Interview with Tom

By: Ted

On December 1, 1997, Tom and I were driving around buying parts for his new computer. We had a microcassette recorder on hand and I decided it was time for an impromptu interview. The following has been edited from its original to make me seem like I have perfect diction. Tom's portions are unedited.

This is pretty long, so grab yourself some dinner before you start....

What was your earliest musical endeavor?

The very earliest was back in 1978 or thereabouts. Just as kind of a thing to do, we started dressing up like KISS. And, even though I was the only one that really looked like Gene Simmons with the makeup on, I chose to be Peter Kriss, the original drummer for KISS, now returned after the death of Eric Carr due to Satanic consequences. He sold his soul to the devil and died of cancer. He got what he asked for, I suppose. Peter Kriss was cool because he had the long hair in the back and the rose tatoo on his arm. But anyway, we would dress up like that and I would take a chair and then anything I could find that would be, like, drums. And we had this little, it's kinda like an outside Ping Pong. It came with a little soft tennis ball and these round drums to hit it back and forth with. And I would set those up and they would sound like pretty good drums actually. Like roto-toms or something, but you couldn't tune them. And I would be Peter Kriss, and we would play around. So that was my very first band experience outside of the school band where I played the clarinet.

What year was this?

'78 or '79

Tom Jammin'
Tom with clarinet, October 1977.

You started playing clarinet in October '77.

Yeah, the picture you see on the 'net was when I first got the rental clarinet and I was trying it out. I didn't know anything, any notes or anything. I just was trying to blow through it and make a sound for my mother.

Tom and grandfather
Tom and his grandfather.

Your family was no stranger to musical talent.

Well, my grandfather has always played the saxophone. He never did learn to read music, but he could play anything by ear. He was in a band with a lot of his friends who he still sees now. He sees one or two of them. They all play the sax. I think the keyboardist has since passed and several other members of that band have passed away. He actually used to be on TV. If you go the beltway, 495 in Washington DC, you come across 450, and there's a hotel on the inside part of it, I don't know if it's the Sheraton or what. I'd have to go drive by there. But, that used to be a TV studio in one of those rooms and that's where they would go, and they would broadcast live around the DC area. I can't really remember what they called themselves. It was like, Doug Porter and...

Was this a local TV station?

Oh sure, I mean this was the early days of TV. They didn't have National Television I'm sure, and everything was broadcast live anyway.

What was your next musical endeavor?

When we moved from Pasedena to the Broadneck peninsula.... This was early in the school year. This was about July or August, maybe September of 1979. I met some friends at school, this was sixth grade for me. Steve Nehring, he's in the picture, he had some friends: Stewart Lundstrom who was a year younger than us, Dave Moore who was a year older than us, so he ended up class of '85, we were '86, Stewart was '87 if he graduated on time. I'm not sure if he did. There was Bob Corbin. I feel like I'm missing somebody, but I think that was it. And we all formed a band called "Skyway" [Update 2/23/2007: Former members of Skyway have formed a new group Kronnix].

You should find everybody in those yearbooks that I have. Stewart now has a couple of kids, and every one of them has gone on to have more successful bands than we ever had together. You'll have to talk to Dave Moore for the complete chronicles of that. He's good at that. He can go through everything and tell you details. He's like the storyteller in Roots. He has to start from the beginning and go all the way through.

Like Rafiki?

No, that was the "Lion King."

What exactly was Skyway's claim to fame?

Skyway's claim to fame was getting together. We didn't have any equipment, but we always taped every session of our meetings. We would meet...Of course we couldn't drive, we were only 11 years old so we had to get rides to band meetings. What would happen, we would sit around for an hour or so and goof around and talk about what we're going to do and how we're gonna write music and what songs we're gonna sing. Probably what we were gonna dress up like, and if we're gonna have makeup or not and that kind of thing. It was in the planning stages completely. Every one of those sessions was taped. Even a lot of the phone conversations were taped. One party would know about it, the other would not. There's a lot of juicy stuff on those tapes, but I don't know who has them. Either Steve or Dave, or maybe Stewart has some, but they rigged up some way with a tape recorder and another extension of recording conversations.

I guess to get back to your question... Our claim to fame would be going out and playing games after we were done with our meetings. Then our parents would wonder what we've been doing except for playing. And we had to explain that we're very serious about our music, even though we don't play anything and we don't talk about it the whole time.

