Dramarama

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Dramarama
Dramarama 2009.jpg
Background information
Origin Wayne, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, indie rock, new wave
Years active1982–1994, 2003–present
LabelsBinky 101, Questionmark, New Rose, Chameleon, Eggbert, Harvey Star, 33rd Street
Members John Easdale
Peter Wood
Mark Englert
Mike Davis
Tony Snow
Past members Chris Carter
Jesse Farbman
Clem Burke
Ted Ellenis
Tom Mullaney
Ronny Machuga
Ken Moutenout
Craig Ballam
Morley Bartnoff
Ray Barwick
Website Official website

Dramarama is an American, New Jersey–based alternative rock/power pop band, who later moved to Los Angeles. The band was formed in New Jersey in 1982 and disbanded in 1994. The band formally reunited in 2003 following an appearance on VH1's Bands Reunited .

Contents

Since 1996, an evolving lineup of the band, always fronted by singer/songwriter John Easdale, has been performing in one incarnation or another (initially billed as Easdale solo but usually joined by former Dramarama bandmates), and from then until 2003 played occasional shows in Los Angeles as well as in New Jersey. However, amid renewed interest since the episode on Bands Reunited in January 2004 and a large-scale appearance at KROQ-FM's annual Inland Invasion festival concert (attended by more than 78,000 fans) in September 2003, Dramarama then toured nationally and released a full-length CD titled Everybody Dies on October 25, 2005. Fifteen years later, they released the album Color TV. [1]

History

1981–1994

In 1982, Dramarama formed in the basement of a record store in Wayne, New Jersey, owned by founding member Chris Carter. [2] Carter operated the alternative record store Looney Tunez Records (previously known as Dirt Cheap Records). Initially the line-up consisted of singer/songwriter John Easdale, "Mr. E Boy" (Mark Englert) and Carter, later joined by Peter Wood on guitars and Ron Machuga on drums.

The evolution and combined efforts prompted the emergence of the DPW (a local parody named in honor of their hometown Department of Public Works) and re-incarnation "The F&cks". The band emerged in North New Jersey, where at that time there was a scene with radio station WHTG 106.3 and venues such as The Stone Pony, Green Parrot and Fast Lane featuring other local bands such as Red House, Smithereens, Whirling Dervishes and The Blases. [3] In 1982, the band released its first single, "You Drive Me", attracting some national attention.

In 1984, keyboard player Ted Ellenis and drummer Ken Moutenot (replacing Machuga) joined the band and Dramarama released their first EP Comedy, a self-funded, five-track debut that garnered both critical and unexpected cult praise in France. Moutenot was replaced by Jesse Farbman, who left the group after the band's third album to pursue mind/body purity and to obtain "philosophical and spiritual awareness". Dramarama issued its first full-length release, 1985's Cinéma Vérité on France's New Rose Records. [2] It was re-released in the U.S. after receiving airplay on KROQ-FM radio from influential Los Angeles disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer (who at first thought the band was French). Bingenheimer alerted Posh Boy Records at New Rose, which approvedRobbie Fields' contacting the band directly in New Jersey.

One of the early radio stations to play the song "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" was KROQ. It was one of the station's more requested songs in 1986 and 1987, and it became one of the more requested songs in the station's history. [4] [5] Following the local L.A. success of "Anything, Anything", the band obtained a larger advance from Chameleon and permanently moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles. The song has been featured in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and was covered for the East Timor Benefit Album. [6]

As an expression of gratitude to both Bingenheimer and Fields, the band gave Robbie Fields their recording of the New York Dolls' song "Private World" for inclusion on the CD The Best of Rodney on The Roq, released in 1987 and re-released in 1992 through Rhino Records.

The recording sessions for Stuck in Wonderamaland produced enough material for three albums. Easdale and Carter decided to again try a foreign release. Thus, Looking Through..., a 14-song album, was released in Europe by The Bent Backed Tulips, both pseudonym and album title in reference to lyrics from the Beatles' "Glass Onion". Looking Through... was re-released in the U.S. through eggBERT Records with extra tracks, increasing the number of songs to 20.

