United Dictators of Mars: The Music of Tom Mody & Jeffrey Harris

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mody Harris Band history

 

Mody Harris Band History

 

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The bands of Tom Mody and Jeffrey Harris  

End on reality
Band History Page


Band Members

Jeffrey Harris - vocals Tom Mody - guitar
Billy Pierce - bass Tom Ackerman - drums
Brian Blaine - drums Todd Hensley - guitar

the band End on reality


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End on reality
Check
1997

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End on reality  album Check

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1996
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End on reality

Jeffrey Harris:
When I finally pulled my head out of my ass sometime in '95 and started getting my life back together, Billy had invited me over to check out his new band which included these guys from Utica. Among them was none other than Chris Montgomery, who we had a very brief (2 days) encounter with as 2nd guitarist for Harbinger. Little did I know I would be asked to engineer their sound on the spot when I arrived. After some thought I obliged but knew there would be trouble because their drummer was always the person who set up the PA and sound both because it was his gear and he was the only person with the technical knowledge. When I was introduced to him I noted right off the bat that he rubbed me the wrong way. I think this is also the first time I actually met Jamie Robinson who was Billy's girlfriend's brother. Jamie seemed like an all right dude. I think Billy actually kind of built me up to these people before hand then put me on the spot to do the sound. How could I say no?

The show was at the Columbus Hotel pavilion. Jamie's parents owned the joint and I think Billy had talked Jamie into agreeing to showcase them there. I engineered their sound on some second rate gear that was totally frigged up and set up with a very obscure method which I knew at this point that the person in charge knew absolutely nothing about sound engineering. I had no time to even do a sound check. So I did the best I could under the circumstances which was probably better than how it would have been had it stayed in its original format. Well, the drummer's jealous girlfriend didn't see it that way and I noticed by her sneers at me and whispering in her friends ears that this was going to be chaotic. The band asked me to come up and sing a song with them, which, I had not used my voice in this capacity since sometime in '94. But I thought, how could this get any worse? Knowing that there would be trouble after the first set anyway and the fact that the drummer was also their, and I use the term loosely, "singer", I decided to get up there and blow their doors off. I don't remember what song I did but I do remember all jaws hitting the floor. It's funny how I remember how satisfied I felt at this point that I had rained on the drummer's parade. This would be the last song in the set and the last I would be a part of this masquerade.

As I walked back over to the sound board I saw it coming out of the corner of my eye. The girlfriend and all of her friends were gathered around the band members with fingers pointing in my direction. I am sure Billy wanted to go to his "safe place" when the drummer began walking in my direction. As he approached, I noticed he brought the biggest dude he could find with him. That dude did the talking for the drummer. Knowing it wasn't going to be good news I extended my hand to the big dude and said how you doin' I'm Jeffrey. What could he do but shake my hand right? Wrong. He ignored my extended hand and proceeded to tell me I was making the band sound like shit on purpose. So I dropped my hand, shoved him to the ground and said very loudly so everyone could here me, "Even the best engineers in the world couldn't help this band to not sound like shit!, Shit is shit!" As I walked over him toward the drummer I said, next time you'd better do your homework and bring 3 much larger people to do your dirty work. By this time, Jamie, a very good size body builder was holding me back. I apologized to Jamie and Billy for what had just transpired and with my adrenaline skyrocketing I said "I'm through!" and stormed out. Before I could reach my vehicle in the parking lot, Jamie and Billy caught up with me and apologized for the rude behavior of the drummer and his friend. Jamie said that he hoped this wouldn't affect any future relations which we might have. That's when I knew that Jamie wanted to work with me. I told him it wasn't his doing and I had no beef with him, but I didn't want to hang around and spoil the fun. I just wanted to leave and cool down. I told Jamie to have Billy give him my number and we would talk when I was in a better state of mind. That night Jamie contacted me. He said he believed that incident was the demise of that band because he told Billy that after hearing me sing, he was going to ditch those guys to work with me no matter what the cost and if Billy wanted to work with Jamie, he would have to leave his current band and come along. I told him I would think about it. After some consideration, I decided I would do it but on mostly my terms. He agreed. I saw an opportunity for being a leader of a band without the responsibility of having a hand in management and having the resources to play on our own terms while making cash. I was going to build the ultimate cover band. Jamie and I put an all cover band together consisting of Brian Blain-drums, Billy Pierce-bass, Todd Hensley-guitar, myself-vocals and Jamie Robinson as our Manager. I offered the part to Tom Mody to make it a five piece but I don't think that he wanted to do all covers and we didn't want to do originals at the time. So I believe he declined. This would be the first time since 1991 that Tom and I would not work on a project together. However, we would remain friends...I think. I would understand if Tom had some apprehension thinking I might still be in an unstable frame of mind. Until his story is told, only he will know what he was thinking.