Were any albums planned?

Oh, many. There were Journey-like albums I suppose. Album covers. Steve's brother was a very good artist. He would design the album covers occassionally. If he was in the mood. Of course, he was the typical older brother. Sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't. I believe he's an artist for Disney now.

Just about everyone from Skyway has gone on to bigger and better things?

Yes. Steve's actually into landscaping now. Dave is working the night shift at the A&P. Stewart, last I heard he was trying to buy into a T-shirt shop. Up in Pennsylvania or somewhere around here. Bob got married years ago. I think he's working for the State Highway Administration changing lightbulbs in streetlights. This is all the truth.

Tom went on to graduate from St. Mary's with a bachelors degree in psychology which is just about as useful as T-shirt designing. And now he's in Seminary studying Theology and Divinity studies. And on the constant look for computers that work, and cars that work. And parts for those.


Which band came next, the "Unnamed Band", or "Thrust"?

Well, Thrust actually came next. Skyway went on for years developing into a band that actually had instruments. I could go on and talk about the development of our equipment list. Which went from those $15 Music and Arts Center PA systems to serve as amplifiers that had the cardboard in the back. You could take off the cardboard and see all the wires, not very powerful. Used guitars found in the newspapers.

I remember the most exciting moment we had was we called Bob up to see if he could come over for a band meeting, if he could get his mom to drive him. And he said he couldn't because they were going out to BUY A BASS GUITAR AND AN AMPLIFIER! OH you shoulda heard the cheers. That was the exciting, exciting moment.

I went on to buy my first drum set during that period. And this is actually a kind of disturbing story. If you know my father, this makes perfect sense. But we called this guy named Jonas, I forget his last name now, but he owns a chain of music stores in the Annapolis area now. I think Stewart has actually started working with him. I think he actually has a music shop in Annapolis. That's the latest thing actually that I heard from Dave Moore. Well, at the time, Jonas was pretty unknown and he had his music shop in his basement of his parent's house. And I answered to an ad in the paper and my dad drove over with me and being the salesman that he is, he had to play a trick on this guy. We went in and it was a nice drum set. A Ludwig, very quality three piece set. Which I regret to this day that I ever sold. Cause every drumset that I've had since then has been crap. He told this guy that he was from the IRS and he wanted to see his license and he wanted to see his paperwork. And [Jonas] got scared. And he finally had to tell him he was just an Insurance Agent, and he was just pulling his leg. The guy was so mad that he said, "Oh wait a minute, I forgot to give you this bass pedal. I was gonna give you this one." And he switched bass pedals and he ended up giving me this broken bass pedal with no spring in it. So for the first four or five years I played the drums, I never had the advantage of that spring in the bass pedal. I always had to use my heel. Like you would tap your foot, you know like, to music. I couldn't just use the ball of my foot and lift my knee. I had to keep my leg on the floor. And so I used a totally different muscle group. So when I finally got a good bass pedal it was a total re-learning experience for my brain. And it was very tiring for my leg. I can tell you that. Using my ankle to play the drums. But anyway, if you know my dad, that makes total sense.

Thrust came about in ninth grade which was about 1982 and 1983. Sam Hardman joined Steve Nehring and myself. We didn't have any of the other members of Skyway. Now, the purpose of this was to get together and play and as I remember to get ready for the ninth grade talent show which we were very involved in. Now, Sam was interesting because he knew songs. I mean he didn't just know "Jesse's Girl" from taking guitar lessons, like Steve. He knew those chords where you could play like with two fingers. And he had all those guitar boxes like the reverb and...the effects pedals. The phases, and all those pedals. I can't name them now. He's the first guy that we heard that would play with us that sounded like a real rock and roll band. It was just like the first time I joined the choir at church with Dave Moore. We also had a side music effort with the youth choir. It was Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park. And that's the first time I heard people my age singing harmonies. I felt like I was floating to the ceiling. It was that kind of ecstasy, you know. It was, like, exactly the same thing the first time I heard this guy playing with effects. It was like a real band. I felt like it was KISS, and Steve and I were just blown away. But [Sam] knew all the Judas Priest songs. So, in a way it took us in a new direction, playing with a guy who actually knew some songs.

