy headquarters. Lots of bands stayed with us as they passed through town that were playing at the Gilman St. Project. It was a fun time.even though some of it is a little hard to remember. During this time I did a lot of multi-track recording of songs I was writing and also began to write songs with Tim Armstrong as a duet we called "The LJ's". As "The LJ's" Tim and I recorded 14 songs. This collection of songs I later named "Along The Tracks Of Time". Click here for more about The LJ's CD
Living at Operation Ivy headquarters: It was an exciting time being part of the original Gilman Street Project scene and feeling the energy and excitment that OpIvy generated in our house. I roadied quite often for OpIvy and my band The Two O'Clock Tour shared a practice studio with OpIvy so I was often at their practices. As a roadie OpIvy treated me like one of the band. I would have done it for free but they always insisted on paying me an equal share of what the band made. With OpIvy it wasn't about the money, it was about equality and fairness and the music.
Dave and his brother Pat, AKA:"Skin" hung out a lot with me at the house creating art and music. Jesse Michaels came over with Aaron Elliot and Jake (singer of Filth) and many friends who were musicians, poets and artists. We drank coffee and created "Pass the Art" around the table were everyone would add something to a single piece of art, we recorded music together and listened to KALX radio in Berkeley. We never watched tv since we didn't have one. Paying attention to one another and being creative was always more healthy and entertaining.
Tim worked part time at Blondies Pizza in Berkeley and I got Matt a job where I worked at a small restaurant in Oakland called "Fatz". Matt, Tim and I didn't make a lot of money in the food service business. Tim cooked up a lot of rice for dinner back in those days with nothing to put on top. I think Matt ate better than Tim since he worked at Fatz and was a bit more thirfty with his limited income.When Tim was working he did part-time landscaping and worked at Blondie's pizza on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley.Working at Fatz, Matt and I could eat and drink all we wanted for $2.00 a day. Ben Chu, the cook at Fatz would always make us extra food to take home. A favorite of mine was the double breast of chicken sandwich with a fist full of cheddar and this awesome sweet and sour sauce.The owners of Fatz sold it in 1990. By then I had left Fatz and taken a seasonal job up in the mountains of Humbolt county. Matt moved on to work at a truck rental place prior to making music his full time career. Tim continued doing odd jobs painting houses and construction. Back then the little money we made went to our living expenses, but somehow we managed to still buy cheap beer which fueled many recording and jam sessions. At home Tim and I would sip 40's of Olde English 800, play guitars, sing and eventually go on to record our music as The LJ's.
My dog Simon was everyone's friend especially if you had food, beer or a short skirt. You better believe that whatever was on the floor was his within seconds even if he had to knock it over first. Any opportunity for Simon to jump up on the couch or dash outside he would take. Simon even went to the Gilman Street Project for an OpIvy / Screaching Weasel show. He didn't seem to mind the loud music or being in the pit. Simon rocked! One day just after Christmas I returned from visiting my mother in Florida. It was unbelievably cold especially for California. Upon entering the house I found Tim lying on the couch under four or five blankets, he had on as many pairs of socks, an empty 40 on the table, and Simon laying on his feet. It was so cold I could see my breath inside the house. I asked Tim why he didn't have the heater on and he said he couldn't afford it. I turned it on right then and told him not to worry that I would pay whatever extra it cost but I wasn't going to freeze in our own house, besides Tim had every blanket in the house and the dog laying on him and I was out of options if I wanted to warm up.
I used to buy lots of wierd stuff at garage sales (still do) and bring it home, like the hotdog shaped telephone. Matt hated it and refused to use it and Tim just ignored it when it rang. It still makes me laugh remembering that stupid phone. I used to annoy Matt quite often in those days, never the less he was always good to me. The hotdog phone was one of those annoying, stupid things I'd come up with from time to time. I knew I could get a reaction, their expressions were priceless and I would sometimes laugh myself into tears. I think that's why Dave Mello and I got along so well cause we both liked stupid, annoying, silly things. I wasn't really out to irritate anyone it just came naturally for me at my age then.
When OpIvy went on tour, they did it in this huge boat of a car. It was a 1969 Chrysler Newport. If I remember correctly Matt's uncle sold it to him really cheap to help the band out for their first tour. Matt and I drove out to pick it up in El Sobronte and I drove it back to our house. I think it was Matt's dad who built this giant wooden box that they mounted on the roof to hold all of their equipment. I honestly had never seen anything like it before or since. It was crazy looking but it worked. Off they went to make their way across the country, Matt, Tim, Jesse, Dave Mello and David Hayes co-founder of Lookout Records.
For 25 years I have been sitting on a version of the OpIvy album, "Energy" which I recorded at the OpIvy practice studio in 1988, the day before they went into the studio to record the official album. I offered to sell it to Lookout Records so that OpIvy would get the 60% of the sales as they do with all their other music and merchandise. The Lookout Records owner came to my house, had a listen and a cup of tea. He offered me $50.00. I counter-offered him another cup of tea and a serious belly laugh. He said that he picked up recordings like this all the time for that much or less. Whatever dude, not this time you don't. I still have the tape and have recently loaded it onto my computer cause the tape is deteriorating a little after all these years. Note: I recently gave Dave Mello and Jessie Michaels the digital version of the orginal Practice Pad demo on CD so it may be released by them sometime in the future but not by me as I gave my word to them 25 years ago that I would not make it public.
The real reason it hasn't come out is because Matt and Tim do not want it to. Matt and Tim's reason for saying no is that they do not want to change the history of the way the band has been seen and heard from the official Energy album release. Dave and Jesse said to go ahead and release it if Matt and Tim agreed. I told them all that I would respect their wishes and not release it unless the entire band said it was okay. Since then there has not been a consensus within the band to release it. I only recorded it, mixed it and own the original master tape, but it's not my musical creation. They are still my friends even if I don't see them all as much as I used to.
In my opinion is that the Practice Pad recording session version has more energy, no pun intended. Admittedly, being a live 4 track recording the production quality is not as good as a big studio recording, but their performance that day at "The Practice Pad" captured their sound while they were, relaxed in their familiar environment. When this was recorded I used five microphones mixed into three tracks. One for each instrument and three for the drums. The vocals were added separately on the 4th track. Operation Ivy gave a soulful performance which really comes across as pure and at ease.
The Unannounced another very short lived band who's members were Dave Mello on drums, Joe Fenwick on bass and vocals, and Joey Schaaf guitar and vocals. We only played one short set at Gilman Street thanks to Christ On Parade who let us have part of their set. The songs we played were, "I Don't Trust You Mr.Yuppie Businessman", "Something Going Down", and "You don't Care About Me".
