Fifty posts. It’s been a long road to get here, and there were times I thought the day would never come. But here we are! I thought I would use this special occasion to discuss one of my favorite bands to ever come out of the Kansas City music scene: none other than that which was known as the Revolvers.
This is a band I hold dear to my local music heart, so much so that it would be out of my character were I to go one chance without heckling the former members for a possible reunion (before you get your hopes up, it has been all but confirmed as downright implausible). There have been times when I’ve gone weeks at a time with having their lone full-length on repeat in my car, singing along to every single word as though I were rehearsing for KC music karaoke. Now that I write that out, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
The core of the Revolvers was vocalist Justin Petosa, guitarist Mike Alexander and bassist Chris Wagner. The three essentially grew up together, and formed a band in the mid ’90s as a youthful outlet to play Ramones-driven pop-punk with a lyrical prowess that elevated above many of the more popular bands of that era. In the years they were an active band, the Revolvers seemed to have gone through an average of one drummer a year, the previous one leaving typically for no more than artistic differences or conflicts of scheduling.
Though they experienced the same hardships and tour mishaps that any band venturing out on the road is bound to confront, they stayed a frequent name in the local music scene until early in the 21st century, when after the release of their self-titled debut CD (and two self-released 7 inches before that) they slowly sputtered out and eventually stopped playing shows altogether. By the time the members parted ways, it was difficult for a conversation to be had among them.
All things eventually pass, and with time, conversations were had once more, and friendships grew more strong than they had been in the years prior. Justin decided to bow out of music, leaving a gaping hole in the hearts of teenage-minded punks yearning for songs about girls, love and the eventual sorrow that comes from a broken relationship.
Mike, who before the Revolvers played in the Breakups, joined the final incarnation of the (at this point no longer ska) Gadjits before they became the Architects, in which he was the guitarist until parting ways to pursue other career interests, which led to he and Wagner forming Hipshot Killer in a reclamation of vigor and revival of their punk roots. In the interim, Alexander also performs with bands that play country (Starhaven Rounders), Irish rock (Blarney Stoned), and Americana (John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons).
Chris Wagner’s musical output beyond the Revolvers has included in part the previously mentioned Hipshot Killer and Prodigal Sons (wherein he performs bass), Velghe’s earlier project the Mendoza Lie (as a guitarist), the abrasive and metallic Hundred Years War (whose Jason Hall was also in The Secret Club with Wagner), indie rockers Jackie Carol (with members of The Casket Lottery, The Believe It or Nots, and Proudentall), and The Glitter Kicks (featuring a post-Frogpond Tawni Freeland, music producer extraordinaire Ed Rose, and a rotating drummer including Kliph Scurlock of Slackjaw, Craig Haning of Moaning Lisa, and Chris Tolle of The Creature Comforts).
As mentioned, the band went through a variety of drummers, but on recording had Thomas Becker on the first 7 inch. Becker was serving duty in multiple up-and-coming bands in the area, including Nuclear Family and the earliest version of The Get Up Kids, but dropped them all to attend college in California. The second 7 inch and full-length featured drumming by Jon Paul aka Buddy Lush of the Buddy Lush Phenomenon, Sin City Disciples, and The Big Iron.
Enough with the word vomit. Now we get to the point: free stuff. Below, you can find a link to download each of the Revolvers releases, ripped to the best of my current capabilities. Listen, enjoy, and share with your friends a band worth celebrating. And if you see the guys out at a bar some night, try not to heckle them too much.
Album: She’s Out Of Your Life 7″ – download here
Label: Locket Love Records
Release Year: 1996
Side A: She’s Out of Your Life / Never Said
Side B: Christmas Eve in June / Anjali
A forefront of melodic, classic pop-punk with hints of the ’60s pop the band leans toward in later recordings.
Album: Marley 7″ – download here
Label: Locket Love Records
Release Year: 1996
Side A: Marley / Marrianna
Side B: Ten Seconds Then / Far Between
You can hear the punk shell slowly begin to crack, giving way to a more musically-geared sound.
Album: Revolvers CD – download here
Label: Locket Love Records
Release Year: 1999
Track Listing: All I Want to Know / Better Off Alone / There’s a Heart / Devotional / Marley / Annie / The Only One / Not Really Blue / New Depression / Standin’ Sadly / Torch / The Angel’s Share
The band’s final output, a much better production quality that features a fully fleshed out sound that is at once punk and pop, and better showcases the songwriting ability of both Justin and Mike. The album is a complex layer cake of melancholy, anger, hope, and a general malaise toward the growing up that one must eventually accept. The band’s style ranges from fast, straight to the point power-punk, to downtrodden, emotionally dejected songs that border on country. It’s a damned shame if you don’t grab this right now.