So what happened was we ended up playing in the ninth grade talent show. We played "Headin' Out to the Highway". Sam wrote a song. We called it "School Sucks", or "School" or something like that. We got the very beginning, the drum introduction from a song from KISS. I think it was "Love Gun." Where it goes plunk-a plunk-a plunk-a plunk-a (repeat). And he would go into his guitar. We had written words to it, but meanwhile Mike Rommel joined the group with synthesizers. Now Mike at the time was 15 years old and he had already won the State Championship for piano at his age. So we were very happy to have Mike with us, and he also was into synthesizer technology. He was actually, a genius, intellectually. He wrote words to the song that, I could be mistaken, but, I swear were picked up by Saved By The Bell and used for that show. I think it's the same words that they use for that show. "When I wake up in the morning/My alarm gives out a warning" and all that. I would almost swear that he wrote that. I remember wearing a suit and vest for that. And gloves, winter gloves. That was my costume. But anyway, we did well, and signed autographs at the end of it. And we also took part in skits after that, during the same talent show. And actually the three of us, Steve and Sam and I were in a play together called, "Arsenic and Old Lace" and I played Mortimer Brewster, the lead. And Steve played a cop, officer Brody or something like that and Sam was, well, somehow, I can't remember right now what he did. So we were very into the arts back in ninth grade. That was pretty much the peak of Thrust.

In the tenth grade, a guy named Greg Peace, and Brian d'Haviland, that was his name. Very energetic guys, had been playing together, were into more Crack The Sky type of music. And they wanted to form a band with Steve and Sam and me and... I can't remember exactly how we switched around the guitars, but Greg was playing bass, and somehow between Steve and Sam and Brian they worked out the guitars. And at one time I think maybe Steve even left the group and it was possibly Mike Rommel playing with us, and I was playing drums. It came to the point, we had practiced a few times and I decided I didn't want to continue with it. And Sam didn't want to do it if I didn't want to do it. I didn't really understand what the goals were that Brian and Greg had. I didn't see any future in it. So, we ended that pretty quick and we never did have a name for that group.

There was some controversy over the name "Thrust".

See, we were in ninth grade, and all Thrust meant to us was like a powerful rocket engine or something. But my mother and everybody else would just, like, think it was the grossest thing that we could do, and we're like, "What?!" And I remember Sam got a...back then, those Baseball shirts that had Van Halen, and whatever on them. He got one that said, "Thrust." And we made a video with my Dad as cameraman and interviewer. And we played to the record "Heading out to the Highway" I think by Judas Priest. I didn't really know it back then. That was before we really started practicing. So it was more lip-syncing than anything, and the guys didn't even have their amps turned on. I was the only one who you could really hear. And you could hear somebody who didn't know the part, so it was interesting. He would wear that shirt to school "Thrust" in Junior High, and of course you'd get some snickers, but we really didn't understand. I didn't understand what they were laughing at. "What!? It's like a plane!"

Were there any other famous bands at your High School?

There was this band that was comprised of members who were a little older than us, but to us they were fantastic. They played at all the school dances, and they really seemed to have it all together. Especially the equipment, of course, which could have been all rented, but we didn't know that. They were called "Tilt". As in a pinball game, "Tilt". Now, we [Thrust] were auditioning for the 9th grade talent show that we were eventually in, and we had setup on the stage. We didn't have a lot of time we didn't have a lot of space. We were set up before the two teachers, the advisors of the project who were auditioning people, auditioning acts. And it was our turn to go on, and who should come in the door, but the members of "Tilt" to watch us audition. Now if that doesn't make you nervous. I mean imagine if say, Stanley Jordan, or somebody that you really admired comes in and wants to listen to you play. I mean, are you gonna be in your 100% mentally prepared for what you're doing? Well, Sam was there and Steve was there. I don't think they cared either way. They just wanted to play. They had more of an artist's attitude toward the whole thing. Well, here's me: I had lost the wing nut that holds on one of my cymbals, the crash cymbal that I had. And I think at this point I had traded drum sets around and I had a really cheesy looking set. The quality just wasn't there, but it was a big pieced set, and that's all I cared about. And what happened was, we were trying to set up and we auditioned with "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton except for, we didn't play... we didn't sing it. We had to explain to the teachers, of course, that we weren't gonna play this for the show. We didn't want to do anything to help Cocaine. You know, we didn't want to sell that to the student body. But anyway. Of course, typical Tom Moran. You know, sittin' there playing the drums and the whole cymbal fell off the stand. You know, I stopped playing and tried to pick it up, and Steve and Sam were looking at me like, "What are you doin'?" And, you know, "Oh my cymbal fell, my cymbal fell," you know. I made such a big stupid deal about it and embarrassed them in front of "Tilt". I think that... I don't know how many opportunities that I ruined for people, but I guess you had to be there is the point of that. Heh. Typical Tom Moran thing to do. And the reaction was typical of me too. I couldn't just play it off, or I couldn't keep playing like a real artist would. A real artist will just keep going [like this interview]. But I had to stop the show, and I remember reaching over my drumset, you know, with my feet dangling in the air. Me trying to pick up the cymbal on the stand, instead of getting up and going around, of course.

