In the Spring of '81, I answered an ad in the paper and teamed up with guitarist Bob Mannino and his brother Dave who played drums. Bobby was into heavier stuff like Judas Priest and AC/DC so I felt like this was more of the musical direction I wanted to go in. Bobby came up with the name TowerHex for the band (ooooh, how Dungeons and Dragons of us!) and we turned his basement into a rehearsal studio which was affectionately dubbed The Rat Hole. Tony Bowman, a local singer, played with us on a casual basis.
(the original, accept no substitutes):
We played some fun keg parties in The Rat Hole but the band broke up in the late Summer due to conflicting schedules. It wasn't an unpleasant breakup and Bobby and I kept in touch.
I immediately joined an already existing band called Pranx. They were more along the lines of the power pop / top 40 stuff that I was trying to get away from, but they were already established and had gigs lined up and I didn't want grass growing under my feet at the time so on I went. The group consisted of Lenny Corman on the drums, Mark Motise on guitar, Brett Butler on guitar and vocals, Kevin Spear on keyboards and backing vocals, and myself on bass. We had a large set list and played around a lot in a short period of time. Some memorable gigs that come to mind were the Brown Derby in Poughkeepsie and The Peeping Hollow Inn in Staatsburgh, NY.
(Top row) Kevin Spear, Brett Butler, Lenny Corman
It didn't take long for my glam influences to surface, but this just wasn't the appropriate band for it. On one rather humorous occasion, we were about to play a graduation party at a fire house rec hall and I decided it was time to liven the show up a bit, so I broke out the old make-up case and leopard skin outfit for the event. After the show, I heard that our drummer Lenny said he wanted to kick my ass and that he would if I ever wore that stuff again. Also one of the girls' parents thought I was the devil. I knew I was on the right track now. I left the band in the late Fall of '81 and went in search of something more down my alley.
I teamed up again with Bob Mannino who had impressed me with his guitarmanship back in TowerHex. I had also recently met a guitar player named Phil Roberts who was an excellent musician and was a perfectionist when it came to tightness and composition. He had a style that sounded a lot like Michael Schenker. To round out the group, we recruited a local drummer named Ray Shares. Bobby was great for making up words for band names and he came up with "Lasion" for this particular lineup. Later in the Fall of '81, Ray was replaced by Bobby's brother Dave from the old TowerHex and we continued to rock out, usually in my parents garage. Bobby had to leave the band due to a harried schedule at the beginning of Winter, but Phil and I continued on as a heavy metal duo. We entered a period where we began writing more seriously and playing with various local musicians without committing to any one group in particular. Also, Eddie Pierce (the guy who hooked me up with Twisted Sister), guitarist Evan Balser, drummer Sal Fortugno and myself spent some off time jamming at Mad Mountain Sound Studios in Millbrook, NY for some fun during the Winter of '81.
In January of 1982, I joined up with some high school friends to play bass for Nuclear Penguin, a 50s/60s rock and roll theme show that used to be called Davey and the Seniors. It was a lot of fun and the show contained odds and ends of humorous theatrics. The band consisted of two guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and five vocalists. The band members were: Scott Buckwald - vocals, Carlton Rounds - vocals, Arin Shaw - vocals, Dave Clark - vocals, Greg Lou - keyboards, Bill Brown - guitar, Dave Mosier - drums, Fred Boak - vocals, Jeff Welsch - guitar, and myself on bass. We played local high schools and colleges, a benefit or two. One highlight of the show that went over pretty big included Scott doing Steve Martin's King Tut number complete with full Egyptian head dress.
The Penguin's Scott Buckwald, Fred Boak, and Carlton Rounds bustin' a move.
Jeff Welsch, Me (There is no wrong time for spandex), and Bill Brown.
Bill Brown and me (Zappa and Ronson. ;-))
The Penguin was a fun but short-lived gig and Phil Roberts and I resumed jamming and writing together in the early months of the year. Phil hooked up with a group in Hyde Park, NY called Axis, but they already had a bass player. In the Spring of '82, Phil got the band to ditch their current bass player and subsequently inducted me into the group. Thanks Phil! ;-) The band members were John Chocianowski on drums, Chris Horwedel on guitar, Phil "Mad Dog" Roberts on guitar, Tony Bowman on vocals, and myself on bass. The set lists were comprised of a lot of Aerosmith, Scorpions, Rush, AC/DC and Judas Priest - the stock heavy acts of the day, and a few originals thrown in for good measure. Phil took the majority of the leads, especially the crunchy Scorpions, Priest type solos, while Chris would do the rhythms and some of the Aerosmith leads. We were getting our chops together as we played at Roosevelt High School and assorted keg parties. From what I can remember, there were some issues surrounding Tony, either personality or alcohol related or both, so we disbanded for the Summer.
The band regrouped in the Fall of '82 and for the vocalist position, Tony was replaced by J.R. from my first band Scorpio. The new band was called TowerHex. I can't recall how we arrived at that decision but I guess Phil and I still liked the name from the earlier band and we were given Bobby's blessing to use it. At rehearsals which took place in John's basement, Phil would often poke JR with the pointy head stock of his Flying V guitar in jest and tell him "Lose some weight you slug!" It was sort of amusing but undeniably cruel. JR was our Ozzy, our misfit singer. But he was a good guy with a great voice so we tryed to work with his image the best we could. At this time I was living in a small cabin by myself and my life took on a sort of surreal tone as I wasn't working and I had no phone, no mail delivered, etc. All I had was a HAM radio which Phil had installed for me. He lived across the river in Kingston and we would talk late at night about the band and whatever other topical issues were on our minds. My only commitment was to the band and outside of my involvement with them, I had little contact with the rest of the world so days began to blur into each other. The only things that mattered were rehearsals and shows. Though my life was somewhat out of balance, there was also something very pure and straight forward about that state of living. Towerhex played a nonstop string of shows through the Winter and Spring that included Capricorn II, Stage 9 (Ace in the Hole), The Hub, Oakwood, and we also won the Roosevelt Battle of the Bands that year. It was a very heavy band at the time. Before we would go on stage, Phil and I would always chant our metal mantra "Ram it RIGHT... DOWN... THEIR... THROATS!!!" - (a Spinal Tap homage.)
The crunching machine: Phil "Mad Dog" Roberts of TowerHex.
like this photo because it shows two old basses I don't have anymore
The demise of TowerHex was rather an ugly one. Phil was not called Mad Dog simply because it was a cool nickname. He was genuinely an angry dude at the time and, though I always respected him as a friend and hell of a guitarist, he was also a bit psychotic. His perfectionism about the music insured that the band was always the best it could be musically, but his temperament eventually created a lot of unhealthy friction and ultimately it reached a breaking point while we were in the studio recording our new demo. TowerHex was done by May of '83.
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