Hunde Scheibe - Around the end of the Operation Ivy period Dave Mello, Pat Mello and I created a band called Hunde Scheibe which was metaphorically based on the life of my dog "Simon". We dressed up in costumes according to our characters. Dave Mello was the lead singer as"The Priest", Pat Mello was bassist as"Ski", I was guitarist as "Gas" and later we added a real drummer Rakesh as "Duck". We kept or tried to keep our identities a secret. This was before the fall of the "Iron Curtain" in eastern block communist Europe. It was said that we had escaped from the communists and they were after us, hence the disguises and secrecy about our identities. We played two shows altogether. One show at Dave and Pat's house in there garage with OpIvy and another at Cloin Court, a frat house party which was our final show. Hunde Scheibe was opening for OpIvy that day and no one had ever heard of us. On my trusty 4 track recorder I recorded Dave Mello playing drums for each song using a four count stick click in between for timing This was our drummer. We played the recorded drum track through the sound system on a Sony Walkman. As we walked into the garage through the crowd parted and young girls screamed with fright at the sudden appearance of us in our costumes. After the show we left really fast. People were guessing who we were but we completely denied it. At the Cloin Court show a drunken frat boy was getting violent with Dave as he was singing. I was just about to clock the guy with my guitar when Dave folded his hands into a prayer position and on bended knee began to wail some kind of crazy chant. This scared the crap out of the drunken frat boy and he ran away screaming. Hunde Scheibe recorded a demo tape at Rakesh's house and did a photo shoot in his basement. Pat Mello created a comic book story which describes how Hunde Scheibe came to be and why. There may be a rare copy of it floating around out there still. I still have mine and plan on posting it soon if I can find it in all my junk.
ASIS was a short lived band which played one show at The Gilman Street Project, currently known as 924 Gilman. We played with MDC that night. The crowd loved ASIS.(I just realized after all these years that ASIS is one "O" short of OASIS lol...) Immediately after we played while still on stage people came up and offered us shows and a radio interview / live performance on KALX. The response was really incredible and unexpected. Despite the rave reviews, offers, and inquires about our next performance the other band members called it quits so that they could pursue being a jazz band, which they may or may not have done.
Soon after Hunde Scheibe called it quits (1989) came the band Fat Elvis which was, Dave Mello on guitar, Pat Mello on guitar, Tim Romain on bass, Joel Scherzer on drums, Dave Ferrin on guitar, Paul Bay on sax and me on keyboards all got together and recorded eight songs or so. Fat Elvis never played a show and only made one 4 track demo tape. Order Fat Elvis 4 track demo. Intersting music recorded in a a shed in someone's backyard.
Dance Hall Crashers - One day at our house Tim Armstrong told me that Operation Ivy had broken up. Matt and Tim seemed bummed out for a while but that soon changed. Tim always wanted to start a Ska band so he and Matt decided to do it. Since I was right there and a somewhat decent keyboardist, they asked me to join the new group. Others soon joined until there were 12 of us altogether. We didn't have a name yet. Tim came to practice one day and said he had named the band "Dance Hall Crashers".
DHC played shows in and around the San Francisco Bay area. One of my favorite shows was D.H.C. at The Gilman Street Project, Berkeley, California. It was like home for me. Most everyone there was a good friend or acquaintance. At this point Tim and Matt were about to drop out of DHC and start their new band Rancid. This was their last show with the group they had started. DHC later played shows with The Business from England, Skank'n Pickle and other local bands. Soon after the Gilman Street Project show Matt and Tim left and other members also began to leave. The five piece horn section was next to go, then the guitars, bass and drummer. I was the last to leave the band of the original members. DHC went on to record the "Old Songs" that the original band played. One of those songs was my song "Keep On Running".
I would like to clear something up about the song " Keep On Running". I wrote "Keep On Running" just before DHC practice one day and showed it to Tim Armstrong at our house. We played it at our home and I thought it was going to be a LJs song. Tim played guitar and we sang it in the truck on the way to our practice pad studio. When we arrived at the studio I went to the bathroom. When I got to the practice room the band was already playing the song. Tim liked it and had showed it to the band, no problem. But in my absence the band assumed Tim had written it since he showed it to them. Tim may have forgotten to tell them I wrote it. I'm not saying that Tim claimed that it was his song. I don't think he would do that. He doesn't need to. I told the band that I wrote the song that day but I suppose that was forgotten by the time the "Old Songs" album was being recorded. By the time the record was about to be pressed Tim, Matt, and I had long departed DHC and the band members were now completely different. I didn't play on the album and by not being there to inform them the band assumed it was Tim's song as far as they remembered. An ex-DHC member called me to tell me that "Keep On Running" was going to be on the album and that Tim Armstrong was getting credit for writing it. I called Elise the singer / manager and told her the true story. She said that they were going to keep Tim's name on the song credit and add mine to it. I was to receive half credit. It was better then nothing so I agreed. When we played live I did a keyboard solo in this song which was replaced by a drum solo on the record.
I recently discovered while looking through a collection of songs I have written another DHC song which I co-wrote with Tim Armstrong called,"Part Of The Mob" which I received no credit at all for writing. On the back of the paper that it's written on is another hand written copy of "Keep On Running" which is signed, dated and copyrighted 1989 by Joey Schaaf.
It was nearly 1990 and Operation Ivy had been broken up for quite a while. Matt Freeman, Tim Armstrong and I all lived together in a small 2 bedroom house in Albany, California. Albany, Ca is 2.5 square mile town where they grew up and where all of the OpIvy members came from. Tim and I had been writing songs and playing as an acoustic guitar duet we called "The LJ's". ( Lint and Joey ) As "The LJ's" Tim and I wrote and recorded 14 songs. This has never been released. It had always been a dream of Tim's to start a ska band. So Tim talked to Matt and he agreed to play guitar and Tim would be the singer. Tim and Matt asked me to play keyboards. I had a piano at our house which they heard me play all the time. They liked my playing so they thought that I would be a good choice. Matt and Tim asked Joel Wing from Corrupted Morals to play bass, Grant and Jamie on guitars, a 5 piece horn section, Leland and Ingrid on vocals and later Andrew Champion moved in to take Tim's place as vocalist once he stepped out. Eric Larson was on drums. This was the original line up for DHC. We played quite a few shows. DHC played with Skank'n Pickle, The Business, Let's Go Bowling and many others. By the end of 1991 band members began to drop out to join other bands. DHC had not recorded an album yet and the original members were leaving fast. The band was just not the same anymore. By now the horn section had only two horns, Matt and Tim went off to form Rancid, and both guitarists and bassist were now gone. Jason joined DHC as the newest member on guitar, and two new female singers Katrina and Elise. All of the original singers, all four of them were now gone. As the keyboardist I was the last original member left in the band by this time. It was late 1991 by now. The original drummer, Eric Larson left the band as well. Jason's younger brother came in as the new drummer. I was not happy with the new and different pop style of the singers. The whole band had changed so much by now it had lost it's original sound, energy, and feeling for me. At this point I decided it wasn't for me anymore. So I left DHC and started a new band of my own which was The 2:00 Tour. Jason the new guitarist, took over the band musically along with the new singers Elise and Katrina. Technically speaking Jason is the last original member of DHC who is still in the band having been in the band for a few months before the complete band member turn over.
