Uranus and ManagementDexter: Time to get some suits involved in this rock’n’roll.
|London Free Press courtesy Jack Whiteside|
Frank: And I thought, ya, that’s what you’re supposed to do, get a manager. So I got this tape, and there was this guy from CFPL (London radio station) that was sort of a fan of ours, and he sent it to these managers (Trilogy records) in Toronto. So they came down, one of the managers came down and saw us when we were playing at
Forest. And so he came in and talked to us and said ‘is
there a Jack Hwiteside here, he pronounced it with the H’. That was the first
time I ever saw this guy, Ross Munro, and he was one of those guys with the big
disco curly hair you know. They didn’t know what to make of us, they had big
hair bands, that’s all they had. They didn’t know anything about rock’n’roll.
These guys were kinda greasy business guys, slimy guys. This one guy, there was
2 of them, Ross Munro and…
Jack: And Steve Thomson. Well these guys from
I don’t know how they heard about us. But we were playing around and people
would go crazy for us when we were playing.
F: (The one guy) He was so slimy, he had to go to the doctor because he was shaking hands too much. And the doctor told him to lay off shaking hands…laughter…He was one of these guys that goes around shaking hands all the time. They said ‘it was kind of interesting, the things you guys did here’. So we asked them if they liked the reggae version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and they didn’t even know what reggae is. They said ‘what’s reggae?’ And I said ‘music from
it’s got a beat on one and the 3’.
But they said ‘we like the sound of it’. So what we were concerned about, was working. And they sort of cornered us, they said ‘would you like to be a part of our stable?’ Laughter…They had all of these bands that were part of their stable.
WW: Any idea of who any of the other bands were?
J: Hairbands, like cover bands. They had nothing to speak of, they were just bluffing most of the time.
|Photo courtesy Jack Whiteside|
F: Ya, what we said was ’if you guys can keep us working all the time, that’s fine. Take the tape and see if you can get us good jobs’. So they had a manager’s fee and an agents fee, they did both. And they also said, ‘we’ll put out a record for you too, what we’ll do is pay for all of the studio time and everything’. So we signed for this and they did their manager bit, as it was a barrier to us because you couldn’t go down to CKSL with your record. So the only way you could do it, was to get some greasy manager from
Toronto to do it. And they wore those satin
jackets, you know. So Ross Munro was sort of the liason between us and the
other guy, the other guy didn’t know jack shit about music at all.
WW: Let’s talk about recording in Toronto at Phase One Studio.
J: They came out to a gig and they saw us and they saw how everybody reacted and they said ‘Boys, you want to make an album?’ kinda like that, with the 10 gallon hat, and we said OK. And I said, give us a months notice and 2 weeks in the studio. What we got was 2 weeks notice and 3 days in the studio. What they wanted to do, was just capture our live sound, which they kinda did because most of it was one take, live off the floor, minimal overdubs but it’s under produced. They minimized it too much in my opinion. You know what I’m talking about? Like heavier, it came off too little.
F: We did the whole album there, and they chose ‘You’re So Square’ as the single to push.
D: I loved that studio! That was so cool when we got onto Phase One for the big time. That was the best! And the thing about ‘You’re So Square’, that was the one song that wasn’t even supposed to be done. It was a song we were thinking about doing, back at Frank’s house we were gonna rehearse it and try it just as one of our songs in our repertoire. Well it turns out, we had a little bit of extra time in the Phase One studio and we just went over ‘You’re So Square’ and there it was! 2 takes maybe. They wanted ‘Under My Thumb’, but Streetheart got ahold of it. I listen to our version, and it’s kinda shitty and then you listen to Streetheart’s with full production and it’s all slick and it’s all there, it was too big of a production number for Uranus to tackle. We were more of a real meat and potatoes kind of band when it came to recording. That was the bands best sound. Real basic, just like ‘You’re So Square’, ‘Maybe Baby’, any of those rockabilly type tunes. They got the reggae stuff down really nice and all of that too, but when it came down to really beefy production tunes, the band was not there for that. They were just very real, in your face analogue, out of my amp, maybe a bass line at the most, real basic, that’s the best the band is going to sound. I think the trickiest thing they ever did, was to get Frank to double up the vocals. Get him to sing with himself in tune.
But that’s how the hit transpired, it wasn’t supposed to be, it wasn’t scheduled as one of our songs to record, but we had a little bit of extra time.
