Dusk contorts tile ancient city. The beast of night unlolds its black wings, casting his vast shadow tentacles down cold stone streets and wretched alleyways. Faceless people cower in nameless tenements, shielded from the night's dark gaze by the thin caul flesh of taut-drawn curtains. And the beast looks down on them and laughs black thunder; laughs as they scuttle into their impotent hovels; laughs as they tremble and pray that he shall pass them by. But now the cobbles echo to the sound of approaching heels! And then they appear, silhouetted upon the dammerschlaf horizon, standing last against the flow of night. The beast blinks a great red eye. The four stand tall, fixed, unmoving. Awaiting it. And the mighty god-beast of night looks down upon them, and he trembles, for his hour is close at hand.
Gripping stuff, huh? But not quite as gripping as the music it pertains to... The creators of which are about to unleash an LP of real gothic psychedelia, full of fancy textured masonry & shadows, flickering candlelight and things unspoken. As the publicity hype says "It is sound with weight, and faceless, formless things dance around its periphery "
I wish I could say that I'd been hip to The Not Quite since their early days, but it wasn't until a pink rabbit appeared through a wall and handed me an advance tape of 'Or The Beginning' - the LP due out any moment on Voxx - that the magic precipitated it's spell.
The aspect of The Not Quite shown in 'Or The Beginning' is best fathomed by their choice of covers - Eric Burdon's 'When I Was Young" and The Byrds ''Draft Moming", both of which have a feel that is very close to The Not Quite's original material. Alternatively, ragged and flailing lead guitar lines underpin the songs while nimble, flickering keyboard runs dance around a hypnotic metronome beat. A plumby bass sound that was state of the art in '67, recalls days a long time gone, while vocals soar and seduce. The songs too are dynamic, twisting and turning, stretching to infinity and back again. Like a walk through the Tardis, you can get lost inside these songs for hours, yet when they fade, Mickey Mouse has only moved his digits by three minutes. It's also a long LP (over 45 minutes) with some lovely extended instrumental passages, while the lyrics would stand alone as poetry, full of dark images, woven into intricate webs. For example:-
"The shadows cease their pantomime, and hang expectantly. The flame contracts its aureole; it shimmers cryptically. Your lace glows in it's dim halo, your eyes share fire with mine; The shadows laugh, the coils constrict, our fingers intertwine ... "
The power of this LP should not be underestimated, whether it be the snarl of "Malevolant Penguins" or the lengthy and aptly titled "Hypnosls". All of the original material is classic psychedelia by any standards.
Paradoxically the two covers (which, if the reader can visualise them, help explain the feeling of the LP), are also the weakest material on offer. Not that they are bad versions, it's just that they disturb the flow, and The Not Quite are destined to go with the flow on a trip that you'll never regret signing up for ....
The Incredible Tale of The Not Quite
The story of The Not Quite began in 1977 when 14 year old Rob MacKenzie formed The Starship Troopers. They played their '60s influenced songs at local High School functions, receiving at best a luke-warm reception. A demo tape of their own compositions soon got the band their first club date in the fall of '79. In attendance at this none-too-stellar debut (which featured a 'special effect' explosion that failed to go off at first, and then produced a cloud of thick, noxious smoke that sent people choking for the door) was another local group The Modern Look, who were suitably impressed to invite the band to open for them at their debut gig at the same club, a fortnight or so later. The event was electric and both bands decided that the combination of The Modern look & The Starship Troopers was a good one. They became their regular opening act playing dozens of shows together. This worked out quite well for the "Troopers, because The Modern Look soon became the hottest 'wave' band in the area, garnering much attention tha the soon-to-be Not Quite wouldn't have otherwise received with their somewhat 'un-hip' sound. The Modern Look seemed for a while to be the band that would break out of the Hartford scene into national success - but it never happened. Poised on the brink, personal strife tore the band asunder, leaving the way clear for The Not Quite. Their lead guitarist was or Morrison McCarthy, about whom we'll hear more later.
A few years passed by, fed up with audiences expecting to hear Yes or Jefferson Starship covers, the 'Troopers changed th name to the much more appropriate Not Quite. Drummers came and went, and so did guitarists, with Joe Guidone joining in October '81; But every time it seemed that "Things are really going to start happening now!'" somebody quit and it was back to the drawing board. In March '83 Tom Donnelly joined as drumer, his powerful style being perfect for the band... In January '84 the lead guitarist quit & Morrie McCarthy, having just parted with another group The Broken Hearts, (also ex Modern Look), joined. Then the band got a track The Garage Sale cassette comp, with "Paint Me In A Corner", a fairly typical example early '80s style '60s influenced punk. Lacking in production skills and with very basic drumming... the track is reminscent of early Fuzztones etc and features some catchy chord progressions courtesy of rhythm guitarist Joe Guidone.
