Dateline : ENGLAND, Spring 1992…
NEW KIDS HIT THE (BIG)BLOCK
Formed out of the ashes of two local indie outfits, Doncaster rockers BEACHBUGGY hit the streets in the spring of 1992. Soon-to-be-nearly-semi-legendary frontman Jack Straker (occasionally going under the aliases Lou or Luke – for reasons best known to himself) recruits Jim Vevee and A.D as accomplices in his new venture. A.D has been chief sticksman in Jack’s previous band Bungalow but is now asked to plunk about on bass, whilst Jim – easily the town’s BEST rock drummer – quits noise-merchants Heathers to take up skin-thumping duties (tho not before being ordered to dispose of his trademark fuzzy perm!)
With this line-up in place Jack sets about putting his twin obsessions of cars and girls – in no particular order – to a soundtrack of the best (read: ‘coolest’) rock ‘n’ roll music in town. Working on the assumption that ACE MUSIC + COOL IMAGE = POP SUCCESS, the guys soon have a demo tape recorded and an entire wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts at their disposal. Gigs are usually loud and chaotic but always fun and they give Jack the chance to sharpen up the band’s unique sound. But pretty soon the first line-up change occurs – Paul Maan replaces A.D, who promises to be back for more later.
Dateline : ENGLAND, Fall 1992…
IT LOOKS LIKE A NEW, ERRR… 7″ RECORD(!!)
The new line-up signals a decisive change in musical policy – early songs are dropped and Jack finally decides to GET SERIOUS and put out a proper record. The self-funded label Ostrich GT is formed and debut single “Can’t Get Enough” released. It’s the perfect calling card for Jack’s rapidly developing Hot Rod aesthetic (“I’ve been around / The fuzz ran me downtown / They say I ran a red light / Oh well, I guess they were right”). The single sells well at early gigs and a follow-up is soon issued. “Chrysler 440” continues the street racing theme while B-side “Fuel Injection (it’s better)” is a rodder’s wet dream (“I got a big block Ford / It had a carburetter / Now I’ve got fuel injection / It’s better”). Jack’s occasional Ostrich Club nights see them develop a loyal following and a growing reputation as they headline their own gigs and support some bigger names.
Dateline : ENGLAND, 1993 thru 1995…
BB HIT THE STREET (IN A TRAILER?)
Gigs become more frequent and widespread and the initial local following grows as the guys start to infultrate the UK college circuit – usually dragging a bunch of loyal fans along for the ride. In the process they play the first of the soon-to-be-nearly-infamous ‘trailer’ shows – turning up outside other bands’ gigs and playing impromptu sets to the queuing crowds from the back of a truck or trailer. It’s a great way to get the band heard by the COOLEST kids in town but, as they soon discover to their annoyance, the door receipts are lousy. Despite this, the guys manage to put up the cash for a third self-financed single: “General Electric Pilot” sees another shift in emphasis – the beefed-up production pre-empts the sound of their later twin-drum attack. Oh, and another line-up change, as Joe Robo takes over bass-plunking duties and ‘Rocket’ Ron Haslam arrives to sing back up.
Dateline : ENGLAND & USA, 1996 thru 1998…
BB IN THE USA
With little serious record company interest to date, the guys take the initiative and make up a handful of demos of their latest recording “Firebird Special”, sending them out to their favourite record labels. US indie Sympathy For The Record Industry get to hear this, immediately issue it as a 7″ single in the USA and follow it up with a full-length CD album “Unsafe.. At Any Speed”. “Unsafe” brings together their last couple of singles with a bunch of new recordings and is a hit on the US underground/college circuit so the guys head across the pond for a handful of gigs. Moderate US success follows but, with no UK distribution and an indifferent UK music press, “Unsafe..” fails to make a dent in the domestic market. A further single “Ya Just A Little Punk” follows, this time on indie 555 label, but the lack of interest in the UK press is compounded by Jack’s (and occasionally Jim’s) increased moonlighting with a BIG famous rock band.