Something I’ve been meaning to get around to since the conception of this blog is to give more attention to that which was released years ago. To date, I’ve focused much of my efforts on covering current music, while at most giving a passing mention to the bands that pre-date those to which I refer. From this point forward, the Looking Back posts will cover releases from bands that have become otherwise forgotten, or at the very least overlooked in the sea of currently active bands in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas. I will try my best to include a scan or decent photo of the front/back cover of the releases, as well as my own personal rip of the album in question. Of course this will not always be possible, but we will deal with that when the problem arises. First up:
It looks like 1996 was a pretty good year for the bands involved, though nowhere near as busy as the year prior for Manhattan’s Truck Stop Love. In 1995, the band released their well-received country, rock, and punk-tinged debut full-length How I Spent My Summer Vacation, as well as the often overlooked Fuentez the Killer EP that contained a cover of Tom Petty’s “Listen to Her Heart.” In the year of this release, Lawrence three-piece Action Man made their debut with Adventures in Boredom on both compact disc and 10″ vinyl. The two crossed paths with this split, and it also served as one of the last releases from either band.
At the link provided, you can find one track from each band recorded when they were essentially in their prime, or at the origins of their eventual demise depending on how you view their timelines. “Nothing Left to Start” clocks in at three minutes, and is a slower-paced but no less riff-heavy offering than much of their material to date, while the three-and-a-half minute “Pool or Pond?” showcases what was to become Chris Tolle’s signature style that made his next band The Creature Comforts such a locally loved act. Both songs are exclusive to this release.
Download here: http://www.mediafire.com/?6whs9vwhs44dis5
For those of you expecting one of my history lessons in this post, I will not leave you wanting. Truck Stop Love on this recording was headed up by Rich Yarges and Jim Crego (of TV Fifty, who replaced Matt Mozier — later of Arthur Dodge and the Horsefeathers). Yarges and Crego both went on to live in the greater Minneapolis area, which makes sense given their affinity with bands from that area in their songwriting. The rhythm section of the band was given its strength from Brad Huhmann, who went on to play in Onward Crispin Glover and Lushbox shortly after the band parted ways, and who more recently can be seen in Red Kate and Knife Crime.
Drummer Eric Melin, formerly of the Moving Van Goghs, saw success once TSL split with Ultimate Fakebook, and is now in The Dead Girls. Fakebook recorded a cover of Truck Stop’s song that you see listed in this post, and it appeared on the band’s 1999 split with The Stereo (which you can find at a blog worth reading here). TSL played a reunion show about eight years ago, but it will likely never happen again for various reasons, not the least of which being that the members don’t even live in the same climate these days.
Before Action Man became known for their poppy, Chris Tolle-supplied power chords, there was a short-lived band called Five-0, with AM’s Steve Buren and Randy Fitzgerald (of Dave Dale’s post-Micronotz jaunt Joe Worker) playing in a three-piece with John Harper (originally of the Micronotz, later of other mainstays such as The Kelly Girls, with Fitzgerald and Dale). Buren also played with Randy’s brother Ron in classic Lawrence punk bands Brompton’s Cocktail and The Hayseeds (the latter was an additional Harper band).
As I’ve already detailed in a paragraph here, Tolle has been known in chronological order as being a part of Rise, AM, The Creature Comforts, The Belles, Olympic Size, Early Reflections, and most recently has been self-releasing some recordings under his own name. Five-0 more or less morphed into what was to become Action Man, and rumor has it that Harper was initially game for the band, but decided to bow out after a handful of practice sessions, never having recorded or performed live with the trio. Upon Action Man parting ways, Tolle started the Creature Comforts with J.D. Warnock (with whom he played in Rise), who also filled in as a second guitarist for some later Fakebook recordings and live performances.
Disclaimer: the album included in this post was attained and ripped by the author, and all pictures or scans present were taken by author unless noted. Should a party involved in the release of the album feel their work is not fitting of digital documentation and prefers it not be freely traded among those without access to the physical product, the author will comply in the removal of the link with little question. Thank you for reading.