We did audition other guitarists before Todd finally agreed to become the sole guitarist. Our first rehearsals were in Brian's parent's two car garage. We had a blast learning new songs and sounding good. When we wore out our welcome, we moved to my house in Randallsville NY. I decided to convert my living room into a rehearsal space since I was a bachelor and had no one to answer to any more. Jamie took out a loan and we went shopping for a modest PA which I would build to be versatile enough to fill a large venue with a full sound yet small enough to fit in small clubs if we had to downsize. Jamie bought it with my guidance. I built it. Billy had previously purchased the lighting which he would change scenes with a foot pedal on stage. We rehearsed with the downsized version in my house. This helped me to refine our sound although the neighbors probably didn't care for it. The one thing we never planned for was locating a sound engineer. So I would set up the system and run sound from the side of the stage. Before we would have our first show, we did a trial run at the Columbus Hotel pavilion. It sounded fantastic. We were now ready to take on the world.

This night would be the first of many that we would play to many packed houses at many clubs and venues throughout the state. I don't recall when Tom first attended one of our shows or what he thought but I am sure he will enlighten us. At some point I introduced Jamie to Tom and I think they hit it off rather well judging by what was to come. In 1996 covers were starting to become lackluster to me and Jamie and I began discussions about the possibility of throwing in some originals. We explored the possibility of seeing if Tom was interested in joining the band and how the other guys would react to our new found prospects.

Tom Mody:
Last time on "Days Of Our Lives"..... I mean really, by now it's a soap opera. I'm sleeping with Jeff, Jeff is sleeping with Brian, Brian is sleeping with Billy and Todd was sleeping with one of Billy's ex girlfriend. Well, at least the last part is literally true. The rest is figuratively true. But all the dynamics are there that keeps you tuning in week after week to a soap opera. Jeff and I did not have any type of falling out over the end of Archivon but I was free of my commitment to him and I guess in some ways with what he was going through I tried to be as supportive as possible and not bail out on the band. I had the 8-track and made use of it all through '95 recording demos, which of course I reviewed years later and decided to package them as a solo project called "Word". On occasion I would hand Jeff a song or two and let him take them home to mess with but I didn't like what he came up with. If I had more confidence that health issues would make me dependable I would have moved again to a city and been brimming with confidence to join a band but I knew I would not succeed just trying to gut it out plus I had been in a relationship now for 4 years and it was more important than I wanted to admit. In hind site I don't know what my intention was for the demos. The internet was a year away so there was no real distribution outlet possible and I wasn't networking to meet any musicians so I don't know what I was doing. I guess just trying to stay in the game,

Jeff was back working with "the guys" again doing covers and I just saw this as the end. If it was about getting laid I could see the advantage but they all were in some type of relationships, even Jeff was eventually, so what was the point. Well, money, and that evil word "hobby". I know I'm being harsh to all those recreational musicians that just have a blast partying and getting that stage high. I guess I was doing the same thing but from my studio so I was no different. I did go to their show at The Columbus Hotel in summer of '95. Big crowd, decent sound. I remember them playing songs from Journey and The Police. Both good bands but dinosaur rock even in '95. I may have met their manager Jamie Robinson that night, I don't recall. By the end of the year I think I had written the song Last On Earth and gave it to Jeff. Finally, he did something vocally not just okay, but outstanding. Then Todd quit their band... (tune in next week when Billy quits for lack of Iron Maiden covers.)

So Jeff wants me to talk to Jamie and I'm at this point all about terms. We're going to play modern covers, we're going to play some originals, we're going to record and we're going to change that God awful name of "Indecent Exposure". I know Jeff and inside he's thinking the same thing and now he's got his power partner back plus Jamie saw it exactly that way. The three issues were this, my health, my business and my singular instrumentation.

EOR manager Jamie Robinson
Jeffrey Harris & Tom Mody in Concert
Early days of EOR at Columbus Hotel
I'd never ever been a sole guitar player but I guess I really was confident because I don't recall stressing too much over it. I actually worked my business weekends so Jamie needed to book around my schedule with the understanding that I'd have two weekends free a month. As for my health, they just needed to realize the problem and bare with it. So, here I am again in a fucking band with Jeff, Billy and Brian... PLAYING COVERS! You know what, it was fun.

