Last year I reviewed The Projectiles debut 45 ”Some Things Never Change” and fortunately for me lead singer and guitarist Dan Frank got in touch and responded with a whole load of important information and pictures of his old garage band.
Q1. What made you decide to form The Projectiles in the first place and how did you all get together?…School buddies? How did the name come about?
I started the group in the spring of 1983 with Jerry Flanagan and Kevin Keefer. Jerry was the brother-in-law of my best friend Marty, and Kevin was my other best friend at the time. Jerry was playing for a few years already, and had just bought his first electric guitar and amp. Kevin wanted to take up the bass and was just learning.
We were all buddies who were into music and I sort of tutored them along.
We started making some noise together and the three of us were literally using the drum machine from a Casio keyboard to play along with. After a couple of months we started getting good and decided a real drummer was needed if we wanted to play out and be taken seriously. As far as the name goes, we were sitting around trying to figure one out and Kevin blurted out, PROJECTILES! So we went with it.
We found this neighborhood guy named Mike Gangale to play drums with us, and then around the fall/winter of ’83 we recruited a good friend of mine, Tony Pilato to play keyboard. We played together in a hippie band called Eleven Authors from 79 to 81. I remember we played a lot of Traffic.
He used to play a Hammond CV but when we got him in the Projectiles he was playing Wurlitzer electric piano, but eventually traded it for a Farfisa organ. Initially we were doing a weird mix of 60s, surf, Cramps, some power pop and new wave stuff. We were trying to be what I call an ”early 80s skinny tie” band. I was always into 60s music, especially British Invasion sounds.
Some guy I knew who went to college here in nearby Brockport, NY lent me a tape of Nuggets, and I couldn’t get enough. That’s when I discovered there was a whole new world of ’60s rock and roll that was virtually undiscovered for me.
I’d known about the Chesterfield Kings at the time too. They were a fairly popular act in town and were getting even more so when they put their first album out. After I’d heard it I decided that was what I wanted to do. I wasn’t just trying to jump on some bandwagon either, I was truly into this stuff, because it combined all the great 60s sounds that I loved, with a healthy dose of attitude.
To this day it is my PASSION. I got everyone else to go along and we started adding more garage band sounds to our repertoire. Mike (our drummer), wasn’t so keen on it though, and he quit in June ’84. He liked the newer 80s sounds, so at that point we recruited Brian Goodman, who had been playing with The Insiders which had just broken up. He was a real fashion conscious guy too. The hair, the boots, pants etc. That was the basic line-up for a good two years, and the one that recorded the first 45.
Q2. You mentioned that the first 45 was recorded after winning some studio time at a ’Battle Of The Bands’ contest. Where was this held and what are your memories of this. What song(s) did the band play?
The ”Battle Of The Bands” or ”Talent Hunt” as it was called, was held at a place in Rochester called Scorgies over a few weeks I think. Scorgies was THE place to play at the time if you were what back then was considered an ”alternative” act or just ”underground”.
I saw lots of great groups there, The Chesterfield Kings, The Lyres, The Vipers played there and we warmed up for them, True West, The Long Ryders, The Ramones. We did a show there once which was incredible, plus a slew of local acts.
The show itself was fairly routine because we played there so much at the time. I think we beat an REM cover band called ”Lower Wolves”. They were pretty good I remember. We would warm up for any act that was travelling through Rochester, no matter what day of the week it was.
I remember at the time we were doing ”Some Things Never Change”, an original called ”Outtasite” which was recorded but it got lost somewhere, plus I think we did ”Five Years Ahead Of My Time”, ”Why Did You Hurt Me” by The Standells, ”Cry,Cry, Cry” by The Unrelated Segments, ”A Public Execution”, ”A Question Of Temperature”. We knew a lot of songs. I have very fond memories of playing at that particular venue.
Q3. Were you pleased with the music the band laid down in the studio which resulted in the 45? How many copies of the record were pressed?
Yeah, we thought it was tremendous in those days. The best thing we could ever muster at the time was two microphones plugged into a 4 track reel to reel, and we played live in the basement. At the time it was considered red carpet treatment to go into Dave Anderson’s attic studio and record with a real mixing board etc. Overall we were very happy.
We recorded seven or eight tunes I think. ”Some Things” and ”I Need Somebody” were what we chose. I probably would have chosen something else looking back now. We pressed 1000 copies of it and did all the artwork ourselves. We actually stuffed those packages by hand because all we got were the records with a white sleeve. The insert and plastic cover were printed and purchased separately.
Q4. In the interview with Kaleidoscope fanzine you all seemed to think that Rochester was becoming lame because the best Clubs were closing. You all seemed to dig Scorgie’s. What was the scene like in those days?
Looking back and compared to today the scene was actually great, and there were lots of bands. The Fadeaways, The Swing Set, The Observers, The New Generation, The Dyno Peptics, The Hidden Charms, New Math, The Presstones, Lotus STP, The Ferrets, Invisible Party. We were friends with lots of those guys, and still are. New Math was the first act we played with at Scorgies and I remember that one well.
We took all this junk equipment with us and smashed it at the end of our set. It was the only time we ever did anything like that. As I mentioned earlier, Scorgies was THEE place to play at the time. Scorgies closed in 1985 after the drinking age went from 18 to 21.
They became a comedy club and changed their name to ”Yuk Yuks” It would be akin to CBGB’s doing the same thing. It was considered a real tragedy at the time. Fortunately, other places took up the slack. ”Idols” became a great place to play, we have some video on You Tube from a show there in ’87.
