Friday, December 23, 2005

Fayde - Part 1

Pete Manno and Robin Russo were both guitarists for Sacred Sword at different times. I knew Pete from working at the parking lot, and when he and Robin decided to put a band together, they asked me to play bass.

They were both very good guitar players, and both very different. Pete was technical, where Robin played more by feel. They complimented each other well.

On drums, they got Jim Paxson. Jim was, and still is, one of the best drummers I ever played with. His father was a drummer in a casino band at the time, and his mother is Sunnie Paxson, a jazz keyboardist who once recorded and played with Stanley Clarke. Jim is responsible for introducing me to jazz fusion, which would ultimately become my favorite form of music and would drastically change my playing style.

First up on vocals was Zack Bocelle, an excellent singer who I would end up working with more later.

The 5 of us practiced every night writing new material, and Jim set up a recording session for us in North Jersey. None of our songs had vocals yet, but still the date was set. So, after working a full day at the parking lot, I picked Zack up and the two of us set off in my truck for the two-hour drive to the studio. Zack had a cassette from one of our practices, so we just played that over and over so that he could write lyrics to the two songs we were recording. They ended up being Gettin' Ready and I'll Be Back Again.

The studio itself was at the top of this run-down office building. The accoustics were terrible. During recording of the rhythm track, I unveiled my new bass line for the break in Gettin' Ready. I knew it needed something, so I worked on it the night before, to be ready for the recording. Everyone was very happy with what I was playing, so after we finished up the rhythm track and some of the guitar work, I went into the hall and fell asleep on the floor for a couple of hours.

At about 2:00 am, Pete woke me up, excited with the vocals that Zack layed down, so I watched him and Robin do their guitar solos. We mixed it all down and left the studio just in time for me to go to work the next morning for my shift the following day. In all, I'm fairly happy with the recording. It was a rush job, so there are quite a few mistakes on it, and you can barely hear the bass line in the break I worked so hard on, but they're good songs.

In the end, though, Zack and Pete just couldn't make it work, and so Zack left (or was asked to leave, not sure) the band.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Nitro was really more of an idea than a band. Jerry Johnson was a guitarist for the local heavy metal band Sacred Sword who wanted to form a band of his own. He asked Joe Lamaina and me to join up with him to form Nitro. Jerry was probably best known for attaching a cheese grater to the back of his guitar and punching it during his guitar solo to make his knuckles bleed while he played. He reminded me very much of Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P.

We played a few times together, writing songs and jamming, but didn't have a singer. Still, that didn't stop us from booking studio time in the same Northfield studio Rekkless recorded in earlier. For vocals, Jerry got Ted Ellis from another local band Altoona Works to sit in. He sat in the engineers booth while the three of us recorded the rhythm tracks, listening to the song and writing lyrics.

When it came time for the vocals, I got my first real lesson in the "magic" of the studio. While Ted had a good, powerful voice, he was unable to sing more than two lines of the song in a row. So the engineer had him record two lines, stop the tape, back-up a little and record the next two lines. This was done for the entire song. Still, Demons Cry is a pretty cool song and we had a lot of fun recording it.

Things fell apart pretty quickly after that though. Shortly after we finished the song, Jerry set up a radio interview for the band. Unfortunately, he failed to check with us first on the date. I had already scheduled a trip to visit family. So, while I was away, Jerry and Joe did the radio interview and played the song on the air. My apparent punishment for failure to appear on the radio show was to have Jerry forget to mention my name as a member of the band.

