Rattail Then and Now
In November 1984, I got together for a "jam" with Dan Lumley, Steve Best, and my brother Flav Giorgini. Over the course of the next several weeks, the combo eventually became Rattail Grenadier
, which continued until 1994. There were several line-ups of the band, which at various points included Rick Harris, Quentin Flory, and Kevin Aubey, as well as a bevy of fill-in guests who took over at times when "official members" could not make it to certain shows (one these shows, in Kalamazoo, MI in 1988, featured Matt Hart in the vocalist spot -- the same line-up which eventually became Squirtgun
, and was still active as recently as 2003's Fade to Bright
On the Fourth of July weekend a couple of weeks ago, Dan Lumley ran into Steve Best. Steve, who currently lives in Wisconsin, was in town visiting family for the holiday. Coincidentally, Flav, who now lives in Seattle, was in town working on a solo album (which I am producing at Sonic Iguana Studios). We took advantage of the situation to meet for lunch, and to re-create a photo that we had used as a promo poster for our early tours.
Flav sent the new photo to Kevin Neireiter, who not only has done most of the artwork for Squirtgun, but also did much of the artwork and design for Rattail Grenadier. Kevin used his prolific skills to make the shadows, background, and logo match those of the original poster shot.
Above; Trying to look "tough" -- Rattail Grenadier in a 1986 poster (left to right: Flav Giorgini, Steve Best, Mass Giorgini, Dan Lumley)
Rattail Grenadier in July 2004, still failing to look "tough."
Rattail Grenadier released four full-lengths during its ten-year span. The first, Three Blind
(1986), was a self-issued cassette-only release that we recorded as a three-piece, with Dan Lumley on drums, Flav Giorgini on guitar and vocals, and myself on bass guitar and vocals.
Our second full-length was also a cassette-only self-release entitled Copy
(1987), which featured the line-up in the above "poster" shot. The two cassette releases were primarily distributed in the tiny Midwestern punk scene of the time, and sold about 400-500 copies each.
In 1988, after a couple of years touring and playing with nationally-recognized punk bands, such as Naked Raygun
, Dag Nasty
, Toxic Reasons
, the Zero Boys
, and others, we signed with a new Chicago-based label called Roadkill Records
. Roadkill Records was formed after I introduced my friends Ben Weasel and John Jughead of Screeching Weasel to Rattail Grenadier singer Steve Best's older brother Dave at a Screeching Weasel show at Durty Nellie's Pub in Palatine, IL on May 22, 1987. The general idea was that Dave would provide the funding, and that Ben and John would run the label, with signing decisions being mutual.
The first three releases were issued simultaneously in late 1988, and included full-lengths by Screeching Weasel (the original release of BoogadaBoogadaBoogada)
and Rattail Grenadier and an E.P. by the Bhopal Stiffs. The Rattail Grenadier
album was self-titled, and was released on vinyl LP and cassette. The album was produced by Paul Mahern (producer of Iggy Pop, John Mellencamp, and the Blake Babies) and featured a guest appearance by Vess Ruhtenberg of the Zero Boys. This release was much more widely distributed, and went into a repress of both editions. Approximate sales were 2500-3000 in total.
By the time Rattail Grenadier was ready for a fourth full-length, Roadkill Records had folded, after releasing many more releases by bands such as the Effigies
, Sloppy Seconds
, and No Empathy
, to name a few. So, we signed to an Italian label called Helter Skelter, that was also a well-known distributor of punk albums in that country, and also signed a distribution deal with Rotz Records in the United States for our next release, Too Much of a Good Thing
(1991). On this album, our line-up had changed, now featuring Rick Harris on lead vocals in the place of Steve Best. The album also featured guest appearances by Matt Marz of the Disease
(who also appears on the latest Squirtgun disc) and Bruce Stuckey of Toxic Reasons (note: Too Much of a Good Thing
is the first released and distributed album I ever produced and engineered).
In 1992, Rick Harris moved to Berkeley, CA to start a Ph.D. program in Molecular Biology. He was replaced by Quentin Flory, who had previously been a member of New Jersey's P.E.D
., which had released a full-length on New Red Archives Records in 1989. He had also been friends and jammed with early incarnations of the Bouncing Souls
. We started work on a fifth album, which was never released. This album marked a move towards a more melodic, but minor key, sound, somewhat reminiscent of Bad Religion. One track of this intended fifth album was "Come On Back," written by Quentin Flory, which was featured on the PUNK USA
compilation on Lookout Records (1994). This remains the only Rattail Grenadier song currently in print. The former members of the band have discussed the possibility of releasing a compilation of highlight songs from throughout the band's history, but no formal plan exists at this time.
In 1994, while our father was ill with brain cancer, Flav and I put the band on hold. By the time of his eventual passing, we decided to start a new band with a more upbeat and positive image, most certainly as a result of the sad events of the year. Rattail Grenadier ended, and Squirtgun was born.