Bubble Puppy at El Mercado Backstage! November 13th, 2015
Getting better with Cubase! Thinking about buying a Native Instruments Machine just for fun!
Monday, November 2nd 2015 Getting better with Cubase! Thinking about buying a Native Instruments Machine just for fun!
June 17 2015: New DW kit is in the house! Used with Bubble Puppy exclusively. 20" BD in "classic marine" finish.
Feb 26 2014: "Better Off Without It", "Please Don't Say No", "Sunday Will Never Come" and "Somebody" are finished! Thanks again to guitarist Tom McMahon and bassist Walter (Woot) Talley.
I quit high school when Rod Prince called and asked me to join The Bubble Puppy.
I jumped at the chance, which was a wise move. Within 8 months we were on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Our single "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" rocketed to number 14 on the Billboard national chart. We toured the nation with the likes of Steppenwolf, the Grass Roots and Canned Heat. And I was only 17! I have many great memories (yes, I can remember the sixites) of that time. Probably the best is my drum solo to a sold out house in Chicago where our record was number one on WLS. I got a standing ovation in the middle of my solo. We were so big in those days that Keith Emerson from Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Bob Segar both opened for us. We moved to California and changed our name to Demian when the bass player for Steppenwolf offered to manage us. When we weren't touring we played the Whisky and other L.A. clubs in support of our hit "Face the Crowd". I owned a Triumph 500 motorcycle which I rode up to our manager's house in Laurel Canyon. Such an idyllic life.
In the eighties I played with the new wave group "D-Day". Our hit "To Young Too Date" was number one on KROQ in L.A. That song led to many gigs at the Whisky, the Roxy and numerous dates with the Talking Heads, the Waitresses, the Vapors and other eighties bands.
Recently I had a six year stint with the Beatles tribute band "The Eggmen". A great band, we won "Best Cover Band" six times at the Austin Chronicle Music Awards.
Anyway, I'm glad you dropped by. Scroll down to read about my albums and CD's, listen to my new songs or sign the guestbook. ~~David
I've been a member of The EggMen for about 15 years...
Most of it has been a blast. We have a loyal following, we don't have to travel much, and I'm usually home by midnight. All of these are a big plus when your holding down a full time job, and you're in another band (Bubble Puppy). Check out our 2014 schedule at The EggMen
The Bubble Puppy enjoyed the greatest commercial success of all the Texas psychedelic bands, scoring a Top 14 pop hit with "Hot Smoke & Sasafrass."
The roots of the group lie in the Corpus Christi-based Bad Seeds. The Seeds were the first super group in Corpus. My high school buddy, Rod Prince, was completely on fire in the Bad Seeds. Listen to them. After the Seeds Rod, bassist Roy Cox, drummer Clayton Pulley, and Todd Potter formed as the Willowdale Handcar. The group finally settled on Bubble Puppy a year later. It came from a futuristic game for kids called "Centrifical Bumble Puppy" from Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World". With me now on drums, the BP's raw, garage-psych sound soon landed us a deal with the famed Texas label International Artists, which issued Bubble Puppy's debut LP, A Gathering of Promises, in 1969. We recorded at Gold Star Studios , now the oldest continuously operating recording facility in Texas. Our single Hot Smoke and Sassafras was a runaway success. Subsequent singles including "If I Had a Reason," "Days of Our Time," and "What Do You See?".
With the advent of "Bubble Gum" music we changed our name to Demian and moved to L.A. In 1971 ABC/Dunhill released the single "Face the Crowd" which enjoyed airplay in L.A. and southern California. Before we could make a second Demian album we decided to call it quits. If you decide to buy a Bubble Puppy CD, buy the one from Fuel 2000. It's got the full album and all our singles! The Puppy rocked! (Thanks to Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide)
Or watch this youtube video made by a fan...
Interesting things about D-Day you should know...
