Thursday, December 18, 2014

DEAD SERIOS: Celebrating 30 Years of Rock!

30 Years of Rock!

1985 — New Wave was 
winding down, hair bands 
were revving up, and
the time was right for 
a rock revolution.

As an aspiring young musician influenced by an eclectic mix of Van HalenThe Ramones, Frank ZappaCheap Trick, Alice CooperJohn Denver and KISS, I was searching desperately for my own artistic identity during the mid '80s. At just 22, I'd already had my fill of playing in cheesy Rock / Top 40 cover bands. I wanted to form an original band something different, something unique

So in 1985, I stashed away my drum kit and took on the persona of D.L. Serios — frontman for my new (original) band, Dead Serios. Fueled by blind ambition, and armed with little more than a fistful of marginally adequate hard rock tunes about chicks and cars, we set out to conquer the world — or at least the Central Florida music scene. BTW, we spell "Serios" without the "U" simply because the guy who designed our first logo smoked a lot of pot and he simply ran out of space on the paper and reasoned that the "U" was the word's most expendable letter. True story.

An early Dead Serios gig.
(Stop laughing. It was 1985.)
Our first year was a bumpy ride, indeed. Our songs were weak, I was rather awkward on the mic and the band's mismatched original line-up offered a less than compelling live presentation. But we followed every letter of the rock and roll wannabe playbook, and we pressed on diligently. In 1986, we opened for a fledgling little New York-based combo called Anthrax — and they "spanked" us, plain and simple. But that gig proved to be a bona fide game-changer. There was a new rock revolution on the horizon — and Dead Serios clearly was NOT part of it. I realized that night that I could AND should throw out the "playbook." We had to stop being so serious (so to speak) and start taking some risks if we were to stand even a remote a chance of breaking out. 

Master of Puppets and Spreading the Disease soon replaced Metal Health and Pyromania as my favorite LPs of the day. I faced considerable resistance from certain early band members who clearly lacked my vision. However, this new-found energy and attitude was still reflected quickly in our music — and our sound and line-up soon "evolved." Then  I saw Alice Cooper in concert for the first time — another HUGE game-changer. And the light bulb goes off!  Hmm, if Dead Serios could merge our developing punk-meets-metal sound with an outrageous stage show and streetwise lyrical content, we just might be on to something. Kinda like a hardcore version of Saturday morning T.V.  

Our 1987 Ralph Rules record defined the
future Dead Serios sound and direction.
It was in 1988 when I first noticed that things finally were starting to happen for Dead Serios. We had just won our first Battle of the Bands competition at a local club one night. While I admired the four-foot-tall trophy perched on the front passenger seat of my pickup truck, I decided to turn on the radio for a little music on the ride home. Wouldn’t you know that at that very moment, a track from our then current record, Blow Chunks, was playing on WFIT. It was pretty surreal.

Finally on target - Dead Serios circa 1988.
(Me, guitarist Phil Billingsley, drummer 

Bill Erwin and bassist Joe DelCorvo)
By the summer of 1989, we were packing every local venue that we played. In fact, Dead Serios was drawing bigger crowds on Monday and Tuesday nights than most other area acts were drawing on the weekends. Even national level rock stars were coming to our shows. It wasn’t odd to be onstage and look out to see Deep Purple co-founder Ritchie Blackmore or UFO’s Paul Chapman in the audience. One night, I recall peeking out the window of a little club we were playing in Indialantic, Florida. It was just before show time, and standing at the front of the line out on the sidewalk was Slayer guitarist, Kerry King. I nearly wet myself right there. I rushed to the back of the club to alert our bassist, Joe DelCorvo, but by the time we could get back to the front door, King was gone. I asked the doorman where the angry-looking guy with tattoos had gone. “He didn’t have an I.D. so I sent him away,” the doorman replied.

The Dead Serios machine was revving on all cylinders in 1989. Featuring our concert staples "Psycho Dyke," "Skid Marks In My Shorts" and the rap-meets-rock College Radio track "Butterbean Queen," our indie album Possessed By Polka became a popular underground release that year. And with an over-the-top live show, we were gaining cred where it counts — on the road. 

On a bare bones budget, my independent 
LSR label moved 10,000 copies of 
Possessed by Polka in '89-'90.
We played a Florida rock festival during the summer of ‘89. Throngs of fans packed in near the front of the stage, sweltering in the July heat. At one point, the crowd became so unruly that our show had to be stopped while security guys pulled people out of the crowd placing some into squad cars and others into ambulances.

