It’s been 27 years since the recordings on this CD were etched into black vinyl and made available to the public. They’re from a period in the early 80s when punk and new wave grooves were just starting to spread out into the heartland. With Janet Wygal on bass, her brother Doug on drums and Jon Light Klages on lead guitar I had many glorious adventures playing music at the advent of indie rock. We mixed it up with many fantastic bands, supported by adventurous club promoters, fanzine writers, college radio dee jays and music fans looking for something new. We wandered America in an econoline cargo van making friends on a long subsidized vacation from real life.
We traveled without tour support, slept on lots off floors and met many like-minded individuals: the Neats and Mission of Burma in Boston, Love Tractor, Pylon and REM in Athens and Jeff Calder and his Swimming Pool Qs in Atlanta. We opened for the Cure at Hurrahs on their first US tour and in other venues Til Tuesday and 10,000 Maniacs opened for us. Our single “Dancing With My 80 Wives” was a hit on WLIR on Long Island sending us into giant Hampton disco techs in the middle of winter. We consistently packed the 9:30 Club in Washington DC thanks to heavy airplay of “Walk By Your House” on WHFS. Music critic Robert Palmer of the New York Times picked our album Fields as one of the best ten albums of 1982.
ÂWhat success the Individuals had I attribute to being the first to walk through the door of a brand new club in Hoboken New Jersey in the summer of 1977. I was surprised that a corner bar near my apartment wanted to have live original rock music. Hoboken was a ghost town in those days, plagued by arson, crime and poverty, as was New York City. So called “urban blight” was in full effect before the age of gentrification. I had moved there to be near NYU where I was finishing college, renting six rooms for $65 a month on the top floor of a railroad apartment building. The shot and beer joint called Maxwell’s originally catered to the factory workers at the Maxwell Coffee plant that was directly across the street from where I lived. I used to point to the factory’s giant neon sign and say I lived right behind the “X.”
ÂI walked in on two of the new owners. Steve Fallon and his brother-in-law were having an argument about the jukebox. Steve was determined not to have any Frank Sinatra but his brother -in-law thought this was sacrilegious in the town where old blue eyes was born. Fallon wanted to make a point; Maxwell’s was going to be a different kind of Hoboken bar.
ÂSteve was willing to give everyone a shot if not two or three and made everyone feel like Maxwell’s was their club. Mostly he knew how to keep the party going and to make musicians feel like they were getting a fair shake. Steve offered to let my first band, simply called “a” to be the first band to play the club. It was a great opportunity.Â In short order I was booking the place for a free meal a week bringing over bands like the dBs the Fleshtones and the Necessaries that I knew from my day job as ad salesman at New York Rocker magazine.
When “a” suddenly disbanded, Maxwell’s was the place I worked up new material with a revolving cast of characters including former “a” /future Bongos Richard Barrone and Rob Norris, Peter Holsapple of the dBs and Jeffrey Lee Pierce who would soon start the Gun Club. TO BE CONTINUED