The new DHC band went on to record some the original "Old Songs" on the first album. They gathered up some of the old members for this but they neglected to call me to play keyboards on the album. At the time I had already resigned from DHC. Because I had already left the band I was not part of the recording of the first album. Considering the manner in which I resigned from the band this must have given DHC the impression that I was no longer interested in playing with them at all. I understand and wish them all well. Since then I think that the band and especially the singing has greatly improved.
After I left DHC I took some time off from bands and began to get back into song writing, playing guitar and singing. Tim Armstrong and I played music together at our house and began to write songs and record them. Tim and I wrote and recorded 14 songs. We called ourselves "The LJ's". Later when Rancid became Tim's musical focus the LJ's faded out. The LJ's never did a live performance although we talked about playing The Gilman St. Project but at the time I was a little apprehensive that we could make it sound full enough without the backing tracks so we passed. Now I wish I would have been less worried about it and played the show. Only few people beyond Tim and I have heard our recordings until I released them here on www.loudrockmusic.com.
The 2'O Clock Tour - One day while walking down the side walk in front of the Oakland museum I found a sticker laying on the ground. On it was written " Two O'Clock Tour". I suppose there had been a tour group at 2:00pm that day at the Oakland museum. I knew right then that this was going to be the name of my next band. I had some songs ,a band name, and all I needed now was a bassist and drummer. Tim Romain and Joel Scherzer, the first two guys I jammed with at Dave Mello's garage got together with me and formed the group. Dave Ferrin joined the group later as a second guitarist. The 2:00 Tour played shows all over the Bay Area. We once opened for a then unknown group at a Cebel's pizza restaurant named Green Day. After seeing them play that night I told them that they were like the "Beatles of punk rock". They were young and energetic, and had a great power pop sound. I really liked them and were nice fellows as well.
At this time the Rosiere' Cafe was a new coffee / sandwich shop near the border of Berkeley and Albany, California. The Owner was a cool guy from the islands of the Caribbean. He began having live music at his place and The 2:00 Tour played there often. The place had a comfortable atmosphere with deep, hobnail leather chairs, big coffee tables all around in front of the stage, and a rich smell of exotic coffee floating in the air. Unfortunately a few of the neighbors complained about the music being too loud and the city found a legal snare to economically force it out of business. Typical actions for city and homeowner associations. The 2:00 Tour was booked to play at the Laney Jr. College in Oakland, California. When we arrived we found out we were supposed to play in the library of all places. There was a slight conflict with the librarian about playing loud rock music in a library. As things turned out we ended up playing outside on the cement courtyard at the center of the campus. Everything was cool until the sound guys came up one power cable short for the sound system. I rushed to our near-by studio at the Practice Pad and got our sound system and set it up so the show would go on. After all the confusion and difficulties I was quite frustrated. While unloading the last PA cabinet it fell and bashed my leg very painfully. Now I was angry, frustrated and in pain. We weren't to far into our set when I released all the energy of my frustration with a sweeping swing of my guitar over my head and onto the cement. The guitar smashed into many pieces. It was a real hit with the crowd. Later some fans brought me pieces of my guitar to autograph. It was a good show after all and I felt much better even though the body of the guitar had separated from the neck while still connected with by the strings and bashed me in the back of the head drawing a little blood and giving me a nice lump on the head.
Dave Ferrin later joined the group as a guitarist and we began to record our songs in the basement of his house. A very interesting thing happened during our recording session there. Somewhere in the middle of recording the song " The Big Tree" I saw a burst of light through my nearly closed eye lids as I was singing. I opened my eyes, still singing and playing, to see a ball of bright bluish white light, 2 feet in diameter, pulsating while hovering in the center of the circle of the band. The ball of light suddenly swept around in a circle moving through all of us as it did and out through a window which was closed. Since the tape was still recording I kept on singing and playing until the song was over. Before I said anything about this event Joel began to describe it exactly as I had seen it.Tim and Dave said they had not seen anything. Joel told us he had seen the energy ball grow from a point in the center of the group until it exploded in a flash (that's when I noticed what was happening). No one can explain what happened the day. It was suggested that it was "ball lightning", but why would only two out of four people see it? If anyone has an idea what it could have been I'd like to hear your explaination. Email me at email@example.com. This was not a drug related observation.
The 2:00 Tour released one cassette demo tape of 7 songs.The song "The Big Tree" which was recorded when the phenomena mentioned above occurred is on this demo. After many more shows the band eventually broke up in 1993 due to a medical issue of one of the members.
I continued writing songs and recording at home. One afternoon as I was walking to a friend's house and saw a metal clothes hanger lying on the sidewalk. I figured that if I kicked it just right I would get some spring out of it and it would go far. So I kicked it. The hanger did just as I expected skipping down the sidewalk. To my surprise it opened up on one end and hooked around the steel pole of a parking sign making a nice ringing sound. A "ringer" I said to myself. An epiphany struck me at once. It was time to start a new band and it would be called "Ringer".
"Ringer" played their first show in a small underground club in Oakland, CA called "Pirate's Cove". This place was actually a house turned into a club and was probably not really operating legally . The place was small, dark, cold, smoky, and in a dangerous part of town. Ringer play a hand full of shows there. Tim Romain from The 2:00 Tour was playing bass for the first couple of shows but left to join another band shortly afterward. Then along came Kenny Zaak, an ex-Catholic priest. Kenny loved our sound and was ready to walk on the wild side. Kenny Zaak on bass along with Chad Norris on drums and Joey Schaaf Guitar and Vocals was to be the Ringer line up for the next year and a half. Ringer recorded an eight song demo at Shark Bite Recording Studios in Emeryville, California. In Ringer I was the song writer / singer / manager / ect... Kenny played bass and kept us feed with great vegetarian food, Chad played drums and kept the band in a less then serious mood most of the time and I mean this in a good way. Later after Chad left the band we added Sean McFadden on drums did a few more shows and then after two years we disbanded. The "Ringer" recordings will be available soon here on loudrockmusic.com.