1. D-Day's first single Too Young to Date was recorded by Phil York in Dallas at Autumn Studios. Thanks to our management team Too Young to Date was #1 on "Rodney on the Rock" on KROQ in L.A. almost overnight. KROQ was the station all the record companies listened to, including A+M records who eventually signed us. So we were big stuff in LA because KROQ played the record every 15 minutes. We played 4 sold out shows at the Whisky with the Go-Gos. All because of putting 2YTD out ourselves, and the fact that our manger looked like Brooke Shields. The head DJ at KROQ, Rodney Bingenhiemer, had a shrine to Brooke Shields in his house!
2. Rhino Records put 2YTD on a compilation album with Blondie and The Ramones called "New Wave Hits of the Eighties, Just Can't Get Enough" which has sold about 70,000 copies. It's on volume one of the compilation. So we've sold about 80,000 copies of 2YTD total.
3. Our female management team was once featured (not photographed) in a men's magazine.
4. We were the only band from the Raul's scene (the Austin punk/new wave nexus club) to get a major label deal. (As far as I can tell).
5. D-Day's original lineup was De Lewellen vocals, Stuart Hillyer guitar, John Keller bass, and David Fore drums. When Stu left the band we hired Will Fiveash. Glover Gill and Jimmy Martin played keys.
6. Never ever wait on a major record deal. We did and it took a year for our record to come out after we signed on the dotted line. We were a completely different band and the radio had changed and left us behind. Don't do it!
7. "The Lost Studio Sessions" CD is in the final stages of production. It features the tunes we wrote while waiting for our record to be released by A+M.
Watch these youtube videos made by fans...
In D-Day I started writing songs...
De Lewellyn and I wrote "To Young to Date" one morning, after having massive caffeine infusions. We laughed for half an hour, not believing how funny it was. TYTD was probably the first song I finished ALL THE WAY through. My new motto: It's not whether it's good, it's whether it's finished.
So the so called "Dave Fore Band" came into existance. Here's how it works, process-wise. I record drums, vocals, and a scratch guitar track or two. Then I call Tom McMahon, my guitar player buddy I have known since the Raul's days. He comes over and, in my modest home studio, makes me sound good by overdubbing leads, rhythm, and sometimes bass guitar. He is a superb guitarist.
Next I call Walter "Woot" Talley for bass guitar. He is a natural, and so much fun to work with. We've known each other since the "Carla and the Cast" days. Carla and the Cast played a $100,000 worth of frat parties a year, and we lived to tell about it.
Here are some tunes from the Dave Fore Band...
After D-Day went to the place all bands must go...
John Keller, Stuart Hillyer, and I formed a groovy 3 piece combo called The Neighborhood in the mid 1980's. We had John Keller on bass, Stuart Hillyer on guitar, and me on drums. (Glover Gill calls us "The Nabe", so I am "Dave of the Nabe"). We managed to gig around a bit, mostly at the Continental Club. I worked there, so sometimes I would work my shift at the bar, then hop onstage and play a set, then go back to tending bar. The Neighborhood even managed to record a bit. We cut "Welcome to the Neighborhood", "These are the Things That I Want", and "Cheese Head". Mark Youngersmith of One Hand Clapping engineered the sessions. I even heard Welcome to the Neighborhood on the radio in Austin. That's about as close as we got to success. But what a fun band! We played and drank and laughed our way through The Neighborhood. I still love Stuart's lead guitar bit on "Cheesehead".
Chaos meets anarchy and devours it...
The Collapse has the distinction of being the only band I've every played with that got thrown out of a club (Actually another one of my bands got tossed but that's a story for a different day).
The Collapse formed to combat the pop format of Surina and the Daves. The game plan of Surina and the Daves was to play interesting 3 minute pop songs. The game plan of the Collapse was to play 30 minute musical versions of Armageddon. Another tenet of the band was that something had to be broken during those 30 minutes. We practiced at the house where Dave Prather and I lived, so the stuff that got broken was usually our stuff. We could play all night but we had absolutely no songs. We made everything up as we played. The music and the lyrics were improvised on the spot. The lineup was John Keller on bass, Tom McMahon and David Prather on guitar, and yours truly on drums.
