Terry and the Dreambeats
Origin: Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Interview between Robert Williston and Kevin Jollimore on January 5th, 2014.
Robert: Were you influenced by any bands in the Halifax or Nova Scotia area?
Kevin: We were not really influenced by any local bands, because there simply weren't any! Maybe the band you saw at your high school dance, but that only served to make us want to form a band even more! So I suppose, in a way we were influenced to action by some of the silly high school bands all playing the same silly songs. Actually, now that I think about it, it was at a high school dance that the bass player, Marty Lake and I first got up on stage together. I remember we were watching this band playing the standard stuff, you know, Doobie Brothers, et cetra,and we went up to the band during their break and asked if we could get up and play. The singer said "Sure, but you can't use our guitars". I'm pretty sure he was calling our bluff, but I said '"That's no problem, I'll run home and get mine", which I did. That was the first time we ever played together. The next day we decided to put a band together.
I would say that our biggest influences were what we saw on TV, especially on SNL which was like a religion back then, getting home on Saturday night to see what band was on. In the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, where virtually no touring bands ever played, it was the only chance to see what was happening out there. This was, of course, pre- MTV/Much Music days. I do remember being blown away by seeing Elvis Costello on SNL (December 17, 1977) when he was a last minute sub for the Sex Pistols, who had either cancelled or suddenly broken up. I use to hold my tape recorder up to the TV to record the audio!
I remember as well, the day after The Talking Heads were on SNL, our old guitar player came to rehearsal and was freaking out about them. That was the day we came up with 'Ovid', the single's b-side.
Also, The Clash on a show called 'Fridays' on April 25, 1980 was especially cool as well.
Robert: Were you listening to any punk or new wave bands at the time?
Kevin: Sure, lots of the aforementioned Clash and Elvis Costello, and of course the Pistols, although I always considered them more of a comedy act. 'Never Mind The Bullocks' is a great album, but when you hear John Lydon interviewed these days, it seems that he would agree with me. Outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. No different than say Miley Cyrus, really. What was that quote? Punk rock died the day The Damned released their first album...something like that. We never bought into that changing your last name into something dangerous thing...Johnny Rotten, Joey Shithead....whatever.
Robert: There is no "Terry" in Terry And the Dreambeats. How did you guys pick the name?
Kevin: That came from our drummer, Jim. We were trying to come up with something silly, and he just blurted it out. We had some back story that Terry was the brains/money behind the band, but wasn't really talented enough to be in the band....something like that. I use to be called Terry by some of the people who cane out to see us, because I was the 'singer'
Robert: Did you guys play in any other bands prior and after Terry And the Dreambeats? When did you break up?
Kevin: The four of us who became T & T DBs all came from Wolfville, NS, a university town in the middle of the iddylic Annapolis Valley. A fertile environment to grow up, with a good mix of country values, and the urbane influence of the university set. Before Terry and The Dreambeats, which was our first band, we had a variety of names, all lasting about a week. I can think of a few, The Night Riders, The Nomads, Critical Mass, Diagonal Fringe, The Warlocks...lots and lots of names. One day we decided to boot the original rhythm guitar player out, who was always bumming smokes and not behaving well, and that's when we finalized the name and got a little more serious about playing.
We weren't around for long, maybe a year, maybe 18 months. So from like early 1979 - late 1980. Once we broke up, I moved from Wolfville, where we all were from, to Halifax, with visions of starting a new band. Jim Moore, the drummer, and Marty Lake, the bass player, and Carter Lake, the guitar player, stayed behind in Wolfville.
Jim, Marty and I eventually all found our way to Toronto, where Marty played with various bands, including The Boneheads with Donny Donahue of The Razorbacks. Jim went on to form the successful Canadian band Rusty, who found a good degree of success in the mid nineties. Interesting side note - Kenny MacNeil, Rusty's singer, also came from Wolfville. He was a couple of years younger that Jim and I, and was a big fan of Terry and The Dreambeats when we played around. Carter Lake stayed in Wolfville where he still plays at local coffee houses and stuff. I try to catch up with him whenever I visit there. I played in a few original bands, and am still in the Canadian
'Alt. Country' band The Sin City Boys. We've released three albums and a live album. You also hear our stuff on a lot of tv shows due to a lucrative publishing deal I signed about 10 years ago.
All the guys from Terry and The Dreambeats still keep in touch, we were and are friends, and we remember those days with much fondness.
Robert: Where did you play? Do you remember any stories from the gigs?
Kevin: We played a very few places, there weren't that many places to play original music in NS back then. The local bar in Wolville, called The Anvil, said "They would never book us!" We were too rough for a place called The Anvil! Wow.
