The Styrenes

by Paul Marotta

"Thirty Four" Neither Mirrors nor the Eels liked to play songs like this so I had to start my own band. I've always been interested in many kinds of music and I've written and recorded a lot of music like this. Nonetheless, live, Styrenes were a high speed rock band with a loud 18-song 32-minute set. In retrospect I think the decision not to play this type of music out live was hasty.

"Draw The Curtain" Mirrors used to play this song. Herman's Hermits must have been on Jamie's turntable. Around the time of this recording Jim Jones just stopped coming around. There was dissension in the ranks. Mike Antle, Jones's replacement, and Anton wanted Jamie to kick me out and take over the band. The coup was unsuccessful, though, Fier moved to New York and we haven't heard from him since. Danny Foland, two years too late to rejoin the Eels, replaced him in Styrenes. We started to get serious playing out. Even though Danny played with us from the summer of '77 through the Spring of '79 there are only a couple of recorded performances. He somehow managed to never be around for recording.

"Mr. Crab" John Morton came over with the lyrics. He said that the artist Royce Dendler had walked him around New York and told him to write them. I wrote the music and we made this recording a few weeks later, in the fall of 1972. Since then this song has been a part of our live shows and with different line-ups, we recorded it four or five times.

I had made half a dozen little noise makers, Styrene-o-phones, a simple noise generator constructed from the circuit board of a fuzztone, some wire and a few switches. There were always plenty of extra fuzztones lying around. (ed. note: The Styrene-o-phone is heard between Styrenes tracks on TWDT, as in the last 1:15 of Mr. Crab)

"You're Trash" At the beginning, Styrenes was simply a vehicle for my songs, though we never played this one out live. Then we started playing Jamie's songs which brought a whole other dimension. Then we learned all the Eels' songs and a bunch of stuff by John Cale, Terry Reid, Carla Bley, The Beatles. We played most of The Pagans' songs. We would played songs written by any member of the band. It never mattered who wrote a tune. I wanted Styrenes to be a band that was willing (and able) to play different kinds of music; repetitive, minimal and arty, psychedelic, noisy, punky, boozy, bluesy and abstruse.

"Pleasure Boating" After the Eels broke up, John and Davy played with us, each for a few months but not together. At the same time we had a greaser tenor sax player. He had a hard, raunchy sound, really cool hair, and most of the time, good drugs. One time, though, he brought us some vile hallucinogen that he claimed was acid but just made us really sick. After I recovered, I canned him. This is one of Dave E's later Eels songs. Anton hated everything about this song - his usual reaction.

"Grey Haired Rats" Playing piano in a rock band sucks. I've had just about every kind of electric piano ever made. They all stink. More than once, I've had to play some strange approximation of a piano provided by a stupid promoter. One time the piano was 175 feet from the stage. (No you can't move it). Once the "piano" was actually an organ (Hey, it's got keys, what's the problem?) On top of that, keyboard instruments were ridiculed by just about everyone in our crowd it seemed. Too much like British prog-rock or worse, the Doors. Peter Laughner once told me pianos are OK, sometimes, but the pedals are only for squares.

"Nineteen Sixtyseven" This live-to-cassette rehearsal recording was made when tensions in the band were at their peak. After I endlessly pestered a powerful booking agent, he came to one of our rehearsals. We played like shit and he left in disgust. I chased him down the stairs, yelling that he didn't see that we just had an off night. Over the next few months, things settled down. All the bad boys left the band, we added drummers, sax players, guitarists, and with the stable core of Jamie and me, we began the second phase, playing out and making recordings until we left Cleveland at the end of 1979.

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