|Chapter 4. Like the Phoenix (and the Real Paper) - TRACKS is Reborn ...
The afternoon after that disastrous first gig I went back to the Rat to retrieve the rest of our gear with Jim, an ex-Marine who was dating Lorry’s sister. I wasn’t too sure how safe it would be going into that subterranean hellhole by myself, but I figured that being with Jim we wouldn’t have much of a problem. Of course, I had expected the other band would sabotage our stuff, but it wasn’t too bad. Just a few tubes were missing out of the Fender amps. Neither ol’ Jim Harold nor any of his bouncers were around.
So there we were: Lorry and I had quickly gone from being the new darlings of the underground, to having no management, no band, no rehearsal place and, most importantly, no chance of ever getting another gig at the only place in town that really mattered. Oh, and throw in a really bad ass reputation for good luck. Essentially: no future in the music biz. Well, stubborn fools that we were, we still had the desire to keep going regardless of these minor problems and now we were motivated to an almost psychotic degree. We figured we could manage ourselves easily enough since we were down to one place we could actually, possibly, maybe play our music– The Club in Cambridge. And we could rehearse at our artist’s loft – Blue Door Studio. We immediately put ads for a new rhythm section in both the Real Paper and Phoenix determined to get a real band that we alone put together this time. I also got the brainstorm to take advantage of the music columns that both of those papers featured. Writers James Isaacs and Rory O’Connor were very supportive of the new music/punk scene that was beginning to emerge in Boston. I wrote up separate stories for each of them, telling our viewpoint of Tracks’ Rumble at the Rat. To my surprise, they printed the stories almost word-for-word. After that, I continued to feed them updates of our doings, which they in turn continued to print. It was these two guys, along with Oedipus with his college radio show that deserve all the credit for initially getting the word out to suburban kids that something exciting was starting to happen in Boston. And the kids started coming into town in ever increasing numbers to see what all the fuss was about.
|We started hanging out at The Club on an almost daily basis. It was located across the Charles River in Cambridge, a town that was kind of a hippie haven in those days, being the home of Harvard and all. The Club was just down the street from the Necco Candy factory and if they were making up chocolate wafers that day you’d get a strong whiff of the sickly sweet aroma and an instant toothache. While the main club was upstairs, underneath was a much seedier barroom that always had a crowd of old geezers nursing their drinks. Me and Lorry always had the notion that some kind of illicit business was being done down there. I don’t know exactly what, but there were some pretty rough characters talking to each other in hushed voices and money was seen changing hands. It was the first place we had ever seen a large screen TV and it was always on some sports event. We didn’t think it wise to try to find out just what was going on. Eventually, we met John the club manager, a burly hard-ass that took an immediate liking to Lorry’s likewise bold and brash persona. Thanks to my feeding the story to the papers, he was well aware of our Rat debacle, but he said he would take a chance and give us a booking when we got a band together. We may have given him some cause to regret that later. The Rat may indeed have been the epicenter of the Boston punk scene, but long before CBGB’s Hilly Crystal struck up a deal with Jim Harold to exchange bands, The Club was the first local venue that booked The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and the rest of the first wave of New York punksters.
|By night we would hang upstairs and meet scenesters like Marc Thor, Nola Rezo, Bob Colby, Miss Lyn and the guys from Willie Loco, the Real Kids, DMZ and a couple other bands that had been hearing about us. I immediately took a liking to J.J. Rassler. Not only did I admire his solid but raunchy guitar playing, but his knowledge of the history of music was simply amazing and he was soooo enthusiastic! Contrary to popular belief, it’s fun and a real rush to be in a rock band. He told us DMZ would like to gig with us when we got the band straight. This is one of those places where my memory becomes a little fuzzy. Within a couple weeks of that initial misstep at the Rat we were rehearsing at Blue Door with Wild Johnny Lewis on drums, quickly joined by Paul ‘Kid’ Kross on bass. But I don’t really remember auditioning anyone else, or exactly how we hooked up with these guys. Like I said, I was spending a lot of time hanging out at The Club, which of course, meant a lot of drinking was involved. I may very well be wrong, but I seem to think Wild Johnny (then simply John – more later on that) came up to us at The Club and introduced himself. I think maybe someone in another band recommended Paul to us. At any rate, we almost immediately sounded good. Ten times better than the last band good. John got that thundering punk rock beat down right away, and Paul was actually a good musician that added a lot of depth to our simplistic rhythms. We wrote a bunch of stronger tunes and Tracks was soon ready to give playing in front of people a second try.
|Tracks...the Wild Ones|
|Tracks had quickly gone from being the new darlings of the underground, to having no management, no rhythm section, no rehearsal place and, most importantly, no chance of ever getting another gig at the Rat|
|All photos this page - Frank Gerace|