J: In the studio, with ‘Secret Agent Man’, we were almost out of time, and they said, listen to this song, you’ve got to record it. So we did it in one take and that’s the B side of the single. We’d played it live before, but we didn’t have time to plan anything out. We didn’t know what was going to end up on the record.
Jerry: We went down for a couple of days and I remember being really sick with a cold. I only remember going to the studio for one day, but it was probably 2 days and they had an echo chamber, and it was really an old school echo chamber because what it was, was an empty kind of loading dock in a warehouse area and they put some speakers out there, in fact they were our PA speakers, our Marshall PA speakers out there, then they put a mic at the far end of the room. And it’s a really big cavernous room with a high ceiling so it just echoed. They pushed the music through the speakers and then miced it at the far end for real echo. That’s funny, cause just this afternoon I was reading about Chess Studios, and that’s essentially how they did it, so I’m sure it was a common thing to do back then.
|Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
WW: Did you guys have any say in the album cover?
J: No, not at all. We had no say in anything.
WW: And then you have a song in the top 10, You’re So Square!!
|Sitting at #3!!!!! Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
J: Then the album came out and it started to get airplay and stuff. We were number 3 on CKSL (the same radio station that Frank tried to get to listen to the band previously). Pink Floyd, Blondie and then us. And we watched it going up like this. And that was the days when those guys had some input on what they could play and how it would chart. We were on what they call the CHUM chain. Which means it was playing out east, like Fredericton it was big and here and it dotted all around and Vancouver.
D: But you gotta think back to the time, the song that was riding up the charts was ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (Queen), The Stray Cats were coming out, there was a slick rockabilly thing going on, on the radio, so if you’ve got Queen doing rockabilly and you’ve got Stray Cats doing rockabilly, it was a natural. Our guys in
were smart enough to see that, boom, and there it is. They created this whole
square wave thing. They were good guys no matter what anyone says, Steve Thomson
and Ross Munro.
Jer: That was all to do with Ross Munro and Steve Thomson. It was the timing thing for sure!
J: I hate to say this, but I think we got a little bit on the coattails of that Queen song, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, because it harkened back and then they thought I sounded like Elvis or something..laughter…
F: Ya cause it (our song) sounded sort of the same. They had kind of a rockabilly sound, that echoey sound and we had a similar sound. And when it came out on the record, it came out with this big (makes booming bass noise).
D: So the biggest thrill in my life relating to what you’re talking about, the hit record. There used to be a restaurant in
on Dundas St
called the Casino. I loved that restaurant and Sunday was my day, I was always
gigging somewhere. My thing to do, when I was in town on Sunday, was to go to
the Casino, have my clubhouse sandwich and drink copious amounts of alcohol and
maybe see a show at the New Yorker. My biggest thrill in life, I would have to say,
was sitting there and we came on the radio, CKSL, and I was like ‘WOW!’,that’s
really nice, I’m on the playlist with
all the other guys, all the big guys. ‘I’m having my lunch, my sandwich and I’m
on the radio with all those other people. That was cool! That was definitely
the highlight of the record for me!
And then (years later) when you’ve got cover bands in bars. covering your song, heard that twice….the biggest thrill in my life!!!
|The 2 singles released on Trilogy|
WW: So after the record came out, did you start to tour more?
D: We played a gig on
in Ottawa and
we also played the Chaudiere, in Quebec,
and it was a hot, hot club. We even brought more gear because it was a big Quebec bar, you’ve got a
big balcony, a 2000 seater plus. The dance floor was on hydraulics, that’s how
big the place was. When I was playing in Ottawa,
that’s where I’d go to drink after hours. And I told the guys, this is a big
gig, we’re gonna need a lot of gear, a lot of lights, this is where the cream
played and they paid the bucks. The boys (road crew) just couldn’t get a tap on
the power, they kept blowing one of the breakers and our lights would keep going
out and the PA would keep shutting down and they couldn’t tie in right. They
didn’t have a handle on it, they weren’t electricians, they weren’t big time,
they were just small time and they could plug their PA into this and it would
work. The stuff they had, all the extra equipment they got, they didn’t know
how to hook it in properly. We kept blowing up and we lasted there 2 days and
we were supposed to play for a week. These guys were like the French Mafia and
they called Frank into the office and Frank comes back with all of our dough,
like ‘here’s your money, get the fuck out of my club’. Laughter. This was after
the record. That was the only reason we got in there, cause we had a hit
record, so there’s pull. You can get in places if you have a hit record and you
WW: So you guys did a CBC television thing in Vancouver?