SawDust - I had been working off and on at Access Video Productions in Berkeley, CA. One day a new guy came to work there. When I first met him I noticed that he was wearing a Bad Brains t-shirt. I told him that I liked the Bad Brains and that back in the late 1980's I had booked a couple of shows with them, the latter of which they did not show up for. He told me his name was Kenny Dread and during the late 1980's he lived in DC with HR / Joseph and the Bad Brains. Wow! This was the Kenny Dread which I had extensive phone conversations with when booking the Bad Brains shows 10 years prior. What a small world it is sometimes. I was begriming to learn to play the drums and was just good enough to jam at this point. Kenny and I got together and started a band called "Saw Dust". We ended up recording a 10 song demo tape and a live performance of all these songs on video. Saw Dust played one show in Lake Tahoe. Sawdust went the way of the dust pan after some internal band issues. Kenny Dread moved to Chicago, IL and continues to play world and new age music.
System Schit was to be my next band. A hard core punk band with a singer named Kaarin Hannah, Joey Schaaf on drums and vocals, Cliff on guitar and Rob Ayers on bass. System Schit played many shows in the Bay Area with bands such as "Your Mother, Schlong, False Sacrament, and others. System Schit also recorded song "The Duckie Dinger Jamboree" for the Bun Length Records "Sesame Street" compilation. After nearly 2 years, drug, alcohol and relationship related problems eventual broke up of the band. There is a demo tape available here on LRM and the Sesame Street Comp is out there in stores if you can still find it.
Hinderbone was a band I tried out for as the lead singer and was picked by them that very first night. They had some songs already written but no lyrics. The night of my audition I made up melodies and lyrics on the spot. They seemed very interested in me but they needed to talk about it in private so I went out side and waited for their decision. I poked my head back in the room for a second to tell them I hadn't left but would be in the restroom when they asked me what I thought of them? I said you guys suck and closed the door. I opened it back up a second later and told them that I was just kidding and that they had pass the audition. They laughed and said I had also passed their audition. We practiced in San Francisco for a month but when I found a bigger, cheaper studio at the Practice Pad in Oakland, CA we moved there. I have had many rooms there at The Practice Pad and have seen many now famous bands come out of this place. Bands like Operation Ivy, AFI, Rancid, DHC had played there for years before they got big and moved to an upscale place that their record label could afford to pay for. Hinderbone developed our songs and practiced two or three times a week. We played one show and then we lost our drummer. We searched for a full time drummer for the remainder of the existence of the band but never found one. We did have a really good drummer for a while but he ended up committing suicide. Then there was another drummer who was too into selling drugs to come to practice. We did end up in the recording studio with the suicidal drummer, prior to his suicide of course, but we didn't finish the project before the band completely broke up. The band wanted me to play drums and sing which may or may not have worked, but it didn't work for me as I really wanted to be just the singer and my drum chops were not up to doing both at the same time honestly. So after all that I ended up with a stack of of lyrics for songs that no one will ever play again. It wasn't the first time nor would it be the last.
I kept the practice studio and continued to play there with the other bands that I was in. For a while I was in four bands at the same time and I was there every day and night. People in the other rooms mistakenly thought I was the manager or asked me if I was living in my practice room. I would eat and sleep there in between bands. I had a blanket, a foam pad for inbetween practice naps and a big ice chest where I kept food and drinks. I was there five days a week with three to four bands a night with me playing drums, guitar and singing according to which band was practicing that day / night and I had a day job as well. I got off work at 1:30pm and I was at the Practice Pad by 2:00pm when it opened and stayed until 11:00pm when ther closed. This was a wonderful time in my life when I lived and breathed music everyday and night and loved it!
Rancid used to practice at the "The Practice Pad and I remember one night after their practice Tim and Lars saw a cow bone, (that I had found and brought back from Taos, New Mexico when I went on a musical journey with Kenny Dread and some others) was my "cell bone". I told them I would give them a call later. Later as they drove away in their taxi they looked over to see me sitting outside of the Practice Pad on a postal drop box outside pretending I was chatting away on my "cell bone" to someone. I wish I could have taken a picture of their faces as I waved to them when they passed by and went back to my pretend conversation. Lars was smiling but Tim had a worried and perplexed frown on his face. I laughed so hard I literally fell off the mail box and broke the bone ending my call.
Brett the drummer of Rancid at the time was nice and helpful to me one day while I was trying to put a new head on my snare. I hadn't been playing drums very long at this point. He saw what I was doing and volunteered to help me. To this day I still follow the method he showed me about how to change the head and tighten up the lugs. I would be surprised if he remembers that experience but every little thing you do makes a difference and people do remember it even if you do not.
The Snake Lady Worshipers and The National Enquirer photo shoot and story.
The Snake Lady Worshippers was a literally a one night band with one song created for the explicit purpose of doing a photo shoot for the story of Kenny Zaak, an ex-Catholic priest turned rocker who had been the head of a large church in San Francisco, California. The band name came from a velvet wall hanging I had bought at a garage sale for a dollar which had a bunch of "Ladies" with human tops and snake bottoms, the latter being coiled together. They were in a room with fire all around them. Later on I ended up giving it away to someone who loved it. It was a great prop for the shoot at the time.The Nation Enquirer photographer took 4 hours to shoot us and must have taken fifty pictures of which only two were actually used in the article. Dave Ferrin who played guitar for in the band was cropped out of the photos used in the article and wasn't even quoted. He was not happy about that at all. The story was actually about Kenny and how he gave up the priesthood and joined our band "Ringer" to become a rocker. I was quoted in the story saying, "Kenny has been a good influence on us". So after it was published I picked up a couple of copies and called my mother to tell here that I was in the National Enquirer. Her reply was,"What have you done this time". I still have a copy of this issue of the National Enquirer somewhere. I'll find it and post it here soon, I swear I will, cross my snake ladies and hope to fry.
"Screw 32" practiced in the studio next to mine and I would see and hear them nearly every night. I really liked their sound and knew some of the members well. Grant, one of the guitarists and I had played in the original "Dance Hall Crashers" together when he was on guitar and I was on keyboards. Being semi-self employed at the time I was able to take off working at will and when they asked me to roadie with them I jumped on the chance. The guys next door in the Screw 32 studio thought that I lived at the Practice Pad because I was always there. In a way they were correct. I had been playing drums for a couple of years and practiced everyday and night. I kept a cooler there with food and drink, a mattress pad and blanket to take naps in between the two to four band practices and drum practice sessions I did everyday and night. I can understand why they thought that I lived there. Josh Kilbourne was the drummer for Screw 32 and my drum hero at the time. Later Josh gave me a tip about a hardcore thrash punk band called "FuckFace" who was going on tour and needed a drummer. I tried out and was accepted. A two month, 60 city / 60 show US tour with the band "FuckFace" soon began. Much later in 2002 I joined Josh and his brother Matt Kilbourne (now decesed, rock in peace brother) of 3 Years Down and Kurt Tindle on bass, and me as the lead singer of a rock band called In The Streets. I went on a short tour with Screw 32 in Northern California for just about a week as their roadie. The crowds were great and full of energy. Screw 32 was very popular in the area. At one show while trying to hold some rowdy people off the stage the crowd surged forward and pushed me into Doug's microphone and it bashed him in the face giving him a bloody lip. The sight of blood seemed to incite the crowd into a further frenzy. There was a lot of partying and stuff going on after the shows with some of the band members. When we returned from the tour all of the band members girlfriends surrounded me while unloading the van and began to interrogate me intensly about what their boy friends had been doing on tour. All I told the group of inquisitive young women was, "Go ask your boy friends."