Let me back up to the "getting thrown out" story. We didn't get into SXSW that year so we were playing at a non SXSW venue. It was the old Half Price Books on 5th Street in Austin. You had to load your gear to the second floor using an elevator. Half Price Books was remodeling at the time and had paperback-sized book shelves from floor to ceiling with no support of any kind at the top, which made them extremely unstable. Though I don't remember doing it I must have grazed one of the bookshelves because my girlfriend yelled for me to come help her. She was holding up a bookshelf that was trying to fall into the other bookshelves. We couldn't stop it so it knocked over another shelf, then another, until the whole room was just one giant pile of books and shelving. Not knowing what to do, I went up stairs and we started playing. We all had our jam boxes taping, so when the manager came up to the soundman and threw us out, we all got it on tape. He said "After seeing what I saw downstairs, I don't want to hear what I'm hearing upstairs." He thought we had done it on purpose because, wait for it, our name was "The Collapse".
San Francisco meets Austin...
Sometime in the 80's Dave Prather and I got together in another 3 piece combo call "Surina and the Daves". The name was a play on the popular band "Katrina and The Waves". Not many people got the joke. The band consisted of Surina on bass, Dave Prather on lead guitar, and me on drums again. We all sang and shared the songwriting credits. Surina was the front person. This band is where I began to write songs; I penned "Hot Head" about my fiestiness and my inability to back it up, and "If I Could Do it All Again" about re-incarnation (I think). Surina sang a great song called "Little Things Don't Mean A Lot" which I believe Dave Prather wrote. It's about, well you can figure that out for yourself. We played the Back Room frequently, and had some other good gigs. We even recorded an album at Townes Van Zant's old studio. Surina was pretty cool but wasn't crazy about Austin, probably because she was from San Francisco where it is a tad cooler.
Around 1990 my best friend Stuart lived across the driveway from me...
We were both working the night shift, so he would come over around 1:00 am and we would start recording. Me on keyboards, Stu on guitar. After about 3 months of this we realized we had a project without knowing it. So we bit the proverbial bullet and listened to nintey hours of jam tapes, took the best passages, and put them on Spirit to Spirit. Here is what CDBaby.com has to say about the CD:
"Spirit to Spirit is ambient yet demanding music from Hillyer/Fore. This CD was recorded almost entirely live in Austin Texas with very few overdubs. Created as it unfolded each song stands alone, yet the entire CD melts into a dreamy psychedelic framework. Stuart Hillyer is a master of guitar and guitar effects. After numerous successful pop bands he teamed with drummer turned keyboardist David Fore to create the atmospheric and thought provoking creations on Spirit to Spirit. Not shallow New Age or mindless electronica, Spirit to Spirit challenges you to create your own mental landscapes with its beauty and inspiration." Indeed. Buy it
If this is the first time you’re ever hearing ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras,’ I feel for you.‘Ah,’ you’ll think ‘It’s The Yes Album by way of The MC5 and Kansas.’ Not that that wouldn’t be enough to pique your interest right there, mind. But imagine that you were hearing this song in 1968 -- when two out of those three bands didn’t even exist yet.
‘Hot Smoke’ was an unexpected blast from the ether on US radio, in a year full of such blasts; it sounded like nothing else. A blinding hard-rocking intro; followed by full-stops, time-changes, folk-rock, signature Texas blues guitar, and the kind of textured, layered vocal harmony that bands like Yes and Crosby Stills and Nash would later make millions with. The song was a Top 40 hit nationwide, in cities far away from the band’s Texan home base -- in fact, it was #1 on Chicago’s WLS for three weeks. Bubble Puppy can lay claim to having the biggest-selling record ever released on the International Artists label (which you’ll recognize as the home of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, so no mean feat there.) They can also lay claim to being one of very few bands whose music provided an easy link between the trippy psychedelia of 1967 and the harder American rock of 1969.
Their story begins in 1964, when Rod Prince (vocals/guitar) forms The Bad Seeds -- by all accounts the garage-band-to-beat in Corpus Christi, Texas. That band split up in 1966, and was re-formed by Prince and Roy Cox (vocals/keyboards) as The New Seeds. (Spinal Tap, anyone?) The New Seeds didn’t last long, and when Prince and Cox moved to San Antonio they started a new band, yet unnamed, with Cox switching to bass. They recruited young Todd Potter (vocals/guitar), originally from Austin, who actually quit high school to join the new band.
