"No nonsense rock from Queens, NY, the birthplace of punk. Punk rock the way it should be played ... with a metal edge and a sense of humor ... we will run circles around you chump youngster mall rockers even though we're pushing 40." Jim Starace, rocker
Norman Bates & the Showerheads started out while they were in high school. It was 1984. Turned out George Orwell was wrong. The Detroit Tigers won the World Series. And among the top songs that year were such hits as Footloose, Karma Chameleon, and Owner of a Lonely Heart. Not an especially exciting time.
From the start, NBSH found motivation in the only other band that mattered then in Queens, NY - the Ramones. Like their fellow Queens natives, NBSH played shows wherever they could get them. Unlike the Ramones, that wasnt very often.
They got occasional gigs at local bars. And with their semi-regular rehearsal rooms parties, NBSH honed their live sound & developed a growing stock of songs, mixing in their original tunes with punk versions of some unexpected hits. When they played Time in a Bottle, I Feel Fine, or Locomotive Breath, the audience saw for themselves that these guys werent very talented, but they at least had a sense of humor. Nobody chased them from the stage, so they kept playing.
At some point NBSH decided to start contributing what little money they had to the scam artists running the various recording studios around Queens. And though they usually got ripped off in the process, they often came away from a recording session with some cool version of A Salesman of Death or (I Work in a) Graveyard to pass around on a demo tape. As the number of hows increased, so did the number of tapes circulating.
It may seem simple for a distribution system, but the demo tape handoff was state of the art back then. And it helped NBSH land spots on a few compilations, including Blackout! Records Big Apple - Rotten to the Core Vol. 2, and Roirs Scumrock: Live at CBGB's.
By the early 90s, NBSH released their debut album. Thirteen songs, just over 30 minutes, recorded at a pro studio with a pro engineer. Just a little too pro for this ham-fisted punk band though. Some reviewers panned the release, others got it. These days the recording is considered a rarity - probably because there were only 2,000 copies made. It remains on many peoples wish list.
As the band played more frequently, in cities throughout the East Coast, they made a few attempts at recording a second album. Groups of songs were recorded at different times, in different studios. A consistent sound was never realized. Eventually the shows, the sessions and the persistent mediocrity took their toll, and the band split up. The second album was never completed.
But Norman Bates and the Showerheads was always a live band. While their shows ran short on rock-n-roll spectacle, they more than compensated with a sound that was tight and powerful. Not much video footage exists from the old days. But some live NBSH audio recordings are starting to resurface, providing a glimpse of the intensity that can be coaxed out of two guitars, bass and drums, two singers and plenty of volume.
All done with the idea: Turn it up and play it fast.