Found out about these people through the ever-excellent MUTANT SOUNDS blog, which I can’t recommend enough. -Ian
Suburban Lawns formed in Long Beach, California in 1978, though several members had know each other longer and played together previously under various names such as The Fabulons or Art Attack (two were students at the famous Disney-backed California Institute of the Arts or “CalArts”). They found their stride with a quirky tune called “Gidget Goes To Hell” released in 1979 on their own indpendent Suburban Industrial Records and got a boost when a music video (purportedly produced and directed by Academy-Award winning director Jonathan Demme) for the tune ran on Saturday Night Live.
Thanks to continued airplay (thanks to Rodney Bingenheimer & KROQ), the band was able to license thier self- produced debut LP to I.R.S. Records for a whopping $25,000 — more than it cost to produce — and get picked up by Ian Copeland’s Frontier Booking International. The arrangement gave them terrific opportunities to open for and tour with dozens of great UK and US bands.
The five members of Suburban Lawns took on stage names that would put smiles on the faces of anyone culturally literate: Su Tissue (Sue McLane), Vex Billingsgate (William Ranson), John Gleur (John McBurney), Frankie Ennui (Richard Whitney) and Chuck Roast (Charles Rodriguez). Su was the usual “front-person” though lead vocal duties switched from song to song with everyone except Chuck Roast singing at least one song.
Despite the regional success of the debut LP, a follow-up was a long time coming. And a long time in the pop-world often leads to turmoil brewing within bands. Shortly after Richard Mazda took on production of the their follow up, Baby (which ended up as an EP), John McBurney departed the fold. Other issues took their toll and Baby was released with little fanfare and less promotion. Soon after it hit the street the band folded. Despite a “fan club” address on the sleeve the Lawns were done.
The various members have continued to work since then. Frankie and Vex even briefly formed a new band called simply The Lawns. Su went on to the Berklee College of Music to study classic piano. She later recorded a solo album of piano and voice called Salon de Musique and played the small but memorable part of Peggy Dillman in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. Producer EJ Emmons is still active behind the Los Angeles music scene…
by Mr. Bill, http://www.irscorner.com