ONE EYED JACKS
A History …
by James Sensible
1981 was a crucial year for Toronto. It marked the departure of a number of clubs and a number of bands. From the ashes of three bands, Crash Kills Five, the Demics, and the Forgotten Rebels, evolved a new musical force called the One Eyed Jacks…
Crash Kills Five were Toronto based. At early gigs they were billed as Crash Kills Nine and this was later shortened to Five for mysterious reasons only known to the band. Don Pyle, the front man and vocalist, was an intriguing performer, at times standing with his back to the audience, reading the lyrics from a sheet, or inviting people to come up and sing. Backed by songwriter and bassist, Reid, drummer, Alex, and guitarist Brian Connelly, Crash Kills Five attained a sizeable following through their constant gigging. As time progressed, their sound became less sloppy and more tighter. Brian Connelly left, later to resurface in Screamin' Sam and the Problems. Eddie Nagdee, a former member of the Dents, took over as Crash Kills Five's new guitarist and with the new line-up, they recorded a three-song EP, "What Do You Do At Night?" b/w "It's Always There" + "Special School". Continuing on with their live shows, Crash Kills Five played a number of important gigs, including opening for Protex at the Edge and spot on the bill for the Wendy O. Williams Benefit concert. With their first EP close to sold-out, Crash Kills Five went in the studio to record an additional eight songs. Unable to finance its release or find a local label to release it, the whole project was shelved. Shortly after, Eddie left to join the Young Lions. (which he stayed with until leaving for Europe. Former L'etranger guitarist, Phil Cochrane, replaced him in the Young Lions. Eddie promises that when he gets back from Europe, he'll be getting a new band together.) Taking his cue from Eddie, Don Pyle also quit as Crash Kills Five's vocalist. Despite original intentions to put together some new "fun" bands, Don remains an employee of the Driftwood Music record store on Queen St. W. As a number of clubs had closed, Crash Kills Five found it difficult to get gigs. Many places, (like the Beverly Tavern), found the band's name enough reason not to book the band. So, with a new name, the Alibi Club, and a number of new members, (at one point former Next Big Thing, Steve Cameron and later, original member Brian Connelly), they had a go at things. It was short-lived as Alex ended up in the One Eyed Jacks and Reid finally joined the Good Guys after producing their demos.
The Demics had formed in London, Ontario and later moved to Toronto. The original line-up of Keith Whittaker (vocals), Rob Brent (guitar), Ian Atkinson (bass) and Jim Weatherstone (drums), played many a night at the seedy Cedar Lounge before being discovered by the fledgling Ready Records. Produced in London by the label's founders, Andy Crosbie and Angus McKay, it became Ready's first release. Titled Talk Is Cheap, it yielded the hit "New York City" (a CFNY fave) and sold well enough for Ready to carry on to become one of Toronto's top independent labels. The Demics turned their attention to Toronto and played a number of shows with the Scenics, the Everglades and even an early show with 999 at the Edge. Steve Koch (whose brother, Alex, was in Crash Kills Five) replaced Rob Brent as the Demics guitarist, and Hypnotic Productions expressed an interest in the band. Their debut LP, titled The Demics, was released by Pickwick Reocrds and is due to be released in the States soon by Bomb Records. As well as including a re-recording of "New York City", it also included new tunes liek "Talk, Talk" and the classic "400 Blows". The Demics continued on for a while after, until disinterest and lack of practice dissolved the band. Guitarist Steve Koch started the One Eyed Jacks, drummer Jim Weatherstone joined the Sidewinders and last heard of, vocalist Keith Whittaker was working with former Everglades, Steve Davey, in a new band.
The Forgotten Rebels, meanwhile, got their beginning in Teenage Head's hometown, Hamilton. Through the guidance of founder and songwriter, Mickey DeSadist, a number of members passed through the Forgotten Rebels' ranks, including some of Hamilton's weirder citizens with names like Chris Suicide, Les Ripper, and Larry Electrician. As a three piece, the 2nd lineup of the Forgotten Rebels reocrded a three-song EP for the independent S & M Records, titled Tomorrow Belongs To Us. After many trips to Toronto in an attempt to blow the Viletones off the stage, the Rebel's line-up changed again. Star Records, a store introducing their new label, approached them to record an LP. In Love With The System was finally released and some of the tunes included were "Bomb The Boats, Feed The Fish", "We're So Glad Elvis Is Dead" and "The Punks Are All Right". Out of the line-up that recorded the LP came bassist Chris Houston, who finally quit to escape the madness of the Forgotten Rebels' live performances and to do something musically more relevant to his own tastes. The Forgotten Rebels have a new line-up and a new LP soon to be released on Star Records.
On the other hand, the One Eyed Jacks are a new Toronto success story. Gigging around for only a couple of months, the band has already been featured at Toronto's big Rockabilly Festival, been featured on the New Music, and had their demos produced by Rough Trade's Terry Wilkens. Live, the band is a hot item, easily the only Toronto band to out-bop the Bop Cats. With Steve Koch on vocals and guitar, Chris Houston on bass, Don Pawsey on guitar and Alex Koch on drums, the One Eyed Jacks are tight and guaranteed to be one of the leading bands to be. Their all-originals set includes classic tunes like "Limbo", "24 Hour Cafe", "Blue Angel", and "Someone's Gonna Get Kissed", and every club they play is really rocking. Their dynamite stage show and cool looks mean, with the right packaging, any record these guys put out would be a success. Check them out before they become one of Toronto's big acts costing $10 to see 'em at the Concert Hall. Believe me, it'll happen.