Sunday, February 6, 2011

Delay Tactics

In the very early eighties my band changed its name from Earwacks to Wax Theatricks. A few things marked the change. We began to focus more on song writing and less on arrangement, I cut my hair and Fojammi joined the band. I was going to write about Danny (Fojammi), but I’ll do that later.

During this time Carl Weingarten started hanging out at our shows. Carl and I were big fans of Brian Eno. We had a lot to talk about.

Carl talked me into recording an album with him and a dancer friend of his named Gale Ormiston. The music seemed a little too Eno and I decided go by the name Phil Neon. It was recorded in a small 8 track studio in Clayton. The studio was designed for commercials.

My girlfriend got backing for a play she wrote and was able to fund a film I made. I used the music for a sound track. I ended up liking the album. Instead of sounding like an Eno rip off, it sounded like a cheesy 50s Sci-fi sound track. The only thing that was missing was a theremin. The funny thing is, Danny and I both had theremins we had built from kits.

After that Carl told me he met a guy named Walter Whitney who had his own studio in Overland. He asked if I’d like to work with them. Walter had a 4 track Studer. I couldn’t conceive of working with so few tracks and declined. I was used to working with 16 tracks by then. Never mind the fact that Sgt. Pepper had been recorded on a 4 track.

Carl also met a gut named a guy named Reed Nesbit who named the group Delay Tactics. Reed was a bit of a local character who dresses impeccably. He looked straight out of the future.

This was at the end of my long hair period. I ran into Reed on the set of Escape from New York. We were both extras. They had obvious picked him for his futuristic “New Wave” look, and me for my “Grunge” look.

Danny and I were living together with our girlfriends in South St. Louis. One night he came home with Delay Tactics’ first record Out Pop Options. He put it on the stereo in the room between our bedrooms. I lay there drifting asleep and the song Chasing Moroder came on. I sat up in bed dumbstruck. “They did that on 4 tracks?”

I quickly weaseled my way back into Carl’s world and became good friends with Walter. Reed and Carl were having creative arguments at the time. I ended up on 2 or 3 pieces with Reed but never actually saw him. That material didn’t end up on the new album and Reed disappeared. It was released years later.

The album we released was called Any Questions?, and I think it’s the best sounding record I’ve ever been on. It was a very creative time for me.

We had Jimmy Mayer on bass. He was in PM and also Jimmy Buffet’s band. I’ve been very lucky to work with St. Louis’ 2 best Jazz bassists, Jimmy and Mark Foster. Joan Bouise did vocal work for us and I got to work with her on a very personal level.

A couple of labels were looking at us. Verve wanted to start a New Age division and talked about Delay Tactics being their first act. Windham Hill was a big New Age label at the time. They were interested but wanted us to tone it down a bit. Our response was, “F&*k Off!”

I was going gangbusters in Wax Theatricks and Delay Tactics at the same time. Our live shows were very different animals. I’d do a weekend with Wax Theatricks on stage at a bar with sweaty, stinking, dancing punk kids and bikers.

The next week a journalist form the L.A. Times would give a lecture on technology in contemporary Art at The St. Louis Art Museum and Delay Tactics was the example. That crowd drank wine and ate caviar.

We gave a private performance for the richer patrons of the museum. I remember a woman walked into our performance space as we played. She asked how I produced the sound I was producing as I produced it. I couldn’t believe her arrogance. I guess money gives you a sense of privilege.

I was on the top of the world. My girlfriend, Monica Reed, witnessed the whole thing. She’s had a great career. I’ll have to do a story or two about her soon.

These are links to a St. Louis Skyline TV show Delay Tactics did, a PBS documentary about us, and a piece from the Submergings LP I did with Carl and Gale Ormiston. The music for the dance piece by Suzanne Grace was originally for a Christmas song I was going to do for my mom. I got credit for guitar but I also played Gato and fretless bass. I was very proud of the bass part. Tracy lent me his for the part.

The pictures are from the first live Delay Tactics performance. It was somewhere in University City, but that’s all I remember. This was my favorite haircut. The other is the back cover from that first album with Carl and Gale.


Dorothy Dolores said...

Nice stuff; though I must say, as far as techno goes, I prefer the stuff you have on myspace. It has more fun and humor, and rhythm.

Doggie said...

None of the stuff on these videos is good. Very spontaneous. I really loved the records. Some of my best stuff, if I do say so myself.

Anonymous said...

I never really thought about how different the two bands were. Whenever I listen to either band, I just think of it as a band my dad was in. I guess that's why I always thought of them both and both sounds as the same. Though obviously the songs sound completely different, some of the songs from either group that I like the sound of I like for the same reasons. Though I do admit they are totally different, in my mind many sound the same. Once again, that is just the bias I've gained by you being in both bands.