by John Lamb, December 2008 (updated 2015)
So here’s how it happened, in 1983 Jon Saxon and I decided we needed to start a new band. We had a band called Black Sheep but a couple guys left and I was recording new material without those guys so The Clocks were born. I actually was thinking of calling the band The Minutemen because we were all from Westport (home of the famous Minuteman statue) and I also liked the reference to time. Kind of like the Beat-les. We wanted people to know it was about the groove. But somehow we settled on The Clocks. Then a few months later, I found out about a band called The Clock that had just been signed to a major label. So to retain some continuity we became The 5 O’Clocks by 1984. Jon and I have were in the band throughout the early years and we are still part of the band since reforming in 2014. So some of the band members are different, but the mission remains: Great musicians playing great music.
Sometimes that means performing our original music that has gained notoriety around the world. Other times it’s just playing our own versions of songs everybody knows – making it recognizable and yet original all at once. Great musicians playing great music. The band was cool that way in 1983 – and still cool that way today.
Our first release was the 1984 4-song EP cassette (Matter of Time) – it was a great accomplishment. I had worked out a recording deal with future 3-time Grammy award wining producer Rory Young with one caveat – we could only record when his studio wasn’t already booked by a higher paying client (which was all of them). Additionally, Rory is a perfectionist and he had no deadline. It took us almost two years to finish four songs. That’s why it came out 1984 instead of 1983. Back then I was very impatient about it but I learned – recording good music cannot be rushed. True then – true now.
In 2008, we put out a CD also entitled Matter of Time which is a compilation of all the best stuff from the early days from 1983 to 1992. The four songs from the EP cassette open the CD with the original band: Jon Saxon (Jonny Sax), Eric Massimino, Mark Hermann, and Eric Saxon. We made a 1983 appearance on the cable TV program Janet’s Planet. Tracks 5-7 are from that show including “Way of the City” by Hermann.
The original 1983 band was really all about recording originals and pushing them. We played at least twice on public access cable – which was just starting in 1983 and was new and cool, We played some gigs at big clubs like Shenanigan in Norwalk.
We made our New York City debut June 18, 1984 at the legendary CBGB’s. Peter Tork of the Monkees and his band – the Sic Fucs – were also on the bill. Crazy. We actually were in those tomb-like cellar rooms they called dressing rooms.
Later Bryan Flowers (guitar) and Massimino rejoined the band and we added horns – sort of.
I recall at least two appearances with the “Jonny Sax Section,” adding two more sax players – Jonny wrote the parts. One of those was as the headliner at Toad’s Place in 1985.
Those bands made several recordings at River Street Studio in New Haven in 1984-5. Tracks 8-11 and 18 were recorded there.
After I took a one year hiatus in California, the band returned in 1987 with vocalist Melissa Lynch and Jamie Lebish on guitar. We also had a myriad of bass players and drummers back then starting with Brian Jones and Jim Resnick. At that time the band was gigging a lot and playing about 60% covers, mostly sang by Melissa.
We played Lake Compounce opening for Eddie Money and opened for Humble Pie in Bridgeport. Melissa recorded “I don’t want to lose you” which I wrote for her. It was the lead song on “Waiting in the Wings,” a compilation LP with other local bands on Wahoo Records – a label started by me, Jonny Sax and Dean Morgans. I think that was recorded at River Street while Drive was done at Dave Kean’s studio in Georgetown.
Dean and I also got Melissa to record “Bernie’s Back” in 1988 – a parity of “My Boyfriend’s Back” about then Browns QB Bernie Kosar. It got a lot of airplay in Cleveland and even a bit on the NBC pregame show. No that’s NOT on the CD.
Tracks 13-17 are from a 1989 live video shoot at Shenanigans in South Norwalk after vocalist Mary Salerno, drummer Kirk Snedeker and bassist Joel Rosendahl joined the group. “Some People” by Lebish was among the songs we recorded. Brooks DuBois engineered and mixed those tracks.
“The Sound” was originally released under my alter ego, Michael Might as part of the “Waiting in the Wings” album. The players were all in the band so it made sense to include it on the CD.
There’s lots more history and photos we will be adding as time goes on – so stop back from time to time.