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PT109 (1980 - 1981)
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PT109 (L to R: Me, Joe "Vincent" Schwenk, Steve Baise and Seth Dunayer)
Shortly after graduating high school in 1980 most of my friends went away to school. I stayed local and attended Rutgers University. This left members of the various rival high school bands incomplete. It was time to regroup and mend fences. My friend Joey Vincent and I joined with "band" arch enemy Steve Baise to start a power trio. Steve was a great bass player and we soon became good friends.
Shortly thereafter a younger brother of a friend of the band, Seth Dunayer, joined on second guitar.I played guitar and a bit of farisa organ. We tossed around band names and even dabbled for a short while with the name "Jerry's kids". Admittedly a bad idea and proof indeed that youth is wasted on the dumb. We quickly settled on the name PT109. Ok so it's the very early 80's, MTV is making it's way to the homes of America. You may be thinking that bands like U2 and the B52s with their war plane names are making some great music and were the likely influence on our war boat name.
As Seth recalls "We were in the back room at my house and we trying to think of a name for the band. Steve opened a World Atlas that was sitting on the bookshelf. After looking through the book for a while, we narrowed the name search down to two names. PT109 and The New Deal. I can't tell you why I remember this so vividly, but I do. Anyway, we voted and it was 4-0 in favor of PT109. Larry started to come over later with Steve and then he came up with the whole PT thing. Actually, the Plastic Tie thing began the day we went into NY to play at that Band competition in the back of some music store on 47th St. Larry started handing them out". The music store on 47th St. that Seth mentions was actually the Electro-Harmonix building.
Larry had like a thousand of these little plastic oriental hair clips. He also had an idea. We simply take these plastic hair clips and slide them on our collars as plastic ties! This will be the latest NEW WAVE craze and we will get rich selling them at gigs! All we need now is for the band to start wearing these clips for maximum visibility and it's easy street baby!
Despite the history of PT109 and JFK's best heroic efforts it had little to do with the boat. The "plastic tie" thing never took off for what now seem like glaringly obvious reasons. It actually may have been Michael Jackson's "one glove" thing that actually caught on and overshadowed our endeavors into music fashion.
After making some considerable ground on the local scene with PT109 Seth was off to college and it was back to the Steve, Joe and me. I ran out to buy a Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Chorus to beef up my sound. I suspect Andy Summers and the Police might have had something to do with that decision. Steve went out and bought the Electro-Harmonix Bass balls. Despite these stomp pedals and their influence on our somewhat underdeveloped signature sound we still needed something else. It was at this time that we asked my brother Dominic if he would be interested in playing keyboards for us. We already owned a beat up but remarkably sturdy, reasonably portable Farfisa organ. We just needed someone to play it. We played a few gigs at Big Man's West in Redbank. This was the bar that Clarence Clemons opened up and we had the opportunity to open for the George Theiss band and handful of times.
PT109 with Dominic on Keyboards plays Big Man's West in Redbank in 1981.
PT109 (with 80's appropriate hair and make-up. Bottom to top: Me, Steve Baise, My Brother Dominic and Joe Vincent who apparently at the time of this photo was on the lamb.)
My father designed our card. Note the Gibson Explorer in the logo. Also note the individual phone numbers for each member. This came in handy when talking to chicks.
With my brother on keyboards, Joe Vincent and his thunderous drum style, Steve and I with our cool effects gadgets we now had what we felt was our signature style. With the exception of Joey we all sang and we had a very cool quirky surfing, new wave, punk thing going on. As the card describes "Wave Rock" and "Rock" it did! For another few years anyway.
Georgian Court College Pub Gig (circa 1982-83)
Merry Christmas from PT109! (circa 1982-83)
Rutgers Fiji Band Truck on Fraternity Row April 1983
Rutgers Dance Marathon April 1984
In 1985 we went on to win the Stone Pony's First (and last I believe) Annual Original Band Competition. This was cool because with it came a decent amount of studio recording time at a local studio owned by Gary Talent of the East Street band. We geared up for the sessions and musically we were fully prepared to go in and record some new tunes. Unfortunately things didn't quite work out in the studio and the band never made it out alive. A few small but cool pages in the history of local rock and roll.
PT109 at Emmett's in Jamesburg (circa 1983-84)
Now an Urban Rock legend to be dispelled:
Despite popular belief, Paul Young actually had my hair style and not the other way around. seriously.
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