Dateline : CHICAGO, 1999 thru 2001…
CHICAGO, ERRR… NOW!
“Musical differences” and a wish to devote more time managing Team BEACHBUGGY eventually lead to Jack leaving the BIG famous rock band (tho not before their leader steals his best ideas) and BB return with a renewed vigour – and did I mention another line-up change? Jim Vevee has already left to spend more time playing BAAAD AAASSS heavy metal so Jack replaces him with TWO whole drummers – ‘little’ Bill Vevee (Jim’s lil’ bro) and Johnny Napolis.
Jack then buys the guys some decent race suits (at last!) and a bunch of raucous shows follow, one of which is witnessed by former Creation records boss, friend of the former Prime Minister and then Poptones impresario Alan McGee. McGee offers to put out the band’s first UK album and before long BB find themselves holed-up in the Chicago studio of celebrated producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Big Black, some other dorks you’ve never heard of). The resultant album “Sport Fury” is a triumph – the ultimate expression of the BB ethos and the perfect balance between smart wit and cool attitude.
More gigs follow, the line-up changes again (spotted a pattern yet?) – as Robert ‘Quincy’ Quinn takes over bass plunking – and the press attention steps up a gear. The guys rack up positive reviews in Kerrang! and NME, and Jack gets to show off all his cool gear in one of those specialist (read: ‘dorky’) guitar magazines (Go Jack!). They even get to play live on TV to promote one of their ever-more-frequent London gigs. “Kickin’ Back” and “From The South” are issued as 7″ singles and the 5-track “Kickin’ Back ep” collects together the lead track, a couple of B-sides and some new songs on one CD. Things are looking pretty good in CAMP BEACHBUGGY.
Dateline : ENGLAND & USA (again), 2002 thru 2004…
BB BUZZ BACK … THEN BUZZ OFF
‘Little’ Bill leaves then re-joins, Al B. Kirkey takes over on bass and the second drum set is now being hit by B.C. Banks. Poptones offer to put out another album and, with a bunch of new songs ready to roll, the guys take the first available flight to Chicago and re-aquaint themselves with that nice Mr Albini. Ten days later they emerge with a new album “Killer-B”, which follows on from “Sport Fury” and further hones the BB sound, attitude and aesthetic. If anything, “Killer-B” is BETTER than “Sport Fury” (hard to believe, I know!) and whilst “Killer Bee” and “Dirty Mouth” are obvious singles, the whole album – artistically at least – is a well accomplished success.
This time tho, press attention is muted as Poptones fail to adequately promote the album: the momentum established by “Sport Fury” begins to wane and sales are ultimately disappointing. It’s no surprise therefore when Jack parts company with Poptones and eventually with most of his band – tho a handful of shows nevertheless follow. Line-ups vary from show-to-show – original bassist A.D briefly returns to the drum stool, which is also sometimes occupied by Bert Fourman and Danny Sicks, and bass is occasionally plunked by Paul D – but they still manage to record and release “Nineteen” as one side of a split single with Huddersfield band Scaramanga Six before Jack retreats to consider his options.
Dateline : ENGLAND, Fall 2005…
RETURN OF THE JACK*
Jack devotes much of the next year to Walker – his new project with Paul D and, depending on which day of the week you catch them, either ‘little’ Bill or ‘big’ Jim VeVee, but the hiatus from BB doesn’t last long. By 2005 he’s back writing and making a racket with original BB accomplice Jim Vevee. By the summer Jim has helped Jack work up a new batch of BEACHBUGGY songs and they’ve soon put together a whole new band (well two bands, to be precise). New recordings are planned and a fresh set of gigs are announced. BB are BACK ON TRACK.
Dateline : SCUNTHORPE, Spring 2006
THE END OF THE ROAD…?
