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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

More Fans Welcome Uninvited

Taylor brothers' blend of strong vocals, tight playing and catchy lyrics appeals to a broad spectrum.

December 05, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Uninvited is not only a 1944 ghost movie with Ray Milland, but also flashing red lights in the rear-view mirror, the flu, the ex calling to tell you about her latest, buzzing flies at bedtime, telemarketers in the fourth quarter of the game, and, of course, the biggie--parents home early. It's also one fine rock band. The Uninvited will do that pop-rock thing Saturday night at Nicholby's in Ventura. Opening will be Itchy McGurk.

The Uninvited feature a pair of guitar-playing brothers, John "J.T." and Steve Taylor. The Taylors do most of the singing but bassist Bill Cory and drummer Bruce Logan also harmonize.

"Well, it's sort of a groove, guitar-oriented pop rock with harmonies," said Steve Taylor, describing the Uninvited's sound during a recent phoner.

In addition to the vocals and the tight playing, Steve--the shorter, bearded Taylor--sometimes plays an electric banjo, which alone is worth checking out.

"I saw Bela Fleck playing one, so I had to have one because an acoustic banjo just can't compete. We won a contest on MTV for unsigned bands for our song 'Successful Vegetarian,' and we won $10,000. I took my share and bought that banjo."

The Uninvited have three albums so far, including the latest, "Artificial Hip." They also write some hilarious songs. The contest-winning "Successful Vegetarian" is a riot but few details can be shared in a family newspaper, and the self-explanatory "Too High for the Supermarket" is getting some airplay.

"My brother and I are the primary writers," said Taylor. "One of us will come up with the basic structure, and then we bring it to the band and just hash it out. The audience seems to keep up with our lyrics."

From the song "That's What You Get," a decided departure from the we-can-still-be-friends scenario, a sample line: "Now I hear she's getting fat. What do you know about that? That's what you get, what did you expect? I hope you live a life of regret with your hair in a net, a welfare check and 16 kids in an old sublet. That's what you get, that's what you get. It's all your fault, it's plain to see. That's what you get for leaving me . . ."

The Uninvited have played locally several times in the last few months, including, of all places, at the ultimate local country bar, the Ban-Dar in Ventura. The first band didn't show up, and the headlining Ska Daddyz were so fashionably late, they didn't play at all, leaving the Uninvited clearly appreciated as the only band performing that night. No one seemed disappointed or headed for the door before they finished.

"We have about 60 original songs. We're different," said Taylor. "We don't have any radio hits; we're a live act. These A&R guys from Atlantic told us that people from age 21 to 65 all seemed to enjoy the show to the same degree. I guess we appeal to a broad spectrum of people.

"Therefore, people should come to see us to experience true originality. I mean, how much of that angst-ridden depressing stuff can a person take?"

And then there was the gig last Friday where the band drew 1,200 fans to the House of Blues in West Hollywood. Thus, getting signed seems imminent, so the band may soon be taking off for parts unknown to play with famous rock stars. One such, Tori Amos, was reportedly all atwitter backstage after the Friday show. Taylor remains calm, yet hopeful. The group, he said, is talking to a record company but they have been in this situation before.

"We've had a deal on the table, started an album, only to have them yank it," he said. "We're basically out doing it on our own. We drive our own vehicle and book our own tours."

The Taylor brothers first got involved in the San Diego folk scene. They moved to L.A. in 1988 and formed a band, the Bogarts, named after almost everyone's favorite actor. That band went away just like Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca," and the Taylors started the Uninvited in early 1990.

"We changed drummers after six or eight months, and the band has stayed the same since then. We did live in L.A. for six years, but we moved to the Bay Area for a more mellow environment."

Being a rock star (well, almost) has the usual perks--all the adoring personnel and time to watch reruns on daytime television, or driving six hours from the Bay Area and/or talking on the phone.

"I love the freedom and the opportunity to create our music," he said. "But it's a 24-hour-a day thing. There's always so much to do besides playing the show; there's dealing with booking agents and radio promotion. And you have to keep going. It never stops, but you have to keep going."

*

If any slackers have the strength to slide off the couch Sunday afternoon, they can catch Slidin' Stevie Davis at the world-famous Deer Lodge in metropolitan Meiners Oaks. Davis, you may recall, was the lead guitar player for Michael On Fire for many years, but has been fronting his own band of late. Davis is a member of the Texas Guitar Hall of Fame, a fact that never hurts the ol' resume.

The show kicks off around 3-ish Sunday afternoon, plus there's BBQ and pool. The venue is at 2261 Maricopa Highway about a mile up Highway 33 past Nordhoff High School. Call them at 646-4256 to find out more about this free show.

*

The Cool-Band-That-Nobody-Has-Heard-Of award this week goes to Tito & the Tarantulas who wowed the crowd at Nicholby's last Friday, opening for Dave Wakeling & Bang. Tito & The Tarantulas turned out to be a group of guys and gals sitting around cranking out some serious bluesy rock grooves.

Things got really exciting when Tito himself actually stood up for a bit, but it never lasted long. No tapes, no CDs, no nothin' but a bunch of good songs. According to Nicholby's owner Nick Taylor, expect Tito & the Tarantulas back in January.

*

DETAILS

* WHAT: The Uninvited, Itchy McGurk.

* WHERE: Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura.

* WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

* HOW MUCH: $6.

* CALL: 653-2320.

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