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Pere Ubu Individual Biographies

Chairman David
Chairman David

Greil Marcus, Double Trouble (Faber And Faber, 2000), pgs. 167-168.
Thomas' gnostic argument - that art exists to at once reveal secrets and to preserve them - makes sense of a particularly American - or modern - form of storytelling. In a big, multifaceted democracy, you're supposed to be able to communicate directly with everyone, yet many despair of being understood by anyone at all... Out of this comes an American language that means to tell a story no one can turn away from. But this language - identified by D. H. Lawrence in 1923, in Studies in Classic American Literature, as the true modernist voice, the voice of Hawthorne, Poe, Melville - is cryptic before it is anything else. It is all hints and warnings, and the warnings are disguised as non sequiturs. The secret is told, but nonetheless hidden, in the musings, babblings, or tall tales of people who seem too odd to be like you or me, like us - like the author who puts his or her name to the story, insisting that he made it all up, that she just did it for the money.

David Lynn Thomas, b. 1953 in Miami, Florida. Raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. High School Graduate.

David Thomas is a writer, singer, songwriter, actor, producer and director within the self-proclaimed genre of the Avant-Garage. Founder of two legendary bands, Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu, and a multitude of musical collaborations, including David Thomas and two pale boys, Thomas is credited with rewriting the rules of both popular and experimental music since 1975. He is a musician's musician.

David and JJ
JJ and David

His career began as a writer and columnist for weekly magazine The Scene, in Cleveland, in the early 70s. After years of critiquing, he made the decision to stop writing about art and start creating it. "If I'm so smart, I should do this myself."

The Modern Dance (Pere Ubu) was released to critical acclaim and the group toured extensively, as it does to this day, with a further 22 album releases. During this time, Thomas applied his ideas to solo theater ('theatre vague,' as he calls it) with spoken word and poetry, methodically integrating musical improvisation.

Thomas has written two operas, Mirror Man (1998) and Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi (2008), which both premiered at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, before touring internationally. The latter was animated by cult film-makers The Brothers Quay. Thomas co-starred in a limited, sold out run of the 'junk opera' Shockheaded Peter in London's West End in 2002. London's South Bank Centre and UCLA Performing Arts staged four and three day festivals, respectively, dedicated to his writing and music. The Knitting Factory in New York City presented a three day festival of his work. The Department of Cultural Geography at Clark University invited him to deliver a lecture, subsequently called 'The Geography of Sound,' which led to further requests from architectural colleges in Oxford and Amsterdam, various institutions and academic music conferences.

David Thomas' groups also compose and perform live musical underscores to cult films, among them X, The Man With X-Ray Eyes and Carnival of Souls. In 2004, Pere Ubu toured the United Kingdom with a 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space.

He has featured in festivals in London, Los Angeles, Dublin, Newcastle and Sydney celebrating the works of Nino Rota, John Cage, Firesign Theatre, Walt Disney, Bertolt Brecht and Harry Smith.

Mr. Thomas has recorded more than thirty albums and performed on stage with the likes of Richard Thompson, Jackie Leven, Van Dyke Parks, Frank Black, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Philip Glass, Steve Earle, Percy Heath, George Wendt, Wayne Kramer, The Mondrian String Quartet, Todd Rundgren, John Goodman, Loudon Wainwright, the London Sinfonietta, Nick Cave and Shane McGowan.

See the Press Center for photos and more information.

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Robert Wheeler
Robert and theremin

Robert Keen Lamb Wheeler, b. 1957 in Cleveland, Ohio. Plays electronics - an EML-101 synthesizer and homemade Theremin. He has played in Pere Ubu since 1994.

Years ago Robert dropped in at Hideo's Discodrome and owner John Thompson steered him to the "30 Seconds over Tokyo" single that had come out that day. John said, "The record is $1.95 plus tax, but you can see a whole set and another band for only $1.50 at the Pirates Cove." Robert saw Peter Laughner's Friction and Pere Ubu play their first night at Pirates Cove Nov. 11, 1976. Changed his life.

Bought an EML-101 synth, started a band Savage Tractors that lasted 5 years, then played with Dr. Bloodmoney (after Tony Maimone left), and then joined Home & Garden (after Tony Maimone left). Home & Garden at the time was Scott Krauss, Jim Jones, Jeff Morrison (vocals).

