ICE WATER MANSION

Country USA

Style Hard Rock

Ice Water Mansion was formed back in 1978 by drummer Charlie Austin. The band’s lineup of members had numerous changes throughout its early years and there is little documentation available to be able to tell who was playing at what times from 1978 to 1983. Some of the known members prior to 1983 included Charlie Austin, Jeff Gardiner, Matt Neu, Pudge Norton, Dave Burns, Hansiell Dunn, Joel Dodge and Jeff McCollumn.

As of January 1983 the lineup consisted of Charlie’s brother Lonny Austin on lead vocals and guitar, Joel Dodge on lead guitar and vocals, Jeff McCollumn on bass and vocals and Charlie Austin on drums. Charlie had recruited Glenn Thorp into the band in January of 1983 after the band he was with, Roller, had just disbanded. With this lineup, the band went into PCI Studios in Rochester, NY and recorded some original material in hopes of winning a spot on Rochester’s WCMF Homegrown album. Their dream of getting a song on that album came true with the song Music Go Round. The radio play and exposure this gave the band really helped them get into several more clubs around the New York area. As the schedule became more and more crazy, Joel and Jeff had decided to leave the group.

They were replaced by members Mark Dewey on lead guitar and Ned Meloni on bass. It wasn’t too long after Mark and Ned joined the band that founder, drummer Charlie Austin decided to step down from drumming and focus his energy on the management of the band. The group then hired Elmira native Jim Cacala for the drumming spot. Jim had played in a former band with guitarist Mark Dewey in a group called Fright. This lineup in 1984 was Lonny Austin, Glenn Thorp, Mark Dewey, Ned Meloni and Jim Cacala.

But, as anyone who’s ever been in the band business knows, it’s hard to keep a lineup of members intact. After about a year with this lineup, bassist Ned Meloni decided to call it quits and persue other musical ventures. He was replaced with Buffalo native Pete Worden.

It was with this lineup that the band started branching out into several other states on the east coast. With Charlie now in the management position for the band, the bands playing schedule and popularity was really starting to take off. The group then headed to Susquehanna Sound Studios in North Umberland, PA to record its first release entitled “Rockin’ Thru The Eighties”. This was released at the time, on cassette tape only and had sold quite well in local stores and at shows. This also led to another appearance the following year on WCMF Homegrown album with the song “Rockin’ Thru The Eighties”.

Charlie was going full throttle with the band now and had hooked up with several different booking agencies and had Ice Water Mansion touring the east coast from Maine to Florida. The lineup of Lonny, Glenn, Mark and Pete remained intact until around sometime in 1989. Drummers during the years 1984 to 1989 were Jim Cacala, Rob Karas and Mike Callahan. It was also during this era of the band that the popular & well known Rick James had taken an interest in the band. Rick pulled the band off the road to do some demos in his home studio in an effort to land the group a recording deal. It was around this time when things started publically going bad for Rick James with his personal life. With the recordings complete & chaos ensueing in Rick’s life- the let down and future opportunity with Rick ceased. This had been stressful on the group and very disappointing.

The traveling and constant touring was getting to Pete who in 1989 had decided to leave the band. As the band was getting ready to audition a new bass player, guitarist Mark Dewey and drummer Mike Callahan decided to persue other musical ventures and also left the group at this time. With a very discouraged Lonny and Glenn left to wonder, now what? Charlie was determined to keep the band alive at all costs. After several auditions, the band had added bassist Ken Bestine who was playing with the Buffalo based band Rockabye and guitarist Howie Simon and drummer Jim O’Donnell that were also playing in a Buffalo based band named Crash LaRoux. The band was back on the road again.

In April of 1990 the band went through its worst tragedy when the bands founder and manager Charlie Austin was killed in an automobile accident. Charlie had handled all of the business dealings for IWM and this left the band really wondering, what do we do now. It was at this point the band and crew got together and asked, “What would Charlie do?”. And they all knew what he would say – “Get your asses back on that stage” – and that is what they did.

Shortly after the tragedy of losing Charlie, drummer Jim O’Donnell had parted ways with the band. The new drummer was from Lansing, Michigan and was playing with a group called Raggedy Ann. His name was Michael Lunden. Later that same year, guitarist Howie Simon had parted from the band and moved to Los Angeles where he was in bands with Jeff Scott Soto and Graham Bonnet, both of whom were lead singers with guitar great Yngwie Malmsteen.

1990 had proven to be a very rough year year in the history of Ice Water Mansion. With the death of its founder and manager Charlie Austin and two more member changes, the band was wondering what could possibly happen next. Well, what happened was the changing of the music scene. The big hair and glam of the 80’s was on its way out and grunge and a heavier sound was on its way in with bands like Alice in Chains, Queensryche, Soundgarden, etc. It was also at this point that the band decided that rather than go through another member change to replace Howie, they would just go on as a four piece group with Glenn as the only guitarist.

For the next two years the band continued writing, recording and touring the east coast. In the summer of 1992 the group was again to part with another member. This was drummer Mike Lunden. This would be the last member change in the IWM history.

Enter Glenn’s younger brother Brian. Brian who had played drums and guitar, was also a songwriter. He had gotten away from playing regularly when he was attending college in Fredonia for business. After graduating he ended up with a job working in the banking industry in Syracuse. Knowing that the band was in need of a drummer, he decided that banking wasn’t for him and took his shot at returning to music and being the IWM drummer. With a lot of hard work he was ready to go. The first surprise for him was his first gig he had to play. It was an event called Stitville Field Days located in the Utica, NY area. Little did he know that his first gig would be in front of a crowd of 3,000 people.

As of the summer of 1992, the lineup was now: Lonny Austin : Lead Vocals Glenn Thorp : Vocals, guitar and keyboards Ken Bestine : Vocals and bass guitar Brian Thorp : Drums After the addition of Brian, the band starting working on their first CD release entitled “Time Out Of Mind”. The release of this really gave the band a boost and got them radio airplay in the markets that they were currently touring. They continued touring, writing and recording until September of 1995.

It was at this point that the years of constant playing in addition to the changing club and music scene was taking its toll on the entire band. They all needed a break from the road and decided to take some time off. As days off, turned to weeks off, and then months off, Lonny, Glenn, Ken and Brian all just kind of went their own ways persuing other interests and starting families. People would always ask, “Why did you guys ever break up anyway?” And the response would have to be. “We never did really break up, we just took a long vacation that happened to extend for 14 years.”

In 2009, Lonny’s brother Nathan had passed away. It was quite a shock to the IWM family. Nate was involved in a terrible car accident in the early 1980’s which left him a wheelchair for the rest of life. He was always seen at the IWM shows and was always pushing the group to achieve bigger and better things. He will be sadly missed. The service for Nathan had brought Lonny, Glenn and Ken together for the first time in several years and upon getting together they thought it might be fun to try to play through some of the old material. We were quite surprised at how much everybody still remembered and knew that we would have to get Brian in on the act.

In July of 2009, Lonny, Glenn, Ken and Brian got together and played through a lot of the old original material. Needless to say one thing led to another which eventually led to the Hornell reunion in August 2009.

In March of 2010 The Andover, NY 4th of July Committee contacted the band about performing one last show to help celebrate it’s 50th anniversary of hosting the area’s 4th of July festivities. The band agreed to do it one more time, outdoors under the stars at the Andover, NY school grounds on Saturday July 3, 2010.

– Time Out Of Mind [1994]
– Rockin Thru The 80’s [2009]

 

 

 

 

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