Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
We worked our tails off with that band. We auditioned 30, 40 drummers. We found plenty of players we liked, none of which wanted to do the gig! (Laughs) Finally we found someone we really liked who said he couldn't do the gig and we talked him into it. He was the perfect guy- Don Mulvaney. The other guys thought the music was completely out there, plus we wanted them to commit to rehearsing 4 or 5 times a week. We're going to go for it. Management's goal is to get a major contract. We needed a drummer to commit his entire life to us for a couple of years so we could make it. How many people can do that?
AAJ: Can you describe the music?
RR: The music was the precursor to Queen really. In fact, I think they were somewhat influenced by us. We'd heard they were very interested in the record that we did. I don't know if that's true or not. Rupert Holmes , the 'Pina Colada Song' guy-he was the producer. That summer we rehearsed a whole lot and started playing in this restaurant in Allston on Harvard Avenue. The people who owned the place loved us. We did an audition gig there and they flipped out. That was our first real gig. They asked, 'Would you guys play here four days a week for the whole summer?' We said, 'Sure, This is perfect'.
By the end of the summer there were lines to get in to hear us play. It was instant. My thought was, 'Let's win over the city. That will be a good start.' And by the fall, we had major label people coming up from New York to see the band, one of whom was Tom Worman who worked for Epic Records, who said, 'Hey this is great! Let's sign ya to a big deal'. They signed us fairly quickly to a 90 grand deal! Which in '73 was a lot of money, like six months after starting the band! (Laughs). I mean, multiply that by at least 4 to get today's dollars. Easily more than a quarter million dollar deal now, dontcha think?
Up until the week of our record release, nothing could have gone better for us. The gigs we had were sometimes great and sometimes, the band just was flat. Everything was arranged, and there was a lot of guitar playing for me. I just made sure I had space. I had too much space really. It was almost inappropriate. You would think that things that were highly arranged would always be good, but they're not. It requires a certain kind of energy and 'oneness' for the band to be on, right? We were just so lucky! Every time that it was important, we would have the best night you could imagine. We used to play at 'Jack's' in Cambridge a lot. When we played there, the place would be full two hours before we started, and there was just a mania. You couldn't get in. It would take a half hour for me to get from the front door to the back of the club. After we had recorded the record, but before the record release, the whole executive branch of Epic records flew up. A critical time in a band's career. We had one of the best nights we ever had - we blew the roof off the place! We did three or four encores. People were screaming, but when the music got quiet, you could hear a pin drop. There was a lot of dynamics and we got to those quiet minutes- by the way I'm sure fire laws were being violated - and there was cacophony at the ends of the tunes. The execs went back to New York and decided we were going to be their major push. It was unbelievable.
The record just did not do justice to the band. It was not produced right. There are some good moments on the record, though, but the drum sound is much too wimpy. The engineering wasn't done right-not meticulous enough. Rupert Holmes is a great orchestrator- he really knows his music and did some very nice arrangements. This was before synths. Basically, the sweetening that was one was with a 40-piece orchestra. There are also horns on the record, but those are arrangements. There were seven pieces in the band - and one was a poet. The band was just keyboards-an RMI electric piano only, guitar, bass and drums. There were two girls singing- Lisa and Liz Gallagher and that was the core of the band. Then we had Peter Barrett, who initially started as an 'artistic consultant,' and then we added him doing these recitation things in there..then he would actually start doing some singing, and he was really good. Then we started doing some things that involved play acting and props and stuff like that, which I would never take part in. One of my whole things was, 'I am only here to do the music'. That was perfect, because I was the perfect foil for everything else happening. I said, 'No. I am just going to stand here and play my ass off. That's what I do! OK?' Then everybody said, 'Oh, this is really good-having this guy who is out in left field.' And I had an Afro like, out to here (laughs). I would just stand there and play and all this other stuff was going on. Anyway, Peter eventually became a main part of the band.
AAJ: There were no equivalents around. What was a point of comparison? Zappa, maybe?