Needless to say, that was it for me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Sideman's Journey

I finally put the finishing touches on my CD today. This CD represents 8 very active years recording and playing in bands between 1984 and 1992. The song list is as follows:

  1. Little Killer - Rekkless
  2. Get Ready - Rekkless
  3. Lucky 7 - Rekkless
  4. We Like It Hot - Rekkless
  5. Demons Cry - Nitro
  6. Never Look Back - Tom Howard
  7. Gettin' Ready - Fayde
  8. I'll Be Back Again - Fayde
  9. Turn Me Loose - Fayde
  10. Shoot You - Fayde
  11. Don't Tease Me - Jinxx
  12. Jennifer - Jinxx
  13. Carnival - Craig Koons and Tom Howard
  14. Back In The Swing - Hard Knox
  15. To The Heavens - Rhythm Tribe
  16. Walkin' Over - Rhythm Tribe
  17. Can't Absorb The Madness - Vince Valore
  18. Remember Her - Tom Howard

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


This was my first serious band since Javelin. It featured Wayne Camp on vocals, Craig Koons on guitar, Joe Lamaina on drums and me on bass. We started out playing cover tunes (hair-metal bands of the day: Motley Crue, Ratt, Ozzy, Kiss) and had one original song, Little Killer.

This was the first band I was in that recorded at a recording studio; not once, but twice. Our first time in the studio was this place in Pleasantville, NJ, that used to be a church. We recorded "Smokin' in the Boy's Room", "Little Killer", "Rock and Roll All Night" and "Helter Skelter". This being our first time in the studio, we were pretty much at the mercy of the guys at the mixing board. All in all, it was a good experience.

Our second time in the studio was probably a year later. Our manager, Mike Turron, found a guy in Northfield who actually built a recording studio onto the back of his house. He really went all out with it too. I remember the first time we went there, walking around, amazed at how the walls just soaked up sound so there was no echo. This was nothing like the church. We re-recorded "Little Killer" along with four other originals: "Get Ready", "Just Call Me", "Lucky 7" and the blues inspired "We Like It Hot." The owner of the studio was still learning the art of mixing, as were we, so it still didn't sound great. I would work with him several more times over the years though, and each time got better.

In addition to recording, we managed to do a lot of playing out. Our first real gig was openning for local heavy metal band Sacred Sword at Blondie's night club. Craig was still in high-school at the time, so we actually had to get his mom to sign a paper giving him permission to play in a bar. Since this was the first time I had played in front of a crowd in a long time, I can still remember how much my hands were shaking through the entire performance. I still don't know how I managed to work my way through it.

We played a lot of gigs as a band: we played at The Omni when it first openned, we played 3 gigs at the bar at the base of the Somers Point-Longport bridge, we played several parties and city events throughout south Jersey, and we even sponsored a show in Stone Harbor that drew a pretty good crowd. We had t-shirts made up that sold pretty well at shows, too. Enough that we actually had to have a second printing 'cause we ran out of the first batch.

Our last show as a band was a self sponsored booze-cruise in Brigantine Harbor. We weren't allowed to stay in the harbor because we were too loud, so they took us out on the ocean where the waves caused the boat to rock back and forth, knocking our equipment over. It was a very good show, though. The evening took a tragic turn when one of our roadies was killed in a hit-and-run accident while walking down the road sometime after the show was over. It also happened to be my birthday.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Band - NOT

Okay, well, the new band didn't work out. The guy trying to put it together was more interested in getting the website up than actually playing. And then, when we did play, he wasn't very good. Oh well.

I did have some other people contact me, looking for a bassist for a cover band, but the music was SO not what I wanted to play: America, The Eagles, Sheryl Crow. Not that these are bad artists. I just find them very boring to play.

No, I've come to the conclusion that a cover band is not for me. To be honest, I've never really cared whether people wanted to hear what I was playing or not, which helps explain why I never made it as a musician I suppose.

So, I have to resign myself to either finding other musicians who feel the same way as I, who want to create new music without regard to its popularity, or just record my own. Neither of these options is easy. Finding other musicians with the same tastes and sensibilities is challenging. That's why bands tend not to last very long. And I'm not very prolific, or creative for that matter, so writing my own material will be difficult if not impossible. Added with the fact that I am a passible bassist, sucky guitarist, terrible drum sequencer and can't play any other instruments, and I'm pretty much SOL. Hopefully, that won't stop me from trying :)

Sunday, July 31, 2005


My four or five years following the break-up of Javelin were filled with music, but no serious bands. There was the aformentioned Ro Herim that consisted of Denny Haberkern, Bob Gleisberg, Steve Olsen and me, which basically involved us sitting around talking about playing and making up new logos, interspersed with actual playing.