How about the famous Bass Drum incident.

Oh yes, well, later on, in tenth grade, about the time of the Greg Peace/ Brian d'Haviland band, I had joined the marching band at school. I was playing, first year I had played saxophone in the marching band. Every other band we had I would play tenor sax. So actually it must have been 11th grade or 12th grade when I was playing percussion in the marching band and then switching back to the woodwinds, saxophone for all the other bands. Which gave me more access to percussion equipment at school. Anyway, I played the bass drum in the marching band, and I had the "Big One" on. And it's strapped to the back and of course it sits in the front, the load is in your front like a great big belly or something. Well, anyway it throws you off balance and the bass drum incident that you're referring to... We were playing at Glen Burnie High School one night and we were in the back of the bleachers trying to take off our equipment after a show or after marching to the stands and getting ready to watch the first half of the game. And, of course, the hill was slippery and behind the bleachers was a steep hill. And, of course, I slipped all the way down the hill with this bass drum on. It looked worse than it was, really. I was just a little moist afterwards.

Did you audition for any other talent exhibitions?

Well, there was one called, "Encore". This was about 11th or 12th grade. Cory and Dan. Dan was the bassist, Cory the guitar player. Philip Anderson was the drummer and I was supposed to... we were supposed to sing Rush "Subdivisions". And they asked me to do the vocals, although, I can't at this time explain why they chose me. But that's when we were doing... we were rehearsing and we were gonna try out for Encore, this talent show that they had every year, that the drama department would put on. And anybody could do it, you just had to try out. And the story was that we went to try out and we didn't really think about having a PA system. We only had 5 or 10 minutes to do our act and then we had to get off the stage. So I plugged into the microphone that they had set up for the cafeteria. And that wasn't good enough to hear me over the whole band. So I had to plug into Dan's Bass amp. And if you see Dan, he's a pretty big, stocky, kinda tough looking guy. If you don't really know him, you'd kinda be scared of him. So, he was like, "You wanna what?" So I had to plug into his bass amp and the short of it is we got rejected for that. And, I was offered a drumming position for that band, but it never went anywhere. So that was it for that band, I don't think we even had a name. There was a keyboardist we had, very into hats, but I can't think of his name right now. That's about it.

What was the connection between your marching band and Motley Crue?

Well, it was more the saying, "Crue!" C-R-U-E with the little swedish marks over the "U", or whatever. And, of course, the American Sign Language "I Love You" was somehow a Devil sign, so we would always go "Crue!" and that was a way of saying, "Cool!" or "Hey!" You know, that was kind of our "in" percussion way of saying... you know, that was our saying, anyway.

But Larry Rodbell would always wear leopard-skins and bandanas and everything. And if you look at our yearbook picture from 1986 -- we weren't supposed to do this, but the very last second before the shutter opened we all held up our Crue signs and said, "Crue!" So we got away with that one, and it got published. And I was... actually my girlfriend at the time was a percussionist too. She played the snare drum which is a lot cooler than the bass drum, but, you know, what can you say? I was "in" at the time. And they've all gone on to do Percussionist things. Larry Ashone(?) went on to play for the Navy drum and bugle corp. And Andy went on to play in a lot of bands in the Annapolis/Arnold/Severna Park area. He got pretty good, actually. I went and heard him play one time with a band and he's a real pro. Larry Ashone, I don't know if... Larry Rodbell, I don't know what happened with him, but I suppose he's still wearing his bandanas and carrying drumsticks in his back pocket. That was a good time for experimenting with cadence. And I was asked one time to... my friend was the drum major, he was my best friend, and he went on to be an officer in the Coast Guard. But. I was asked to ask him to stop coming to our practices because he wasn't considered "in" in the drum section. Although he thought he was, and he wanted to be. So that was perhaps my first administrative responsibility in the percussion section, was to tell him to quit coming. I don't know if I ever could. But that was the... there's a lot more stories I could tell about our section. Those were the early days, perhaps the best days of my bands.


