Hagan and Litwack head off to college at the University of Pennsylvania.
Litwack begins experimenting with Guitar and Squeeze Box duets, using
a series of studio guitar players.
Mike meets piano man Lewis Fains and drummer Lee Wilder (a.k.a. "the
brothers") in the faculty dining
room. Their shared fondness for Motown, Rudy Ray Moore, and white women convince them to start a
band. Their first gig is for a free lunch in the very same faculty dining room, instantly
catapulting them into the ranks of "professional" musicians.
Bradley joins a new band, Weasel & the
PeaveyTones. Rather than
suffering from artistic differences, the band actually suffered from artistic
similarities - primarily in the form of "no artistic ability whatsoever".
The band never formally broke up, it simply stopped going to its own practices.
Bradley vows "no more lame-ass bands!", to no
one in particular.
Through their common love of Foosball, an arcane sport virtually unknown in
the Northeast, John & Mark meet Dan Kirchheimer, a stellar defenseman.
To 'whiten-up' the
sound of his new band, Mike convinces former Breakfast of Champions
rockers Steve Hayick (guitar) and Bob Welsh (bass) to join up. The resultant racially diverse (and
controversial, for the time) group was christened The Shades of Grey.
Bradley heads off to Drexel University, where he embarks on a lengthy
The Shades embark on a ten-year odyssey, playing weddings, ski banquets, and
the occasional school dance. During this ten year period, the band rehearses twice.
"The Master of Disaster" (Litwack) and "The White Stuff" (Hagan)
team up and enter Penn's 1982 Foosball Tournament. Mark's dynamic, determined, and powerful play
style combined with John's annoying trash talk and only high-percentage shot (the stuff), net them
victory and their first Foosball
Hagan and Kirchheimer become partners on a senior project. It quickly
becomes apparent that the most efficient division of labor could be realized by having
John do all the work while Dan learned blues guitar.
At around this time, Dan & John adopt the alter-egos of Funny-Haha
& Funny-Strange, for a mercifully short-lived performance art piece featuring a
foosball table, some hot blues guitar riffs, a Concept C-108 Video Terminal, and a lot of
shouting. Beyond that, the piece largely defies description, as you can well imagine.
Hassled by 'the Man', Bradley flees Drexel University to take on a programming
job at the University of Pennsylvania, where he meets John Hagan.
John & John note the growing popularity of Rap music. They discuss the
matter while dining at a local fast-food establishment, deciding that "this looks pretty
easy". They resolve to form a rap group of their own, and
thus Cold Tea & D.J. Biggie Fry was born.
They record and release their widely misunderstood single,
"The Syslord Rap".
Litwack hires Dan to play guitar on his
magnum opus, "Squeezin' & a-Pickin'", a
collection of traditional Lithuanian 'churning songs'
arranged for guitar and squeeze box.
Twenty minutes later, Dan convinces Mark to "put the damned
squeeze box down!" Mark never touches (or speaks
of) the squeeze box again. Instead, he opts to try his hand at a more mainstream instrument, the electric guitar.
Cold Tea & D.J. Biggie Fry form the
basis of the short-lived supergroup Da Funky Boyz
by partnering with Torquemaster Fong (aka Rapmaster Fil),
formerly of the avant-garde performance art troupe Colonel
Of some historic note: in 1998, John Bradley records
a remix of "Eat Me, Dr. Carr", operating under the now-accepted studio norm of
"using real musical instruments".
John & John are struck by lightning
while walking on Penn's campus. Or perhaps it was an alien
abduction - it's hard to tell. During Bradley's mysterious
seven and a half minutes of "lost time", he has an
epiphany. He decides that the world simply is not ready for
their particular brand of 'talentless white-boy rap', and
that it is time to get back to his roots.
The next day, the call goes out: "I'm forming a Rock
& Roll Cover Band, goddamit. Who's with me?"
After much abuse from Bradley, Hagan decides
to buy a house solely to set up a rehearsal studio in the
basement. With his last $50, Hagan buys a set of what can
loosely be described as 'drums'.
Litwack auditions to join the band as the lead guitar
player. He fails the audition, primarily because the only
song he could play was The Who's "Squeeze Box",
proving that his prior obsession had not been totally
Impressed by Mark's ability to carry heavy objects, Bradley
announces "Gentlemen, it looks like we've found
ourselves a bass player!"
Local hard-rockin' lesbian Kate Coyle joins
the band on lead vocals, primarily on her ability to score
gigs at Bryn Mawr College. The first incarnation of The
Electric Fish is officially born. The Fish play
their first gig in March of 1988.
While exceedingly rare (as in "not done yet"), there exist several recorded
examples of the Fish's signature sound from this period.
Hagan's live-in girlfriend Helen Geyer
joins the band, though in retrospect, it's not clear that anyone ever invited her. Helen's personal tastes run towards
horrendously bad 'authentic' delta blues,
which proves difficult to realize within the confines of TheElectric Fish.
To accommodate her, an offshoot version of the band, dubbed Bellyful
o' Cats, is created, with veteran bluesman Dan
Kirchheimer sitting in on lead guitar.
Both versions of the band play a gig at Bryn
Mawr College, alternating sets. During the Bellyful o'
Cats set, the band performs a version of Stormy
Monday so godawful that Dan vows never to play with the
With Bellyful o' Cats on permanent
hiatus, the Electric Fish go on a grand tour of Bryn
Mawr College, playing for hundreds of students on multiple