Formed in 1961 by prep-school students Andy Gagarin, Jack Radcliffe, Peter Lang, Jon Prouty, Larry Rand and current presidential hope-hope-hopeful John Kerry, the Electras enjoyed a two-year life span.
Though only 500 copies of their only LP were originally pressed, recent events have provoked renewed interest in the material; this month sees the release of two different versions of the album (Republicans Gagarin and Radcliffe are putting out their own, available at www.johnkerryandtheelectras.com, whereas the remaining Electras, all Democrats, have chosen to donate proceeds to the Kerry campaign; you can buy the latter version at www.electrasrockandrollband.com). With the album finally available, an Electras episode of Behind the Music is being rushed through production. However, I have obtained the original, unedited transcripts from the BtM interviews, with which I have compiled this brief oral history of the Electras. Enjoy.
Andy Gagarin, maracas: We formed for the same reasons any band forms: to get chicks, you know? Pussy, beaver. Wait, do me a favor and don't use that last part, OK?
Jon Prouty, guitar: Did we use drugs? Some of us did. I don't want to name names. But let's just say that those of us who did knew what it meant to inhale.
Peter Lang, drums: Our first show, I suppose it went off pretty well -- I mean, I don't remember most of it, so that's usually a good sign, right? Kerry played with his back to the audience, I think. Come to think of it, Gagarin did too, which is weird. I mean, Gagarin played the maracas.
Gagarin: A lot of people think the maracas are easy. Not as much as you'd think. It takes timing, rhythm. Those guys never appreciated what I brought to the equation.
Lang: We had a solid run. Better than you'd expect from six guys dressed in turtlenecks [laughs]. And I gotta tell you, there's nothing like that feeling you get when you're onstage. It's thrilling. Thing is, though, I think we just lived too fast. I think [pauses], I think we just flew too close to the sun, you know?
Kerry: '62 was when things really went south. The reefer, the sex. Shit, one night Prouty and I nailed half the glee club and the entire front line of the St. Paul's field-hockey team. We were getting away from what really mattered -- the music, you know?
Prouty: There was one show, some clown-and-pony deal in the parking lot of a Ford dealership. I look over and Kerry's cock is sticking right out of his pants -- it's just poking out of his zipper, and he's got the biggest smile on his face. And of course I'm like, "John!" And he looks at me like, "What?"
Jack Radcliffe, piano: We had a meeting, August of '62, I think it was. Everyone looked bad. Kerry wasn't around. Some Model U.N. summer camp, his parents told us, but we knew what was up. We decided, right then and there, to break up the Electras. I mean, really, what can you do when your bassist is in rehab?
Gagarin: I told 'em, "Guys, I can play bass. I can do it." But they wouldn't listen. Once a maraca player, always a maraca player, I guess. Bunch of dicks.
Prouty: Next winter, we tried to get the Electras back together, for just one more gig. Everyone was in. Kerry was waffling, though. I think he was on break from Yale, and he just seemed...different. He spent 45 minutes talking about pros and cons, and finally, after, like, two hours, he said yes. The gig was a total disaster. To this day Kerry swears he never wanted to do it in the first place.
Kerry: I actually did vote for the gig before I voted against it. I was misled. -- Garrett Kamps
Fun Facts: Things We Learned from www.weirdal.com
In one of the oddest rap feuds of all time, Coolio had beef with Yankovic over Al's "Amish Paradise" parody of the rapper's "Gangsta's Paradise."
Yankovic completists must be furious; the site hasn't updated the Set List since November of 1999.
Legendary novelty song DJ Dr. Demento once wrote a 57-page, very, very thorough biography of Weird Al (available online through the site).
280 sketches, paintings and other portraits of Al have been sent in by fans.
Yankovic once killed a man with his bare hands. (Okay, we made that one up.)
Yankovic plays at Six Flags St. Louis on Saturday, August 21. -- Jordan Harper
How to Not Get Laid
Some time ago I was riding in a close female friend's car, when I noticed that her tape deck was spitting out a collection of tunes that I own, some only available on limited-release vinyl seven-inches. I popped out the tape, and sure enough, in my own handwriting, was the caption "Love Songs." My friend had inherited a castoff mix tape from a messy breakup I'd had with one of her best friends.
The tape took a flight right out the car window.
So did my will to mix. It had been some time since I'd dabbled in the juvenile art of romancing via playlist until recently, when I met an angel of a girl, a veritable siren, whom I wanted to counter-attract with songs of my own. It ended up being three full CDs of songs.
I'd like to think I'm a romantic at heart, so on the first disc I threw on some nice, poppy, sweet emo tracks that girls are sure to swoon over -- Death Cab for Cutie, the Gloria Record, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes. You know, panty-droppers. (Okay, so I'm not that romantic.)
In theory, the ideal suitor's mix CD ought to exhibit some singular originality. The Internet and the magic of file sharing have made that infinitely easier than it once was, enabling me to drop unreleased tracks like Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life" and the Postal Service's awesome cover of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds."
Easier for me -- and for everyone else, I sadly report. I saw an online chat recently with the First Twins, Barb and Jenna, where they claimed to be fans of Modest Mouse, the Postal Service and the Strokes, two-thirds of whom appeared on the first CD I made. So I wasn't being especially unique.
Things didn't improve when I moved on to volumes two and three: one full of rawk songs, the other hip-hop.
I blame the heavy, pummeling rock disc on a burst of masculinity, a subliminal need to counteract the pussy emo shit on the first CD. When I was finished, the rock CD was absolutely brutal. I'd be lucky if she listened to it for five minutes without drawing blood from her delicate ears. I decided if I was gonna bring the rock, I'd better balance it out with some beats on the third CD.
Unfortunately, this one only cemented any impression of emotional immaturity, kicking off with Atmosphere's "Trying to Find a Balance," where Slug not only raps, "They will respect the cock, whether or not they believe in it," but also, "Hello ma'am, would you be interested in some sexual positions and emotional investments?"
Buck 65, my favorite white Canadian rapper, didn't help me out much either. In a fit of humor, I threw on "The Centaur," where Buck raps, "The easiest way would be for you to lie face down/I'm a man, but I'm built like a horse from the waist down," and "I have plenty to say, but nobody listens/Because my cock is so big, and the end of it glistens."
I don't know if the mix CDs were responsible, but I didn't get the girl. I still wonder: Does the collection of songs I gave her paint an accurate picture of this would-be Casanova? Probably. There's such a thing as overexposure, and I'd bathed myself in floodlights. So from this point on, I'm retiring from the humiliating art of wooing girls with music. Lesson learned.
I'm just wondering if a couple years from now I'll be riding in a friend's car and hear the Postal Service doing "Against All Odds." Chances are good, I fear. -- Brendan Joel Kelly