Jonas Parmelee’s artist recommendation: “Most of my earliest childhood memories revolve around music. Be it the classic rock radio station we listened to in the car, to the early Madonna records my older sisters would spin, or the Stand By Me Soundtrack that was my fist cassette tape, music was always there providing much needed escape for a kid growing up in a family falling apart. Songs always seemed to define and help me cope with the issues of the day. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors somehow came to represent my mother’s affair and my parents’ subsequent divorce. The Who’s Behind Blue Eyes let me make sense of my first cousin suddenly becoming my new “older brother” after witnessing his parents’ murder/suicide. He’d beat the shit out of me on an all too regular basis. I may or may not have deserved some of it. But, as much shelter it would give me throughout those years, music had remained a spectator sport.
Fast forward to my teenage years. The 60s, 70s and 80s rock of my childhood was replaced with hip hop and a desperate attempt to just fit in by junior high. But like The Kinks said, I’m not like everybody else and so I soon stopped trying to be. By this time, I had turned to the defiance of punk rock, especially of the late 70s variety. Cheap beer, pot and acid were the vices of choice among my friends and I. Black Flag kept all the trips bad. Looking back, I wonder why we kept trying.
Discovering the late 70s British punk band, The Adverts, was THEE a-ha, lightbulb moment for me. It may not have been my generation’s music, but it definitely chewed up and spit out the shit all the kids at school were listening to. At least it was real. The first time I heard One Chord Wonders was the moment it first occurred to me that it was time to literally take matters into my own hands and start playing the bass guitar. I didn’t even have one, but that was not going to get in my way. So, with a borrowed bass, I lied my way into my first band.
Listening to those Adverts recordings, I felt I knew exactly where New Wave came from and what it was trying to rip off. The melodic yet cold and chilling vocal delivery of TV Smith, painting pictures of dissent and disapproval, made almost too much sense to my teenage mind. The reverb on the guitar, creating a sense of massive space, and by extension isolation and stark loneliness, underscored the lyrics perfectly. It sounded as if it was being beamed in to planet Earth from outer space. Beamed directly to me. The shaky rhythm section plods along like it was about to fall apart at any moment, desperately chugging toward the finish line before the wheels fall off. It reinforced the notion that rock and roll is not rocket science. This here was life and death.
Fast forward again to my early 20s. My band at the time was hanging out at CBGBs before our gig there later that night. Who happens to walk in the door? None other than TV Smith himself. Amazing. Conversation was struck and the beginnings of a relationship was formed between he and us. It led to one US tour and several UK tours playing in his backing band. How cool and unlikely is that? Things don’t get much more surreal than chugging through the bass “solo” in No Time To Be 21, in London, with Gaye Advert herself looking right at you from the audience.”
New to The Adverts? Jonas suggests you start here:: “For a new listener, I would recommend the album Crossing the Red Sea, particularly the expanded “Ultimate Collection” because it includes the 45 rpm single versions of the songs as bonus tracks. (I prefer the singles to the album versions, but this reissue version gives you both.) This album includes all their “hits”, such as the aforementioned One Chord Wonders, No Time To Be 21, and Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the anxious and paranoid, like I was as a kid. Though not exactly household names like the Sex Pistols or The Clash, The Adverts created some of my favorite music to come out of the era.”
About our guest author, Jonas Parmelee: Prior to joining The Silks, Jonas was all punk, all the time. He was the bass player in Midnight Creeps, a group that, as mentioned above, toured as TV Smith’s backing band. But Parmelee’s run at collaborating with rock royalty didn’t end with TV Smith. Parmelee continued to mix it up with music’s masters when he joined The Silks, a trio based out of Rhode Island that is rounded out with Tyler-James Kelly on guitar/vocals and Matthew Donnelly on drums. From what Parmelee told Providence Monthly, some rough mixes that The Silks were working on got passed on to the legendary front man of The Replacements, Paul Westerberg. Westerberg loved what he heard and passed along one of his originals called Colleen for The Silks to record. The Silks did some reworking that Westerberg didn’t like and from there he summoned the group to Minneapolis to, according to Jonas, “…re-do the whole damn album with him.” The result is the band’s debut album, Last American Band (available on on their web site and on Bandcamp), a record that sounds like a treasure trove of unearthed bluesy gems from Clapton, The Stones and Faces. Westerberg says of the record, “We have a hit record here. It really stands up to all of the other mess in a big way.” It sure does. And for Parmelee, joining The Silks appears to be a perfect fit. “Every moment with The Silks is the best moment,” Parmelee recently said of being in the group. “It’s the type of band I’ve been dreaming of playing in as far as work ethic and approach to music.” Be sure to check the official Silks web site for tour dates and follow ’em on Facebook for the latest info about this stellar band.