The track was quite popular, and a demo session the next year led to a record deal with Resonance Records. The demo included a energetic run through of Pink Floyd's "Astronomie Domine", as well as two superb punkers, "Just Like Me" & "Get Lost Girl". Both of the originals & "Paint Me In A Corner" were re-recorded for their eponymous album, which took ages to complete. Keyboardist Mike "Boola-Boola'" Zappulla quit during the mixing... but the album garnered some rave reviews & quite rightly so. Starting with "Let Her Go" the compositions are mainly of the punk genre, but not the 'all -out-heavy-mayhem variety'. Joe Guidone's staccato rhythm guitar punctuates the air nicely, while Tom's drumming is much more animated and Morrie's lead guitar wails, hinting at the shape of things to come. One track, "I Don't Know How To Tell You" dates back to Morrie's days with The Modern Look, and is a beautiful tale of unrequited love, with Byrds harmonies & jangly guitar. You could say a tale of Boy not quite meets Girl! Rob Mackenzie's contribution is not to be underestimated either & his "Fickle Wind" is a taster of Rob's possessed lyrics and wonderful chord/tempo changes. Another track he co-wrote (with Morrie) entitled "Mushroom People" features the tale of a bad trip with haunting lyrics about nuclear mushroom clouds. The LP also features a rip-roaring version of "War Or The Hands of Time" by the Masters Apprendices, which is every bit a as good as it could be. A limited edition single "Circles/"Green Slime" came with the first 1000 copies of the LP. Both of which are interesting versions and worthwhile picking up.
By this time The Not Quite were headlining throughout Connecticut and drawing decent crowds. Writing sessions started for the next album, but a snag was hit. Rob MacKenzie songs being heavy, moody, and dramatic were going down a storm with the audience, but guitarist/vocalist Joe Guidone began to feel that his own material, which was more garagey, was being slighted. The situation wasn't improved (from Joe's point of view) when Colleen Crane was added on keyboards. Her dramatic, classically - influenced keyboard style being at odds with the garage material. Joe split and the band heaved a sigh of relief.
In order to exorcise their garage demons, once and for all, they decided to concentrate all their garage-grunge on their next LP entitled 'Having A Grunge-Fest With The Not Ouite'. Resonance Records wasn't amused, however, since garage music wasn't (& still isn't) selling. Consequently the LP still has to see the light of day.
After that, The Not Quite began recording 'Or The Beginning'. Recording took an eternity, but was eventually finished and the final product should be available from Voxx any minute now. In fact, the band have already started on the follow-up, and no doubt would have that ready for release too, if not for guitarist Morrie McCarthy's unfortunate accident & Rob MacKenzie contracting some weird disease just when they'd got the studio booked. The band claim that they've been cursed by witches, but a counter-hex is in development. Whatever, Morrie's finger is being nursed back to health & Rob is back in action ... a little while ago, we conducted the following interview:
Who's Who RM:- Rob MacKenzie. CC:- Colleen Crane. TO:- Tom Donnelly.
(Guitarist Morrison McCarthy absent due to finger physiotherapy).
FB:- How did you come up with such a great name? RM:-, The name was derived from an expression that was in current use among people during the late 70s, circa 78 - '80, in much the same way as "What a shocking bad hat!" was popular in the London of the late 19th century. (*Actually the mid 19th century - Ed's) It was one of those phrases that just came and went. For a while ... TO:- I thought that the name came up when you were all sitting around trying to think up names .. RM:- Shh! We'll get to that. This is the expanded version of the "How - We - Got - The - Name" story. Anyhow, the phrase was like a mild put-down. Whenever someone was going on about how great they were, like Colleen would say, "I'm the superior intellect" everyone else would go, "Not quite. Not quite". And everyone was saying it, all the time, it was like... universal, it was (laughs) omnipotent - ubiquitous! TO:- U-what? (Laughs) RM:-The original name of the band was The Starship Troopers after a book written by Robert Heinlein in 1966. I thought ·that the name would be very appropriate since the band played songs -that had the sound of '66. However, it soon turned out that most of the people that came to see the band thought we were going to be playing Yes; or even worse, Jefferson Starship! So we all got together and everybody wrote out long lists of names that they thought would be good for the band. At the local 'hip' record store a bunch of the employees came up with about a hundred names... there were some good names... a couple that I remember: Belladonic Haze was a good name. The Trundles was a name that we almost went with just because it was so obscure.. but every time a name was suggested - here, we'll do a re-enactment. Tom, come up with a name for the band. TO:- Keeper's of The Purple Twilight. RM:- Not quite. Not quite, Tom. CC:- Lemon Souffle. RM:- Not quite. TO:- The Toasters. RM:- Not quite, dudes, not quite. CC:- Deep Purple: RM:- Not quite. Hence, we finally decided that, since no one could agree on a name, and since each member's favourite name was soundly "not quite - ed" out of existance, that we would name the band, drum roll please, The Not Quite. (polite applause). FB:- What is the current line-up.