Schlong... I have known Pat and Dave Mello nearly 27 years and have played in several bands with them and seen them play in many others. My favorite band they have been in is definately Schlong. From the very first show Schlong proved to be sponded by genius, silliness and keen musicianship. Gavin Mac Author on Guitar, Dave Mello on the drums, and Pat Mello on Bass. They all sang and were equally creative song writers. I went to so many shows of theirs and roadied so many times that it would take days to write about. Let me just say that Schlong liked to party before and after shows. It was always a drinking and laughing fest before, during and after any Schlong show. I love these guys like brothers.
"FuckFace" the band. I just finished my roadie work with Screw 32 when Josh Kilborne, the drummer for Screw 32, called me and said that he knew of a band who was going on tour for two months around America and needed a drummer right away. I called the band who's name was at the time "Multible Choice". I met them at my studioone night and we practiced their songs for hours. They decided that they wanted me to do the tour so we practiced for 2 weeks almost every night for 3 or 4 hours. It was very fast music, really fast Thrash Punk! It was a great workout and I loved it. This was to be my first time playing and touring with a band long distance (60 shows, 60 cities, in 60 days) and I was doing it as a drummer. Many amazing things happened during that trip. We started out in the San Francisco Bay Area and travel south towards Los Angeles - Hollywood. In Elsenor, California. We stayed with these people there who had a house with a spare room that we practiced in. We were there for two nights during which it became obvious that these people had an "at home" business, which was not exactly legal in nature. As friendly as they were I declined to accept their generous "lines" of white powdered entertainment and passed them on to some of the other band members who gladly accepted. They couldn't believe that I was passing up free lines of whatever it was. It was an easy choice for me to chhoose music and health over drugs and death. During our stay we talked about music and other bands we had been in. I mentioned that I had a bunch of cassette tapes of my original music in the van. They wanted to hear it so I brought the bag of tapes in and we listened to some. I had accidentlly brought this bag of cassettes instead of the music I wanted to listen to while on tour because I grabbed the wrong bag while packing my stuff. This is how these tapes came along in the first place. Unfortunately when we left town I forgot to take the bag of tapes back to the van and they were left behind never to be seen again. Just out of town I realized I had forgotten them but the rest of the band didn't want to go back and get them. These tapes were all my master recordings of my life's work up until that point in time. Two months later when I returned from the tour I tried tracking these people down, but as those in their "line" of business so often do they had moved.
We played lots of shows in small places such as laundry mats and small clubs / pubs. Sometimes we played at bigger venues such as "The Ratskeller" in Boston. Once we were to play in the livingroom of this one kid's mother's house. Well we almost played there. We had just set up all the equipment and people were gathering in the house when the phone rang. It was the kid's mother calling to saying that a neighbor had seen what was going on at the house and warned her and at this very moment "Steve" the angry step-father was on the way home to put a stop to this event the house. This was in Texas, Steve was a lumberjack with a 4WD pick-up truck, a chain saw and I am sure a gun. As soon as we heard that everyone grabbed whatever they could and loaded it back into the van very quickly. All of mom's nic-nacs were placed perfectly back were they belonged conveniently marked by the dust ring that designated there exact location. By the time the step-father got there everything was back as if nothing had happened and no one was home. We went to another persons house and set up all over again. This time we actually played.
Robert, the bassist and I had a very interesting relationship although he actted rather oddly towards me. Robert, insisted on being extremely sarcastic towards me about every single thing I said. Nothing I said escaped his sarcastic retort. I could talk to myself or say the sky is blue and he would blast me. At first most of the time what he said was pretty funny and I laughed it off but after the first month it became an issue with the other band members as they couldn't take it anymore. They had never seen Robert act this way before towards anyone. Dispite the constant verbal attacks I never got mad at Robert and only once asked him in private why he was constantly dogging me. When I asked him privately if I could talk to him about he physically recoiled thinking I was going to hit him up. I just laughed and told him that I would never do such a thing to someone so valuable to me as he was. The other band members could not understand how I could remain calm and "take it" for so long. For me it was a great luck and a wonderful gift to have someone like Robert actting as a "petty tyrant" toward me. This was perfect for me to work on freeing myself of self-importance and letting go of my ego by remaining unoffended and unaffected. Not only did this great opportunity present it's self to me but I also had the chance to use the power I was storing throughout this experience in a positive way for the band although they did not know about it and here is how...
The van we traveled in had an exhaust leak and the fumes came into the passenger area. We kept all the windows rolled down so it wasn't too bad. It was the beginning of Winter and we were headed towards Fargo, North Dakota so the window would soon have to be rolled up. It was three days before we hit the band's home town of Norman, OK. I had been saying that we needed to fix the exhaust leak but Robert said that we did have enough money to do it. So I asked, "Exactly how much do we need to make at a show in order to fix the exhaust, $500, $400?".. I finally got them to agree that $300.00 would be the amount needed to be taken in at a show to get the exhaust leak fixed and if we made this much at a show they would spend it on fixing the exhaust leak. Making $300 at one show seemed impossible to them since the most we had made at one show so far was $100. I told them all that within three days we will play a show and get paid $300. On the 3rd day we rolled into Norman, OK nearly broke. We didn't even have gas money to get to the next show. Robert was totally gloating and rubbing it in over how I was so wrong. I said, " Just wait. The show hasn't even begun yet". As it turned out at this show the headlining band decided that they were too big of a band to play this small club and cancelled. Surprisingly enough this left us as the headlining band and were paid as such. That night we made $314. The next day as agreed Robert and I went to the muffler shop and had the exhaust fixed. After that Robert layed off me for a few hours but the sarcasm soon returned.
Every now and then I decide that I will take a day off without saying a word. A "Silent Day".Of course I still communicated with everyone by writing, smiling and hand gestures, but just no talking at all. The day I did this the first time Robert went nuts. He couldn't stand it. It was the nearly the funniest thing I did with him. I wrote down on a piece of paper "Today is silent day" and showed it to the whole band. No one cared but Robert. He hated it and dreaded the very thought that in the future any day might be a silent day. I did this only twice during the tour. Even so his relentless sarcasim continued.
