It was the spring of 1996 (April as a matter of fact); my band at the time had just released our first album
on Bomp! Records. The label sent us a great care package of releases, among which was the amazing compilation Beyond The Calico Wall
. As I popped the disc in and hit PLAY, I was overwhelmed by some freaked out MAYHEM that lead into a song that immediately clawed its hooks into my brain. As I was grooving out to "The Trip", the singers voice sounded like an old friend; a voice I had heard countless times throughout my childhood. Turns out, the writer's credit was right there in the booklet, one G. Eder; an old friend indeed. It took a brief second but I realized it was a fella that I knew as George Michael (he took the name years before Wham!); not only did I know him, but my mom played in a BAND with him in the early-mid '80s and we all moved to California together at the end of '81!
I called George and, sure enough, we had a great conversation about this amazing record that he made when he was all of 17 years old, and I think it's safe to say that both of our minds were blown completely by this scene.
I immediately began a quest to find this record, and all roads led to a dead end. When I joined ebay a few years later, I started looking for a copy regularly and NOTHING would ever turn up! The first one I remember seeing was around eight years ago, and my heart just about stopped when I saw how the bidding progressed. If you've been reading this site, you know I don't give up, but the subsequent times that copies have turned up I kept getting outbid by mere pennies- I was READY to get this record, as I felt (rather arrogantly) that I was destined to own it! Here it is, 17 years later and I have a copy of my very own that I am very pleased to share today. George didn't write the flip side, but it's cool in it's own right- Beatle-esque and kinda freaky as well.
There's a great interview with George here
, but there were some other questions I wanted to ask. George was kind enough to revisit this piece of his youth one more time...
: You've known me since I was six! How do you think you would have
reacted if, a voice from the future told you in 1981 that I would have
been seeking out a record you made when you were a teenager?
: Well, if I knew it was a voice from the future, I'd HAVE to believe it!
I'd be a tad skeptical 'cause I did not think that the record had the stamina to last past the decade, especially the "B" side!
When I first heard this on the "beyond the calico wall" I got in touch
with you. Were you aware of the cult status of the record before that?
My only clue might have been when some guy from New York had called me
in '90 when I lived in Florida asking if he could use the 45 for some
radio show he was doing locally in NYC. I told him he had the ok for the
B side only. So when you told me I was on an album, I thought it may
have been select recordings of whatever that show had broadcast.
Did you ever get to speak with Greg Shaw from Bomp Records?
I don't remember who it was I spoke to on that day I called the record
company but they were fun and appreciative. They were stoked that the
guy who wrote the opening song on their new release was aware of the
recording. I told them that it was because of you Derek. They sent me a
CD, cassette tape and vinyl album of BTCW.
I can't remember- did you play lead guitar or bass on this record?
I was on bass for
this record. Our original bass player left town without telling anyone
and we had gigs so we procured a Danelectro bass and a Fender Bassman
amp quickly and played with that lineup for the next few years
Many teen bands
of the time were writing about psychedelic experiences from an
imagination standpoint. Had you (or the other members) had psychedelics
at the time this was written?
We, as a band, had tripped a few times before we made this record so, the influence was apparent in our new songs. (I'll say! -ed)
Did the release of the 45 increase your status in the neighborhood?
For about 6 or 7 months, yeah. We did the local radio tour. We were in
rotation on the wee hour playlists. We shared stages with quite a few
local stars. It was a good time
What did the release of this record teach you and your young colleagues?
Radio was the kingmaker. USA
was a good label. The band imploded when band members parents would not
sign off on their offspring touring. We never really regrouped.
Personally, I learned which fans were also friends. I quit live music
for a year after the breakup. I got serious with my guitar playing and
emerged and a self-empowered, fully functioning axe slinger ready for
anything. I left the region and never looked back. All the more
surprising when you contacted me about "The Trip". That other me was so
far removed from the me I had become, I was almost disdainful of the
merit the recording had garnered. It seemed so dated as to be almost too
amateurish to be good but, I'll admit, deep inside I was pleased
knowing that people were enjoying the song even as inadequate as I
deemed it to be.
Well. as the saying goes, "I followed the music and the money around".
I've performed in 15-16 bands all across the country in almost every
genre but opera. I've contributed to hundreds of recordings and am still
at it doing around 100 gigs a year with multiple bands here in the Pac
NW. I can go on a cold gig with musicians I've never played with and
improvise a 3-4 hour show. I consider myself a journeyman musician.