Home of the
0. Personality Cult is a Brain Killer.
1. Don't Audition.
In all the permutations since 1975, all the comings and goings, we have only auditioned once and that was in 1975. We don't remember the fellow's name. He was a nice guy and thoroughly competent. But Peter, Tim and David didn't feel right about him. So "feeling right" about somebody became more important than ability. Here's a summary of how everyone came into the band:
Peter Laughner. After Rocket From The Tombs broke up David went over to Peter's apartment at The Plaza and sat in his kitchen drinking beer. David said, "I'm starting a new band. It's going to be called Pere Ubu. It's not going to play live, just record..." Peter said he wanted in.
Tim Wright. Tim was RFTT's soundman. He didn't play anything but David thought he should be in the band. Tim volunteered to learn bass, bought a Dan Electro six-string bass and within a few weeks was playing great.
Scott Krauss. He lived at The Plaza and had been in Cinderella Backstreet with Peter. Peter said he'd be good.
Allen Ravenstine. He lived at The Plaza, owned it with another fellow and was the janitor. He collected odd audio boxes, wired them all together and played in art galleries. He had an EML synthesizer and was a formidable character.
Tom Herman. He lived at The Plaza and was a steel-worker. He jammed with other Plaza musicians at a nearby house. He punched a hole in his wall and then wrote "Dumb Ass" beside the hole. To remind himself.
Dave Taylor. He worked at Record Rendezvous over on Coventry Road with Scott Krauss. He had an EML, like Allen.
Tony Maimone. He lived at The Plaza. He was a barber and said he played bass. Actually he was learning bass. He would go home from rehearsal every night, take a lesson from Al Dennis, and work like a demon to be ready for the next rehearsal.
Mayo Thompson. Tom left. Allen and David were at The Agora watching Talking Heads. David said to Allen, "We were better than these guys." Allen said, "Mayo Thompson."
Anton Fier. He played in Peter's Friction and was a friend of the band. He was the best store manager that Record Rendezvous ever had. His returns percentage approached zero. He was a record store legend. He managed the Rendezvous on Public Square where Alan Freed "discovered" rock n roll.
Jim Jones. He worked at Record Rendezvous on Prospect Avenue, one block from Public Square. He made split channel Beatles tapes. He was in The Mirrors and sometimes Electric Eels. He was the Ubu roadie for the first European tour mainly because we wanted to take him along.
Chris Cutler. He was a friend and advocate of the band. He showed up at the second date on our first tour.
Eric Drew Feldman. David met him in an elevator at Snakefinger's last show at a festival in Bari, Italy.
Garo Yellin. He was in David's improv combo with Ira Kaplan.
Robert Wheeler. He had an EML. He was in Scott Krauss's Home And Garden. He grew up on the street next to where David grew up. He was a childhood friend of David's younger brother.
Michele Temple. She was the guitarist in Home And Garden.
Scott Benedict. He was the drummer in Michele's band, The Vivians.
Steve Mehlman. He was Scott Benedict's replacement in The Vivians.
Keith Moliné. Nick Hobbs was manager of Pere Ubu in the 80s, 90s and early Noughts. Keith was in Nick's band, as was eventual Ubu soundman, Dids. Nick suggested Keith for David's solo shows in the UK.
John Thompson (Ubu's art designer since 1978), aka Johnny Dromette. He owned Hideo's Discodrome, a record store at the bottom of David's street. David worked there. They ended up sharing a house. In the living room was a life-size reproduction of the Hollywood Squares set.
Darryl Boon, a passionate fan of Dixieland, attracted David's interest while playing in a pub jazz band at a local pub.
Gary Siperko, a Cleveland guitar legend, was suggested for Rocket From The Tombs, by Steve Mehlman. Without hearing him play, David asked him to join. A couple years later he was asked to play in Pere Ubu.
2. Self-expression is evil.
For decades this motto, beneath David's crudely-drawn smiley-face-with-horns, adorned the Suma control room. The emphasis should be placed on self.
3. Trust the first idea you get.
This principle is not for the weak-willed and untrained. It's possibly inspired by Eric Carmen. Eric Carmen was the leader of The Raspberries, a 70s Cleveland pop band with a number of big hits. He had a vision. He was going to write a hit record and he was going to call it 'Hit Record' and it would be a hit record. He went to the record company and they said, "You can't call it that," and they made him change the title to 'Overnight Sensation.' It became a hit record and the word is that Eric was so crushed by the disappointment that he never quite recovered. Possibly apocryphal but that's not relevant.
4. Self-expression should be left to the professionals - people uniquely qualified to endure the disappointment and overwhelming sense of failure.
This seems to conflict with Principle Number 2. Too bad. Deal with it.
5. Don't try - if you're good enough and concentrate on the art of it - the business will take care of itself.
We never tried to get a record contract. In 1977 Cliff Burnstein, head of A&R at Mercury, found the first two Hearpen singles in a shop in Chicago. He called David and said, "We're not the right record company for you but I love the music and if I can ever be a help call me." Two days later somebody from Chrysalis called David and offered a deal. Cliff said, "Don't do anything for a week." A few days later he called, "I've formed my own label at Phonogram for you."
6. Not being able to hear yourself is Nature's Way of telling you that you're playing the wrong part.
More volume is rarely the solution. It's nearly always the problem. A musician who proclaims "his sound" is always going to be a problem in Pere Ubu. It's not his sound - it's the band's sound. Constituent elements must conform. (We are The Borg.) If what you're playing can't be heard then it's most likely that too many instruments are trying to occupy the same sonic space at the same time. Something's gotta give.