TD:- On drums, myself, Tom Donnelly; on bass guitar and vocals, Rob MacKenzie: on keyboards, backing vocals, occasional acoustic guitar & she who brings the bubble gum, Colleen Crane. Finally Morrie McCarthy, lead guitar and finger splint.
FB:- Can you explain the ideas behind some of the songs on the new LP? AM:- "When I Was Young" is about what it feels like to grow old. "Draft Moming" is about... the chill in the air in the morning ... "Malevolent Penguins" is about a hobby many religious types have in America of all getting together and collecting bcloks and records that they don't like and putting them into a big pile and burning them... unfortunately, no-one's done that with our records yet... TO:- Not in big piles ... RM:- People tend to burn them individually rather than in groups ... CC:- Or give them to the library .. RM:- We found a copy of our first album at the local library! Someone had donated it out of the goodness of their heart.. it was warped, too, by the way ...
One thing I've always felt is that if you try to explain the meanings of songs, then it kind of robs them of the mystery and majesty, and of the pleasure of deciphering the lyrics for yourself. It's like if the Crackerjack box says what the prize is going to be... you lose the excitement and thrill of finding it. It's like Christmas day if all the presents came on top of the wrapping paper ... TO:- Cellophane! CC:- Don't you just love it when Rob gets to pontificating like that? Isn't he cute! FB:- Why do you bother to play covers? CC:- Who wants to play our stuff! (laughter) TO:- We all have stuff' that we grew up with and that we like.. '''Brick House" is one of my favourites, it should be on the forthcoming album... No, we like to do a song that means something in our life. We'll occasionally include a cover song on an album as something that reflects out thoughts and ideas. RM:- Also, putting a cover song on an album is a shrewd marketing ploy in the purest capitalistic sense. People that come upon a strange album by an unknown band ... TD:- You've got to show me up, don't you! RM:- ... are more likely to pick up the record not because it contains "some part of their past" (smirk) but because it has a song that they already know; and they may be interested in hearing how a group does a certain song. To be honest, the song of the first album that received some of the most attention was the cover song, "War Or Hands Of Time" (by The Masters' Apprentices). Also, these are the songs that get the airplay, even on the college stations, here in the 'States - I don't know if the situation in Europe is any different. CC:- Also, it's a lot of fun for us to play other peoples' material, depending on what the material is. FB:- Have you any comments to make on the subject of psychedelics? RM:- The situation in this country is such that it may be, in fact, dangerous for us to comment about towards and / or pertaining to the use and / or abuse of narcotics. However, I see it as my duty as an American citizen to point out the hypocrisy of our government's policies. The Bush administration has deliberately misquoted and falsified statistics - I read this in Scientific American, so you know it's gotta be true pertaining to drug use and its effects upon our business and culture... in fact, there's actually no justifiable reason for certain narcotics (such as the primary psychedelics) to be illegal. No conclusive evidence has turned up showing any major health threat posed by them, certainly nothing as pernicious as the threats to the body posed by alcohol and cigarettes! Yet the administration spends billions "fighting" them, and the state spends millions more keeping users and dealers behind bars. Over 60% of the prison population in Connecticut is comprised of drug offenders! Laws such as these are "Blue Laws", laws that were passed because some people think that something (drug use, in this case) is immoral, not because they can come up with any medical or logical justification for their enforcement. Back to you, Tom! TD:- Your mother is listening, Rob. FB:- How do your live performances differ from the studio recordings? TO:- There's a certain energy level present in the live performances. When we play out of state, there is a much more receptive crowd, maybe because we haven't played there as much as in our home state. CC:- Generally when you're in the studio you don't have tens or hundreds of people yelling at you or for you and jumping up and down. TO:- That doesn't always happen live, either. FB:- Whereabouts do you play, live? TO:- We're located at 111 Bunce Road, Wethersfield. That's where we play mainly, that's our stomping ground. I say that kiddingly, because we have shyed away from playing live recently in order to put more emphasis on recording, our new material, so that the output of our energy will go into the creating of new songs to upscale and upgrade our musical repertoire. RM:- Also, we don't have any vehicle to get us to shows, and we've been losing money every time we play. We can't afford to play out any more kids, we're losing too much money. We will start playing out as soon as the record comes out and we can get some good sized crowds in to see us. FB:- Do you use a lightshow? CC:- Yes, we do. A friend of the band runs the light show for us, which was itself purchased by another friend of the band. It's a very ·old 60's style psychedelic light show. FB:- Any plans to play