It sounds kind of overly dramatic to say things like “On that fateful day” and all, but really: it WAS a fateful day when I connected with the young man who posted that Village Voice ad looking for people to start a “Talking Heads/CBGB’s type” band with. 20 years old, shy, blue eyed, always preppily dressed (NEVER in jeans), Shaun Krushenick, a.k.a. Shaun Brighton, was the only child of a well known artist, Nicholas Krushenick, and his aspiring actor wife, Julia. A really sweet but not-smart Collie dog, Cody, completed the family, who lived in an honest-to-goodness Soho artist’s loft at 168 Mercer Street between Houston and Prince.
After a phone talk, Shaun and I met up at CBGBs one chilly night in December. He shifted on his feet and most of his responses were a low-key chuckle, “heh heh” kind of thing. I made him nervous, but he was nervous anyway, very wired, with a quick, very high intelligence. He had a baby face and mop top hair; later on I’d see his Paul McCartney eyes imitation where he pulled down the corners of his eyes to resemble those famous droopy orbs. Shaun was also kind of immature, emotionally. . . not that I was a paragon of maturity at age 21 (or even now!).
Once we met, we talked, and figured out our musical tastes were cool. Then we had to play and sing together, and as nervous as we were, that worked, too. We sounded good singing together. So, over the course of the winter months, we planned this new wave pop band. Six months in, I changed my hairstyle (from reddish brown medium length blunt cut to a dyed black pageboy with bangs – people swore I was partly Asian, which I got a kick out of but no, I was just a rock ‘n’ roll NY mutt).
After much deliberation and study of the British rock papers (New Musical Express – the NME – and Melody Maker were de riguer in our circles), we settled on a band name, NERVUS REX. In true punk style, we chose it because it was on a “Top Ten List of the Worst Band Names” in the NME. We thought, how cool: and how fitting, ‘cause we were definitely nervous wrecks at first.
I also figured that I’d have to phase out my Trixie A. Balm rock writing if I was going to be a pop star – or a pop tart – a working musician and rocker, not a rock writer. I thought it was a question of journalistic ethics. At first my Trixie associations were skeptical of my career change (as was my mother, who was nervous of me being an aspiring writer, too), but then they heard us, were supportive, and came in useful.
Stay tuned to this blog for further adventures of “The Rex” as we fight the good fight for coolness, ‘70’s music, and a piece of the ol’ American pie. . . .