Jeffrey Harris:
Well then. The final chapter in what would include Tom and I in the band scene? Perhaps. We can't predict the future. What we can do is paint a picture of the past. Sooo... The last segment was left with the possibility of Tom joining Indecent Exposure. With some give and take we came to a compromise and Tom was in. He learned some of our covers, we all learned some new covers and eventually, we would write, record and perform originals. At this point I believe we were rehearsing in Jamie's basement in Earlville NY. It seemed like forever that we argued over what our new name would be. This was part of our agreement with Tom was to change the name of the band. I had no problem with this as it was a new beginning of sorts. One day, we were rehearsing a song by Sponge and at the end of the song there was a miscue...

Tom Mody:
We rehearsed in Jamie's basement the first week in January 1996. But unlike other bands we didn't work everything to the minute detail for months before playing. Jamie had shows lined up in a month- in fact, three nights in a row right off the bat. I learned all kinds of stuff from some classic rock like AC/DC and Foreigner but mostly new alternative like Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Green Day and all that era's best rock. We were about a week away from the shows and the new name was a brutal sticking point. I actually did a mock up for "The United Dictators of Mars" but no one took to it. Right to the very last day where Jamie needed to run the ad we were playing the song "Plowed" and we screwed up the ending. Jeff asked Brain where the error was and he replied "you end on reality". There was that moment of pause between us all and it was pretty much unanimous that the name was born. The music and vocals to "Plowed" both end at the same spot with the last word being "reality" so that's what Brian was trying to relay but it was a pretty cool moment. People again often screwed up the name saying End "OF" Reality but that's been par for the course in every band I've been in. I always interpreted it that everything ends on reality. We only assume what happens after death and have no evidence of what really happens. This life might not even be real so after death is the true reality. We all end on reality.

Jeffrey Harris:
The way I remember it, Brian exclaimed, "end on reality", reality being the last word in the song. But when Brian said this, and I think everyone there probably interpreted it differently, I actually in a state of confusion thought for a moment that he was blurting out a name for a band. There was hesitation before he explained what he was talking about, but one of us took the initiative to explore using this expression as our band name. I think it was so out there and bizarre that all were in agreement and relieved at the same time. End On Reality A.K.A. EOR was born. Now we could get down to serious business. It wasn't very long at all and we were back in the saddle. Mostly due to needing to fulfill some contractual agreements if memory serves correctly.

Tom Mody:
Anyway, I had no opportunity for a musician mid life crisis. We played those 3 shows over the weekend of my 30th birthday. Two of the shows were in some pretty nice clubs but I remember one night as the clock turned midnight and I hit 30 I'm thinking- I'm 30 and this is where I've progressed, to the Honky Tonk Saloon (which was down the street from my house). I'd been playing guitar 15 years and traveled half a mile. That has always stuck with me. However, the Honky Tonk and the Columbus Hotel were like a dual home base location for us. We usually packed both places. The Columbus Hotel in particular was more to our liking. They had a large enclosed pavillion with a stage and we'd just rock the place. Jamie's family owned it so we often loaded gear up a few days early and would rehearse there before the show and always had ample time for sound checks. We developed a follwoing quite quickly in our local area with the help of these 2 venues. I liked the fact that Jamie was financially invested in the band. We needed that 5th voice or that deciding factor that had the pull of a manager and investor. He could team up with me on the business and promoting side, team with Jeff on the technical side and team with Billy on the personal side since Billy would soon be his brother-in -law. Jamie was savy enough to use all 3 of these different relationships to his advantage without having to deal with the in-band dynamics I dealt with in prior bands. I guess that left Brian out of the loop and issues would surface eventually. I think aside from the fact that Jamie and I didn't whine about things but took action, we also could relate on the issue of equipment investments. He had a loan in his name and the band would pay the monthly payment. A short time after I joined he also took out a loan for a used equipment truck. It was only a few thousand dollars and was much needed but obviously it wasn't the most reliable vehicle around at that price. Paying him back would at times become a topic of discussion, particularly if the gear or vehicle needed repairs, replacements, etc.