Happily married to Linda since 1987, they have one delightful daughter, Kathleen Alexis.

Fun facts:

Robert attended K-11 with David's younger brother Alan, and lived a block away from the Thomas's in Cleveland Heights.

Robert has been President of the Edison Birthplace Association in Milan, Ohio, since early 1980s. A great-great-grand nephew of Thomas Alva Edison, he lives with his family on Thomas Edison's sister's farm in Milan, Ohio. They board horses, raise chickens and grow corn, hay and trees.

Robert worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (now Hewlett-Packard) for 18.696 years repairing computers, and was a System Manager for Digital Alphas and an IBM AS/400 at a local hospital for 7.5 years. He got outsourced and is currently unemployed.

Robert and Michele Temple joined Home & Garden the same night.

Tony Maimone introduced Robert to Linda, who also plays keyboards.

A Mac Evangelist since W95 (Thanx to John Thompson and David Thomas), "My Mac can do everything your windows can, except get viruses."

Robert got a "B" on his handmade theremin in electronic school because he couldn't play America the Beautiful. "It's not a musical instrument," said the teacher. It took months to learn how to tune and work it, considering he'd never seen one before.

Side music project is Lonely Crowd.

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Michele Temple
Michele Temple

Michele Temple, b. 1959 in Van Wert, Ohio. Former Clevelander Michele now lives in New York City where she produces music, does session work, composes music for film and other events, performs, teaches, and engages in all manner of recording related activities as part of the Urban Iguana Music Production team. Michele is bass and guitar sideplayer and producer for various local artists including Marni Rice and Le Garage Cabaret featuring Ramones producer Daniel Ray. She was also part of the hip hop production team the Jettsonz, producers of Nina Sky. Michele teaches at the Brooklyn Conservatory where she counts among her former students multi-Grammy winning artist Alicia Keys.

Michele has appeared at Lincoln Center with Armenian vocalist Sophia Gazarian and at the Apollo Theatre with Sony recording artist Amel Larrieux. She was also in the pit for a one night revival of the Broadway production of Once on This Island.

Michele received her Masters Degree in Musicology from Cleveland State University in 1997.

Academic publisher Edwin Mellon Press chose to release Michele's Master's Thesis, her first book, "The Influence of Middle Eastern Music on Late Medieval Italian Dances," in the fall of 2001. The Dance Perspective Foundation awarded her book a prize the next year for the most original work on dance published in English in the year 2001.

While in Cleveland Michele worked with Scott Krauss, Jim Jones, and Robert Wheeler in the Pere Ubu spin-off Home and Garden, and with her own band The Vivians which included Scott Benedict, drummer on Raygun Suitcase, and Steve Mehlman, current drummer for Pere Ubu.

Michele has been playing with Pere Ubu since 1993 and has appeared on Raygun Suitcase, Pennsylvania, St. Arkansas, Why I Hate Women and its accompanying Why I Remix Women, Long Live Pere Ubu, various other live cds and cd-roms, and in a whole bunch (really I've lost count) of live shows. She is involved in the Pere Ubu Film Group providing live soundtrack music for films.

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Steve Mehlman bleeds
Bloody Steve

Steven A. Mehlman, b. 1971 in Cleveland, Ohio. Began drumming at the age of ten. He started playing in local Cleveland bands in 1989. He was invited to drum for Pere Ubu in late 1995 ahead of the Raygun Suitcase tour. A short list of bands he has played in: The Vivians, The Heathers, Sissy, Chump, The Terminal Lovers, and Screwtractor. Other bands he currently plays in: Roué (also www.myspace.com/roue), Liquid and Rocket From The Tombs. Steven graduated from Cleveland State University in May 2001 with a B.S. in Chemistry (cum laude). He worked for some years as a research chemist, focusing on powdered metals and rechargeable battery cathodes. He is currently working as a handy-ish man, paper delivery boy, and bar-back. In addition to music, Steve also hates the phone, books, politics, and back pain. He loves snowboarding and watching lots of TV.

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Keith D. Moliné, b. 1965 in Maidstone, England, of Catalan/English parentage. Lives in London, was a founding member of David Thomas and the two pale boys in 1994, and writes for The Wire. He approaches rock music from the point of view of a bewildered outsider, hooking guitar up to electronics. He occasionally uses violin, when nobody's looking. He has performed in the group Infidel, recorded solo as Mesmerist, and played electric violin with kosmische absurdists They Came From The Stars I Saw Them.