Apparently they first appeared in public as ‘Willowdale Handcar,’ with a lineup that included a sax player. At some point that name fell out of favor, and a phrase from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World -- ‘Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy,’ a fictitious children’s game -- was tapped and mutated into ‘Bubble Puppy.’
Of course, you’re now waiting for the part of the tale -- the part that seems to exist in all 60s-band stories -- where the group gets the kind of insanely-amazing break that leaves you wondering about the incredible magic of an era when such things could actually happen to real (and deserving) people. And you won’t be disappointed. In mid-1967, without having played a single show, anywhere, ever, Bubble Puppy was tapped to open a bill at The San Antonio coliseum. The headliner: The Who.
David Fore, who was Prince’s 17-year-old motorcycling compadre and had known him for years (they had, in fact, biked all the way to California together at some point with an eye toward starting a band together, an idea that never panned out) came to the show. Blown away by his friend’s band, he -- just like Potter head, earlier -- quit high school in order to join up, replacing drummer Craig Root.
The band then moved to Austin -- then, as now, regarded as the Texan oasis of weirdness amidst a sea of tight-lipped conservatism -- and set up house together in a house on Riverside Farms Road, well off the beaten track. ‘We were a real brotherhood, we had a kind of a family feel,’ says Fore today. ‘We all lived in the same house right up until we moved to California.’
It’s hard to imagine how easy it was in 1967 for a band to set up house together, somehow pay the bills, and live in relative comfort; but that’s exactly what Bubble Puppy (and countless other American bands) managed to do. ‘It was pretty cheap to live back then,’ says David. ‘And Austin, at the time, was one of the cheapest places to live. Of course, it’s the opposite now. But we lived on virtually nothing. It was pretty relaxed and groovy. We’d get up late and go swimming, behind Barton Springs…then have lunch…mess around, play cards, eat dinner. Then at about eleven PM somebody would say, “Well, do you wanna rehearse?” and we’d start playing. And we’d go till 4 or 5 in the morning. AndP> then get up the next afternoon and do it all over again. [laughs]’
Between the woodshedding and a residency at a local Austin club, The Vulcan Gas Company, Bubble Puppy became a strong, tight band -- able to zip through their intricately-constructed folk/pop/blues/rock/progressive repertoire with the kind of effortless abandon you rarely see in bands playing anything any more evolved than ‘Louie Louie.’ By 1968, they had ventured as far away as Houston -- significantly, the home of International Artists Records -- to play at a club called Love Street Light Circus.
Some time thereafter, David and Todd were home in Austin while Roy and Rod had gone back to do some session work (time has obscured the memory of whom the session was for) -- when suddenly, just like in the movies, they received a Western Union telegram. Not a phone call, that wouldn’t have been cinematic enough!
‘Roy and Rod met some record-company people up there, from International Artists, and played them tapes of some of our songs,’ says Fore. ‘Next thing you know, we get a telegram: “Move to Houston STOP record deal STOP!” [laughs] That was all it said! So we packed up the van and moved to Houston. And the record came out a couple of months later, and took off like a shot!’
That sounds easy, yeah? Not quite: International Artists is known today for having discovered some of the most revered talent in rock music history, but they’re also known for spotty business sense and less-than-stellar treatment of their artists. Fore, who has quite a bit of music-biz perspective post-Bubble-Puppy, laughs it off philosophically: ‘Rumor was that those guys won the label in a card game. Lelan Rogers was involved in it but he was never there. But the guys that ran the place on a day-to-day basis -- [laughs] they were idiots.’
To be fair, the tiny local label -- run on a shoestring -- managed somehow to service an entire nation’s demand for the 13th Floor Elevators’ breakout single ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ -- and the even-greater demand for ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras.’ But the record, as big as it was, was completely non-existent in some parts of the USA. More on that in a minute.