Jeffrey Harris & Tom Mody in Concert
Billy & Tom in jam
But for the most part the first 5 months were a steady climb of traveling to clubs and building on our set list. The only real issue that came up couldn't have come at a worse time. My beloved Syracuse basketball team had made the NCAA tournament finals and I was about an hour from enjoying the game when I get this phone call about Brian wanting an emergency meeting. Usually, if it sounds serious I make the time but at this point I wasn't budgin and told Jeff it would have to wait a night.

As it turns out the meeting was mostly about everyone pulling their weight in the gear set up and tear down. Including Jamie who had felt a little better about not having to be at every show since I was in the band. I think Brian was expecting he'd pulled the same share in every capacity since he was paying him back but Jamie was pretty straight forward that he wasn't going to every show.

We also started to add originals into the set. The live drum version of Last On Earth was probably the first song and gained quite a bit of popularity among the mosher crowd who tended to get little opportunities since most of the songs were dance oriented. Brian did a great energy filled adaptation as the original drum machine version was quite tech oriented. Discussion would come up on occasion about adding more classic rock and so we'd do some Kiss or the more commercial Priest stuff. One song I did enjoy was an edgier "Play That Funky Music". On songs like this I started to do something I was never comfortable doing in the past. Just wingin' it on the guitar solos. I played much more off the cuff or just followed a basic outline and deviated in certain spots.

All seemed to be gaining momentum towards the next phase which was to record an album when Brian developed inoperable brain cancer and his parents confessed to him that his unknown biological father was really a world renown brain surgeon working secretly for the CIA and that they were going to his covert location to try and save his life. That is- until the evil Todd Hensley ran them off the road in a drunken jealousy because he was in love with Brian's fiance. His parents were killed and so Brian never knew the identity of his real dad. So of course he had to quit the band. I mean, I don't really remember what his reasons were so I'll just assume the above is true.

Brian Blaine - drums
EOR's first drummer Brian Blaine
Jeffrey Harris:
As we were gaining momentum and writing some pretty cool stuff in the process, building our following, something happened that we probably should have seen coming but really had no idea it would happen the way that it did. Brian put in his notice. By now he was complaining all of the time and had grown distant from the band. Most of his issue was with Tom and Jamie as he would express in his complaining. For whatever reasons, he couldn't see the big picture.

I still believe that he was coerced into his decision. I almost think I remember him breaking the news at a club called Looney Tunes and even though we were upset about it, I don't think any one of us was ready to try and convince him to stay. At this point the complaining was really under our skin and we were sick of it. At least that was my sentiment. He mostly complained in my ear.

Tom Mody
Despite his "brain condition" he agreed to stay on for a month or two until a replacement was found. An admirable thing to do except he was close to intolerable during that time. Probably due to his "brain condition". At one show where for some reason absolutely no one showed, I mean maybe 4 or 5 paid customers, I had won $20 on the lotto machine in the bar. No one else was getting paid that night because we were only taking the door for some reason. All this made Brian bitchy and I for the life of me can't recall what prevented me from popping him in the face because I know I was planning it all through pack-up. You know those situations where you are waiting for that one final quip to send you over the top. I guess it never came. Anyway, we had shows still to play with him as he agreed.

Jeffrey Harris
So our next quest was to find a drummer. Brian acted like he was doing the admirable thing by saying he would stay until we had a drummer and until that drummer was 100% with the songs so we could fulfill our contractual obligations. We on the other hand, just became so sick of how cold and callous he was becoming, that we were just using him as a means to an end. I know the tension was enormous especially between Tom & Brian. But we did find another drummer and Brian did stay true to his word. I don't remember how Tom Ackerman was discovered, but he would be Brian's replacement.

Tom Mody:
At some point while we were talking to Tom Ackerman about joining I had gone up to rehearse with another band. You may recall from our past bands that we had a road manager named Rick Turner. Well, Rick had been working with the band Floating Noah who played with us at Rock Fest '93 when we were Archivon. They were a two guitar band with both guitarist singing. One guitarist left and a possible plan was that Jeff and I would join them and also have Jamie's services as well. Jeff also went up for some rehearsals but this never panned out though I actually was quite intrigued by it. I think they wanted Jeff more than me and Jeff was loyal to our partnership. When it was clear that wasn't an option we finalized things with Tom Ackerman to be our drummer. Tom Ackerman was an undertaker for a covert international spy ring and he would doctor up the bodies before any unwanted evidence was discovered. As fate would have it, Tom was also Brian's biological father. Okay, okay but really, Tom was an undertaker by day (and night). He also had some PA gear and was worlds apart in temperament from Brian. In fact, during the transition there were a few shows where Tom would play the last set (we generally played three) and that was a big help in integrating him.