The band then signed with Chameleon distributor Elektra and released 1991's Vinyl . Backed by a major label for the first time, Dramarama got nationwide airplay with the singles "Haven't Got a Clue" (which also was on a CD included with the Sega CD video game system in the United States) and "What Are We Gonna Do?". The album's production with Don Smith added to the success of the LP. Vinyl included contributions from Mick Taylor, Jim Keltner, Benmont Tench, and Brian Macleod of Wire Train.

After Vinyl, a limited-edition, 17-song CD titled The Days of Wayne and Roses (The Trash Tapes) was made available to members of the Dramarama fan club. It included the band's early recordings together as well as songs that were dropped from their early albums, a couple of live performances, and one song exclusive (at the time) to the disc.

The band's final release on Elektra, 1993's Hi-Fi Sci-Fi , was a favorite among both critics and fans, and it remains a cult staple. Clem Burke, who had joined the band for the Vinyl tour, appears on this album, and backing vocal contributions include Dwight Twilley and Sylvain Sylvain. After the tours, the group split. [2]

1995–2005

Following two relatively quiet years after the 1994 breakup, John Easdale began performing live music again in 1996, doing shows in both New Jersey and the L.A. area. He assembled a band that he occasionally has named The John Easdale Group and has casually named it The Newcomers, featuring Dramarama's Mark Englert, as well as Peter Wood for East Coast appearances. Other Newcomers have included fellow eggBERT alum Nick Celeste (of former Bongo Richard Barone's band and once the frontman for In Color, Aimee Mann, Jules Shear, Muddy Shews, Danny Roselle, and Chris O'Hara. Easdale found steady players in Mike Davis, Tony Snow and Craig Ballam, who connected with Easdale circa 1996.

In 1998, John Easdale released a solo album on the eggBERT label titled Bright Side, on which many of the tracks featured musicians with ties to both Dramarama and the Newcomers, including Mark Englert and Clem Burke, as well as Mike Davis, Tony Snow and Craig Ballam, who also contributed production and engineering skills. Before Bright Side, Easdale issued a fan-only, no-label version of the Bright Side in 1996 that contained versions of songs that made the final cut as well as some that did not. Easdale refers to it as his "blueprint" for the final collection, and fans call it the "pre-release" of Bright Side.

Following the publicity from the VH1]series Bands Reunited, subsequent KROQ's Inland Invasion, and an article in Rolling Stone that lauded their retooling of the Dead Kennedys' politically charged "California über alles" in response to Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2003 run for governor of California, Easdale decided in late 2003 the band name Dramarama should continue. The next CD (an EP) would be billed to Dramarama, titled Absolutely, 100% Made in N.J., which was recorded on a whim while John and the band were on a brief tour of New Jersey in 2003. The EP's liner notes indicated that most of the seven tracks were "from the forthcoming Dramarama album Everybody Dies ."

The album was released on October 25, 2005 by California-based label 33rd Street Records.

They appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show as Ellen's 50th birthday present from her DJ Ted Stryker.

2006–present

The current lineup consists of original founding members John Easdale, lead and rhythm guitar player Peter Wood (the only band member who moved back to New Jersey and still maintains a residence there), and lead guitarist Mark Englert (Mr. "E" Boy). Rounding out the band are Los Angeles–based musicians Tony Snow (No Sugar, Tonio & The Change, Shiteland Ponies) on drums, and (former Lizzy Borden member) Mike Davis on bass. In addition, Tony Snow leads Tonio & The Change, and Mike Davis is the bass player for both Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's eponymous solo band Halford and metal "supergroup" Death Dealer.

The Dramarama song "Anything Anything" serves as the title and theme song of New York City radio station WRXP-FM's free-form program "Anything Anything with Rich Russo". The version from Live at the China Club begins each show. After the switch of format to all news on WRXP-FM, Russo's radio show was picked up on WXPK-FM and WDHA-FM, where "Anything Anything" still serves as the name and the China Club version opens each show.

The band has been very active since 2005. In 2009, they played for the Troy High School Battle of the Bands. This event took place on February 3, 2009 at Plummer Auditorium, located in Fullerton, California. Also in 2009 were several shows at House of Blues venues in Texas and Southern California as well as Six Flags Magic Mountain. Dramarama returned to New Jersey for two shows in November 2009 and performed in Downtown Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano's The Coach House in December 2009. They returned to Troy High School's Battle of the Bands in 2010 and 2011.