The optimism doesn’t last long as Jack issues another P45 to Jim VeVee shortly after the band played a show at the Pinstripes and Pistons day in Scunthorpe, UK (the glamour!). Since then they’ve continued to play together after Jim became a permanent fixture behind the Walker drum set but it now appears almost certain that BEACHBUGGY have run their last quarter mile.
Which, if you’ve read this far I’m sure you’ll agree, can only be a… (wait for it, wait for it…) Very Bad Thing!
Marshall A. Quinn
Okay, so that’s the TeamBB version of how Jack bullied a bunch of reprobates with no discernable talent into forming a kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll band. But I may have made some of it up so the following is the ‘official’ band biography that once appeared on the now-defunct BEACHBUGGY website. This is guaranteed to be 110% nearly accurate (except the bits that Jack made up)….
I guess you might have been wondering just where and how the guys in BEACHBUGGY met, and why, against all their better judgement and cries of “don’t do it, PLEASE don’t do it” from all around them, the guys made the decision to get ‘Team Beachbuggy’ onto the startline at all.
It’s no secret that these guys love most things with a motor, better still a BIG MOTOR. Cars, motorcycles, boats, planes, trucks whatever as long as it’s got a motor, so that’s where their story begins.
Let’s go back a couple of years, Jack (that’s Straker, guitar and vocals) was running a 1960 Ford Galaxie on the street at night, big block V8 powered with a set of fresh whitewalls, and working as an auto mechanic by day to pay the bills. Jack wanted to go racing, to see what he and the car could do at the track, so he began dragracing the Galaxie most weekends. This is where Jim (Jim Vevee, drums) comes in, y’see Jim also worked as a mechanic albeit for a rival auto shop in the same town as Jack, and although Jim couldn’t afford to race, he could afford to crew, and so he would be at most of the dragmeets that Jack raced at working as crew on a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner owned and driven by a friend of Jim’s called Ricky Pearson from Dallas, Texas USA.
Now it’s gonna get a little complicated from here on in so try and stay with me ok, Jack already knew Ricky, well actually he knew Ricky’s car the ‘Plymouth’, since he’d had a few late night street races with the ‘Plymouth’, Ricky coming out on top two to one so far. So when Jack saw the ‘Plymouth’ at the dragstrip he just had to go say ‘hi’ and introduce himself as the guy with the Ford Galaxie. An instant friendship was struck between Jack and Ricky and of course here’s where Jack meets Ricky’s mechanic JIM VEVEE (Jim has a brother, but we”ll hear more about him later).
So Jack and Jim start hanging out together in bars, swap meets and the like, gettin’ drunk, talking bull, y’know what I mean. Jim lets slip that he has a drumset, Jack’s got a guitar, so whadya know they figure it’d be fun to get a band together to play at the drags. Word spread like a bush fire at the track, and before you could say something very quickly Maan (Paul Maan, bass guitar) the track DJ had installed himself into the backseat with a bass. If only their ability matched their enthusiasm! But then none of the great bands could play their instruments . . . . . . . . . . .right?
So the three of ’em get together and start making strange noises and a few weeks later play their first show as BEACHBUGGY, met with lots of whoopin’ and a hollerin’ at the track bar.
So far we’ve got Jack, Jim and Maan, three guys with gasoline in their veins out lookin’ for action. Time to mention ‘THE PIT STOP’. This was a club set up by the guys a few summers ago, the guys would set up their drums and guitars next to their cars in the pit area at drag meets and play a few songs between races! Pretty neat huh. Well they were soon shut down by track officials who said it was getting a little dangerous having a whole bunch of people watching the band while race cars are zippin’ by around them, so instead they took to showing up unannounced at car club meets away from the track, complete with portable generator for power, and playing in the street, of course wearing safety helmets in case of an accident during one of their songs.
It was around this time the guys started playing outside their favorite bands’ shows too, including SONIC YOUTH, PAVEMENT and ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT.
People seemed to dig what the guys were doing, so much so that they decided to cut a record as soon as they could, and so came ‘CAN’T GET ENOUGH’, ‘CHRYSLER 440’ and ‘GENERAL ELECTRIC PILOT’.