Another funny thing I did with ...Robert used to complain about my drum stool not fitting into the back of the van. It was actually an office chair with no back and six legs that didn't fold up. A very cumbersome thing but it was all I had to use at the time. One night after a show I went to some people's house and ended up staying with them over night while the rest of the band went to someone else's house to sleep. The people I stayed with had a full sized tuba in their kitchen which one of their friends had left there. That night I played it a little it and later it came to me that I should have a little fun with it and Robert. In the morning the band called and said that they were on their way to pick me up. I pre-arranged with my hosts to go along with my skit having them say that they had given the tuba to me since I liked it so much. When the band arrived to pick me up there I was sitting on the lawn, in the sun, holding this very large tuba. Robert was on me like a hawk. "What are you doing with that?, he said. I told him that my new friends had given the tuba to me and that I was taking it along for the rest of the tour. The rest of the band went quiet and just watched as Robert blew up like a mad man. "You can not do that!", he yelled. He said that the tuba would never fit with all the rest of the equipment, especially my stupid drum stool. So I opened up the back of the van and started taking my drums out saying that I didn't need them anymore because I was switching to tuba for the rest of the tour. A hardcore thrash punk band with a tuba rythnm section instead of drums. Wow! What a great idea! This could start a whole new trend in the punk music scene!", I said excitedly. His reaction was so hillarious that I could hardly keep a straight face any longer. After letting Robert go off on me until he seemed like he was totally red in the face I finally gave in and said, "Fine if you are that much against my idea then I'll give the tuba back, geezzz.." I handed the tuba over to it's rightful guardian and busted up laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. Robert was so perfect, I just loved this guy and still do.
Well things being as they were with Robert by the time we got back to my house to drop me off, the band minus Robert, all came to me and asked how I was able to put up with Robert being on my case every waking hour and why I didn't quit the band in the first week. I asked them if Robert was normally like this or has he ever been like this with anyone else. They all said they had never seen him act this way before and they had grown up with the guy. They all said that they either would have quit the band or beaten him up long ago. I explained that Robert's unusual transformation into an antagonist was a gift and that I would have been a fool to pass up such an opportunity. They just didn't understand. Needless to say that was the last of me in the band Fuck Face. Shortly afterwards the band got a new drummer and went on tour to Japan. I would have liked to have gone to Japan but the band could'nt take anymore of the effect I seemed to have on Robert especially during those tortuous silent days. I saw Robert a year later in Berkeley, CA and ended up going out to dinner with him and his new wife. He was quite polite and very nice to me. Not a bit of sarcasm from him at all, at least directed at me. I am going to add show ratings and notes from this tour as soon as I find my tour diary. After many years of wondering why he behaved in such a way towards me I think I might have come up with a possible reason. His behavior towards me was triggered by my drastic change in my appearance when I shaved off my shoulder length hair which in therory made me look like one of the skinheads that had beat him up so badly he had to stay in the hospital for weeks. I had cut all my hair off because I thought it would be easier not to have to deal with washing long hair not because I wanted to look like or be a skin head. I wonder how things may have been different if I had kept the long hair. I certainly would have been a lot warmer that winter if not perhaps less heckled.
The Brain Transplants - During a break from jamming I went wondering through the hallways at the Practice Pad in Oakland where I practiced. I came across a band rocking out in a room that I had once occupied. They sounded really good so I decided to listen for a minute. I did not hear a drummer playing with them. When they stopped I knocked on the door and said I like your sound but where is your drummer? They said that their drummer quit and they were looking for a new one. There I was ready to play so we jammed that night and the music came together well with us. Things were pretty good with these guys for the most part. I began to realize that the leader of the band had a drug and alcohol problem which sometimes lead to violence but luckily it hadn't been directed at me, yet. We played a handful of shows at small clubs and bars. I really liked the energy of the muisc. The lyrics were sometimes not to my personal taste but after all I was just the drummer. Each of our shows had a theme, something theatrical in natural. I liked that. Dressing up in weird costumes, once as glam rockers. I played our last show in a grass skirt and a wig. That was cool. This strange but harmless stuff made it fun. Once the Fuck Face guys came to see the last show including Robert! They were shocked when I knocked over my drum set on stage at the end of the last song as I said while on tour I'd never do that. The difference was that on tour with no money to replace the only drums I had may have hurt the band and the show must go on...
During this time I kept seeing omens/signs that I was going to lose an eye and have to wear a patch. I saw these omens often and toward the end of my time with this band they became more frequent. We had just finished a demo recording of our songs and were practicing for an up coming show when all hell broke loose. Tony was wasted, this time dangerously so. He had gone down the hall on a break and busted into another band's practice studio (poor fools had left the door unlocked). He threatened them that if they didn't play the song they were playing the way he wanted them to he was going to bust the bottle he was drinking from over one of their heads. I do believe that the band complied at least for the moment. Tony returned after his "fun" telling us what he had done and then we began to play our set.. During the song Tony lost his balance and fell into his amp. knocking it against the wall and it began to squeal like crazy. I was right next to it so I pulled the guitar cable out which cut off the squealing sound. Tony went balistic! It had been rigged and could not be unplugged or otherwise the input would fall into the amp. How could I have known that? Tony got so mad he stormed out of the room. I thought those poor guys he had threatened earlier were gonna get it again, but I was pretty sure that that had locked their door by now. Ten minutes later Tony comes back with his hand all bloody and broken looking. He said he was so mad that he punched a fire extinguisher, apparently through the glass case. He came at me with his bloody fist, reached out and wiped blood all over my bare chest. I pushed him away, knocking cymbals over and kicked my drums over to get at him. Before I reached him I stopped. I thought of those omens of losing my eye and the patch. None of this was worth that or escalating the violence. I went to the bathroom and cleaned off the blood. Then I came back to get my stuff . Before I left I told him that I was quitting the band and would return to get my drums in a few days. I did return but with a song I had written about Tony called "Fucking Drunk Asshole". It was very punk.. After all we were a punk band. I also asked Dave Mello to come along to play drums on this song. We recorded it right there on Tony's own recording equipment. After recording the song we packed up the drums and took off. I left the drums there all packed and ready to go along with a copy of the lyrics of the song for Tony to read. A note was attached to it that stated if he was willing to play this song in the band I would consider staying as the drummer. The day I came back to get my drums all of the band was there. Tony said that he read the note, listened to the song and it had hurt his feelings. I saw a pile of torn up paper on the floor that were the lyrics I had left. He said he had torn them up. I said I was not trying to hurt your feelings Tony I am just expressing myself by giving you a wake-up call through this song. A song he would sing and perhaps think about and change his bad behavior towards himslf and others. He declined to play the song so I loaded my drums and left. Tony was an extremely talented song writer and an amazing guitarist. He was a good, honest man filled with inner pain which often leads to self-destruction and uncontrolled rage. Sometimes this makes the best artist, one who truely feels deeply however bad it is and expresses it through their art, if they survive long enough to do so.
Note: Tony did eventually get his life together, got married and had a kid but ironically he died tragically during an operation in a hospital. Rock in peace Tony!
