this might have started when Ken played back what he'd heard Greg recorded, in the way that he compulsively makes any noise he's just heard. Try farting in front of him, you'll see. Anyhow, soon the two were completing songs, and Greg had left Not My Ritchie, and found child prodigy drummer, Tim Brennan (later of Dropkick Murphys), to be part of the now more serious project. West Beverly was chosen as a name (after the high school in 90210), and they hit the studio to finish their first EP Kids These Days in time for their first show at the Elmwood Community Center February 25, 1998. Bassist Doug Sullivan (later of The Ducky Boys) completed the band in time for the show, just following recording, and the shows began.
VFW halls, Greg's jiu jitsu studio, and community center were the venues that defined the early days of West Beverly. In two cars, the band traveled throughout CT, MA, RI and NY playing shows with contemporaries including Monty's Fan Club (Now Monty Are I), Big D and the Kids Table, 5 Bucks!, Kicked in the Head, the Skeptics, and many others. As shows picked up, and WB could draw in their own right, the band found themselves playing more conventional venues with more and more bands serious about nationally touring.. Sunday Drive (now The Starting Line), A New Found Glory, Dashboard Confessional, Midtown, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, etc. Tricks of the trade were traded among these bands, and much use made of Book Your Own Fucking Life, the listing of venues once only published in periodical format, now online, and quickly (in the late 90's) becoming the means bands had to tour farther and farther from home. The band's website picked up steam as the band grew as well, and, early pioneers as they were, they even for a time included "The West Beverly Dating Service" on their page.
It was a place for people to post their pics and little blurbs about themselves. Ken struggled many hours with buggy scripts to maintain it while it lasted. Scripts like these were later polished and turned into "the entire purpose for the internet for adolescents" by Friendster, and ultimately Myspace. Thats right.
West Beverly basically invented Myspace like Al Gore invented the internet, bitches. jk. Slowly but surely West Beverly worked their way from halls to a geographically expanding circuit of venues. During this expansion there were many member changes, particularly in the bassist department. Val Loper (later of In Pieces) replaced Doug early on, and had the longest stint in the band on bass if not TQDB.
Tall Quiet Disappearing Ben. Ben had two different stints in the band, was an awesome guy, played like a pro, but ended both stints by disappearing and not returning calls. This is, of course, funny only in retrospect. Brendan O'Connor played for a good little period which included a disastrous abandoned tour to Cleveland with a stand-in drummer, Tom.
He kicked a BMW after the Cleveland show, and the band still fondly remembers that night and Brendan's sun blister. Ryan Labbe was the gentle giant who could crush a boulder with his bare hands but is probably the nicest guy ever. He played for a while, between Ben periods. In early 2001, Tim Brennan unfortunately became a more serious college student and former member as well.
The band flailed a bit during the period following Tim, trying out many drummers, but very hard to please after such a monster player. It was during this time that Greg, itching to keep performing, started Wishlist, his solo acoustic project (now the self-named project, Greg Wood) Finally, on 9/11/01 ("the" 9/11), Gabriel joined the band on drums replacing Tim. For the end of '01, the band built their confidence back up by playing shows with the obviously inferior Gabe on drums. Just kidding, Gabe's a totally ridiculous player. In 2002, to support the anthology release "It's Gonna Be Awesome," and hopefully take the band up a professional notch, Greg hatched "The West Beverly Plan." He wanted badly for the band to tour nationally and join the ranks of some of the bands who they'd seen had made this work.
The band had to be full-time in order to warrant Ken leaving his for-real job, though, and had not even the van or trailer necessary. "The Plan" involved tirelessly booking private school shows around CT for the bigger bucks in order to afford the van and trailer, and then booking the tour that would become the band's first national tour, hopefully establishing relationships that would further the touring and possibly label interest. And that's what they did! Just before touring, the band had to replace Ben the second time with Chris Jackson! (the exclamation point is on his birth certificate), but with Chris (possibly the most proficient player the band had played with) (except maybe the guy that tried out, but couldn't join because he got mugged and stabbed with a hyperdermic needle... and something about the army) completing the tour-ready line-up, they were off! The tour was long, and tested the band's grit.
Friend to the band, and Ken's lovely girlfriend, Wendy Stanton came as merchandise co-ordinator, and all-around sanity provider. Dates included a month across the north of the country with Amazing Transparent Man (including a backyard brawl in Iowa), and, following a pretty amazing sold-out Chain Reaction show with Maroon 5, another few weeks across the south, largely with The Conversation. Many afternoons were spent at Kinkos, and still more spent in shopping malls stealing Jupiter Sunrise's idea, doing the 'guerilla marketing headset' thing, now an industry standard with young bands. When dates dried up in FL, the band was guest-listed by Gabe Saporta (now of Cobra Starsip) from Midtown for their tour with Recover up the coast, and they sold CD's to kids in line and caught many good concerts. As the tour wrapped up, Chris Jackson! had to quit the band to take care of a sick relative, dealing the first of what became two death blows to the group.
Greg did a guerilla marketing tour to FL and back attending Saves The Day, NFG shows and selling 5 song CD-R's to try to keep steam going, but upon his return, following a few lackluster bassist try-outs, Gabe quit the band as well, for a more fulfilling life in Boston as an experiment subject and eventually, a mover. When Gabe quit, Ken and Greg looked at each other and pretty much knew this would mean the end, but accepted it and split up the money and swam in the piles. I mean the piles of unsold merch. And I mean cried over, not swam in. A couple weeks of shows were booked when Gabe left, and Greg played them solo, eventually turning the trip into the beginning of a couple years of solo touring.
He later sang for friends Staring Back on Warped Tour in '04, and from Jan '05 until August of '06 saw the world touring with long-time friends, Punchline as their lead guitarist. He has now retired to CT where he is considering teaching music. He teaches guitar and bass lessons, and runs Antidote Apparel, his positivity-themed clothing company. Ken returned to the working man's life, and now lives in West Hartford with now wife (!) Wendy :) He has a sweet ping pong table in his sweet crib. Monday and Thursday are TV nights (well, every night is for Ken, but those are the nights Greg comes over for their shared faves, including the new 90210: The OC).
Through it all, Ken and Greg have come full circle. All that's changed... is the show they're real gay for watching. Read more on Last.fm.
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