Europe. RM:- We would love to play Europe. Please, send your money to us now and bring us over there! We'll play there, we'll have lots of fun, we'll come to your house, we'll be your friend. Seriously, playing Europe is definitely on our list of things to do. Both record companies that we've been dealing with have been very interested in seeing us play in Europe ... not interested enough to give us the money to get over there, however. As soon as it's feasible, we'll be over. FB:- If you had the chance to play a gig at any place or time, where and when would you choose? CC:- The Fillmore west, with Jefferson Airplane opening for us. RM:- And Iron Butterfly opening for them. CC:- And Deep Purple opening for them. RM:- And perhaps Them opening for them! (Not really but I couldn't resist the pun.) TO:- I would like a gig that would promote us and generate an outside awareness of our music and our direction, that would catapult us into musical... awareness. CC:- What the hell is that? RM:- And also The Doors could be on that bill. CC:- Anybody else that we forgot? Love ... RM:- Pink Floyd. CC:- It would be nice to play at Stonehenge, I believe .. TD:- Next question! FB:- What is coming up from The Not Quite? RM:- We are currently set to record our next album - in fact, we were all set to go into the studio when disaster struck - Morrie broke his finger! We were going to plug on anyway, record the backing tracks while Morrie healed up, but I got quite sick for about a month and we finally had to cancel the sessions. We will be recording it as soon as things are back on track - as soon as Morrie is able to bend his finger again. Hopefully, this album will be for Resonance Records. It's going to be a most excellent album, continuing in the same musical diretion as the current LP. FB:- Are there any plans to release the demo tape recordings that were done before the first LP? Everyone:- No!! RM:- Well, if anybody wants to release it and send us lots of money, fine, but we have another whole album that we recorded and submitted to Resonance, but they weren't interested because the sound was "too garagey". I'd much rather see that get released, it's an excellent, excellent tape that we had a lot of fun with ... unfortunately, our timing with it was bad, but it's a very good tape. FB:- How do you see your music developing in the 1990's? TD:- Comparing our music today with the first album, I see it as having evolved from a '60s based sound to more of a '60s influenced '80s sound - and now the '90s - but still in keeping with the spirit of the '60s. Not copying it, but caryin' it into a new, um, plateau. CC:- It is my personal opinion that good music is good music, whether you're influenced by '60s style' music, '20s style music, or whatever. (Hear here!- Eds) In the case of any good band, the music should speak for itself. If you play it backwards, you might be surprised at what it might say, but a lot of times if you say that the music is '60s influenced people get the wrong idea and, on the other hand, if you say that it's '80s influenced people think that you're up there playing synth - pop with a drum machine - which is a possibility if Tom keeps up... I see our music changing, in so far as we've worked together longer, but other than that, good music is good music, and if our music changes, it's still our music. RM:- What I see happening with the music,. and I think you will hear this in the next album and the material that we're starting to work on for beyond that, is that the sound will be heavy, if anything even heavier than it is on this album ... very loud, loud music, but more intricate in terms of what we're playing instrumentally without becoming "progressive" in the sense that it loses the melody line. What I like to see in a song is a good, strong, memorable melody, something that would pass the "Old Grey Whistle Test", if you will. We'll keep on like that rather than becoming like Yes, where things fly off in all directions. FB:- Is there anything else you'd like to say? TO:- I would just like to say that, when anybody reads or conducts an interview with a rock band, the impression given is that the band feels that it has to act crazy and goof around and give abstract answers, as may be the case here, but I just want to say that this is just the way we are, anyways. As with anyone else, we like to have fun, goof around and all that, but there is a serious side to us... you just may never see or hear it. (Actually 90% or the goofing has been removed for space reasons - Eds) RM:- Actually it's in our music. TO:- Yeah, it's in the music. We do have something to say, nothing political or anything like that... RM:- Unless you talk to some of the individual members... TD:- We're not trying to convey this kind of "Rock Star" image. FB:- Anything else? RM:- I'd like to say goodnight to the readers of Freakbeat. Stay psychedelic. Touch the scream that crawls up the wall. The Not Quite will be moving forward and upward through the '90s, as we were through the '80s and much of the '70s, although most people don't know this. Keep an eye out for the next album and the album after that, and the album after that. TD:- This is Tom the drummer saying goodnight and hopefully you'll be seeing us at a club near you soon! CC:- In conclusion, I hope everyone enjoys the album as much we hated making it. Hopefully we will be playing in Europe in the near future and... wish us luck!