Just after the release of ‘General Electric Pilot’ Maan began to have money problems and time problems. Working two jobs and spinning discs at the track at weekends didn’t leave much time for for racing the ‘Beachbuggy’, so he told the guys he was gonna have to hang up his helmet.
By now the band had met and played with lots of other bands so getting someone to fill up Maan’s safety helmet (!) wasn’t that much of a problem, although the guys were sad to see him go.
Meet Joe (Joe Robo, new bass guitar), one time bass player with Mexican surf trio ‘The G T Four’, who sadly split, which was great news for ‘Beachbuggy’, and he had the correct size head to fit into Maan’s safety helmet!
It was around about this time that Ricky Pearson, remember him from earlier, had a bunch of friends visiting from Dallas. It just so happened that one of these guys was Ron Haslam, known as ‘ROCKET RON’, an english guy who’d gone to Dallas a few years earlier and was currently working as a motorsports commentator for Cable TV in the Dallas area. Ron was hoping to return to England in a few months time and was gonna move into Ricky’s place for a while, he told Ricky that he loved the ‘Beachbuggy’ and that since the band had a definite trackside feel to them maybe they’d like a race commentator for their shows! Ricky told Jim, Jim told Jack and Joe, and Rocket Ron joins the team.
Ok, we’ve now got Jack on guitar, Jim on the drums, Joe on bass and Rocket Ron as the show commentator. The guys have cut a couple of records which have been sold at shows, but how about a ‘proper’ record that people can buy in the stores. Two new songs are recorded, ‘MIDWEST’ and the soon to be semi-legendary ‘FIREBIRD SPECIAL’. Five cassette tapes are made and sent to the five favorite record labels that the band would like to be involved with. A few short months later and ‘FIREBIRD SPECIAL’ hits the shelves, produced by the amazing SYMPATHY FOR THE RECORD INDUSTRY, a company owned and controlled by the corrupted lifeless brain of a man whose empire would not exist without the income spewed from his lowlife pornography publishing subsidiaries. Don’t take our word for it, check out his back catalog and current releases (records we mean!).
Aswell as the ‘Firebird Special’ 7″ single, a full length record was talked about, and subsequently released on SYMPATHY FOR THE RECORD INDUSTRY titled ‘UNSAFE . . . AT ANY SPEED!’.
The group continued to play wherever and whenever they pleased, thanks to their portable generator and a new CUSTOM BUILT FLATBED TRAILER on which to setup their instruments, but more changes were on the way, somehow the band had to have MORE POWER.
You want more power? Then get TWO drummers they said. Who are they anyway?
Time to meet ‘LITTLE BILL’ (Bill Vevee, second drums), Jim’s younger brother and a pretty snappy drummer too. They wanted more power and that’s just what they got, the two drummer setup worked perfectly and was pretty loud, although their rehearsal space was getting a little cramped (Yes they do actually rehearse!). Within a few weeks of finalising the two drummer setup, Jim had a motorcycle accident, it wasn’t really life threatening but was still a pretty bad time and messed him up quite a bit. So much so in fact that since the accident Jim hasn’t been able to play his drumset properly, only being able to play bad heavy metal, which sadly has meant him having to give up playing for the ‘Beachbuggy’. Wipe those tears away now,’cos Jim is still around, being involved as a technical consultant in a purely advisory capacity. Jim no longer playing was a bit of a blow since he and Jack had been there from the beginning and were close friends, fate had dealt them a cruel blow!!
Anyway, the two drummer setup had worked so successfully that the guys at the back decided to try to replace the irreplaceable Jim Vevee, and so their quest began . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The guys at the back didn’t have to look very far in their quest to replace the one and only (!) Jim, Little Bill took over the drumming pole position spot with the new guy moving into second position. That guy is JOHNNY NAPOLIS, a former professional trick skateboard king who constantly keeps reminding us how he used to date a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins. Johnny knew Rocket Ron from way back, so the guys knew that if Ron said that Johnny was ok, then he was ok.
