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10 The Taf Hfd Thunday, May 22, 190
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By Dorothy Rompalske
. This is supposed to be an article on
"New4 Wave" music in the Chapel Hill
area. But, if there is one thing to be learned
it's that there really is no such thing as
"New Wave" music at all.
When asked, lovers of popular music in
Chapel Hill have attempted to define the
term "New Wave." In almost every case the
response is the same. First, the individual
falls victim to a sudden tug of gravity.
Then, grasping hold of the nearest
stationary object to regain his balance, he
looks skyward and sighs while shaking his
head in amazement that such a question is
When pressed, most people come up
with a definition similar to WXYC disc
jockey Ken Friedman's: "New Wave is rock
'n' roll with a sense of spontaneity and
urgency not formula. It's music of
change with somebody doing something
different, always something different."
According to Alan MacDonald, who
plays the bass and sings for the Chapel
H ill-based Psuedes, New Wave is a "rebirth
of music from the early sixties. It is based
on learning from the experiences of the
Most people interviewed maintained
that "New Wave" is just a convenient label
to stick on all music that is new and
exciting. The owner of a local record store
claimed that the term is just a name record
companies put on something to sell it.
The label "New Wave" may be far too
broad. According to record salesman Dasht
Hopes, "Some of it is for people who want
to dance, but hate disco. And some of it,"
continued Hopes, "is for people who are
into the art aspect of music, especially
computer programmers, scientists, and
chemistry and physics majors. They like
Hopes explained that ' there were
different types of local New Wave bands:
"Some are very serious, like the Psuedes
and the X-Teens. They don't tell the
crowds they play for to eat shit and die."
Other bands, like the Cigaretz of
Raleigh, currently seeking fame in New
York City, have opened concerts by
informing their audience that, "We're very
bored to be here." It's rumored that the
band once got so bored that they stopped
playing in the middle of a set and began
watching television on stage.
Another Triangle area band, Butchwax,
is described in a local underground
magazine: "They are contemptuous of
everyone and everything within ear-shot or
at eye-level, but stop short of spittin'."
Most musicians questioned were
hesitant about labeling the music their
band plays. Nothing short or interrogation
by KAOS would have gotten one member
of the new Secret Service to classify their
songs. Curious folks can find out for
themselves when that band makes its debut
at the Cat's Cradle on June 13 and 14.
John Frierson was a member of a
Greensboro-based rhythm and blues band
until his group found female singer
Suzanne Sexless and a new name, The
Stimulators. Now they do New Wave
music and are playing a lot more often.
Their music, Frierson stressed, is now more
responsive to the audience.
Freirson echoed remarks by other
musicians when he complained about a
lack of local clubs to play in: "There .
sfc "M "'a pLvi where people know th
car. i i he?r New, Wave. If there was, i.
akf - ime 1 ,oriev.,'1
:g. Jni -oCatsCadle manager
David-Weavu, hiselub will feature new
wave bands almost every Sunday night.
"People are finally catching on to the
music. It attracts a good, fun-loving,
Also, look for new wave bands at the
Station in Carrboro, Uptown Main Street
and the Sallam Cultural Center in
Durham, and at the Pier in Raleigh every
Monday night. The Cafe Deja Vu, also in
Raleigh, is featuring The Fabulous Knobs
May 23nd 24. The X-Teens, who play
som? interrting origmatTIISlTal, will be
'the May d 31:? v -.'
v , A i j w y
, k. ..art mi icians are 1 ?ing tha; ihe
obvic s sv ces, of last v end's "ffw
t Wave tSarapler" offerred by ilie Carrboro
Art School will mean more bookings for
their bands. At that concert, The Psuedes,
the X-Teens, and the Dots from Durham
played to a very enthusiastic full-house.
Ken Friedman,, whose "Anarchy in the
P.M." radio program on WXYC is a
favorite among local new wave fans, also
sees a growing interest in this music
around Chapel Hill. He predicts that more
clubs and more bands will be surfacing in
this area in the near future.
Friedman praised the quality of several
local bands, indicating that some of the
newer bands, like the Psuedes, have strong
potential. He sees some of the more
established bands, like the X-Teens and the
dB's now based in New York, as likely
candidates for national attention.