I spent most of my high school years getting high and going to concerts with Denny. As such, my memory of this time is a little fuzzy, and I'm not 100% sure of some of the facts. I do know that we saw a good many bands during that time: ELO, Queen (twice), Cheap Trick, Van Halen, etc. I also was taking bass lessons from a local musician friend of my mom's, Frank Coffman. He was actually a guitar player who played in area night clubs, but he had a decent understanding of how the bass should be approached. I just wish I had bothered to study more.

Denny and I also took some music courses together at Mainland. I believe we both took Theory I and II together. But the one that stands out most in my mind was the Music Appreciation class with Mrs. Olga Buttle (or was it Tuttle?). This class basically consisted of a bunch of us just sitting around listening to music all day. I remember distincly all of us having to do reports on current artists, along with playing selections of their music. Denny did Queen and I did Kiss. But the best had to have been when Ron Mason did The B52's. The sight of Olga sitting at the piano, tapping out the chords to "Rock Lobster" along with the record is a memory I cherish to this day. A less cherished memory is when Ron came in with a cassette tape the two of us had made the night before while stoned, with him playing drums and me turning my knuckles into a bloody mess trying to emulate Pete Townsend's windmill guitar style. Hearing it the next day, it didn't sound nearly as good as it did under the influence the night before. And my knuckles hurt.

I did manage to get some actual playing done during high school. I remember one band featuring Bill Brummett on drums, me on bass and Bob G. on vocals. I believe it was Mike Oriente on guitar in this band, with us playing a lot of Ozzy and Rush tunes. Mike was a phenominal guitar player that Bob and Steve Olsen picked up hitch-hiking one day. He introduced us all to the wonders of Randy Rhodes. The amazing thing to me was that Mike was able to duplicate his lead playing without using a tremelo. He played a Les Paul guitar and, instead of using the "whammy bar" to bend the notes, he would reach up with his right hand, grab the string between the nut and his fretted finger and pull, giving it the same tremelo effect. It was quite a thing to see. I played in a couple different setting with Mike. He was partly responsible for helping me to take my bass playing to the next level.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

New Band

I played with some other musicians last night for the first time in probably 10 years. About 4 months ago I had answered an online ad looking for musicians in this area. The guy posting the ad said he was looking for other "middle-aged fat guys" so that he could "put the band back together." This sounded like a good place for me to start, so I responded.

It was a little difficult for him to assemble the various members, due to scheduling and musical desires. His philosophy is that the band is just a glorified beer salesman for the venue at which they are playing. He wants to play feel good, classic rock.

Personally, I tend to approach music from a more artistic aspect. This will be the first cover band I've been in since my teens. And my idea of classic rock differs a little with the band leader's - he's Billy Joel and John Cougar whereas I'm Led Zeppelin and The Who - but that's okay. It's something to play and people to play with. And I do like his other rule: family first.

Unfortunately, the drummer got tied up in Toledo, so our first practice was without a drummer. But still, it got us together and got me playing some music, so it's all good.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


There is already a very good history of Javelin at the band's website, so I won't bother going into it here. Instead, I'll just share some of my memories and thoughts...

My first time hooking up with any other musicians was when I met up with Denny Haberkern and Bob Gleisberg at Bob's house. I had only been playing a couple of months at that point and remember being totally humiliated when I didn't even know how to play "Smoke On The Water." After that, I went back to my teacher and made him show me how to learn songs.

