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POP NOTES / MIKE BOEHM

Trouble Dolls Toy With Hard Times; Titans Clash

January 21, 1994|MIKE BOEHM

Trouble has found the Trouble Dolls. Bassist Mark Soden and lead guitarist Michael Bay left the band in December after it played its first tour, an eight-day West Coast trip.

"If we could have had the commitment to stay together, we could have worked things out," said a disappointed John Surge, Trouble Dolls singer and songwriter. "Michael wants to go do his own things, write his own songs. With Mark, there was a personality conflict. For whatever reason, it wasn't harmonious any more. I think it's unfortunate, but you've got to carry on. I'm in this for the long haul."

Trouble Dolls released a strong 1993 debut album, "Cement." Surge said that he and drummer Ron Cambra have been rehearsing with former Leonards guitarist Lenny Grassa, and are auditioning bassists.

"Michael was an integral part of the band, so it will be new, probably a little more aggressive," Surge said. "We'll probably be back in action in mid-February playing shows, and we're already thinking about a second album."

Meanwhile, Bay and Soden will resurface in a new band, the Michael Bay Magnet, which plays its first show tonight at System M in Long Beach. Other members are drummer Nick Zeigler, formerly of the Leonards, and pianist Art Bailey. Soden also is working as producer-engineer for the Costa Mesa rock duo Big Enjoyers.

Soden said that, for him, Trouble Dolls became "a situation that was unbelievably uncomfortable. When people are that unhappy, it's just time to move on. Michael wanted to play his own songs, and it appeared there was no place for them in the other ensemble."

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CLASH OF THE TITANS: Unhappy with the way Giant Records promoted its 1992 debut album, "Now I Eat Them," Xtra Large has split with the label.

The band's manager, Jon St. James, said that Giant set a deadline for demo recordings of songs for the next Xtra Large album, then dropped the band when it deliberately stalled.

"The guys are ecstatic," said St. James, who acknowledges that he himself had misgivings about walking away from a deal that would have given the band a substantial recording budget for its second album.

Guitarist Warren Fitzgerald said the members decided they did not want to rush into another album, especially since the band has just added a new singer, Dave Quackenbush, to replace the fired Darren McNamee.

With drummer Josh Freese having spent most of 1993 on the road in Paul Westerberg's band, and Fitzgerald busy in the studio as a new, adjunct member of Oingo Boingo, the band decided to take a go-slow approach.

"With Darren out of the group," which also includes bassist Bob Thomson, "we're re-evaluating our whole situation," Fitzgerald said. "We didn't want to be under the gun" to record a new album immediately. "We wanted to do it right, to have it happen more naturally. Now we have an opportunity to start from scratch, without any preconceptions."

The first change will be a new name: Fitzgerald said Xtra Large is now calling itself Xtra Medium, although that, too, could be temporary.

McNamee's wildly unpredictable, sometimes crude on- and off-stage antics apparently became a bit too much, even for band mates who themselves aren't beyond wildly unpredictable antics of questionable taste. He has formed a new band called Pierre Pants, which will play Jan. 28 at Our House in Costa Mesa.

Fitzgerald, Freese and Quackenbush also play in the Vandals. They can be heard and/or seen on "Sweatin' to the Oldies," a live Vandals album that Triple X is releasing on video and compact disc. It's taken from a show last January at the Ice House in Fullerton.

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ENCORE: Channel Three is back on the punk rock dial.

In its initial incarnation, Channel Three was a Cerritos-based hard core punk band that first built a following in the early '80s at the storied Costa Mesa punk club, the Cuckoo's Nest.

After switching styles from racing punk to melodic hard rock in the mid-'80s, Channel Three lost part of its audience and eventually called it a career in 1987. The band staged reunions in 1990-91, but had no intention of returning as a going concern.

Now, encouraged by the boom in punk-inspired alternative rock, founding members Kimm Gardener and Mike Magrann have decided to revive the band.

The initial spark, says Gardener, was an unexpected call last May from the promoter of a punk-rock festival in Portland. A fan of Channel Three, he wanted to book the band on the festival bill.

Gardener, who plays guitar, and vocalist Magrann played the gig and subsequently decided that the climate is right for Round Two of Channel Three. Joining the two original members are newcomers Alf Silva on drums and Mitch McNally on bass.

"We're playing more of the earlier stuff at this point," Gardener said. "We're working on new material, and we've met with a couple of record labels that are interested." A brief European tour has been booked for next month. "It seems full steam ahead," Gardener said. "It's exciting."

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