D: First thing was to go out and go on CBC, in
They flew us out there and boom, boom, boom. So you do the TV show and now
you’re nation wide. This is management, this is how they work. Now you’re
nation wide, you’re on Star Charts (actually Good Rockin’ Tonite) with Pat
Benatar, Michael Jackson and all those…
|Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
F: This was before MTV and that sort of stuff. But they had a show, Reach For The Stars or something like that (featuring Terry David Mulligan, called Good Rockin’ Tonite). They wanted us to do a lip synch version of ‘You’re So Square’ and ‘Maybe Baby’. They flew us out to Vancouver, and they picked us up at the airport in a limousine, like we were real stars! And they put us up in this fancy hotel, with a little kitchenette, and there was a big living room, it was a suite. And everyone had their own rooms and it was fabulous. So we went out there for 3 or 4 days doing this taping thing. I remember there was this big huge studio and there was makeup people, and powder in the faces and everything. And then they wanted us to do this…Jerry and I had the best looking hands…laughter…You know the way ‘You’re So Square’ comes on with the (snaps fingers). So they wanted us to do this, and they had these 4 big huge cameras on big booms. coming down and swooping down on our hands and Jerry and I couldn’t get the count right, because it just comes in, right….laughter. So this effeminate guy, that was doing the directing, he says ‘ oh good god, who did this tune anyways, did you guys do this tune?’ He’s really berating us, and he says ‘it’s on the 2 and the 4…1 2 3 4’. And it wasn’t, and we couldn’t get it, cause there wasn’t a count in. It took us a long time just to get that….laughter…And then we finally got it, then we did the rest of the thing. But I’ve never seen it. Jack said he saw it. I don’t even know if it exists now. It was all lip synch, and I wanted to do a thing where I dropped my pick and pick it up…laughter…They had these girls, doing a dance, either ‘Maybe Baby’ or ‘You’re So Square’ they’d do this thing, where they’d go like this, pull out their bubble gum, behind us…….
Jer: That’s what everybody did in those days….laugher…so I’m glad I got to do that, pretend I was playing on TV. What I remember is that it was a pretty good deal, you go out to
Vancouver, you get paid, they put you up for
a couple of days, first time I’d ever been to Vancouver. The studio probably took 2 hours
or whatever, and then the rest of the time you got to wander around the city
and check it out, it was cool.
J: It was just a patchwork of stuff that they had recorded on the sound stage. And he (Terry David Mulligan) would say, this week we’ve got so and so and so and so and they never met, it was all just pre-taped. All lip synced and pre-taped and they picked ‘You’re So Square’ and they said ‘this is a great song this is the kinda song you want to hear on the car radio when you’re driving down the road’. And I thought, why can’t we just do this in
But they flew us out there ( Vancouver)
on their nickel because of that big sound stage. It was huge. That’s a picture
of me on the TV (pointing to picture). It didn’t air for awhile. And the
episode that it aired on, Michael Jackson was on it at the same time. And my
folks, the only way they could see it, to see me on TV, they had to go to
Stratford (town outside of London) and rent a motel room and turn the TV on to
see it. And somebody took a picture of it.
But we did 2 songs, ‘You’re So Square’ and the second single they picked out was also me singing, ‘Maybe Baby’. And they rented instruments for us and I broke a string while we were lip syncing….laughter…
|Jack Whiteside on TV Picture taken by his parents, courtesy Jack Whiteside|
WW: But you got to meet Terry David Mulligan?
J: No, not at all. He was just a host. They had a dressing room and flowers for us and everything. And we’re walking around Vancouver, and we look in a record store window and there’s a big huge display of the Uranus album, like phony covers, but a whole window display!
|Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
WW: What do you remember about the cross
tour you guys did next?
D: So now you’re on national television, so you come home. They treated us really well by the way, a great time. So we came home and now you’ve gotta go out and support that. So away we went, jump in the big old Budget truck that we rented and couldn’t afford and hired the guy we’ve been working with all along, Bruce Dawson on sound and it was all good.
F: So the first gig was in Vancouver (opposite side of Canada), which was kinda strange. We spelled each other off in driving. Except it was mostly Jack and I and Bruce and just went straight out. I remember we finished off a gig at The York, and then we left directly after the gig. Like at 1 o’clock (in the morning) we loaded up the truck and left. We were just driving and driving and driving. Bruce had this little mattress kind of thing, so we could spell each other off, but it was just useless. Any bump you’d go over and you’d just go jump. It was really horrible. We were popping a few bennies to stay awake and just driving straight through.