Excuse me.

Of course, not including Tasteless Choice and everything that came afterwards. Those were the formative periods.

Tell us about one of your most humorous moments.

Well, the most memorable, maybe the one I remember the most is... See, we used to go to band camp. It was a week or two before school started, the end of the summer. And we'd get ready for marching band. We start to learn the steps. You know how it goes. Anyway, the girl I ended up going out with all during 12th grade, she said that during that time, I was "Hot." She thought I was "Hot." See, with my shirt off and everything. That's the only time I've ever been called "Hot."

[laughs like chicken and coughs up discolored sputum]

I didn't have this belly. There's a picture of me somewhere with no shirt and cut-off jeans and I have this... the harness for the bass drum and I'm eating a lollipop. Or, a... No, it was a popsicle. So, that was my "Hot" picture. During my "Hot" week.

If that's not enough for you, then I don't know what is.

Part 2 - The College Years

After High School, in what direction did your musical career take you?

Well, I started taking Music Theory in college at Towson State. But, I was technically "undeclared", but I was a Biology Major. I transferred to Anne Arundel Community College the semester after that and majored in Music, the fine arts. So I continued to take Music Theory and I also took sight-reading... sight-singing which was a part of it. And I remember getting a lot of use out of my Casio, little keyboard.


Oh, yeah. Sure.


Sure. Still in the original case.

Casio VL-Tone
Ted's Casio VL-Tone from the
early Ted Team recordings.

Mine too.

With the instructions, they would fall out, you know, everytime you took it out of the case.

We're at the Exxon gas station on 355.

[bizarre music on the gas station PA]

Sounds like the Disney World monorail or something.

[Ted laughs riotously]

[Tom doing monorail PA voice]

"Please do not lean against the door."

"No Smoking is allowed."

"Por Favor!"

[Ted mocking the gas station PA]

"After you're done filling your car, please stop by the Exxon Tiger Mart, and fill yourself up too!"

"With Cheetos and Coke!"

[Ted yelling out car window]


Do you want to?

No. I want 7-11 bacon cheeseburger big-bite.

For real? Where do we go?

Right there. To the right.

What moved you to move from Towson State to another school?

My girlfriend kept yelling at me.

Which girlfriend was this?

The drummer.

She was mean?

She was very mean.

So you left to try to get away from her?

Well, no. Towson was kinda weird anyway. I didn't know what I wanted to do. So, I thought, "Well, I'll come back home. Go to ACC for a semester and maybe try to go somewhere else." And that's what I did. I went to St. Mary's after that.

[7-11 Break]

We couldn't get the bacon cheeseburger big bite because, we thought it was sausage. But, it still looked like a turd, and as I always say, "That's pretty much all that counts."

The mean girlfriend told you to get out of Towson?

She made me feel like a turd for being there. But, you know, if I even had fun or made any friends, she made it seem like I was being really awful. But she was being worse back in High School, so I don't know what the problem was. I could have stayed. You know. I shoulda. But...

That's what you do when you make decisions based on what a woman says. See they don't mean anything. They just want to be important. And if you try to make them important like that by... by... giving up things that are important to you, you're just gonna lose. You can make them feel important with words, an occasional meaningless action. But anything other than that is a compromise and you will die.

You switched to St. Mary's, and I hear that you were shacked up with a woman in St. Inigoes.


[Screams like a duck]

No. Don't make it sound like that!

What really happened?

Well [clears throat] there wasn't any on-campus housing for me. So, what I did...

Was it because of the way you looked?

Well, I really don't remember it. I probably forgot to apply for it.

[laughs and coughs]

Until like the middle of October I had a basement apartment in some lady's house. And she was too drunk to get a job for herself, so she rented rooms. Her house really smelled. And I found out that... well, she never came out of her room. Her TV was on 24 hours a day, and she was always drunk. And whenever you'd see her, you know, it's like she was sleep-walking or something. Well, she... I thought that the bathroom in the basement and the laundry room were all for my use. But, when I went to do my laundry one time there was all these, like, vegetables in the washing machine. Like somebody had, like, put a pizza in there and washed it. But then I realized she had like thrown up all over herself and then stuck her clothes in there and washed them. And all these chunks of vegetables were in there and I... ew, I can't even remember if I picked them out or not, but it was gross. I found out she was using my bathroom that I tried to keep clean. But, you see, I didn't realize that this was just a foreshadowing. Heh heh heh. Of what I had later to live with. Which you experienced.