But there was one particular show that I’ll never forget. We were performing at a club, also during the summer of ‘89. I noticed a girl in the front row who was trying to get my attention. As I kneeled down to hear what she was saying, she pulled down her shirt to reveal a cartoon caricature of my face that she’d had tattooed between her breasts. To say the least, it was pretty freaky. 

Guitarist Doug E.G. (L) joined 
me, Phil, Bill and Joe in 1990.
(Photo: Ramon Scavelli)
Dead Serios live onstage in 1990.
From alterno darlings, Hootie and the Blowfish and Faith No More to thrash kings, Nuclear Assault to punk purveyors, Circle Jerks to Christian rockers, Barren Cross, we were competing nose-to-nose with many of the mightiest contenders of the day by 1990. In her Billboard magazine feature, music journalist Perry Gettelman described us as "a hardcore band with a locker room sense of humor." And Orlando's JAM! magazine would soon crown Dead Serios, Florida's "Entertainer of the Year." 

JAM! magazine named Dead Serios,
"Entertainer of the Year" in 1991.
(Photo: Christopher Lee Helton)
We had certainly "arrived" by 1991, and we couldn't be denied  or could we? From Marilyn Manson to Saigon Kick to Genitorturers, all the "top dogs" on Florida's original music were seemingly getting signed to major label record deals — and Dead Serios was the next in line. However, L.A. and New York-based record executives clearly didn’t embrace us like our fans and the press. An Interscope Records A&R rep once went so far as to tell me flat out that our music “sucked.” 

Despite our lack of major label interest, we knew that we were on the verge of becoming “the next big thing” — when our days were actually numbered. The Seattle grunge movement was about to consume the entire rock world, and there would be little room in that "new rock" world for a band like ours. We stuck it for a few more years, and our last two records, Dead Serios (1994) and Face Rake (1995) represented some of our best work. But by 1997, there simply was no point in pressing on any further.

Although it features such fan faves as "Who's 
On Oprah," "Pizza Face" and "She Wants 
It All," our 1995 album Face Rake  met 
with little fanfare at the time of its release.
I spent the next couple of years as frontman for the hillbilly / glam band, Glitterhick — an outrageous project in which I first worked with drummer, Scooter Greenbud. During this time, Doug and Joe also dabbled in their own new bands. In the early 2000s (along with Scooter on drums), Doug, Joe and I began staging well-attended, annual reunion concerts. But in 2011, I was pursuing Christian ministry, and despite continued fan interest, the Dead Serios story finally had come to a conclusion. Almost.

Dead Serios reunions were still 
packing Florida venues in 2008.
Like they say, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." And as our 30th anniversary was rolling up, I was approached in 2014 by the newly-formed Florida indie label, GhoulTone Records regarding the possible production and release of a Dead Serios tribute album. Although I thought that they were completely nuts, I gave GhoulTone my approval to move forward with the project. But the story gets more surreal. Last September, Dead Serios was snatched from the jaws of retirement when we were invited to perform alongside such former chart-busting MTV acts as Great White, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z'nuff at Florida's annual outdoor '80s In The Park festival. 

Along with the typical arsenal of props and
our full cast of live characters,  Dead Serios 
returned to the concert stage in September 2014.

Scooter and Doug, "getting down" with 
"Oprah" at '80s In The Park - 2014.

Bassist Joe DelCorvo, back 
onstage with Dead Serios in 2014.

Now at age 52, I'm uncertain regarding the long-term future of Dead Serios at this point rock and roll is a young man's sport, ya know. However, two things are certain — on January 24, 2015 we will celebrate our 30th anniversary live onstage at Melbourne, Florida's renown King Center for the Performing Arts. And in March 2015, the long-awaited Dead Serios tribute record will be finally released. Entitled, They're Not Joking, the 12-song collection will feature the cream of the Dead Serios crop, covered by various major label and indie level artists. Proceeds from the tribute album will benefit Genesis House, Inc. STAY TUNED!

-Christopher Long 
(December 2014)

Find Dead Serios on the web:
Facebook - ReverbNation - Email

Vintage Dead Serios 
clips now on YouTube:
"Butterbean Queen" (1989)

"Lawn Care Studs" (1990)

"People Need Ozzy" (1991)

"Who's on Oprah?" (1995)

"Pizza Face" (1995)

2014 interview (Just added!)

More Dead Serios 
video concert clips...

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

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