A LETTER FROM JOHN HOVORKA OF THE 2X4'S!
Nah, I don't wanna write about anything special today. Besides, I'm resting up for a major, information-packed eye-opener of a post this weekend and don't wanna run myself ragged. Instead, I thought I'd print (with kind permission) the following note from none other than longtime Boston scenester John Hovorka, more or less a response to my review of his recent 2X4's and solo CDs a month back. I hope Mr. Hovorka's note is informative enough so that rock historians of the future will cite this particular post when writing the ultimate Boston underground rock history in the next century of so. Of course, considering the general lack of interest and hostility directed towards this particular blog I kinda doubt it, be we can always hope, can't we???
I was going to write to you a while back just to ask how you liked The 2x4’s CDs. But I didn’t get around to it. I was also going to let you know why I included that additional CDR of my newer stuff. The main reason for this is although some people are interested in The 2x4’s and the Turbines, hardly anyone has been interested in my newer stuff for the last few years. I’m getting ready to record some more new stuff soon so I figured it might be a good idea (for me anyway) for people to know about that stuff.
Last week a friend of mine said I might want to look at a blog called BLOG TO COMM, that there was some stuff about The 2x4’s in it. So I managed to locate it. I didn’t know it was yours. (even though it was right in front of me in your email address) Anyhow thanks for writing about The 2x4’s and about me. I appreciate it. And I’m glad you liked some of the new songs all right too. By the way, I’m still hanging out with Rolfe often, and still see Erik around sometimes. As for Joe Viglione I have a lot of memories of playing bass in Aastral Projection, including some good ones. Musically what I liked best was recording Foggy Notion and also the Oedipus Show radio spot, and one of the other ones on his first album also really sticks in my mind but I can’t remember what it’s called; it has a long guitar solo ending. My favorite shows with Aastral Projection were at The Paradise Club in Boston probably in 1977 and at Circe’s which was a club in Worcester, MA, also around that time. Going back to the beginning of this sequence of events (although not as far back as the first band I was in, in Geneva, NY in 1967) I remember jamming with my pal McGregor McGehee who had just bought a bass guitar, in 1970. Then months later he introduced me to Fred Pineau. I could be wrong about this but what I recall is that he found Fred by means of an ad in The Boston Phoenix that said something about liking The Velvet Underground. Anyhow we started a band with Richie Johnson on drums, and that’s also when I met Richie’s cousin Rolfe. We crammed into a small apartment in Boston and played for about 45 minutes before we were told to stop. But before that Richie put on some records that I hadn’t heard before, the first Black Sabbath album, Fun House by The Stooges, and Love It To Death by Alice Cooper. I liked these ominous sounding new bands. Anyhow the band I was in with Fred, McGregor and Richie which was called either Ozone Shirley or Chrome Rat did about 2 shows, and (if I remember to attach it) here’s a picture of the one we did outdoors in Cambridge, MA. That was also, coincidentally the day that I found out who the (I thought) weird kid with a crewcut was who I saw about a year before that there, singing in the dirt with his acoustic guitar about going to high school in the suburbs, specifically, in Natick. He was Jonathan Richman. And then I saw his band a few times. I thought they were very good, and different from other bands. Incidentally, years later I taught him how to play Foggy Notion, after someone else taught it to me, for whatever is worth. In 1973 Fred asked me if I wanted to join a band he was in called Automatic Slim, so I did, on bass guitar. We did various rock and roll, rock-a-billy and blues songs, not all that exciting to me but not bad. That went all right for a while but at some point we needed a new lead singer. Soon we found Joe Viglione. He needed a band. We were it.
I just figured you might be interested in this stuff…
I’ve got to say about how this 2x4’s stuff got done, it was not very calculated. I wrote the songs fast because I hated most things in late 1978, including just about all music, and especially going to clubs to see bands, so I stayed home all the time when I wasn’t working and wrote some songs, like about 30 of them in a month and a half. I didn’t know much about writing songs so I just used the same chords that everyone else used, except sometimes fewer of them. And I didn’t pay any attention to the style of this band except the simpler the better. I didn’t know what was gonna happen since I had never done anything like this before so it was totally experimental that way. I didn’t figure I’d last long as a singer because I didn’t know what I was doing, maybe for one show, then hopefully somebody else would show up and take over on the singing. But no one did, ever. My constant goal in The 2x4’s was to somehow manage to do one more show. And more generally I just wanted to get the job done (and when it was done, leave, which is what I did). Meanwhile if anyone said we were playing like robots I took that as a compliment. The 2x4’s output of music was good for awhile although it declined soon after I left the band.
Pere Ubu. I liked that band. They cheered me up when I felt bad. I don’t know about The 2x4’s/Pere Ubu comparison. For one thing, I couldn’t get the other guys to listen to that stuff. But I’d rather hear The 2x4’s be compared to them than to Devo.
The Velvet Underground. I saw them at The Boston Tea Party 3 times in 1968. Seeing them changed my point of view about music. They were different from all other bands. Also they were better than all other bands.
Uh oh. I’d better get back to work…