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Thomas E. Herman, b. 1949 in Buffalo, New York. Graduated Cathedral Preparatory School For Boys and the U.S. Army. Tom is happily married to Linda, and has four wonderful children: Avery, Sally, Irreverence, and Echo.

Tom has worked in a steel mill, a fish factory, on an oil rig, in an a.m./pm., a car wash, a couple restaurants, a couple hospitals.

Pops, as he insists on being called, started on electric bass in '66, guitar in '68. He can also play tenor sax, and synthesizer, and has some knowledge of piano. He studied music theory and composition at the D'Angelo School of Music, Mercyhurst University for a short time. Otherwise, he is mostly self taught.

Tom is a founding member of Pere Ubu. He left the band in '79. He returned to Pere Ubu in '95. He also played in other bands, notably Tripod Jimmie, with three independently released albums. In the early '80s, Tom created music for several San Francisco Bay Area performance artists.

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Jim Jones
Jim Jones and Picasso

James E. Jones, b. 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio. Died of a heart attack Feb 18 2008. Graduated from Mayfield High School in 1968. He played baritone sax in the MHS Marching Band, alto sax in the concert band, and discovered an affinity for tape manipulation while in charge of the high school language lab. Jim attempted two quarters at Cuyahoga Community College in '69, but his interest in music won out. He formed the short-lived band, Lazarus, and worked as a clerk/buyer for Leo Mintz's Record Rendezvous retail chain for the next fifteen years. Jim started his own record shop, Platter-Puss Records, in '84. He sold the business in '87 after joining Pere Ubu. Jim got his first guitar in 1965, and taught himself to play in a self-devised open tuning. He was/is profoundly moved by music in nearly all forms, especially Indian music (thanks to George Harrison), 20th century classical & experimental, 50's thru 60's pop and mood music, and of course "rock" in it's many forms. Jim joined local "underground" band, Mirrors, in '74 as bass player. Mirrors shared gigs with Rocket From The Tombs and The Electric Eels (whom he later recorded with), and later transformed into The Styrenes. In '77 Jim quit The Styrenes and took some time off from work to become a member of the Pere Ubu road crew, doing the infamous Co-Ed Jail Tours of the US & Europe in support of The Modern Dance lp. Back from the tours Jim and fellow roadie, Pat Ryan, started a two-man experimental rock band called Foreign Bodies, which released a single. The next few years saw Jim honing his skills as a studio producer for a number of local Cleveland artists and bands, recording his own music, and composing electronic pieces for local theatre and dance companies. In 1980 Jim formed the raucous Easter Monkeys, and concomitantly became a member of Scott Krauss And Tony Maimone's project, Home & Garden. Gigs were played and recordings were released by both bands. Having worked with David Thomas And The Pedestrians On The Variations On A Theme album in '84, Jim was asked to join David's latest project, The Wooden Birds, in 1986. A year later that group (with the addition of Scott Krauss) became the revived Pere Ubu. Jim has recorded with the band since that time, but no longer tours. He currently appears and records with local bands Speaker\Cranker, Noble Rot, and KNG NXN as mainly a keyboardist. Jim has overseen operations of the US arm of Ubutique in Cleveland since 1990. Click here for an interview with Jim Jones.