J: We actually followed Teenage Head on this circuit,
Vancouver. We had a PA and we had one roadie (Bruce), and a sound system. We
had everybody and everything in this big truck and that means you’re sleeping
on your amps and shit.
|Uranus on tour!!! Picture by Bruce Dawson|
Jer: That was a tough trip. I remember the cube van, with the very fancy couch, that was incredibly uncomfortable. It wouldn’t be bad to sleep on, but that’s what we rode on. A couch is a shitty thing to put in a van, because you need a seat with a stiff suspension. We drove and drove and drove till we got about an hour out of
Calgary and then we ran
out of gas. That wasn’t the same tank of gas that we started on, but we ran out
of gas and it was
in the morning and we’re in the middle of nowhere. I can’t remember how we
ended up getting gas, maybe Bruce Dawson hitchhiked up the road and found a gas
station. The odometer has been disconnected so you don’t have to pay the
mileage on the truck.
F: We spent one night in the
Rockies, at Banff we camped at the National Park and we
saw this grizzly bear, and people were warning us about grizzly bears. Then we
got out to Vancouver
and we had pretty good gigs out there and the manager got us a pretty good
place to stay. We played 2 places in Vancouver, The Savoy and Gary Taylor’s
Rock Room I remember the Savoy was in Gastown.
|Telegram wishing Uranus good luck. Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
Jer: But the cool part about it was that we got to play 2 weeks in
Vancouver at 2 nice clubs, at one of the
clubs we had an opening act, I can’t remember who. We played down in Gastown, a
really cool part of town. On one side of the street are all the drug addicts
and prostitutes. So it was 2 weeks in Vancouver,
we had a nice place to stay, we kinda had a suite there and some guys would
sleep on the couch and some guys would get a bed. When you’re in your 20’s you
can do that, because you’re always drinking and you can tolerate a lot more.
That was fun. There were a bunch of people from London who were living in Vancouver at the time and they would come out
and see the band and it was a lot of fun. You could never travel under those
circumstances these days, but I’d certainly recommend it if you’re between the
ages of 19 and 28.
|Uranus playing in Vancouver. Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
D: The western tour was great. But we played the clubs during the beer strike, whatever year that was, so all you could get was Cider. You couldn’t even get beer. That bummed Jack out, but I like the cider and still drink it to this day, I even have some at home, BC cider, I love it. And I got to meet Wally (John Watson nicknamed Wally), he was the drummer for Doug and The Slugs, and we partied quite extensively. We went down to Wreck Beach and watched a bunch of naked people in the …laughter…had a great time!
Jer: Then we played
for 3 days.
scary, very scary, they might as well call it Red Neck Red Deer Alberta Alberta, not Red Deer. And we just didn’t fly there, they
were expecting (Bob) Seger or country or something. Red Deer was not for Uranus. So we had a
couple of those and you’re stuck and it wears on you.
Calgary for 3 days.
Calgary was awesome, we
were playing there during Calgary Stampede and we even had the top notch
Beatles clone band get up on stage with us and the girls were going crazy. It
was like a 2000 seater room and it was jammed. You want to talk about having a
good time, when you have that many people having fun!
|Jack Whiteside checking the flowers! Picture by Bruce Dawson|
F: I think it was the Beatlemania guys. They looked the part and they got up and jammed with us, then they did a coupla tunes by themselves.
Edmonton was great, it was really rocking. It
was packed every night and it was like it was a weekend every night. People had
heard of us because we were on the radio. We were pretty hot in Edmonton, the people
really dug it. It was a fabulous gig I really remember that one.
Jer: And that was it. We had 4 weeks and that was it. There was nothing between here and
Edmonton, you didn’t play
a gig in Winnipeg
or Sault St Marie or something like that.
J: We barely made it back, we had to get a tow truck because the truck broke down. There’re pictures of that, the last leg of the journey is with a tow truck with our truck on an angle.
F: Ya, it wasn’t very much (of a tour), then it was back to Ontario Place (Toronto) At Ontario Place we played with Teenage Head, we opened up for them. We should have been playing on the way out and on the way back, but they didn’t set it up.
J: When we got back, like the album is out and the single is out and we played really well. We played Catholic Central High School (London high school) and they paid us $800 and all of the girls were screaming, literally. Because it was on the radio, and we’re signing autographs and everything and someone knocked on my door one time to get my autograph. That’s the power of AM radio!