Under the gaze of producer Ray Rush -- whose pedigree went all the way back to Buddy Holly -- the band whipped through their repertoire in the studio. And -- in another cinematic moment -- they wrote ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’ while there. The title apparently came from a throwaway line on a popular TV show: ‘We were sitting at home after coming up with the idea for the song, watching The Beverly Hillbillies,’ recalls Fore, ‘And Granny says “Hot smoke and sassafras, Jethro, can’t you do anything right?”’
The song stakes its claim rapidly -- with a menacing growl of feedback that leads into a bizarre mutant blues lick (complete with tri-tone) -- and then lurches into a runaway-train introduction, propelled by a savage snare-drum fill and the kind of guitar heroism that would be right at home on any MC5 or Blue Cheer song. And just as you’re thinking it can’t get any better, it suddenly stops and turns into something not unlike a madrigal -- with three-part harmonies so perfect and concise that it sounds like the same singer doing all three parts. And before you even have time to say ‘Whaaa…?’ the drums repeat their rat-a-tat and it’s back onto the runaway train, and anyone who doesn’t hang on for dear life gets squashed.
How this odd pastiche ever found its way onto American Top-40 radio at all is a mystery; but, as Fore says, it did indeed ‘take off like a shot.’ Where did this song even come from??
‘Well, you know, maybe that was because we lived out in the country, away from everything,’ says Fore. ‘I think we had three records in the house: The Youngbloods, Wheels of Fire, and Steppenwolf. And that was all the outside influence we had!’
The song was recorded quickly, without Potter, who was sick and skipped the session. He added his part later. Other than that, the recording went fairly smoothly; the band, after all, had been playing these songs (excepting ‘Hot Smoke’) every night. But Fore chuckles as he recalls the band’s interaction with IA’s producers and engineers, who -- like so many others of their ilk in those innocent pre-1970 days, had no idea how to make a rock and roll record: ‘I remember when Rod was playing in the studio, the engineer came running out, yelling “You can’t have distortion on your guitar on a record! You just can’t have it!”’
The finished LP has a fairly wide plethora of guitar tones on it, so one imagines that each side may have won that particular tug-of-war a couple of times. The guitars virtually scream on ‘Beginning,’ which closes the album -- but in several other places they sound almost polite. In places where any other band would have turned the amplifiers up to eleven, Prince and Potter keep it understated and let the songs speak for themselves rather than burying them under truckloads of overdrive -- relying heavily on that round, lugubrious neck-pickup tone peculiar to Texas bands, and so under-used elsewhere. Cox’s bass is supportive and melodic -- so much so that you hardly notice it at all, but when you do you can’t help but think ‘no one else would have played that.’ Meanwhile, Fore’s drums effortlessly channel Mitch Mitchell, skittering and dancing in places where most other drummers would have been relentless and heavy-handed.
But the bulk of the LP wasn’t recorded till later on; ‘Hot Smoke’ landed on the charts without an accompanying long-player. And it landed there the hard way, too. Released in December 1968, it was originally the B-side:
‘Actually, “Lonely” was originally the A-side, but the DJs in Houston flipped it over and started playing “Hot Smoke” instead,’ says Fore. ‘So they really broke it for us.’
Smashing your way into the American record-buying sensibility in early 1969 with a name like ‘Bubble Puppy’ was a blessing and a curse. The love-it-or-hate-it ‘bubblegum music’ genre was in full swing on the Top-40 charts nationwide, and there must have been considerable confusion. In fact, outside of Texas, I’ll conjecture that the name might have been what got the record listened to at radio stations in the first place. They can only have concluded ‘Well, this is good ANYWAY…’ and deigned to play it.
In fact, in the spring of 1969, Bubble Puppy found themselves lip-synching ‘Hot Smoke’ on American Bandstand, the virtual pinnacle of pop-music television at that time. But, as Fore recalls, ‘I think it was us and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. We were anything but “bubblegum,” right? But maybe somebody thought we were, because of the name.’
The single rose to the dizzying height of #14 on the nationwide charts, but there were problems. Ask anyone (like, for example, me) who was a teenager with his ear glued to the radio at the time and who lived in New York or Los Angeles, and he’ll tell you he never heard the record. Ever. It wasn’t on the radio and it wasn’t in stores. The first time I ever heard of Bubble Puppy or ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’ was in the early 70s when I found it on a WFIL (Philadelphia radio station) compilation album originally released in 1969. ‘Hmm, probably some local one-hit band that never made it outside of Philadelphia,’ I figured. Well, um, wrong.
