THEM RHYTHM ANTS: Practicing Maneuvers in 1981
The fourth edition of Jeffrey Brenneman & Greg Grunke's Independent Podcast Review is now up on their YouTube channel. Featuring two of the original members of Savage Republic (Philip Drucker & Bruce Licher) plus esteemed video artist Hilda Daniel, this short-lived ensemble was an important precursor to the work that Phil and I would go on to create in our next group. In 3/4 of an hour you will learn all sorts of fun facts about the band and what became the third Independent Project Records release, the 4-song Them Rhythm Quails 7" from Them Rhythm Ants. It was so nice to be talking to Hilda onscreen again, and to share more time talking with Phil some 40+ years after we all attended UCLA art school together. Thanks Jeffrey and Greg for this opportunity to reminisce about what we created back in the day.
Similar to the way the music came about, when it came to creating cover artwork for the Them Rhythm Ants 7" EP the band decided that each member would create their own contribution to both the front and the back covers. Artwork pictured clockwise from top left: Daniel, Collins, Licher, Drucker.
A few more memories and some ephemera from my days in Them Rhythm Ants, from several Facebook posts I shared over the past couple of years:
My first apartment in the early 1980's was a studio over a kosher deli on Pico Blvd in West LA, next door to Jonathan Gold around the time when he was still playing his cello through a Marshall stack. The apartment had a murphy bed on one wall that swung out and there was a walk-in closet behind it. At the far end of the closet was a boxed in area under the spot where you'd hang your clothes, and I thought that if I opened it up that maybe I could use the space inside to hide valuables. I pried up a couple of the boards from the top of the boxed in area and looked inside, and along with a lot of dust, found a vintage sepia-toned photograph of a young girl in a cardboard folder, likely circa the early 20th century. It was kind of a haunting photo, and I wanted to use it as the cover on the upcoming third release (the Them Rhythm Ants 7") of my then-fledgling record label, but was out-voted by the other band members. I ended up making one cover for myself using a photocopy machine, and still have it filed away in my collection.
When I moved out of the apartment a year later I debated whether to keep the photo, but in the end I decided it should stay with the apartment, so I put it back in the space under the clothes hanging rod and nailed the boards back in place. When I recently pulled the record out of my collection to give it a listen I discovered that it also included a folding insert with set lists for the various performances that the group did, 5 in all. My memory is pretty hazy about most of these gigs, and I’ve completely forgotten what several of the songs sounded like. I was also reminded that the song Mobilization, which was later recorded by Savage Republic for the Radio Tokyo Tapes compilation LP started life as a Them Rhythm Ants tune. Some of those other song titles are pretty fun as well.