|Jon Parker And Seth
I think our drummer Brad Saunders quit sometime after we had done an East Coast tour near the end of '81. We all had full time day jobs, Units rehearsals three nights a week or more, and played gigs on weekends. He was probably tired of being broke and exhausted and wanted to move on and do other things. We always seemed to lose someone after a tour.
I hated to see him go. Brad, Tim and I all grew up together in the same little one stoplight Shittown. Brad lived a few houses down from me. I was always in awe of his artwork. He was doing Rauschenberg-like photo transfer collages before I got my drivers license. When Brad took up drumming it was with a passion. He had gone to Africa to study drumming before he played with us. He was friends with a lot of percussionists in the S. F. Symphony and theater scene and we tapped into his connections to get those guys (Jim Reynolds, Raymond) to sit in and play vibes, timpani, and various percussion for us. He was the most creative drummer we ever had.
When he left we had to audition new drummers. That's a story in itself. We chose a guy named Seth Miller. Seth was a great drummer too. His style was simpler than Brad's but it worked well with the direction we were going in at the time.
We were also thinking about getting a third synthesizer player so we wouldn't have to use the sequencer when we played live. I loved writing with a sequencer but it was a real pain in the ass to use it live. I had to program it before every show. Picture me standing backstage programming while some really loud punk band is doing their set. Even worse, if it got unplugged everything erased.
It was a nightmare!
If our drummer couldn't hear the beat of the sequencer for a second and got off the pattern it suddenly became every man (or woman) for himself. On top of it Rachel and I had our hands full making sure the projectors and screens were up and running before the show. Seth just happened to have a friend named Jon Parker who not only played synth but also played percussion. When he came to audition with a synth and his own timpani and vibes among other percussion items, I think we just said "You're hired". Up to that time we would hire percussionists on a gig by gig basis. Jon worked out beautifully and made our live shows much easier.
Seth and Jon played with us from the beginning of '82 until around March of '83. I know that doesn't seem long but at this point Unit years were like dog years. Seth and Jon had some great times with us but also suffered through some really big disappointments. We were getting great gigs at that point, opening for a lot of popular bands that were coming over from England like XTC, Ultravox, Soft Cell, Psychedelic Furs and Bowwowwow and they were with us when we toured with Orchestral Maneuvers.
Seth and Jon recorded the 415 Records album "Animals They Dream About" , produced by Bill Nelson, with us and "The Right Man" single on Uproar Records, produced by Michael Cotten, the synthesizer player of the Tubes.
Bill had waived his producer fees in exchange for the rights to release our "Animals" album in England on his "Cocteau Records" label. In addition to his own music Bill had produced Flock of Seagulls and Gary Numan. He was on his way to work with Yellow Magic Orchestra in Japan after working with us.
Seth and Jon also recorded a 45 minute instrumental soundtrack for a Japanese fashion show with us for the designer Jurgen Lehl, whom we had met at a party for the writer Edward Albee in the East Bay. We spent several months working on that soundtrack and recorded it at Harbor Sound with Karen Kirsch engineering. Karen was also mixing our sound at some of our live shows around then. I think the Fashion Show was one of the best recordings the Units ever did, but nobody in the States has ever heard it! David Byrne had produced and played on Jurgen's soundtrack the year before.
Those were the good things.
The disappointing part is that after all that work the "Animals" and "Fashion Show" recordings were never released! To top it off after we refused to sign Howie's indentured slave recording contract, Howie, who was affiliated with Bill Graham Productions, used his Bill Graham monopoly connections to blacklist us from playing at any major clubs in S.F. We just happened to get a phone call from our West Coast booking agency in L.A. the very next morning in which we were dropped from that agency too. Poor Bill left with nothing to show for all his work. It was all very depressing. Like the floor had dropped out from under us. We tried to buy back the tapes but couldnít come up with the cash to do it. There were all sorts of strings attached to the buy back too. I think it got to the point where Jon and Seth just couldn't take anymore and quit sometime in the beginning of '83.