Tag Archives: NYC

Did you know I was in a New Wave band that played punk rock called Sissy?

Well, I have put the songs on Bandcamp for you to enjoy for free (or purchase, if you are so inclined). I wrote a little thing here to give you some context:

It was the 80’s. There was a lot of cocaine, sure. There was a lot of hairspray. Yes. Chuck had played in like hundreds of bands as a hired gun. He was way better than 100% of the other people he played with. He thought that would matter. But he wanted to play. And his definition of success changed over time. I had been telling him for years that if we put something together and tour it for a few years something would happen. But if we waited for someone else’s something to happen, we would wait forever. I had been using his studio for years to record songs just for fun and put a demo together for a band I called Nerve. This would be 1989 or so. I made 20 tapes. A guy from Atlantic who repped three bands that owed me money for moving equipment for them promised to listen to it. He called me and said he wanted to meet the band. So me and Chuck went to meet him. He asked where the singer was, we were dumbfounded. He thought the singer was a girl. Told us to change the name of the band to Sissy. 

We were entrenched in the New York music scene. Chuck owned two studios. I owned a cartage (moving) company. A year went by. Then another. We worked like dogs. Pushing huge piles of money around, never being able to keep any of it. In 1992 I booked a summer tour with Letch Patrol. Halfway through the tour Chuck woke up one day and told me to cut his hair. This would mean that he would never again get hired by a metal band to play drums. And that was kinda that day that we knew that after that tour we would leave NYC. All totally unspoken. A scissor. A look. A resolve. 

We wrote songs instantly. As if picking up laundry. Or walking a dog. We never thought about the content or the skill required to implement the content. The weakest part of the band was my voice, but three female singers made it all work. We wrote me out of a few songs, even. But never recorded them. The content on Ridin’ The Old Wave is pieced together from demos, and some of it is re-recorded and it’s disappointing that it’s not better, but I feel lucky any of it is here, it was gone so fast. 

We packed up our things and sold our businesses in a relatively short time. A few months. Moved to San Francisco. I started booking the first Sissy tour. We found a rehearsal space and I would play there, alone, late into the night working on my singing. There would be another guy there playing drums until 2 or 3 in the morning. Boz. One night I walked around and found his studio and asked him to join Sissy, without ever meeting him or seeing what he looked like. Just talking to him through the door. “Hey! Are you in a band? I have a tape, open the door!” He couldn’t hear me. I would later find out that Boz is the kid brother of one of Chuck’s childhood friends. How is that possible? 

Chuck died of a drug overdose a few weeks after we settled in SF. I never really recovered from that. The pall that came that day never really went away. I never really played music again, although I tried. I have lost the ability to write songs, which is alarming. Weird thing, that. I still can’t believe he is gone. That it’s been 27 years. That he has been gone as long as he was alive. 

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I play these songs on acoustic guitars around fires on camping trips. Maybe you’ve heard one. King of the Highway is Alice’s favorite. Listen to that song and imagine driving a 26’ truck in the rain overnight. Stay awake! Fall asleep… hit the jersey barrier… refrain, chorus, end… True song!

Well, I hope you enjoy the music.

Photos/videos of Sissy can be found on my Flickr page.

Bandcamp Link