Oh yes. I did.

[Ted yells like an old lady]

"What's his problem?!"

Well, not her. Before that.

You know. The one that shared our toilet! The one that....

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! "Is this your Chicken McNugget?!"

[they laugh]

[Tom breathes heavily]

After the lady puked, you then moved into which dormitory?

PG first left. My first fraternity. Yes. Where everybody stared at you really nasty if you... if they didn't know you.

[they laugh]

Well, that's true. We did do that.

Oh, yes. The first couple of days I remember being glared at.

Well, our main problem with your room was the fact that you were movin' your weight set in there. That was kind of an issue for us.


Because there are perfectly good weights over at the gym.

[Ted laughs like duck]

So we're staring at you going, "Huh? He doesn't look like a body-builder."

I just wanted to... You know, I had them down there in the apartment, and I didn't have any place to put 'em.

Ok. Well, we didn't know that part of the story.

Tasteless Choice logo by John Starmer.
Touts us as being "Fresh Spewed" and
having a Net Weight of 600 lbs..

I seem to remember a fateful moment on PG first left when you were banging out a cadence on the concrete block at a hall meeting. I turned to Sean [Dawson] and said, "Sean, I think he's a drummer."

Yes, well see, I had my back up against the wall. And I was... I had my hands turned to my back, and I was kinda beatin' on the wall, unconscious... subconciously or whatever. Not even aware of what I was doing, of course. And... Yeah, this guy... This big tall guy, and this short blonde guy came up to me and they said, "Are you a drummer?" And, I said... probably said something like, "Yeah, well kinda, well sort of, I mean, yeah, well, well, I have a drum set, but... Well, yeah! Yeah, I'm a drummer." You know, something like that. "Well, I don't really know". Something. Do you remember what I said?

Sean was the one that talked to you, so, no.

[Tom Imitating Sean]

"Ooo! Are you a drummer?"

[Tom laughs]

Yeah, that's what Sean would say.

Well, whatever I said, the answer was "Yes."

And Tasteless Choice was born of this mistake.

Oh sure. Sure.

What was your early impression of Tasteless Choice as an ensemble?

Well, my early impression was like, "I thought we had a singer! Where's the singer?! We have no singer! You keep promising there's gonna be a singer!"

Sean was going to be the singer. That was a given from the start.

Yeah, but he never practiced with us. He always had to do something else. We never knew how he sang. And I seem to remember, he never did.

He was very shy about his singing. Later we found out why he was shy about his singing. But anyways... That fateful moment when you got up there on top of the PG TV room chairs on that makeshift riser that we *BURP!* created for you. How did it feel?

Well, I tell ya, I felt like I was on the top of the world. There was all these girls from PG second left, maybe a couple of ones from third left. But, you know, we didn't pay much attention. But they were there, they wanted to hear us. They came down, and they, you know, the poetry reading was through. And all that other crap was finished with. And it was our time to rock. And you know what? We did. For eight minutes, we did.

[They laugh]

Tom's head up there behind the drums
Tom's head is behind the drumkit.
Sean and Ted in the foreground.
Ted is playing the Casio VL-Tone on the music stand.

Yes, it was quite good. Which song was your favorite of all of them?

Well, there's something to be said about the U2 song [New Year's Day] that used the best features of the Casio [VL-Tone] that we had propped on top of a music stand. Musically, although, as a Theology student, I'm ashamed to say this, but. I think "Running with the Devil" was probably the best musically that we did. It had that... We had that feeling, we had that beat goin' down, you know, man? You know, with that Van Halen kinda sound, I mean you can take that anywhere you want to go. And, it's good for people who can't play, you know. [laughs] Van Halen's always good for that. But, you know, we never did have a singer, did we?

No. The next production you were involved in was the Guise.

No, I thought the Guise were those guys who sang that Dinosaur song. No, Dinosaur[s] Attack, you remember them?

Yeah, but that was the Boyz.


We were the "Guise". Don't you remember? It was a Glam-Pop-Metal band? We played Van Halen, [When It's Love] Winger, White Lion and some Poison.