WW: Well let’s talk about some of the radio appearances.
F: Oh ya, there was a lot of radio stuff. There were a lot of radio interviews. I remember CHUM FM, nobody wanted to do it, so I had to do it. That was when we were playing there (Toronto), but I don’t know if they used it or not. Because I didn’t know how to do radio interviews..the Shiite, I didn’t know how to shoot the shit. They’d ask me questions, like they were trying to say it was our debut in
Toronto, and we’d played Toronto lots of times
before. And I’d go ‘what do you mean it’s our debut’ but this is the hype. And
they’d ask me ‘where’s it to from here, from Toronto?’ And I’d say ‘well we’ll
pack up the truck and we’ll go back to London’…laughter…and the manager’s going
crazy, he’s pulling his hair out…’no you’re supposed to say you’re going to
Europe or’ and I’d say ‘are we?, are we going to Europe’ and he’d say ’no, but
you say you heard that you were going to Europe, we’re working on something’.
So I didn’t know how to shoot the bull properly, cause they’d ask me a question
and I’d just answer it literally…laughter…
It was good when I was working with Jack, with 2 front men, cause he could do the rap. I didn’t like that kind of stuff.
J: There was CFNY live over the air. People told us after we broke up, that they (CFNY) were playing our song (Gilligan’s Island) on the radio station all the time. It was a live to air (at a car show) and there was nobody there, so we had the double pressure of playing in Toronto, and it’s live on the air, to try not make any mistakes because it’s on the air and there’s nobody there. It’s like a ghost, a few people walking along and potted plants here and there…laughter…it was a joke, it was a real double whammy, not just a normal gig with nobody there, we could do that, but a gig going over the air and we’re supposed to be (makes crowd interaction noises) laugher…but it was a joke.
D: Ya, I remember that, the only reason I remember the gig is because I blew out a bass drum head, the first thing that happened, is the bass drum has a beater, right, it’s got a metal shaft that goes up to a foam ball, well the foam ball snapped off and the metal stick went right through the head, so I had to go down to Steve’s Music for that gig and get a new bass drum head. And we were so poor half the time, and it’s all that I could do to borrow a couple of bucks even to get that. I didn’t mind the poorness of it all, people took real good care of us, people would feed us and buy us beers. You know we were making more at home, and being at home, so naturally you don’t spend as much money.
Jer: Playing in
London was always great.
People went out then, people always came out and we had a good crowd. People
came out every night of the week it seemed and you could play a gig for 6
nights. When we played The Firehall, we played for 6 nights, figure that out,
WW: Let’s talk about touring with Ronnie Hawkins.
F: The managers got in with Ronnie Hawkins, cause Ronnie had the exact same sound system as we had. They wanted us to do a gig with Ronnie Hawkins, a little tour,
Orillia, Penatang and Midland and up around
there. There was a little festival in Midland
that we were going to do. They said ‘Ronnie wants you to open up for him, but
he can only pay you $100’. I thought something sounds a bit fishy’. So I said
‘well, I don’t think Ronnie knows us, and what he wants is our sound system, I
know that he has the same sound system as us’. And they said ‘No, no, Ronnie
really likes you’. And I said ‘he likes us for us?’ and they said ‘ya’. I said ‘Ya, OK, we’ll do the gig’, but the
rest of the guys were against it. So I calmed the other guys down and told the
guys later, if he likes us for us, we’ll just go up with the old Marshall PA,
this little tiny thing, we won’t use the big system. We can’t take the big thing
up there anyway, because we’ll go in the hole. So we went up with the little
system and Ronnie Hawkins, sure enough his guy was out on the east coast with
their sound system and that’s why they wanted us to do the gig, was our sound
J: It was on the condition that he got to use our PA, which he didn’t realize (was a small one) which saves him a lot of hassle, no sound guy, no roadie, no PA. We had these 2
is not known for their PA, that’s what we used. And when he was playing he
said, ‘I’d like to thank Uranus for use of their PA equipment, strange
equipment, but nice equipment’….laughter…but we told him, this is what we’ve
got, we’re not shelling out for anything. And if he wants it, fine, and we’d
open up for him and then he would play.
