Pere Ubu

Pere Ubu was an American avant-rock/New Wave band from Cleveland, Ohio, that released two standalone singles on self-press Hearthan Records in 1975/76, followed by the album The Modern Dance on PolyGram-subsidiary Blank Records in 1978. After a pair of titles for Chrysalis, the band released the 1980–82 albums The Art of Walking and Song of the Bailing Man on Rough Trade. Frontman David Thomas subsequently issued a string of albums with revolving-door backing by the Pedestrians and the Wooden Birds.

Members: David Thomas (vocals, keyboards, melodeon accordion, musette, theremin), Tom Herman (guitar, bass, 1975-79, 1995-98, 1998-2002, 2016), Scott Krauss (drums, keyboards, 1975-77, 1978-81, 1987-94), Allen Ravenstine (synthesizer, saxophone, 1975, 1976-88), Peter Laughner (guitar, bass, 1975-76), Tim Wright (bass, guitar, 1975-76), Dave Taylor (synthesizer, organ, 1975-76), Alan Greenblatt (guitar, 1976), Tony Maimone (bass, guitar, keyboards, 1976-93, 2003-04), Anton Fier (drums, marimba, 1977-78, 1981-82), Mayo Thompson (guitar, 1979-82), Chris Cutler (drums, electronics, 1987-90, 2002-05), Jim Jones (guitar, keyboards, 1987-94, 1994-95), Eric Drew Feldman (keyboards, 1989-92)


Background

Pere Ubu was one of two main offshoots of Rocket from the Tombs, a Cleveland garage-rock band that gigged the local club circuit, starting in 1974. RftT developed a setlist of originals that included the future Ubu numbers “Final Solution,” “Life Stinks,” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo.” The final RftT lineup featured vocalist David Thomas (aka “Crocus Behemoth”), bassist Craig Bell, drummer Johnny Blitz, and guitarists Peter Laughner and Cheetah Chrome.

After cutting an album’s worth of demos at their rehearsal loft — later collected on the Smog Veil archival disc The Day the Earth Met the… — Rocket from the Tombs disbanded in mid-1975. Chrome and Blitz teamed with singer Stiv Bators in Frankenstein, which relocated to NYC and morphed into punk rockers the Dead Boys. Bell moved to Connecticut and formed Saucers.

Thomas and Laughner teamed with guitarist Tom Herman, bassist Tim Wright, keyboardist Allen Ravestine, and drummer Scott Krauss. Ravestine and Krauss hailed from Hy Maya,> a cosmic jam band that featured three members (Krauss, bassist Albert Dennis, and Mellotron player Cynthia Black) of Laughner’s makeshift Cinderella Backstreet, which cut a 1973 version of the Velvet Underground‘s “White Light–White Heat.”>

The new six-piece — Thomas, Laughner, Herman, Wright, Ravestine, Krauss — named itself Pere Ubu, a reference to French playwright Alfred Jarry’s 1896 avant-garde play Ubu Roi.

On December 4, 1975, Pere Ubu debuted with the single “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” (b/w “Heart of Darkness”) on self-press Hearthan.


Discography:

  • “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” / “Heart of Darkness” (1975)
  • “Final Solution” / “Cloud 149” (1976)
  • “Street Waves” / “My Dark Ages” (1976)
  • The Modern Dance (1978)
  • Dub Housing (1978)
  • New Picnic Time (1979)
  • The Art of Walking (1980)
  • Song of the Bailing Man (1982)
  • The Tenement Year (1988)
  • Cloudland (1989)
  • Raygun Suitcase (1995)
  • Pennsylvania (1998)
  • St. Arkansas (2002)

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