I never did find the right lipstick, though, I.... And you know what? I was talked out of getting that lip job done where they puff your lips full of collagen, you know? I never did that.

After PG first left you moved into Dorchester.

Well, what happened was I spent a semester or two on PG first left. And then I took the summer off and enlisted into the Army Reserves. I took that following fall semester off so I could complete training. I believe that was the last semester of PG first left. After that they turned it into a girl's hall. [chuckle] So, when I came back during the spring semester I had to move into Dorchester 2nd right which was the most docile [laughs] hall in the whole campus.

And you met Keith [Richmond] and Darrin [Danner] there.

Well, I had known Keith and Darrin. I don't think I had ever spoken to Darrin. He was in my Spanish class for a semester or two, and....

With Jorge?

Yes, with Jorge Rogachevsky. That's a real Latin name.

[Darrin] would sit in the back of the class, probably with Susan, or maybe that was pre-Susan, I don't really know. That was the time when he wore that blue bandana on his head all the time and he had that frizzy hair. I didn't know who he was and he seemed a little intense and I really didn't know who he was. But I soon found out who Darrin was. And this is the semester that they were into their Jamaican lifestyle, if you will. Yes.

Yes. Rasta-mon!

I'm gonna crack a window here. Heee-heeee-heee!




Speaking of which, I guess the next big effort for you was Natural Log. You really stood out in the crowd at that point.

Well, you know what? I've never thought to this day that that was the case. That I stood out. Natural Log required a lot of impromptu, ad libbed kind of... that's the style, an ad-libbed kind of style and I never.... I didn't feel like I was talented enough or if it was spontaneous enough to really fit in with that group.

But you handled it perfectly.

Well, I think that the "powers that be" used that difficulty and used circumstances around to orchestrate that kind of result that we got. Maybe if I had been more spontaneous we would've ended up with kind of a sillier kind of work, but I think what we ended up with was a good balance of Ted's spontanaity and talent, musically, and my foolishness. My confusion, and whatever filtered through whatever, that's what we ended up with. And I think we had a few good moments.

Tom/Ted's Apartment in St. Inigoes.
Natural Log's first album was recorded here.

Let's talk about the Christmas albums. A lot of people have made many comments about the Christmas albums, both good and bad. What's your opinion of them?

Well, I think our final edition of that is perhaps what says it all. You can't really gauge anything from the first year. I remain disappointed because we've never gone back and re-recorded and remixed any of that. Silver Bells, for instance, made it sound like a couple of... a Flock of Seagulls, you know. Or Wham!. I had a cold, and during those solo songs that I recorded, you can even hear it with the duets that we recorded, you can hear my nose is all stuffed up, and I was on Dimetap which did not help. It was freezing cold in the studio, I remember.

Which studio was that?

This was in the basement of the townhouse in Montgomery Village.

Ted Team Studios, Montgomery Village.

I remember a bunch of stuff had... we had pushed aside. And there was that pole in the way that held the floor up above us. But, I guess we should be grateful for that pole. [all laugh like amoeba] It kinda took me back to the whole concept of Natural Log in a way. But I never really thought about it. But then perhaps that's what kept us going is that pole. [all laugh like porcupines]

I enjoyed the atmosphere that was created by the fiberglass fireplace.

Oh, well! Yeah, we had that shipped over from the other studio, which was a great insight on someone's part. I guess that was Ted's idea. The only regret, though, was that it didn't put out any heat [Ted laughs explosively, like termite] which would have been nice. But then again, you can't get too comfortable when you're trying to work. Somehow you might lose concentration and I think there's something to be said about that gritty, that raw kind of suffering....


...that goes into creativity. You know, no artist is a true artist if he doesn't suffer for his art. So, I think I've had many, many days when I've thought that we really need to get back in the studio. And I've had a lot of ideas that I've just... it's like I've run up against a wall, if you will. Not having that means of creating and...

That outlet?

Well, yeah, sure.

Ted Team Studios Montgomery Village
Ted Team Studios Montgomery Village.
Natural Log's 3rd album was recorded here.

The later Natural Log recordings are definitely a very different direction for Natural Log due to the more predominant use of keyboards by Ted, and the fantastic, newly spontaneous, very fresh drumming, produced by you. How do you feel about that last recording?