There was Snake Sisters Cafe, Jazzberry’s which was in a hippie Co-op, Schnozz’, which was kind of a yuppie joint, but they were very accommodating, had a great sound system, and drew decent crowds.
The Country Warehouse was also great. Gigantic stage. I saw The Chesterfield Kings play there several times. We opened for the Lyres once at Idols too. I’m not exactly sure when that Kaleidoscope article came out, but in ’87 things definitely started thinning out, and there were less places to play.
By 1988/89 the only venue we could get into was a real seedy place called Friends And The Players. I swear that place was a shithole, but ”Kaz” the guy who ran it liked us and let us play whenever we wanted. That was the last venue The Projectiles ever played at before we broke up.
Q5. How did the second 45 ’No Good Woman’ come about?
In early ’86 we kicked Kevin out of the band. We had a VERY high profile gig as the feature act that he blew off to go to Toronto with his girlfriend, who was performing in an Irish dance competition. I\’ll swear to this day we never recovered from that.
We were poised to take a huge step forward, and we had to cancel days before the gig. I think we were branded as a bunch of guys who didn’t give a shit.
We had a guy named Mike Abrams come in to replace him and he was great. He wrote good songs too. Then he suddenly decided to become a shoe salesman in Connecticut. This was right at the time we were scheduled to open for The Chesterfield Kings at Idols. I think it was March of ’87. We fought really hard to get that opening slot, and we couldn’t blow it.
We asked Dave Anderson, the guy who recorded the first 45 at Saxon studios to fill in and he reluctantly agreed to ”help us out”. Well, he got so into the band that he stayed on and was our bass player till we split. Dave was very enthusiastic at that point and couldn’t wait to get back in the studio with us.
About 25 songs were recorded and the only ones we finished were on the record. The rest of the project is still in the can. We made that a ”limited edition” EP and only pressed 300. I think it’s a pretty tough one to find these days.
Q6. Why did the band split?
We just got sick of each other I guess. I think some of us had conflicting interests, we were participating in different band projects. Things started going downhill for us in ’88. We felt we were stagnating, and that we weren’t sounding very good so we kicked Jerry out and became a four piece.
Tony moved back to his native New Jersey that year, and we replaced him with Doug Muller, who was really a guitarist who played a little keyboard. Eventually we chucked the keys completely and became a two guitar act. We recorded an album that year, and played in New York City too. It stayed unreleased until 2005 when Screaming Apple put it out on vinyl. It’s definitely the best thing The Projectiles ever recorded.
Q7. Did you or the other Projectiles form/join any other bands afterwards?
I was in a band called The Mental Notes for a year and a half around ’89/’90 while The Projectiles were still together. Those guys were kind of into REM, and I tried making them a little more rock and roll. That didn’t quite work out.
After The Projectiles broke up I was in The Quatloos for a few months, then in January 1994 Kevin Keefer, Brian Goodman and I teamed up with Mike Murray and Rick Waldorfer who were in The Quatloos and started a band called The Refried Teens I had a freakin’ blast with those guys. We really didn’t give a shit, and we were just out to have a good time. We did some originals, and everything from Link Wray to the Dictators.
That group recorded four songs but I lost my copy of the tape, but I’m pretty sure Mike Murray has a copy. We did three originals and a smokin’ version of ”Rosalyn’”.
That band split up in July ’94 when Brian moved to Albany. It was a shame. In ’95 Dave Anderson approached me with an idea for a band called The Riviera Playboys. I told him we should record an album of garage classics and call it ”The Riviera Playboys Greatest Hits”.
We finished that in ’97 and I was with that band until 2002 when I quit, and formed The Franks. The Franks were an extremely talented group, but unfortunately we just lacked direction, and there was real poor communication with my bandmates, so we split up in 2005. I was very depressed about that because I thought it was the best band I’d ever played in up till that time. We recorded 13 songs, all of them tremendous.
Jerry joined The Fertility Rite Brothers in ’88 after we kicked him out of The Projectiles, Tony went back to Jersey to make photographic film, and Brian played with The Quatloos, and a group called Catfight. When he moved to Albany he joined 1313 Mockingbird Lane and Susan And The Surftones.
Jerry, and I got back together in ’06 and are now in a band called Dan Frank And The The True Believers. We do a bunch of ’60s R’N’B stuff like Them, Downliners Sect, Yardbirds, Sonics, and a lot of Chuck Berry. We play out every chance we get.
In March 2009 The Projectiles got back together to do a show celebrating WITR’s ”Whole Lotta Shakin’” radio show’s 25th anniversary, and I must say, we are the most dangerous bunch of 50 year olds you will ever encounter
THE PROJECTILES – All Under Heaven
’All Under Heaven’ was compiled on the LP only release ’The Exploding Underground’…This album is a choice slab of vinyl to track down for rare tracks by The Sick Rose, The Headless Horsemen, The Blacklight Chameleons and The Cheepskates.
I really dig the swirling menace of ’Heaven’ and wish The Projectiles recorded more psychedelic music. I’m pretty sure it’s a sound they could have really matured into.
Dan has also got a highly recommended blog where he uploads music from his own 45s and offers up label scans. It’s not one of those shitty blogs that uploads full albums that I’m sure you know by now I’ll never have linked to my site – Dan’s Garage Of Obscure ’60s Gems.
originally posted 31/01/10