F: So we did these 3 gigs with Ronnie Hawkins and we just put up our little
Marshall. We chummed around with him for a
bit, he’s crazy, but he’s really cool, but he’s nuts, right. And I remember him
seeing Dexter all pissed up, and Ronnie said to me ‘is that your drummer?’ and
I said ‘ya’. Then he says ‘if that was my drummer, he’d be gone in a second,
you’d better get rid of that guy’. And I said ‘no, no, he’s my friend, he’s my
pal, I can’t do that’. He said ‘you gotta learn in this business, you can’t
have friends fucking up on you’. We got to jam around with his band, in the
rooms and stuff. There was this guy called Cocaine Carl, he was a fabulous
player, a really good jammer.
J: His band was great, his guitar player was great.
|Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
F: There was this guitar player called John, and Ronnie Hawkins used to refer to him as the boy wonder. And he would always refer to him as a 16 year old wonder, but he was the same age as us, about 24, so it was just bullshit, Ronnie’s bullshit. But Ronnie was a funny guy to see and play and we talked to him quite a bit and it was kinda neat to play with a guy like that, that’s been around for a long time. A rockabilly guy.
J: We did a bunch of gigs with him. We played the El Mocambo with him too, we opened for him and Whittaker (Keith from The Demics) was there. They threw him down the stairs that night, he was slagging Ronnie Hawkins that night and he had come to see us, but it was his duty to slag Ronnie Hawkins, because he was the dinosaur and they bounced him down the stairs and fucked him up a bit.
The bands we were playing with, when they sent us out on gigs, they’d take a look at us with our little PA, like we’d be playing in
Toronto and you’re judged
by how much PA shit you cart in. You still had hair bands, like loud long hair
bands and they’d look at us, with this little PA, and we’re doing like ‘Dixie
Fried’ in this big giant bar in Toronto with this little PA and just 4 guys
with short hair and no front man, nobody hanging around and they didn’t know
what to make of us. Well the punks and stuff, they had their own built in
thing, they didn’t have to go through any of the mainstream stuff, big gigs,
they had their own little scene and gigs.
WW: So you didn’t get into the punk circuit at all then?
J: No, not at all.
WW: That’s probably where you should have been.
J: Well I don’t know about that. They never embraced us and we were still tied up with these guys (management) that thought they were gonna make us stars.
F: So when the record sort of hit, we started going on the cross country tours and that and then things sort of went sour with the band and the soundmen, the 2 bikers. Ben hated the managers with a passion. I didn’t like them, I thought they were greasy too. Ben took it as a real personal thing that we would side with the managers as opposed to siding with him, he took sides right. He said ‘Let’s just dump those fucking managers, and let’s get back to just being ourselves out on the road, just you guys and us’. But we signed with them, we were in now, and I said ‘I don’t like them as much as you’. And he (Ben) was just thinking of it as us or them, and Bruce, he was always cool. So Bruce and him got into an argument about it and Ben just said ‘fuck it’ and he quit. He was out of the scene, so that was kind of a sour note to see that go and we were all getting sick and tired of a lot of the shit the managers would lay on us. And they never paid us any of the money they got for the record.
WW: No royalties?
F: WE GOT NOTHING!! Zero!
WW: You didn’t end up paying for your studio time, did you?
F: No, we didn’t pay for any of that. But they ripped us off for a lot of other things. And then the gigs started getting weird. They booked us at a lot of places, because that was one of our stipulations, to keep us working all of the time. But some of the gigs were pretty weird. They were working on us to go to
and stuff like that, but we never went through with it, we just packed it in.
Cause the gigs were getting weird, and we were all getting sick of that. But
Dexter was the only guy that wanted to keep going.
D: Ross and Steve, good guys. I believe they played fair. They played total ball with us and they gave us the break we needed. My feelings (long pause) and I know exactly what went on in the business and I’ve been in the business for a long, long time. Everyone’s gotta get a piece, and they (the rest of the band) resented that. Frank and Jack and Fletch just resented it every time that we went out to do a gig and there’d be less money than we were expecting and there’d be ‘what am I doing this for?’ It’s what they wanted to do, they wanted to write songs, have a hit record, blah blah blah, you gotta get out and do it. They wanted the instant reward, other than the handclaps, they wanted to see money, they wanted to see everything. You gotta pay to play, you know. They’re gonna give you all of this, but they’re not doing it for free…laughter…
They only took what was required from us, money, time, access to a lot of gigs where we didn’t really make any money, exposure, every pro loves that word exposure.
Oh, it means ‘no pay, travel time, oh ok, it cost me money and be lucky if I get a dinner out of the damn thing’. But you gotta get that exposure.