The reason for this schism? You’ve guessed it already. Payola, which virtually owned American radio in the early 1960s, had been decimated by several crackdowns but still existed. The larger record labels didn’t have any problems -- with their big budgets and their big lawyers, they were able to either laugh off any appearance in their offices by Doug-and-Dinsdale types. Or, if they were so inclined, give them a couple of dollars and a used Cadillac and appease them just for fun. But small labels like IA were the only bread-and-butter the racketeers still had readily available to them in 1969. Chicago radio, once notorious, had been somewhat cleaned-up by 1969 -- witness ‘Hot Smoke’s’ three-week residency at number one in that city -- but New York and L.A. were still crawling with record-business thugs.
David Fore offers the following recollection: ‘We were in the studio, right? And these guys came there wearing black suits. And they demanded money! They said they could stop the record from being played in places like New York. And the guys from the label just laughed at them.’
Regardless, the rest of the nation embraced ‘Hot Smoke’ and so an LP was needed quickly. A Gathering Of Promises shows the band’s amazing range, and even a cursory listen belies the fact that it was recorded in a hurry. But when it was finally released, the national furor over ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’ had quieted down and the album never charted higher than #176. And -- astoundingly -- it seems that IA was approached regarding licensing the single in the UK by none other than Apple Records -- and TURNED THEM DOWN. Imagine, collectors, your Bubble Puppy single comfortably nestled in your collection betwixt Mary Hopkin and, oh, I don’t know, The Plastic Ono Band. But it wasn’t to be.
Regardless, the band toured relentlessly through 1969 and well into 1970, making heavyweight headliners like Steppenwolf pull out their A-game in an effort to avoid being blown off the stage. Not surprisingly, though, fortune didn’t follow fame -- they were shocked to find, after the tours, that they apparently owed International Artists money, instead of vice-versa. They eventually left the label in dissatisfaction and moved back to Austin.
Finally, Nick St. Nicholas -- Steppenwolf bassist, whom they’d met on the road -- offered to manage the deal-less Bubble Puppy, if they’d move to Los Angeles. They jumped at the chance. But that road had some bumps in it as well: first, there was a potential problem with IA over the Bubble Puppy name when the band signed to Dunhill (L.A.’s premier rock label at the time, also home to Steppenwolf) -- and the band elected to simply change their name. Diving into literature again, they reasoned that they’d do well to follow Steppenwolf in choosing a Herman Hesse title -- and thus became Demian. Perhaps one of the top five most-often-misspelled band names in history, and go right ahead and check eBay if you don’t believe me.
Also, the communal whole-band-living-together situation came to an end, according to Fore: ‘When we got to L.A. we were gonna rent a house together there too, but Roy got an offer to come live in a house that belonged to the guy who had the lead role in the L.A. production of Hair -- this guy had to go to New York to be in the show there. And he let Roy rent his house, which was up on Hollywood Boulevard. So we all split up into different places.’
Having shed the name that gave them unwanted connections to ‘bubblegum’ music, but which was also a nationally-recognized brand, Demian recorded one LP for Dunhill, released in 1971. With a slightly harder edge, as befitted the times, it nevertheless racked up disappointing sales figures. Dunhill was losing interest in the band, and the band lost interest in the game -- finally throwing in the towel in 1972 and returning, individually, to Austin.
Potter and Prince reunited to form Sirius in 1977, releasing one LP in 1979. Fore ditched the drums for a guitar and achieved some notoriety that same year with D-Day, courtesy of his own song ‘Too Young to Date.’ There was even a short-lived Bubble Puppy reunion in the 80s.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland actually has a Bubble Puppy exhibit -- part of a larger corner called ‘One-Hit Wonders.’ Scoff if you like, but there have been hundreds upon hundreds of ‘one-hit wonders’ in the USA, and Bubble Puppy is one of the few to have been selected for the exhibit.
Now please slip this shiny disc into your player and find out what all the fuss was about!