The Unspoiled - This band was put together specifically for the Sesame Street compellation. Dave Mello does the voice of "Ernie", Josh on guitar, Steve on bass, I do the voice of "Mr. Hoots" and play drums. I also recorded and mixed it. It was fun and earned us all another five cds each, well except for Dave Mello since Bun Length Records was his record company.
XENA - The Sesame Street comp. was being put together around this time. Pat Mello and I created this band Xena specifically for the Sesame Street compellation. We did the Sesame Street song " One Banana". A bunch of friends consisting of a few band members from my other band System Schit and a teenage girl named Sarah all got together on the backing vocals. It was alot of fun and turned out pretty good. You can hear Xena and lots of other bands playing Sesame Street songs in their own unique way on the Bun Length Records release "31 songs to Find The Way To Sesame Street".
Zebu - The most fun I ever had playing drums in a band was my 3 years plus in the band Zebu. Pat Mello on bass and vocals, Lucio Menegon on guitar and vocals and me on drums and vocals. We used to go into the studio and play for hours of pure improv. It was a river of musical consciousness that flowed during these jam sessions which many of the Zebu songs came from. Zebu played out of the East Bay area a few times but mostly played in the Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, CA area. There are a few recordings that Zebu released, one being the Zebu jam sessions called "Water Hole", ZEBU, "Join The Herd", and ZEBU live on UC Berkeley KALX radio show. Lucio and I ocassionally play together in the band The HO, Pat Mello went on to join the band "Watch Them Die" a death metal punk band out of Oakland, California. One day perhaps Zebu will get back together for a reunion show, but for now it's just a dream...
Splatt - The Three Little Fishies and the rock opera: "Izzy The Fish" - Splatt and The Three Littlte Fishies are basically the same band as far as members and the instruments we played go but the music is different. Spatt played hardcore punk with a little funk and ska mixed in it in some places. We practiced quite a lot but never actually played a show. Splatt was David Ferrin on bass, Rob Ayers on guitar, me on drums and vocals and Damon on sax. At the same time and place we also had The Three Little Fishies group which performed "Izzy The Fish" punk rock opera. This was a very involved piece with many parts and a really silly circular story. The Three Littlte Fishies performed the "Fish Opera" as it came to be known two times, once at the Stork Club in Oakland, CA and at my 40th birthday party at Rob and my house in Richmond, CA. On both occassions all our friends were there and it was really special for me. We did some 4 track recordings of the Fish Opera and had plans to go into the studio and record it but I ended up moving to VA before we got to it. Maybe one day it will come together again in some form or another. There was to be a puppet show that was supposed to go on while the band played the music off to the side out of the spotlight. We never made the puppets either but a guy up in Canada named Carlitos Crow made puppets and said that he would create the cast in wood. Like I said, maybe someday...
The Boiler Room Boys - For a little over five years I worked for the the company American Management Association which was located at the Marriott hotel on 4th street in San Francisco, California. While working there I made friends with some guys in the Engineering and A/V departments. These guys had a band room down in the basement area in the boiler room. It was hot down there but the giant fans that sucked the cool air from up above in the convention rooms blew very strongly down the basement hallway and kept the temperature tolerable. We played classic rock covers and some of my originals down there for hours. Songs of The Beatles, The WHO, Steppin Wolf, KISS and some originals of mine as well. One of my original songs we did really well was "Motorcycle Girl". We would meet after work and sometimes at lunch. We were actually scheduled to play the Marriott talent show that they put on every year but for some reason the show was cancelled. We never played out but sometimes people would come by and watch sometimes but just the Marriott employees who had access to the underground level. We were truely an underground band.
In The Streets - I was the lead singer of this band. It was a rock band for sure. Josh and Matt Kilbourne (The Twins) on drums and guitar respectively and Kurt Tindel on bass. We had a good thing going. People really liked our sound and we had quite a few shows starting to line up. We had just finished a 4 song demo which was generating lots of interest as well. Next we were headed into a professional recording studio to put out our debut cd. We had 12 really good songs and had them down tight. Everything seemed like it was going so well. The weekend that we were to go into the studio Tracy Chapman bumped us out until the next weekend. So we waited... Mean time behind the scenes things were changing in more that one way. Matt and Josh had decided that our sound was not to their liking anymore, they wanted to bemore like "Queens Of The Stoneage" and this we were not. So Josh and Matt placed an ad on CraigsList.com for a new bassist and lead singer never telling us they had quit or even why. I found out when Kurt called me one afternoon and told me to go CraigsList and check out the reality. I was shocked and disappointed. But as it turns out I did not get angry with them for this (Kurt did), Something else happened for me, something life changing and wonderful. The name of the demo cd we made was called "The Change" and for all of us change was coming in a big way. In the meantime while I didn't know the band was broken up and Tracy Chapman kept the studio for an extra weekend the band took a break. That is the week I met my wife. Since I had the weekend free I spent it with her and we got to know each other and hit it off. To make a long story short I ended up moving to VA to live with her and we eventually got married and had a couple of children and moved to Asia for three years. Life has bigger thingsin store for us sometimes than we could ever imagine. "The Change" is good.
The HO - This band started just for fun as others bands have and grew into a full fledged band that played to packed venues and toured from Seattle, WA to San Francisco, California. The HO is currently not playing any more after 10 years of playing off and on.
The HO history according to Lucio who plays the Pete Townsend in the HO. - Ho History
Give My Regards - "Give My Regards" My part in this band was originally as a producer and I ended up being the drummer also. This band was made up of three teenagers when I arrived. They needed a singer and a drummer. They tried out a few singers and a couple of drummers and eventually settled on this witty fellow named Drew as the singer and me as the drummer / producer. It all finally came together and we played a local show in Williamsburg at an old dance club building turned camp ground store and game room. The crowd liked us pretty well. There was a paid videographer there at the request of the mother of one of the guitarist. I didn't like that very much but what can you do with a mother like that? The next day we recorded our demo cd. It turned out very well. You can hear four songs on it by clicking here to go to the Give My Regards myspace page . Basically the next day I hear that the bassist quit the band to dedicate more time to his most important goal in his life, wriiting. That turned out to be an ugly untruth.. That was the begining of the end. Next to go was our singer as he went and joined the Army. To me this was even more unexpected than what the bassist had done.These young people had a lot of talent and wrote excellent songs. I enjoyed being part of this musical experience with them and helping them along their journey...
It 2006 when I lived in Virginia, USA some mates and I started a band called "The Cash", which is a tribute to the band "The Clash". The Cash recorded two demo CDs both are available for free on this web site. We also recorded a short one song video which you can also find the link to on the home page. I bought a new Fender Deville amp and we were ready to play a show when two things happened. First of all and most important my son was born and the other was our bass player moved away and The Cash was finished.