A special live version of "Last Cigarette" was recorded for the limited-edition, 500-pressing vinyl album "Anything Anything with Rich Russo on 101.9 RXP presents Exclusive Live Performances". In this version, the band replaces "Johnny Carson" with "Rich Russo" as an homage to the free-form DJ. The album was released April 2010. [7]

As of 2018, Dramarama continues to perform frequently as headliners and at various festivals.

After a 15-year hiatus the band released Color TV on May 1, 2020. [1]

Post-Dramarama careers

Original bass player/producer and Dramarama co-founder Chris Carter is currently a disc jockey in Los Angeles, where he hosts America's longest-running Beatles show Breakfast with the Beatles , and the weekly four-hour eclectic program on the satellite radio station Sirius-XM "Chris Carter's British Invasion." Carter also produced and wrote the film Mayor of the Sunset Strip , which in 2003 was nominated for Best Documentary by the Independent Spirit Film Awards, and which featured members of Dramarama. After Dramarama split in 1994, Carter formed QM Management, for which he manages the pop group The Wondermints, currently touring as Beach Boy Brian Wilson's backing band.

Drummer Jesse Farbman, a.k.a. Anant Jesse, lived in Montreal, here he taught spiritual therapeutics and maintained a private practice; he died in 2014. Former keyboard player Theodore Ellenis works as senior finance executive for a New York City–area firm.

Discography

Studio albums

NameChartReleased
Cinéma Vérité November 1, 1985
Box Office Bomb January 1, 1987
Stuck in Wonderamaland April 1, 1989
Looking Through...
(as The Bent Back Tulips)
January 1, 1990
Vinyl October 15, 1991
Hi-Fi Sci-Fi 10 (Heatseekers Albums) [8] January 1, 1993
Everybody Dies October 25, 2005
Color TVMay 1, 2020

Live / compilation albums

NameTypeReleasedLabel
Play New Rose for MeCompilation1986New Rose
Best of Rodney on the RoqCompilation1989
Days of Wayne & RosesCompilation1992
Rock'n'RoseCompilation1990New Rose
Live at the China Club Live Chameleon
Days of Wayne & RosesCompilation1992
Days of Wayne & Roses
KBCO Studio C Vol. 2
Welcome to Our Nightmare: A Tribute to Alice Cooper Compilation1993Triple X
Amongst Friends - Original Motion Picture SoundtrackAtlantic
10 from 5 Rhino
Melody FairCompilation1994EGGBERT
Sing Hollies in Reverse Compilation1995EGGBERT
The Best of Dramarama: 18 Big Ones CompilationOctober 29, 1996 Rhino
Blockbuster: A 70's Glitter Glam Rock ExperienceCompilation2000Robison Records
One Step Beyond: The Best of New WaveCompilation2002Rhino
Mayor of the Sunset Strip Compilation2003Shout Factory
Anything Anything with Rich Russo Exclusive Live PerformancesCompilation2010

Extended plays

NameReleasedRecord Label
ComedyMay 19, 1984Question Mark Records
Vinyl 1992Chameleon

Singles

YearTitleChart positionAlbum
US Alternative Songs [9] AUS [10]
1983"You Drive Me" b/w "A Fine Example", "Femme Fatale"N/ANon-album single
1985"Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" Cinéma Vérité
1987"It's Still Warm" b/w "Private World" Box Office Bomb
1989"Last Cigarette"13 Stuck in Wonderamaland
1989"Wonderamaland" b/w "70's TV"
1989 "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" b/w "I Wish I Was Your Mother" 85 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
1991"Haven't Got a Clue"6 Vinyl
1991"What Are We Gonna Do?"1060
1993"Work for Food"10 Hi-Fi Sci-Fi
1998"Tie Me Down" b/w "Last of the Famous International Playboys"The Bent Backed Tulips Looking Through...
2003"California über alles"Non-album single
2005"Physical Poetry (A-B-C-D-1-2-3)" Everybody Dies

Videography

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References

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  9. "Dramarama Chart History". billboard. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  10. Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.