I remember a place in Halifax called the Grafton Street Cafe, run by a real angel named Marion Priestly. She gave us our first gig outside of Wolfville, and we went over extremely well. It was the start of the very formative days of the Halifax punk scene, which eventually became quite reknown. The place was really great, always a blast and always packed. There were a few other bands around, The Vacant Lot, The Defects, to name a couple. We also found some fans at Acadia University, which is in Wolville, so we would play at university events. It was in the real glory days of disco, and we were percieved as 'punk', so we were the focus of anybody that felt
disenfranchised by that whole disco singles bar scene. If you looked out into the crowd you would see about fifty Holden Caulfields and fifty girls dressed in ripped jeans and t-shirts.
Robert: Recording a punk single on your own label in 1980 in the Maritimes must have been a difficult task. Please tell me about the recording of this single. How many were pressed? How many of the picture sleeves were pressed?
Kevin: We always thought that we needed to write and record something, just to make us stand out. I saw an ad in the local newspaper for 'Atlantic Audio' on Iselville Street in Halifax. It was $1000 for 1000 45s. I thought that was a good deal. I went into town and set everything up. You recorded and mixed everything in an eight hour session, and they sent the master tape to some place in Toronto. Four weeks later, you had your 45. We each kicked in $250 from our various teenage jobs, and we were off. I remember being terribly sick the day of the recording, you can hear it in the vocal I laid down. I really wasn't able to make much of a sound, but it didn't seem to matter. I took some heat for that vocal, but I also had people come up to me and say that it was really cool, so...whatever. The A-side was originally going to be a song we wrote called I Hate You (And Everybody That Looks Like You) but we decided to do The Clown Song at the last minute. The 'picture sleeve' was a very derivative 'ransom note' style, I pasted it up, had the local copy centre print 1000 copies, and personally folded and glued them together. Took a while! When the 45 was finally delivered, we all sat around and packaged them up. We were so thrilled. A couple local record stores stocked it, it was a novelty to have a real recording band in their midst! We sold the record at gigs, and used a few for promo. We managed to get rid of them all, and it opened a lot of doors for us.
Robert: Did you record any other material? Do you still have any of the original masters or acetates?
Kevin: We had numerous live recordings, since lost, but I do have a cassette tape of us doing all our original material, recorded at a high school music room on a fairly good reel to reel machine. It's worth a listen, we had some good stuff, some funny stuff, and some absolutely dreadful stuff, but we were really just kids, screwing around, thinking we were on to something.
Robert: Please tell me more about the tracks "Clown Song" and "Ovid".
Kevin: Well, like I said, The Clown Song was a last minute choice, I wrote it about 2 weeks before we were set to record. It really started in my bedroom with me turning up my amp as loud as it would go and playing this sort of hypnotic chord progression, Em - C - D. I certainly don't claim to be the only one who has ever come up with that particular progression, and I've since heard it in a lot of songs that I love, such as 'Looking Out Forever' by Paul Westerberg, so I suppose great minds think alike! The lyrics I wrote were heavily influenced by our drummer, Jim Moore. He had and has a great way of cutting to the quick, like instead of saying 'we are breaking up' which is sappy, he would say 'you are dead' Not literally, of course! We didn't intentionally try to have controversial lyrics. I just tried to steer clear of cliches. I remember being very sick of the insipid stuff that populated the radio stations of the day. We would call it 'slug rock'...Nothing has really changed much!
Ovid, which started as Oved...Devo spelled backwards, had its germ in our ex rhythm guitar player trying to play 'Take Me To The River' by The Talking Heads. It was a pretty cool progression, with a nice bass line by Marty, I threw some moody lyrics over top, and that was it. It was, as I recall, a very popular song to play live. I use to wear a trench coat, sort of like Ian Anderson circa Aqualung era,and lurch about the stage, looking rather unhinged.
Robert: Any other stories you may recall?
Kevin: We rehearsed every Sunday at the Lake residence. Their father, Harold 'Fly' Lake, worked evenings and slept on the couch in the family room during the day. I swear to God that he slept through all our rrehearsals, from about eight feet away!
We had numerous exploits that were borderline illegal and hilarious, I remember after one gig, we were packing stuff into a van we used, someone had a beer going, and the local police pulled up. The asked the guitar player if he was 19 (legal drinking age in NS) and he said "Yes, almost". The cop only heard "yes", and let us be. One time, while playing at Acadia University, I wheeled a large stack of dirty food trays and plates onto the stage, as well as a very tall step ladder and addressed the crowd for a couple of songs. A couple of people that had probably been recently introduced to the work of Salvador Dali thought it was 'artistic' and 'outrageous', but it really was just us having fun, being naturally unconventional. I remember telling the guys once after a rehearsal that these were the good old days that we will remember later in life, and it's true. There was nothing like being in a band as a teenager, especially if you were a bit of a misfit. It was like having your own gang. I'm sure if we all sat down in the same room together, these thirty years later, the stories would start to flow. Someone a few years ago, in 2010, wanted us to do a reunion gig and film it, it would have been fun, but logistically it wasn't possible. Maybe someday!