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Country USA

Style Hard Rock/AOR

Scan10003…it all started with a porn star actually. Shan Sloan suffered from the common American misconception that I was immensely cool because I had written for Kerrang (but never did fix me up with her colleague Brittany Stryker), and had the hots for Roger Sommers in a big way. So she kept on pestering me about Roger and his great band, and figuring I was never going to get Brittany Stryker by ignoring her, I agreed to meet up with Roger at the Country Club. Who was playing? Damned if I can remember.

So she introduces me to this guy, and I can see why she’s impressed, which only served to make me even more dubious. But the tape he gaves to me turned out to be a monumental shock to the system- it was awesome! I wasn’t quite so impressed with the name though- Freelance? A bit naff, but at least it proved Roger wasn’t a complete genius (in fact he wasn’t that impressed with the name either, already in place when he joined, but had been more concerned with coming up with good songs than a new name). So I called him up offered a few ideas on how the band might progress, and told him that with a tape that good he could afford to e hugely smug – I don’t remember saying it, but apparently it’s still lodged in his memory banks that I appeared to be rude to him (the English sense of humor leaves most Americans very confused), but being Roger, it impressed him so much that he invited me to help him run the affairs of the band.

Almost fifteen years later Roger insist that the songs sound dated, but that’s just typical artistic self-flagellation, ignore him. Admittedly times have changed, but back then this was good as it could get and I was in heaven – I’d found the next Bon Jovi Roger was God! Well, I was wrong there, because just as things were starting to get interesting as they say – y’know, you start daydreaming about two years on the road, a number one album and wads of cash at the end of it all (and Brittany Stryker?) – two members of the band found God. And it wasn’t Roger!!! This surprised us all.

Freelance was not Venom, only loosely threatened a couple of the ten commandments (although the extra tablet Moses dropped on the way down the mountain, whitch had all the stuff about coveting your neighbor’s sheep, and recording ungodly-sounding demos in bedrooms and garages, could have posed a few problems), but nevertheless Jac Mandel and Scott Pollock baled, just as Freelance began the process of converting itself from a recording band to a performing one. The word had began to get out, and the buzz had been reaching a level where we could persuade at least ourselves that Freelance looked like serious contenders; damn, it was exciting back then! Plus I was sure any label we signed to would insist on a name change, so I’d stopped worrying about Freelance sounding so weak. I was a freelance writer myself, and anyone naming a band after my job had serious issues to resolve with a first class shrink…

Oh well, back to the drawing board. The times they were a’changing, and Roger was changing with them, writing tunes with larger, hairier balls. Well, okay, actually he was using a guitar and a tape machine, but you get the idea. Still, when a guitarist named Tracy Frijalva sent in his demo we knew that our balls were not that hairy and passed on him; he owes us a debt of thanks for realizing as much and leaving him free to join Dio later. Instead we recruited Jasen Orme, and briefly borrowed Chuck Wright as bassist when Roger and Michael came up with a blasting new tune called “Guilty”, so inspiring it blew away the depression which had descended upon us after our brush with religion and had to be recorded right now.

New players (ender bassist Bruffie Brigham shortly thereafter), new tunes and a new name too. RESTLESS had much better thing to it, and with much hard work we clawed it all back again, and then some. It started to feel very real, especially after we secured the services of an expensive attorney, a former president of Polygram Records: in retrospect it was largely a waste of money but at the time it was just plain exciting to have a big time lawyer championing the band. We were beyond daydreaming now. Press support was great, although my favorite review remains the one which heaped lavish praise on the powerful, emotive vocals of Paul Suter. I’m sure Brittany Stryker would have been impressed, but still I never heard from her.

Record companies started playing serious attention, and by the summer of 1990 Restless was selling out all the top clubs and seemed poised to become L.A.’s next signed band. A change of drummer from Danny Lux to Mark Bennett had proved to be an ispired move, adding a severe dose of extra power to the live show, and suddenly everyone else seemed to be agreeing with my predictions of impending fame for Roger and the band.
But it was not to be; Tattoo Rodeo had landed a deal with Atlantic records and made Michael Lord the archetypal offer he could not refuse. Bastards! Faced with the loss of his main creative partner, Roger had the option of rebuilding the band yet again or calling it a day, and with a chill wind already blowing from the direction of MTV he sadly but realistically took the latter course.

It was a sad time (cue sniffing into hankies), but maybe we were saved from greater disappointment waiting just around the bend, because after MTV ruled rock must die, it did, and any Restless debut would not have beaten the deadline. We’d have been swept away, along with all that was good about the eighties, indiscriminately trashed along with all the big hair poser garbage that should never have been signed in the first place, and most sane people would agree that it’s better to have been turned away from the Titanic than to have gone down with the ship (even if you’d managed to boink Kate Winslet on the way), because now at least we can board the good ship MTV and start again with people who care.

Paul Suter


– Alone In The Dark [1998]


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RESTLESS, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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