SwitchStance - During this same time frame that I was living in Virginia, USA I re-recorded an old song of mine from 1988 named "WAR". It has been released by a ska band from Bulgaria called SwitchStance. I added my keyboard part and sfx to the recording via email file transfers with the SwitchStance drummer Ivo in Bulgaria. The song has been released in Bulgaria on a three band cd split called "Streets Of Sofia".You can find "WAR" on the home page of this site and listen to it by clicking the link.
In 2007 we moved to Bangkok, Thailand where for a year I was unable to connect with any underground, punk or otherwise music scene. This is partly my own fault and partly the location and just poor luck and timing. We moved back to the USA for 9 months and then back to Bangkok in 2009. We found a new place to live and there I began to connect with the Bangkok punk scene. I was quite surprised to find it is very large and active. A friend of a friend connected me with their friend Eddy Rudy who promoted local shows and was in a band named, "Blood Thirst Spider" AKA: B.T.S. I was warmly welcomed into this scene. BTS is a great rock'n roll destruction band with a seriously punk attitude and a lack of punk wannabe fashion. These guys are for real when it comes to destroying rock while creating it at the same time. Because I truely love this band's music and the guys in it I did everything I could to help support them. Big Mountain Music Festival was the first trip I took with them as friend and photographer. Later this year BTS had a show in Puhket, Thailand. It was the 1st Annual International Tattoo Convention. Unfortunately their regular drummer "Toppy" could not make this show because of his work schedule. I loved their music and didn't want BTS to miss this event. So I practiced their CD for four to six hours for two days until I knew the songs well and then I told them I wanted to audition for a fill-in drummer positionjust for this show. I tried out and made it! Toppy was very happy about this too. We went to Phuket and rocked the crowd! CJ did his body suspension during all but the last 30 seconds of the set. His performace released a primal fury within us with the sight of him hanging and swinging by the skin of his back! The crowd of about 300 to 400 people was packed to the front to see and hear CJ and BTS perform. On the last song Axel the guitarist fell over something and knocked one of my cymbals over. It was like dominos after that as I kicked over the entire set and started smashing it up. That's when I remembered that it was a rental set and I had borrowed the snare from the drummer of the band Cat Fight. Opps... Nothing serious happened to any of the drums and the Cat Fight drummer was cool about it in the end. He had immediately rushed the stage to save his snare but I had swiftly rescued it form the carnage and tucked it safely into it's case seconds before he got there in a panic. The snare drum was safe and so was I.
Sonny Luxury - I hooked up with an band named, "Sonny Luxury". This band started off as a total improv. band. We never played together as a band before, not even one practice. How can you practice improv. anyway? We played at the infamous "Bangkok Rocks" club on Soi 19 which was at the time of the Red Shirt uprising. The streets were covered with heavily armed Thai Army soldiers and the normal array of tranny prostitutes that do business up and down the soi 19 / Sukumvit area. I played drums in Sonny Luxury as The Oz, Natee AKA: Lord Swine, Axe AKA: Sonny Luxury on a Thrermin light box noise generator and Tommy on guitar.We played several shows Bangkok Rocks with good reception froom the audience. Later on just before we moved to China I recorded the drum parts for the Sonny Luxury CD and in the same night recorded a second CD for the band we created that night called "The Instant". These were nights of purity of musical experience and expression. The Bangkok scene and the people who make it with there music, creativity and hard work made my time there a special one that I will carry along with me for the rest of my life.
In 2010 after moving to China, Suzhou I began a stream of creative song writing one day when my son Jaeden was protesting about taking a morning bath by stomping his feet and exclaiming, "I don't want"! My wife Sharayla recognized that a creative fire had ignited inside me and took over the bath duties and sent me off to the "music room". This room was tiny and packed to the ceiling with boxes of our stuff on one side and a 5 sq. ft. area where I set up my Roland V Drums and a MAC with "Garageband" on cardboard boxes as the recording station. This room had a great view from the 26th floor over-looking Suzhou and Jin Ji Hu (Golden Chicken Lake) that helped inspire the song, "Nothing To Do" found on "Electric Words". A couple of times the neighbors complained about the drums even though they were electronic and security came to my door. I speak enough Mandarin Chinese to handle the situation and invited the guard into my "studio" to have a look and listen to how loud it really was. I gave him the headphones and played him a few licks on the drums to demonstrate that the sound coming from the drums was not really loud at all. He agreed and told me "mei wenti" (no problem). For the first time in 35 years I won over the complaining neighbors! After that there were no more complaints or security at my door. Zapata's is a Mexican restaurant located at "Rainbow Walk" which was trying to be a mall but consisted of mostly empty stores, a huge Chinese only karaoke club with a kid's play area attached and a sprinkling of Chinese restuarants. Zapata's was were all the westerners would go. I got to know the owner of Zapata's and began playing a solo show there twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday nights.I had never performed a dinner show before and thought I'd give it a go. The music I played was half cover songs such as Beatles, Bowie, Oasis, The Clash, "Home On The Range" and the other half of the set list were my originals. It was fun at first and the small crowd was into it but after a while I began to feel more like background music rather than a performer people were paying attention to. At times the dinner crowd sounds, restuarant staff chatter, drunken pool players, smoking, yelling, knocking over bars stools and lose pool balls bouncing across the floor made me feel like I was singing my heart out for nothing. There were a couple interested customers who would come to see me play and actually pay attention. I ended up bowing out of the gig after five shows. I did appreciate the opportunity to perform there and preparing my set did polish up my guitar chops and vocals which helped my recordings.Milton who is the owner of Zapata's had some friends from the USA coming to visit him in Suzhou and put together a jam night for them. They needed a drummer so I volunteered. They had a set list of classic rock cover songs which I quickly learned and one Saturday night we rocked the place out even though the main singer/guitarist was a no-show. In May of 2011 my friend and fellow band mate Lucio Menegon ( of Zebu and The HO) came to visit us in Suzhou. Lucio is an excellent guitarist and song writer. He joined me for one last show at Zapatra's.We used my old set list and Lucio backed me up in a most professional way. We even played a few Zebu songs. A customer named Eric who had been coming to my performances also joined in on guitar for the jam on a couple of songs. It was great to play music with Lucio again after so long!
I continued to record my original music of various genres and produced three CDs which I complied into one CD named "What Happened In China".
Joey Schaaf - Current solo CD releases: "What Happened In China", 2011
"Electric Words" (released in China as "Dian Hua") genre - Rock
"Child's Play" - (with guest spoken word artist Jaeden Schaaf) - genre - Experimental/ Avant-Garde
"The Sound Of One Hand" - With one hand, a giant Confucius temple drum, Tibetan singing bowls and a Moog synth this sound experience was created.
Joey Schaaf now on www.soundcloud.com where you will find 32 of my most current musical creations.