F: It was Jerry that first approached it. We always had 3 rooms, Jack would bunk with Bruce, Jerry and I would have a room and we’d always give Dexter a room by himself….laughter..I remember Jerry lying in bed and saying to me ‘you know I think I’m at the end of my tether’. And I kinda thought that way too, and I said ‘Let’s talk to Jack about it’ and we talked to Jack about it the next day and he said ‘I was thinking the same thing, but I didn’t want to say anything’. After a Huntsville Ontario gig, July 1980 is when we broke up. We really should have just taken some time off to get back to what we were all about and re-group and that kind of thing. But we just wanted to pack it in I guess. We were all getting sick of it then, but Dexter was the only one that really wanted to tough it out.
F: We did gigs after that, but that’s when we decided to pack it in. But we still did gigs as Uranus, but not on the road and not with the managers. And they said they were going to sue us cause we were doing gigs.
J: This is what nobody knows about. I had to phone these guys (management) to tell them that we had broken up. Jerry wanted to quit first, so we quit. And then I had to phone them and they just reamed me out on the phone for a half hour or more, yelling and screaming, you can’t do this, we’ve got this all booked and what are you talking about. Well I had to say, you can’t get blood from a stone, we don’t exist, so we can’t play anywhere or record anymore, because we’ve broken up.
D: Ya, there was a question at the time of a lawsuit. We were under contract for 3 years and all that came down to, they knew we didn’t have any money and they weren’t going to get any money out of us. Don’t forget they were lawyers.
J: So you can imagine this, these 2 guys flipping out and seeing all of their dreams going down and they had us going out east (
tour) and we said no. And they said, ‘oh you can’t handle the success’. And we
said ‘no, we’d been together for easily 5 years at that time and we’re all
professional musicians and you get paid when you play, we’d learned our craft,
there was no DIY, you’re in a band stuff. We’d all paid our dues, we’d all
learned our instruments and you get paid to play’. And they had all these
freebies for us to play, ‘good exposure boys’. Playing in record stores and
shit, which other bands are doing and you’d go along with it because that’s
what you did, but we didn’t buy into it and we didn’t want to do it.
|Courtesy Jack Whiteside|
F: One of the things that pissed me off, is it said in the contract that they as their corporation, it was Trilogy, would pay for all promotion things. So when they wanted us to do these free gigs, to promote the album and stuff, I said no. If you’re going to pay for promotion, then you pay us to do the gig. You pay us to do the work, cause that’s promoting, and you said you were going to pay for promotion. And they said, no no, and Jack argued on their side and said ‘come on, it’s our record’. But I said ‘no, you pay us, because that’s part of the promotion’. They didn’t see it that way, and there were a few arguments about that. And then we’d do more and more gigs. There wasn’t any time to do any practice, cause we said that we wanted to work all of the time, but that sort of worked against us. We never had any time to re-group or learn any new songs and practice to see where else we were going. I kinda wanted to do some more original stuff and Jack wanted to keep doing rockabilly stuff. I liked the rockabilly stuff, I thought maybe we could write our own rockabilly stuff. But that was sorta near the end, but it was all due to that manager sort of stuff.
WW: Did Trilogy offer you any more studio time, a follow up to the record.
F: They started to get behind us, they wanted us to do some more stuff. They were kinda hurt when we said we were gonna pack it in. They said come on think it over because we’ve got some more stuff coming up. But we decided to pack it in.
J: Then the Free Press (London daily newspaper) is phoning me and it’s in the newspaper with the headline “Uranus breaks up at zenith, stars to follow’, some bad pun or something. This is the quote, ‘we saw the soft underbelly of the Canadian music industry and we recoiled’. Cause we could tell, it was just going to be more of the same, it happened to every band and they just went along with it. We kept the name, but that was fairly shortly lived.
F: So we just finished the gigs that we had, do the bikers picnic and then pack it in after that. In the fall of 1980 Ralph Dame joined (on bass). None of us had jobs and we had to get some money somehow.
D: They just wanted us to finish out the contract for them and they had Ronnie Hawkins who owned Ye Olde City Hall (London club, corner of Wellington and Dundas), so we did a number of engagements for them up there, just engagements where they took their chunk. We were signed up for 3 LP’s and that’s what really hurts, man you guys had the opportunity at Phase One, management backing you. They could have gone a little further cause all the cards were in place, they had another tour lined up, another cover going (‘Maybe Baby’) and you’re pushing it with 2 covers on the radio, but that’s OK, at least it was in the works. ‘Maybe Baby’ was slated to come out next as we carried on with the tour, it was all timing, it was all thought out, these guys aren’t stupid. Everything was in the works, the eastern tour was in the works, another 45 was in the works all you’ve gotta do is roll with it, suck it up and go on the road. It came back here and it went ERRRRRRR…(loud sound of rubber tires stopping quickly on pavement) brakes on full, I’m home, I ain’t going nowhere.
