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todd walker

At first glance Todd seemed only to be what you'd expect a typical rock guitarist to be, long and lean with stringy blonde hair - but you'd be wrong. His demeanor of cool confidence on stage was the same as off and was so casual that I took it to be an egotistical aloofness that is often prevalent with musicians in popular bands. The feeling was so much that at the record release party for the EP I was too intimidated to even ask for an autograph. Having been reassured by others I finally did ask and was surprised to find a rather quiet individual with dry wit and nearly photographic memory.

As time passed and I got to know him a bit better, his ability to speak on and know something about almost any subject fascinated me not only because of the obvious contradictions involved but because it was connected to a logical methodical thought process, a "thinking man's" rock musician if you will. In the years that followed this hasn't changed one bit. He is still able to recall conversations and situations with an almost word for word detail that is truly uncanny. Having all of that going for him one would expect that he'd make a doctor or engineer or lawyer but he chose the guitar instead.

His devotion to his craft and the band was total. When the band began to gain momentum he stopped attending classes though he only lacked a few hours to graduate and worked driving a truck to support himself and the band with a rehearsal space (the infamous Owl House) and transportation with his long suffering van. Worse, when the unthinkable tragedy of his father's death intruded in the middle of a tour, he buried his father in the morning and went on stage that same night. To some that might seem callous and hard but to hear him speak of his dad and what he meant to him, it demonstrates a love of music and a responsibility to one's word and to others rarely seen or heard of in rock and roll or anywhere else for that matter. Also I get the feeling it might have been the only way for him deal with such a tremendous loss and that his dad would have wanted it that way.

On stage he was a force to be reckoned with - all slashing guitar riffs, stage leaping and long flailing hair. Off stage he was so low key that he could almost disappear in a crowd of his own fans. He doesn't smoke or do drugs. I think I've seen him drink one beer in my life, maybe. Not that he'd hold it against you if it was your thing, but for him I think it's all about the music.

tyson meade

At first glance Tyson seemed to be everything you'd expect a rock singer to be, wiry, lithe, obtuse, artsy and kind of silly in a fun way - and you'd be right. His speaking voice, which suits him perfectly, contains a natural almost melodic quality to it going from a baritone to high tenor in a smooth glide as though a musician running scales and when he gets a bit giddy he has a contagious stuttering laugh that sounds a bit like a lamb that just got the punchline. I'd known him from Shadowplay Records as the colorful funky little clerk who had an amusing and friendly demeanor while being totally bizarre in his colorful clothing and unusually long thumbnails.

But when I first saw that he was the lead singer for the band I was watching for the first time, I couldn't believe he'd be able to carry it off. An art student, yes; a hippie poet, maybe; but a front man for a band - no way. For one thing he was a little short and fragile looking, almost delicate; like a strong gust of wind could sweep him up and carry him off along with the autumn leaves and he looked as though he could just almost hide behind his guitar if he stood just right. But once the music started look out. He shimmied and jived and moved around the stage all wiggily wags and wild hair. The way he moved was never patterned or planned (unlike say the awful jerky gyrations of Mick Jagger, who moves about like a rat trapped in a Skinner box). Nope, his natural flow was never posed or pantomimed, he just moved as though his nervous system was plugged directly into the amps. Then the singing would begin and I couldn't believe that voice was coming from this guy. At first you're knocked out by screeching and raving then when you get past that you're knocked out again by the real quality of his voice. He can really sing! One of the few natural rock voices I've ever heard - equal parts Roger Daltry and John Lennon I'd say.

Afterwards I was surprised to see him transformed back into the very guy I knew from the record store, all smiles and mirth; and when I told him just how wiped out I was by his performance he acted as though it was the nicest compliment he'd ever gotten by anyone. A natural born performer.

clark walker

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The original bass player and first ex-patriot of the band. I never knew him but wished I had later when I moved to LA to get into acting. He went on to work in the film industry as lead cameraman with director Richard Linklater on such films as "Slacker" and "Dazed And Confused."

page royse

I never got to know Page too well except to say that he seemed to carry with him an air of mischievousness. He was a good drummer and the interplay between he and Chris on stage was priceless, communicating with sly glances and smiles some secret jokes on a wavelength that only they could tune in to. He told me that when he first joined the band he didn't know a thing about playing drums or any instrument for that matter. But he wanted to be in a band and found out they needed a drummer. Okay fine, I'll be the drummer he decided. No drum kit - no problem. He swiped the entire thing from a storage building on campus. True? Hmmm.

chris royse

The one guy I'd love to hate but just can't. More than just Page's little brother, Chris is a virtual virtuoso on bass, his flourishes and grace notes are noticeable but unobtrusive on the EP in what would have otherwise been a straightforward and rather bland line in a lesser player's hands. If that isn't bad enough I've heard him goofing with the bass in practice doing impossible things with it that'd make other musician's (and myself) want to crawl out the door and thinking nothing of it. He was just messing around don't you know.