Jack has since sold the Galaxie and replaced it with a JENSEN INTERCEPTOR, powered by a 440 c.i. Chrysler motor, and Little Bill has 1965 Mustang, straight six powered with a four speed manual transmission. Rocket Ron is a local celebrity commentator since his T.V. work, and that’s about where we are now in spring 1999.
Beachbuggy have got new records on the way, check out ‘RACE DIVISION’ for news, and will continue to show up in the most unexpected places . . . . . . so lookout. . . . Here’s more of the story. . . .
Ok, it’s now spring 2000 and a few things have happened to Team Beachbuggy in the last year so here goes.
Spring ’99 and the two drummer set up was working real well, word was beginning to get around that the group weren’t actually that bad. They played a few trailer shows over the summer, some in the dry and most in light to torrential rain! but no matter, the team just kept a rollin’. Towards the end of the summer they began thinking about recording a new full length record, and so got new songs together and also thought about where they wanted to record. Around about this time Jack parked up the Jensen in his mom’s garage due to insane fuel consumption figures not at all helped by his somewhat heavy right foot . . . . . and the car has been there ever since, although Jack does visit his Mom regularly, starting and warming up the car now and again while he’s there . . . . . .
Anyhoo back to the story, the group played what shows they could where they could, and by chance kinda got seen by some kind of agent, a booking agent that is, not a secret agent. This meant that Beachbuggy got to play slightly better shows at slightly nicer places for slightly more money then they were used to . . . sometimes even being paid enough money to cover their travel costs . woo hoo!
The group played a short tour of shows just before the Christmas holiday, see Tour Diaries, and began to finalise recording details for the new record. A guy with a pretty strong reputation for recording some of their favourite records was considered, he’s called Mr Steve Albini, but the group really didn’t expect to be able to put enough money together to make the deal, they sent him their previous record anyway.
A couple of telephone calls by Joe Robo to Mr Albini and they had a deal!! I guess he liked the records they sent him. Such was the deal that the whole band, the full team two drummer set up were headed for Chicago USA late January for one week to record a new LP. woo woo hoo!
There is a write up about the recording in the tour diaries section.
Remember Jim VeVee, ‘little Bill’s brother, well at the time of his motorcycle accident way back the cops couldn’t figure out what went wrong and called in the experts to check out the scene . . . step forward Mr Robert Quinn . . . ‘Quincy’. Quincy was with the team of forensic guys who worked on the scene of Jim’s crash, and became a big fan of the band, so much so that he actually played bass guitar with Beachbuggy on tour in late 99, as Joe couldn’t make it.
Now when the team returned from Chicago their double agent guy had booked a few shows but it was apparent that all was not well with Joe Robo. The first couple of shows were good but then without much warning Joe decided he could no longer wear a team shirt, this actually occurred mid song at a show when Joe simply removed his guitar and race shirt and left the stage! . . . . . lucky for the team that Quincy was in the audience and he duly leaped onto the stage, put on the team shirt that Joe had disguarded and finished the song and the show . . . . . . . . what a guy! . . . . . and that’s the way it’s been for a while, Quincy now plays the bass guitar for the team, whilst still working in the forensic lab during the day.
Another short tour of shows around the United Kingdom went really well, again see Tour Diaries, and now the band are trying to finalise details for a release for the new LP recorded by Mr Albini in Chicago.
If you were wondering ‘little’ Bill still has his Mustang, he uses it even less now than Jack uses his Jensen!, I think he keeps plants in it . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hopefully the new LP will be available later this year, or at least a single from the same recordings, and then who knows?
[…] The Auto-Buggy-ography details the ups and downs and the (numerous) ins and outs that have shaped the band we now know as BEACHBUGGY. This is the full, no-holds-barred story of one man and his quest for the perfect rock ‘n’ roll / hot-rod crossover sound. […]