Dasht Hopes summed up the local new
wave scene and the people involved: "It's
all crap," he offered. "Obviously,
everybody ought to be a farmer."
Popular local group
plays familiar styles
By Sarah West
Chapel Hill is in many ways amecca for music-lovers and music- I
makers, largely because of the local bands and musicians who call
the town their home. One of the newest of these bands is the ;
Although the Pseudes only have been playing since Christmas,
they already have acquired a large group of fans in Chapel Hill.
Guitarist Mike Mandina attributes the band's appeal to the type of
music they play.
' 'We play songs that people know and like to dance to, and we do
them well. Bands that play the kind of music we do get a good
response because of the nature of the music itself. As far as the fun
meter, our music enables people to have a good time."
Alan MacDonald, the bass guitarist for the band agreed with ,
Mandina. "Our song list really is appealing. We play songs that we
like to hear they're poppish and danceable."
Determining the appeal of the Pseudes' music is easy enough;
putting a definitive label on the type of music they play is not. It
would be simplest to categorize them as a New Wave band. New
Wave is the in trend, and the Pseudes play songs by groups
classified as New Wave, such as the Ramones arid the Talking
Heads. The band members themselves, however, hesitate to
describe their style simply in terms of New Wave music. This is
partly because of the difficulty of defining what New W ave music
"We play a lot of old stuff from the early 1960s songs by the
Monkees and the Ventures," Mandina said. "New Wave is derived
from this music, but it is a little different." He also said the British
influence of 15 or 20 years ago was the "first wave", and that it was
basically the same type of music that's popular now.
MacDonald terms New Wave as a feeling, a rejuvenation of
music. "It's a whole new scene based on rock'n'roll and a return to
For Pete Gamble, who plays guitar and synthesizer, New Wave is
a meaningless term, a catchy phrase. He sees the Pseudes' style
more in terms of the mid-1960s power-pop, psychedelic music.
Gamble cites the music of the 1960s as a strong influence both on
Mandina and himself. Drummer Sara Romwebber defines her
music as pop and classic rock'n'roll.
Clearly, the band members do not define themselves merely as
New Wavers, or by any other catchword. RatheT, they see their style
as a fusion of each member's musical roots. The disparity of
musical backgrounds reflects the age span within the group, which
ranges from Gamble, who at 30 is the oldest member in the group,
to Romwebber, who is still in high school. Mandina and
MacDonald are both in their 20s.
1 v:vx,.:.;a:v. vy-v. t;
photo by t'ilm Gimb
Gamble, MacDonald, Romwebber, Mandina
MacDonald views the wide age differences and the mixture of
personalities as a significant factor contributing to the band's
appeal. And despite the surface differences, or maybe because of
them, the band members obviously enjoy playing music together.
"We like the band," declares MacDonald. "The mixture of
personalities creates more energy."
Gamble, who has been playing in bands for 1 4 years ( the Pseudes
is the 15th band he's played in), says the Pseudes is his favorite. "We
have color very few bands do. It's in the music we play and in the
way we play it."
The band evidently intends to stick together for quite a while,
and as MacDonald says, their intention for the future Is to get
better. Other plans include additions and variations in the band's
song list. At present, the band plays only one original song, and
while Mandina acknowledges the possibility of adding more -original
material, he doesn't seem to feel that original
compositions should entirely replace the band's present song list.
"I don't feel any need to play original material if it isn't better
than the songs we're playing! by other people," Mandina said.
"Actually, what we're planning to do about our song list is to'
gradually eliminate the songs we don't like until we just have one
favorite that we can play for 2 hours. We'll leam to play that one
about 30 different ways, maybe go with several different
Upcoming gigs for the band include a return engagement at
Cat's Cradle June 8 as well as a benefit concert at Burner. The band
also has played at outdooi concerts and for private parties.
Apparently, the Pseudes intend to concentrate on the Chapel 1 1 ill
Raleigh area. Gamble said he finds the people of Chapel Hill the
nicest of any town he's lived in, and the bands better than in most
other areas. Perhaps he summed up his feelings best at the end of
their last concert "Chapel Hill is the center of the universe."
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