Chris was always easy to spot in the throngs that went to the shows back then. He was the only one with uncharacteristically short hair for a musician (unusual in those days) and an ever-present smile. ("Heart Throb" must've been written with him in mind.) And if that wasn't enough he was also articulate and pleasant and always had a good thing to say and always had a perfect response regardless of the worst situation. Going up to say hello, he would turn the conversation around and ask about you and what you were up to. Before you knew it, it was time to go and you realized that instead of getting the news from him, that he'd just de-briefed you - as though you were the one that he came to see. But if that isn't enough, now years later he is happily married to a beautiful lady who supports him in his music and has (I hear) two lovely daughters and a great job. He's got it all and is a great guy to boot. I'd love to hate him but I just can't, the admiration keeps getting in the way.

doug powell

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I only saw him perform once with the band at a place called Subterranea and thought, "A great band but they just have the wrong bass player." They threw him out that night right after that gig.

whit hyde

Another drummer I never got to know too well. He was very quiet and seemed almost shy. Besides being the shy drummer he could also play guitar and sing well too. For some reason that surprised me - I guess I take all the jokes about drummers not being "real" musicians too seriously. One thing I'll never forget - I was trying out for the bass player's slot in their "revolving rhythm section" and at this time Whit was the drummer. I'd practiced until my fingers blistered, did meditation and yoga to keep myself relaxed until the ultimate day and then went in. Knees knocking and nauseous I got to the middle of the first tune and hit a massive clunker. I think my eyes must've popped out in dread and Whit noticed it too. As the song rolled on he smiled and gave me a wink so much to say, "Forget it, it was nothing." That one little act made me relax and the rest of the set was pure joy. Didn't get the job but I never forgot his bit of support.

joe kollman

The guy who did get the bass job. I didn't get to know him too well either. Not because he was cold or rude but because of my own petty jealousy and bitterness. He got the part I badly wanted and I guess I didn't act the man and be nice - for years. To his credit he never once said or did anything to rub it in. I didn't think he was all that good of a bassist in the beginning but I must say that the proof lay on the vinyl - that if he wasn't when he started he sure developed into a consummate pro by the time of the recording of "Dali..." He became as solid and reliable a bassist as one would want with some nice flourishes of his own as evidenced on "Misplaced Messiah."

One other event that jumps into mind about Joe, during one of their many shows a scuffle developed on the floor in front of the stage. In the middle of a song Tyson went from mid-lyric to, "Hey you, stop that!" We all thought that maybe he'd finally flipped or just forgot a lyric but then it was, "Hey I saw that! You stop." Tyson dropped his mic and leaped into the fray as the song ground to a halt. Apparently a rather large fellow had begun a shoving match that was quickly escalating into a full on fight when Meade interceded. For a moment just when it looked as though he was going to turn on Tyson, quick as a flash Joe threw down his bass and appeared at Tyson's side. With Joe glowering beside Tyson, the guy decided it was best to let it go. By that time the bouncers finally arrived and the jerk was escorted out. "So what?", you might think - but how many of you're friends really got your back?

chris ward

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Never knew him at all. Right after the LP was recorded and right before the big blow-up I saw him play a house party and the effect was awesome. This guy really knew how to beat the shit out of a drum kit. I'd heard how when they were in LA recording that Randy Burns listened to him warm up then stopped the session and called a guy known as "The Drum Doctor." His whole gig was to set up drums - perfectly. About a half hour and $2,000.00 later Chris Ward had the perfect toy. Unlike a Keith Moon who would theatrically destroy his kit, this guy would just literally beat it into smoking rubble. He must've changed the heads like some people change socks. Incredible drummer. But even though they had just recorded their first LP, had an enthusiastic record label willing to promote them heavily and were poised to "TAKE OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD," he quit on them cold. Left it all to be with the girl he loved in Boston.



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