Well the drumming... it was an improvement over the little laptop model [Boss DR-220A] that would fit on one knee and it kept slipping off. And it was almost like you'd have to drum with two fingers, three fingers if you could get your fingers coordinated to fit into the two by three space. I had gotten accustomed to that, but with the advancement of the drumming made possible by the keyboard [EPS], it really was a fresh... a fresh... well, how should I put it? Technically, I suppose, it was a lot easier and it took some of that strain off of performing. Because I didn't have to keep that thing held on my lap. You know, having my knees tucked together, and pulled up toward my chin, you know. Like I did with the first model. You know, I felt like, you know, we had built our dream studio at that point. I felt like, you know, it was all just... it had all come together. And in a way, I kinda missed the old time, where everything you did was a real struggle. But you appreciated what you could come up with. And I kinda felt like this is too good to be true. But we did get some different sounds and I think overall it enhanced the performance. And I think that we worked with it very well and it all came together. And aside from the quality of the vocals on some of the songs, I think that it's something to be proud of.

Boss DR-220A
Boss DR-220A Tom used in
early Natural Log recordings

If Natural Log were to record another album, what would be your vote for the format?

Well, I would wanna piece together sort of a solo album for each of the players. Perhaps... For instance, we take a favorite artist, and we really wanna pay tribute and do a cover of something. I think that a portion of the album could be dedicated to that. You know, my thinking is, sometimes I try to go overboard and I wanna accomplish more than I actually can, talent-wise, equipment-wise, time-wise. So, some of my ideas probably will never come to fruition and that always keeps the dream going. But, there've been so many ideas that have come and gone and, you know, it's so true that if you don't use what you have, you're gonna lose it. And, many of those ideas have just gone out the other end of the chute, if you will [both laugh like maple syrup]. With no outlet, you know. But I suppose we could talk about that. We could have a production meeting and try to rekindle some of those ideas. I think it could be something special, but the timing would have to be right and the atmosphere would have to be just terrific. No question about that. You know, it's not something you can just rush into without being prepared. Without having searched it out in yourself. Without having practiced musically. [both laugh like idiots] I think the details... they have to be worked out well in advance and not as you're going through the song.

I think the environment has definitely improved, with the new Ted Team Studios in Adamstown. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. But you didn't make it to our last little shin-dig. So you'll have to make it to our next one and perhaps you can take a tour of the new studio.

Well, I certainly look forward to that and I hope that very soon we can make that happen. I've just been looking forward to coming back into the studio and contributing whatever little droplets I can to the stew as it were.

What else is in store for you, musically?

Musically, I'm involved in a group effort. I'm involved in a choir. And I have yet to tell them that I haven't had any kind of experience instrumentally, and I don't think that I will. Because, see right now I'm trying to find that vocal talent that I had. If I ever had any. I think that that was lost over the years. I think I went through a major musical depression, if you want to call it that. If in fact you can call it a musical depression. Very little creativity, very little reason to record, very little incentive. And the opportunity just wasn't there. Perhaps I felt that was the wrong direction for me, but I think that upon looking at it, I think that the whole life experience is not full unless there is that musical involvement. And I'm trying just to work on that voice quality and just make up for everything that I've lost. And even learn some new things that might help on these future albums. As far as, you know, maybe sustaining a note. Or taking a breath in the right place. [forced laughter]

Or projecting your voice perhaps?

Oh sure! See, I have a very nasal quality and I've learned just... that you can overcome that, but you tend to sound like someone who you don't even know. I can go on to sing in the car, I only do this alone in the car for instance, I sound like a totally different person. And I feel like I'm in character. Like I'm singing... I'm trying to sing like someone, but I don't feel like I'm expressing myself. But in actuality, see, the quality of that voice is much greater than the quality, that really is my speaking voice set to music, you see. And I think I've discovered that that's a problem, but if it's the only thing that sets me apart, maybe I should stick with it, I don't know.

Many have commented that your performance on What Child Is This? reminds them of an early Johnny Mathis, perhaps crossed with a medieval minstrel.

Well, I think the arrangement itself will produce that minstrel effect. You see. But the Johnny Mathis was totally... that was in character, you see. I was afraid to use my real voice. Like I said, I haven't developed my own true voice, and I had only heard that song sung by Johnny Mathis, and I thought that he did such a wonderful job that... what else could I do, but sing it in that character. Now, perhaps, that means that maybe I'm not being genuine. But the truth is, that was the only way that I could achieve what I did.