WW: When Uranus got back together, did you play in the band at all?
Jer: No, that was Ralph (Dame). I don’t remember all the details. I went back to school and that was a period where there was no way that I could do it. Cause it was doing gigs in the middle of the week. I had my fun and I figured that was enough. I don’t know if we were in a rut or whatever it was. We rode it pretty good for a spell, I don’t know how long that spell was. We did the trip out west, then there was a trip out east coming up and we said, I dunno, it’s just too tough. Even then, it was just too tough. I think we took that whole thing as far as it was gonna go and we realized it at the time.
WW: Any idea of how well the album did across
F: I think they got 10000 printed and I bought up the last little thing from them. They only had about 80 albums left and that’s all the money I ever made from that album. It was my own deal, I went to them and said we were reforming and were gonna do a couple of Uranus gigs and I said do you have any stuff around that I can get from you? And they said ‘we’ve got about 80 albums, and a bunch of singles and some posters and stuff and you can have the whole bunch for $300 or something’, I was talking to them on the phone, right. So I said OK, and then I thought, we never got a dime for this stuff, so they should be giving me this stuff for free. So I came down, and I said ‘listen, you guys never gave us a dime, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got $50 in my pocket, why don’t you just give me everything you’ve got for $50?’ So I got all of the stuff, brought it back down and we flogged it (the album) off the stage for $4.
WW: Let’s talk about playing live to air from the Embassy Hotel on CHRW (university radio station) in London Ontario.
J: I don’t know how they came about to want us to do that. We were out of place there, as there were more of these alternative kind of bands playing there. And we were becoming the establishment in 2 years, the old farts or the old guard or something. And at that time there were a million bands, they were in the audience and then they were in a band. I don’t remember a lot about that night, it wasn’t an exceptional night as far as the audience was concerned.
Jer: If we’d never met Ross Munro and Steve Thomson then of course we’d never have made the record or been on Terry David Mulligan or any of that shit, and that’s why all that stuff happened, because of those guys. I don’t know why they were interested in us. And we sounded pretty good, I listen to those recordings, that recording from CFNY sounded pretty good. We had been together a couple of years and played those songs umpteen different times. To me, playing in Uranus was no different than any other band.
|What Wave Archives|
J: We owned this town for 2 years easily, 78, 79, 80 around that time. And The Demics fucked off to
fairly fast. Uranus has always been a London
band literally. We reigned, people were lining up and shit.
We’re in the Canadian encyclopedia of rock’n’roll. And my parents had a new respect for me when the album came out. They let us practice at their place and learned to ignore it and they were pretty good about it. We’d play in the basement and they let some of the guys crash over. You’d get kicked out of the house when you had hair down to there and get called down to the office to see the principal.
D: We had some good times, we had some great times. Before we hooked up with Ross and those guys we were doing the local thing and going up to Kincardine. We had a fan base. I’ve got no beefs with those guys (Ross and Steve) but I get the feeling from Jack and Frank that they really hated it.
I just think that you had to do, what you had to do. I don’t feel that the band, or key members of the band were ready for quote/unquote; the big time. You have to spend, as an actor, musician, artist of any sort, even as a good salesperson, you’re going to have to do some road time and bite it. You gotta bite it, and there was definitely a problem with that.
And I’m telling you right now, the only reason the band didn’t succeed, is that they couldn’t handle it, they’re homeboys, they want to be in front of their friends and their fans here at home, they didn’t want to get out there in Red Deer Alberta, Halifax or anywhere, they just wanted to be home. As much as I love Frank and Jack and Fletch, if anything goes wrong, they’re homebodies, ‘ahhhh, this sucks, I hate this’ but you gotta go with it. They had the song power, they had the writing ability, they had the band, they had the people behind them.
Even today, like shit, I really made a mistake, I could have my doctorate in music right now, I could have gone to the Conservatory, instead I went for the rock’n’roll., god damn stupid fuck…hahahahaha…..It was Really a Good time!!
|London Free Press courtesy Jack Whiteside|