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Andy Diagram
Andy Diagram
Andy Diagram, b. 1959 in London, England, has been a unique voice on the trumpet for more than 18 years. He developed his own style over that time in a variety of very different projects. Creating large soundscapes of brass with the use of electronics, looping his trumpet in multiple echo machines, and with the ingenious use of harmonizers he builds not just luscious washes of sound but also pulsating and infectious rhythms. Spending much of the 1980s in Manchester, he recorded and toured with a range of bands on the rock, pop and jazz scenes, from Diagram Brothers and Dislocation Dance to James. Moving to London in 1992 he became a founder member of The Honkies which stormed the London improvised music scene of the early 90s. He now records and tours the world with his own, much acclaimed band The Spaceheads, where his unique sound and melodic sense are complimented by the emotive rhythms of drummer Richard Harrison. He has also been recording and touring with David Thomas as a member of the two pale boys since 1996, and became an associate member of Pere Ubu in 1999.
  • Discography:
    • Dislocation Dance
      Slip That Disc (New Hormones ORG10, 1981).
      Midnight Shift (Rough Trade Rough 63, 1983.)
    • Diagram Brothers
      Some Marvels Of Modern Science (New Hormones ORG17, 1981).
    • Pale Fountains
      Pacific Street (Virgin Records V2274, 1983).
    • James
      Gold Mother (Phonogram 846 189-1, 1990).
      Seven (Phonogram 866 495-1, 1992).
    • Honkies
      All My Screws Fell Out (Megaphone 006, 1992).
      Who Eats? (Megaphone 015, 1993).
    • Spaceheads
      Spaceheads (Dark Beloved Cloud DBC204 or Red Note REDNOTE3 1995).
      Round The Outside (Space Records SPACE01, 1997).
      Ho! Fat Wallet (Dark Beloved Cloud DBC212, US, 1998).
      Angel Station (Pandemonium PAN032 or Merge Records MRG157 1999).
      The Time Of The Ancient Astronaut (Bip Hop Bleep 04, cd, 2001).
      Low Pressure (Bip Hop Bleep14 and Merge MRG183, cd, 2002).
      A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else (Bip Hop Bleep 35, cd, 2007).

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Dids (Graham Dowdall), b. 1954 in Lewisham, England, is a percussionist, composer, sound designer / mixer. He started out as drummer in Manchester cult band Ludus in the 80s then went on to work with the legendary Nico (Velvet Underground) for a sustained period - touring the world and making several albums with her. He also recorded and played with John Cale as well as being part of numerous other bands and projects. He was one of the pioneers of electronic rhythm in the UK and has a wide experience of writing music for theatre and dance, remixing and also works as a community musician. He regularly performs and records under the alias Gagarin. His music is characterised by a sophisticated and subtle touch allied to tough beats and complex yet spacious and fluid programming, creating atmospheric sound and beatscapes. Over the last several years he has worked regularly with David Thomas and Pere Ubu as a creative sound mixer. His main instruments currently are electronic pads triggering and manipulating samples. In 2006 he contributed to the Pere Ubu release, Why I Remix Women, and appeared as a member of David Thomas and the pale gagarins. In 2007 he became an "associate member" of Pere Ubu and toured Europe, filling in for Robert Wheeler.

Gagarin's latest album is Ard Nev. Still firmly in the electronica camp and created using a mixture of soft and hardware the new album shows a developing sound refining his recent influences and placing Gagarin in a central position in a nascent "avant-grime" scene. The album received this review in the Wire:
"His work has an iciness that suggests deep-space psychic isolation - what sets Gagarin apart is the ease with which he improvises with a small range of materials; clusters of notes are configured into melodic themes and variations, samples are constantly worried at with filters, reverbs and delays, and the complex, skittering electronic rhythms are the result of hand percussion techniques applied to midi drum pads. Often these beats are surprisingly street and tuff, yet refracted through an abstract, chilly sensibility that both entices and unsettles. Occasionally the beats give way to bleakly attractive drones, but the music is never in stasis. The pulse looms constantly like a shark under the ice."

Dids is currently working with two new bands - Raf & O, and Pars Radio and as Gagarin releases a new 3" CD EP called Agrichem on Smallfish in Sep 2007. He frequently gigs around London.
  • Selected Discography:
    • Ludus
      Pickpocket (New Hormones, ep, 1981).
      The Seduction (New Hormones, lp, 1982).
    • Eric Random & Bedlamites, Timesplice (Double Vision, 1984).
    • Nico and the Faction, Camera Obscura (Beggars Banquet, lp, 1986).
    • John Cale, Artificial Intelligence (Beggars Banquet, lp, 1987).
    • Faction
      Listen Buddy (Crook, 45rpm, 1987).
      Bag (Thirdmind, lp, 1989).
      Heaven (Thirdmind, lp, 1991).
    • Sonexuno, Alchemy (Slaughterback, 12", 1992).
    • Gagarin
      Gagarin (Geo, cd, 1996).
      Earthling (Geo, cd, 2002).
      Ard Nev (U-cover/Geo, cd, 2006).
      Agrichem (Smallfish, ep, 2007).

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