Lawrence power-pop sweet hearts The Dead Girls have created a Kickstarter project through label Rocket Heart Records for the release of their new 2-song 7 inch, “She Laughed a Little” b/w “It’s All Happening.” The record will be available on two different colors (400 black, 100 swirl), the b-side of which was recorded about 18 months ago when Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack was in town to lend himself to the recording, along with Blackpool Lights, Creature Comforts and (the often overlooked fourth member of) Ultimate Fakebook, J.D. Warnock.
The band, or more so label, took a very realist approach to the project, and have some extremely reasonable pledge rewards available to those who are able to participate. These range from mp3s of the EP for only $2, mp3s plus the record on black vinyl for $7, and all of the previously mentioned, plus two bonus mp3s and an autographed poster for only $15. The list tops out at the $50 level, which gets the purchaser the aforementioned, the record on the more limited color, a 12 inch of the band’s debut full length Out of Earshot + accompanying mp3s, and a test pressing of the new EP, limited to 7 copies. This tier sold out quickly.
The project has a $2,000 goal and will run until October 1st. Get further information here.
Earlier this year, local media outlets were beside themselves with the arrival of the new band Minden. The band, composed of members of Kelpie, the Button Band, Buffalo Saints, and other Lawrence acts from the last 5-8 years, was consistently being labeled as a supergroup. I really had no idea why they received this label, but the members have all been a part of musical projects I respect, so I took the term with a grain of salt. I’ve just learned of a new local band that encompasses the term “supergroup” in its truest form.
Christopher Tolle has been active in the Lawrence and Kansas City music scenes for nearly 18 years, from his work in Rise, a high school band that is better off staying in the past (though the lineup also featured a young J.D. Warnock), and Action Man (a band that, if I can remember my history right, started as an offshoot of Five-0 called The Hayseeds, and even had John Harper in the lineup for the earliest days), to the locally seminal Creature Comforts and his primary project for the better part of the last decade, The Belles. Tolle has been a wellspring of great music output for half of his life, and is sure to continue this trend with his newest band, Early Reflections.
Joining Tolle in his newest endeavor is Andrew Sallee of Namelessnumberheadman on guitar, vocals, and wurlitzer. Sallee and the rest of NNHM formed the band when they were living in Shawnee, OK, a small town about 45 minutes east of Oklahoma City, and though the band went through a few different names (Hipster Dufus, The Fauves) before settling on the one that stuck, they essentially found their name when they found a new home in Kansas City a little over a decade ago. NNHM have been dormant for the last few years, but popped up this past winter to play an anniversary show at Recordbar.
Next up in Early Reflections is guitarist/vocalist Bill Latas, best known as one of the founding members of iconic Kansas City grunge/rock band Outhouse. Outhouse played a reunion show at Recordbar earlier this year, but Latas has been staying musically active in a funk/rock and occasional tribute group known as Perpetual Change. Coincidentally, Outhouse co-founders Brad Gaddy and Shawn Poores, as well as Go Kart‘s Larry Groce have been active in their new wave/’80s tribute band called The Zeros.
Brian Everard is the resident bass player in the band. He is currently known as a member of both The Belles and Blackpool Lights, but was in The Creature Comforts as well, meaning all four of his most recognized bands have either been with Tolle, or a member of The Creature Comforts (drummer Billy Brimblecom is in BPL, as well as a range of tribute bands with CC guitarist Warnock).
Rounding out the lineup and further proving the incestuous nature of local music, we have drummer and audio engineer extraordinaire Chris Cosgrove. The list of bands he has been in is dwarfed in comparison to the amount of artists he has worked with in the studio, but the most notable act he was in was the early ’90s math rock quartet Zoom, who themselves played a reunion (or four) earlier this year, one of which was at Recordbar (I see a growing trend here, no?), as part of the previously mentioned NNHM anniversary gig.
Early Reflections will be playing their first official show as a band on June 30th, opening for Meat Puppets at Recordbar. They have been playing unofficially as a more or less “Chris Tolle and Friends” band for a few months, though. One of their public performances worth mentioning is their participation in the recent Replacements tribute show, the lineup only a four piece of Tolle, Everard, Latas, and Shawn Poores. The Dead Girls, Chad Rex, John Velghe & His Prodigal Sons, and a cast of other area musicians appeared on the bill that night as well. Appearing with Early Reflections and Meat Puppets is a Belgian garage revival band called The Black Box Revelation, for fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It will be a night that should not be missed.