Jabberwock


I’m not sure if anyone will care but here is the history of Jabberwock,as best as I can recall. Unfortunately I don’t have any of the recordingsin digital format so these will remain unheard at this point.
Jabberwock began sometime in 1990. The initial line-up consisted of Tony Gregoron bass, Mike Gattis on guitar, Dana Robbins on guitar and Jude Lemrow on drums.I was not yet in the band so my memory of this is quite hazy but I think theyplayed one gig with this line-up.
Sometime in the fall of 1990 I was approached to record an extremely rough demofor the band in my basement. I was playing in a band called 911 at the time withChris Kieta/drums and Jeff Saranacki/bass. This would have been a very shittysounding demo as I had a crappy Vesta-Fire brand 4-track cassette recorder thatwas used.
Sometime during this process Jude suggested that I become the singer for theband. We were a bit reluctant at first as Mike, Tony and I tried to play togetherback in high school and it just didn’t quite work. Anyway, we had one rehearsaland Dana announced that a classmate at WMU was having a party and he lined itup for us to play. This was going to be a totally punk show as I didn’tknow any of their original songs nor the covers they were playing. We playedthe party and it was the beginning of The Couch House. I recall drinking a lotof Bell’s to get through the night as I certainly couldn’t be soberand attempt to sing a bunch of songs that I didn’t know.
Shortly after this Dana left the band and this line-up continued for a while.I remember we continued playing at The Couch House regularly and were sort ofthe house band for a while. We definitely played the night the house caught onfire. The parties kept getting bigger and bigger until they started selling ticketsto them. I remember people offering to buy tickets outside of the house for $20!
At some point the band recorded a 13 song demo on an 8-track 1/4” machine.We titled this Buffalo Plaid and tried to use this to get gigs. We also sentthem around to some labels and got some interest from some indie out of El Segundo,CA but it didn’t work out. These were mostly songs written by Tony andMike and had an early R.E.M. influence, which didn’t really make us fitin with the heavier sounding bands in Kalamazoo.
This line-up also played a festival on WMU’s campus that was organizedby Martin Klemm of Banter Clan. I think Twitch may have played their first gigat this festival. It was a benefit show but I can’t recall what organizationwas the beneficiary. I do remember that Thought Industry was scheduled to playbut Brent had some illness that affected his voice.
Some other gigs that we played were a hemp festival in Bronson Park. We playedearly in the morning, perhaps something like 8 or 9am and made it onto the localnews channel. I mainly remember that it was quite cold and I was quite happythat I didn’t play the guitar in the band at that point. King Tammy alsoplayed this gig but I don’t remember any of the other bands, perhaps JahKings also. We also played at Rick’s American Café but only forthe money. The frat boy crowd barely tolerated us but I seem to remember beingpaid $150 or $200. Now that I think about it I think it wasn’t yet Rick’s,rather some other name. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a satisfying gig in anyway. We also played out of town in East Lansing at Small Planet. This also suckedand it didn’t seem as if there was a scene in East Lansing similar to theone in Kalamazoo.
One of my favorite gigs with this line-up was a show at The Intersection in GrandRapids. Rollinghead had the gig but had to cancel at the last minute and calledus. When we arrived Ferg was there as he hadn’t heard the gig was cancelledfor Rollinghead. This was one of those play the whole night gigs so we were definitelygoing to repeat songs and make shit up. At one point we started playing a funkinfluenced song and I started singing about crack. We lived in a neighborhoodthat had some crack in it so I was just making up lyrics based upon things Ihad heard outside. The offending line was “got your rock, nigger”.The owner of the club got really pissed and kicked us out. He did pay us buttold us we would never play there again.
Our final gig with Mike on guitar was at Club Soda. I’m pretty sure thiswas an opening slot for Rollinghead. I’m not sure if we warranted the gigbut we were very early supporters of Rollinghead and I think they were returningthe favor. We played a new song called Skull Fucking which was a bit differentthan anything else we had done up to that point. A friend of the band had a Devosuit (the yellow plastic one) that I wore at the gig but shed it quite quicklyas it was way too hot! Mike had to leave the band as he had a very young childand moved from Kalamazoo to be with the child and his wife.
At this point Jude, Tony and I tried to find another guitarist. After a whilewe decided that I would play guitar. We started writing new songs rather thanplaying the old ones. This line-up started getting some decent out of town gigsand we recorded five songs in Ann Arbor. I think the recording engineer’sname was Chris Taylor and he was recommended by some of the guys in The Sleestacks,which began our relationship with Leppotone.
Two of the songs from this recording were slated to be the second single on Leppotone.The front side was Forward Sending and the back side was Off the Line. The lengthof these songs required us to have the 7” play at 33rpm and we couldn’tget a decent test pressing. Something was wrong with the DAT mix we had and whenwe sent it to the plant to be pressed it kept coming back with a bit of distortion.Digital distortion, not the cool kind like on Jesus and Marychain’s Psychocandy.We also had some t-shirts made at this point to sell along with the single.
I recall playing gigs with The Sinatras, one of the venues being Pepper’sof all places! What the hell were we doing playing at that place? We got thegig and asked The Sinatras to play with us. I remember Ron didn’t havea guitar for that gig so he played mine. No one really showed for it but it didn’tmatter as the two bands played for each other. We played at least one more gigwith The Sinatras at a Leppotone showcase that I think was at Club Soda.
There were definitely some gigs with The Sleestacks, one at K-College and definitelyanother at some place in Battle Creek. I remember everyone being quite drunkat the end of the night and having a big jam with The Sleestacks.
At the time we were planning on releasing the single and booked our own Midwesttour, more of a mini-tour. We played in Grand Rapids (Reptile House) ,Cincinnati(two nights) Huntington & Charleston, West Virginia and Indianapolis. Thegig in Indy was at The Patio and it went quite well. They invited us back andI know we played at least one more time there.
We played at The Reptile House at least a few times and one of the gigs was anopening slot for Zuzu’s Petals. I think the singer/guitarist Laurie wasdating Paul Westerberg at this point but we didn’t talk about it. I readLaurie’s book recently but Jabberwock didn’t warrant a mention.
Around this time we somehow landed some gigs in Chicago after much perseverance.We played at Lounge Ax (prior to Sue dating/marrying Jeff Tweedy), a shit-holecalled Dreamerz (we went on at 3 or 4am as they had a late license) and The BeatKitchen.
The Beat Kitchen gig was significant as on the way to the gig some of the equipmentthat was stacked in the van fell and the snare drum cracked me on the side ofthe head. I ended up with a concussion, fractured skull and hematoma. As I nowhad a closed head injury and the bones in my right ear-drum were vibrating fasterthan normal I wasn’t in much of a condition to play music. I tried fora little while after this and we even added another guitarist, Mike Meader tothe band. I recall playing a gig with Mike at Missia’s.
Finally, I decided to leave the band. I was in a fog with the head injury andcouldn’t do it any longer. Tony, Jude and Mike Meader continued and definitelyplayed more gigs. Tony took over singing duties and they rehearsed in the housethat Jude and I were living in at the time. This is the end of the Jabberwockstory from my perspective as I don’t recall details after I left the band.
I went on to record some songs with Jude on drums and Dean & Dave VanDykefrom Rollinghead. These sessions were recorded under the moniker of Hoarse. Later,Jude and I joined forces with Chonk and Bob Klomparens from FAQ and formed GiftHorse.