(Fade out to the sound of !he band perrorming ''Land Or Hope & Glory" (Acapella style) & cries of "God save the Oueen...").
by Ivor Trueman.
"Paint Me In A Corner" (on 'Garage Sale' cassette comp. 1985, ROIR A135)
"War Or Hands Of Time" (on 'Declaration Of Fuzz' compilation) (1986, Glitterhouse RP 10663) Demo tape (including "Astronomy Domine", "Just Like Us" and "Get Lost Girl". Not commercially available) The Not Quite (1986, Resonance Records 33-8605)
(First 1500 copies came with bonus 45 "Circles" / "Green Slime" Resonance PRO 7/8605)
"Teliin' Those Lies" (on 'Dimensions of Sound' compilation) (1987, Mystery Scene MS1001) Having A Grunge-Fest With The Not Quite (Unreleased LP) Or The Beginning (1990. Voxx, Catalogue No. VXS 200.057)( LP)
Freakbeat magazine issue 7, 1990
Note: due to the highly psychedelic layout of the magazine (every page with different trippy background and purple, green and generally coloured print) the rest of the photos of the article are unusable. I snatched a few from Dark Lord Rob's site instead. For more on Not Quite and the recent adventures of Dark Lord Rob (including the excellent 'Miskatonic Acid Test' horror novel - soundtrack here), please visit his highly entertaining site. The links in discography lead to Lost-In-Tyme's blog posts (...Or the Beginning will be posted soon).
Hi: Read your article on 'The Not Quite' and agreed with most everything except the part about my leaving.I was asked to leave because my stage clothes in playing live was becoming to 'car-toony' psychedelic. Also the bit about Colleen is way off base: I introduced her to the band and she joined.
The band was leaning towards a more towards an Iron Butterfly feel. I was feeling that I was less in the picture in general like a token guitarist who sings on occasion, and I quit in August of '87 but came back in September. In the interim the band learned the Iron Butterfly Theme, played it live, but wouldn't teach it to me. That's hard.
As for the the garage-feel of my songs, I can point you to 'Heavensent' from the 1st album; I also sang lead on 'I Don't Know How to tell You' definitely not garage. I've introduced many covers to our setlist like 'Astromony Domine', 'Green Slime'. 'Circles' and 'War or Hands of Time' to name a few. Definitely not garage. I was always open to what the band was doing. Joe
Joe Thank you for your comment. We're always welcome additions/corrections in our posts, and surely when they come from the band members themselves. In this case, though, what we've posted is just the article/interview from the UK fanzine "Freakbeat" exactly as it was printed in 1990.
I wouldn't know the facts, but I see that the points you mention are not in the interview section (ie not your ex-bandmates words) and they are all in the history/review section of the article. So we can say that the columnist wrote his version of the story, using the information he had - which seems to be erratic, on the part of your leaving (in the case of Coleen's entrance it's definately misinformation).
As for the garage-feel, you're absolutely right: the songs you mention are some of the more psychedelic of the first LP, so you're definately not "framed" in a certain sound (but even from this article, as well as other resources, your part in the band's sound is not underestimated).
It would be great to let us know if you continue in music after the Not Quite - and even better if there are any recordings. Thanks again.
Hi! I did some recordings with 'Off-Campus Apartment' in July '94 with some musicians from Evansville, IN (friends of a friend of mine. ) Three originals and one cover 'Want You Bad' by NRBQ, an additional track 'Dreaming of Babylon with all instruments played by me was done in September 1994.
In 1998 onwards I played with local musicans for a benefit for the homeless in Columbus, OH around Christmas called 'X-mas Trashfest'. Notably the band, called 'Shepherd's Pie' included Craig Bell, of Cleveland bands 70-75, 'Mirrors' and 'Rocket from the Tombs' (which split into 'Pere Ubu' and 'Dead Boys') and his wife Claudia Bell on bass (formerly of 'The Plan' and 'The Bell System"). A 'The Not Quite' track 'Paint Me in a Corner' (album version) was included on the double CD 'It Happened But Nobody Noticed' on Gustav Records. I can burn you a copy of 'Off-Campus Apartment' if you want. Cheers! Joe