My next memory is sitting next to Rob Rando in math class and him asking me if I played and if I would be interested in getting a band together. I don't remember much of the details of getting everyone together. According to the website, we played a birthday party in Rob's basement with Denny, Jeff Thinschmidt and me on guitar and Rob on drums. A short while after that Matt Butler came in on bass, and Javelin was born.

It never occurred to us that we were doing anything out of the ordinary for kids our age. We all just saw it as a natural progression. And the support from our respective parents was outstanding. The driving us around to band practices and gigs, allowing us to play really loud, obnoxious music with our friends. Alot of credit has to be given to them.

I'm also impressed with the amount of gigs we had. We played school dances and holiday functions, parties, a talent show and even on TV! Okay, it was early Sunday morning, but it was something that we did on our own and was damn exciting. Years later, when trying to get another band off the ground, I used Javelin as an example of how to get things done.

Musically, what can I say? We were kids, all trying to discover our own talents. Listening to some of the old music is nostalgic, fun and sometimes painful, particularly when I ventured into lead guitar.

Eventually, as happens with most bands, we all kind of drifted in different directions musically and broke up. Denny and I played together again in Ro Herim with Bob Gleisberg and Steve Olsen, but if memory serves, we only played one show - a party in my back yard that was cut short by a visit from Northfield's finest.

Seeing a void (and lack of 6 string talent on my part), I switched to bass not long after that. And the rest, as they say, is history (which I am sure to recount later so stay tuned!).

I should note that I've had the sincere pleasure of recording with all of these guys again recently. It started with an email from someone with access to I learned that the other members of Javelin were looking for me and were putting a CD together of old recordings along with a new song. So, with the help of modern technology and UPS, we recorded a version of "Get Back" by The Beatles. I won't post a link to it here since it's copyrighted material, but will send it to people I know who ask. We keep threatening to get together again for old times sake and will be sure to post details here should this occur.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Remember Her

Remember Her is a song I wrote back in '89, just a few months after my mother died. It is currently the only serious song I've ever written and recorded on my own. I did write other songs when I was younger, but mostly they were crude lyrics with very few of them actually set to music. The bulk of my recording and writing has been in collaboration with other artists.

The original recording of this took place shortly after I wrote the basic parts. I wrote the part that I call the 'rhythm' (the tapped, arpeggiated chords) first, followed by the 'melody'. I then put it together using my Fostex 4-track and Roland drum machine. Once I put together a very basic drum beat, I recorded it plus the 'rhythm' and a simple 'bass' part, then bounced them all down to a single track. I then recorded the 'melody' on two of the tracks, panning each one 70% to either side. The last track was the 'solo' and the 'harmony' piece at the end, both of which were actually written after I put the rest of it together. Unfortunately, I never mixed this recording down to a cassette. I still have the master, but no longer have the Fostex so I have no way of playing it. The instruments were a Custom Dreams fretted bass (ESP parts assembled by Dave Sabo of Skid Row) and Fender Jazz fretless for the solo.

Fast forward to 2005. I wanted to re-record the song, but didn't want to tax my wallet doing so. With a little research, I found a program called Audacity, which is open source multi-track recording software. The price was right and it seemed relatively easy to use. I then found Fruityloops, which is a software based drum sequencer. Fortunately for me, they have a trial version that lets you use the software but not save your work. Since the drum track is very basic, that was good enough for me.

The nice thing about software multi-track recorders is that the number of tracks is only limited by the power of your machine. As such, I didn't have to bounce tracks the way I did before. It took me some time, however, to learn how to get around the differences of recording to PC, such as lag. Also, my current soundcard leaves a lot to be desired, which is why it's so difficult to hear without turning it up. Even so, it came out pretty good. I had to force myself to avoid getting anal about it, continually re-recording the solo. Finally, I got one that was half way decent and left it at that. I no longer have a fretless, so I did everything on my new American Fender Jazz Deluxe 5-String.

I will probably record this again in the future, once I have some decent equipment and spend some time getting aquainted with playing bass again.