Entries in The Scorpions (1)


Scattershock - A History: Part 1

Scattershock's roots go back many years ago to when Steve Rosenthal and I met during my Junior year in high school. Not long before, Ben Ulrich, a great friend and great drummer had decided to go in a different direction, leaving me with the makings of a band minus a drummer. Fortunately for me, chance occurrences aligned and I met Steve, a hard hitting drummer and huge fan of Phil RuddJohn Bonham and Keith Moon. Steve joined me, my sister, Leslie (on vocals) and Amir Zitro (on bass) in Saber, a heavy rock band that split time between covers and originals. We gigged at a few parties and booked our own show upstairs in the Oakland Auditorium ballroom, a show that had little audience but remains the biggest hall I've ever played. I still have the recording of that show stashed away somewhere, including some great stage banter. Our original songs were heavily influenced by Iron Maidenthe Scorpions, and Rainbow. In retrospect, that might be obvious to many of you considering such titles as "Crazed Marauder", "Beyond The Line" and "Unusually Strange".

At some point we discovered a British band that was calling themselves Saber (or maybe "Sabre") and decided to change our name to Onyx. Then Steve and I graduated from high school and, after a false start at UC Berkeley, I decided to attend G.I.T. in Hollywood for a year. During the two years after high school, including the year I was at G.I.T., the Saber/Onyx lineup remained the same but we changed the name to Exposé, got some professional publicity shots done and moved up a notch in the Bay Area club scene, playing the likes of the Chi Chi Club, La Peña and the Berkeley Square. It was during that time that I began my interest in recording, acquiring a Fostex 250 4-track recorder and using it to track various early compositions. Sometime during that period, Steve, Leslie and I did our first studio recording at Saver Sound in Oakland, recording a song that I'd written called "Can't You See".

Then I made a decision that marked the demise of Exposé and started a new path that would eventually merge back with Steve and lead to Scattershock. I chose to start my undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For my first year, I landed in the dorms, off campus in Williams Village. As luck would have it, I ended up with a room right next to Mike Levine, a bass player who had grown up in nearby Arvada. We very quickly realized how much overlap we had in musical interests, sharing bands like Van Halen, the Scorpions, and Iron Maiden. Mike had a close friend named Grant Bolinger, a great great guy and accomplished drummer, who finished off our rhythm section. Mike, Grant and I used to rehearse in Mike's basement, although on any given day that only lasted until Mike's dad opened the basement door, flicked the lights on and off a couple times and then as soon as we quieted down just enough, he'd yell "It's Over!!!".

During my second year at CU, Mike, Grant and I ended up renting a house in Boulder out near the Table Mesa Shopping Center. I had a big bedroom in the basement, adjacent to another big room we used for rehearsing and recording. I was still tracking to the Fostex 4-track, which was the heart of a couple really memorable recording sessions: a 4-song demo for a local band called "Toy" and our own "Billy and the Boingers" song, featuring Toy's lead vocalist, Ron Foxhoven, which we submitted to the Bloom County theme song competition. I also formed a cover band called "In Progress" with Grant and we played one very long and memorable gig at the Dark Horse in Boulder. It was a pretty busy year musically, but I had made the decision to return to Berkeley to finish my undergraduate studies, and figured that meant the end of my musical collaborations with Mike and Grant.

In my next article, I'll explain how my Boulder and Berkeley paths came back together, setting the stage for the eventual birth of Scattershock.