Jeffrey Harris:
We were determined to cram as many songs into Tom A.'s brain as we could in the quickest amount of time as possible so we could rid ourselves of what had become a thorn in our side. I think we were able to pull it off within two shows. Those were a couple of the weirdest shows. In the first show, Brian would play the first two sets and then we would introduce Tom A. for the next set as our up and coming drummer. I can't for the life of me remember how the audience received it. I think it was mixed, but Tom A. had his own following and I am sure he brought them along which helped matters. The last show we did with Brian before his final exit from the years we were together was just kind of first set, farewell and then the next two sets were Tom A. as our drummer. That was it. No cake and ice cream. No big party....Next! We were kind of excited.

Tom Mody:
We also moved from our rehearsal space into Tom's home basement since it was cost free but mostly so he could be near his work since he was on call for any needs of the dead. It was very common for him to be late to a show or held up during practice while he was embalming someone but in respect, that was his job and he took it very seriously. This also would speak for the guy's dependability and that gelled well with myself, Jeff and Jamie. Jeff also appreciated the work ethic and Tom's knowledge of PA gear. There were some differences though. First off, he was never a dreamer about being a musician. He simply enjoyed playing for fun and that often put us on different sides with our goals but he was really to me a means to an end and if bigger things came along he could stay or go but I understood his family and business were paramount. He was just a great guy to be around. He was also a much different drummer than Brian. Brian was impulsive, expressive, creative and played from alot of his feelings. I've often cited the brilliant life and contributions he gave to our songs. Tom was methodical, deliberate and in time- a solid drummer that fit well with where we were going in our new material.

Jeffrey Harris:
Tom Ackerman was not the same type of drummer with the speed and flamboyancy of Brian, but he had power, stamina and a clock second to none. He was a tight, backbone, rhythm section drummer. He also had a PA which we eventually combined with ours. We became very good friends with him and I really had a lot in common with him. We enjoyed hunting, fast cars and building things. This also would be the first person in a long time in the same band that I could relate to on a technical level in setting up and tearing down our gear.

"The Undertaker" Tom Ackerman

We played many places in a rather large radius including, Elmira, Sidney, Adams Center, Penn Yan, New York Mills, Syracuse and many others including our home area clubs where we were well received to packed houses. These shows would not go without incidents. There were probably many but to name a few which really stick out in my head are the following: One night we were to gig at Bill's Sports Bar in Elmira NY. We had arrived, set up all of our gear, were literally minutes from going on stage, and then my wife, Jody, calls Jamie's cell phone aiming it was an emergency. Anxiously, I answered the phone wondering what was wrong. It seems our children were playing with this curtain rod or something, and somehow, a part of my daughter Chelsia's little pinky on one of her hand's had been cut off. Jody had told me that they had the piece and were going to have to travel to Binghamton NY for reconstructive surgery. I immediately had a queasy feeling in my stomach. Not only was I worried for my daughter, I was about 3 hours from home and minutes from the stage. I was now in a pickle. In hindsight, I didn't make the right decision. Men are wired differently than women. I opted to stay and meet up with my family in Binghamton when the show was over. I paid dearly for this mistake. I met up with my family at Wilson memorial Hospital in Binghamton where my daughter had successful reconstructive surgery. It probably took longer for Jody to let me off the hook than it would have for the guys. Believe me; it made my life difficult for quite some time..

Another incident stemmed from gigging at the same establishment. I don't recall if it was the same night or not. We had finished our show, packed up and were headed home. We stopped to gas up in Horseheads NY and as I was gassing up, I noticed a Sherriff drive by the truck and, as he passed, he was gawking at me. I just shrugged it off and went inside to pay and get some snacks with the rest of the guys. As Jamie and I were joking about this and the fact that he and I had a discussion before we left home for the show about how the insurance on the truck had lapsed and he had to scramble to prove that he had made payment before they closed only to find that they had closed and he missed speaking face to face with a rep. He went on to explain how he had reached a secretary by phone and she assured him that the situation was under control and he was covered. So while we were joking of this in the store, one of the other guys exclaimed that there was a Sheriff's car behind the truck with it's lights on. I honestly thought they were trying to get Jamie and I going. But when we finally figured it out, to our dismay, it was real. So we made our way to see what the deal was. As we approached, we took notice of this sawed off little prick bastard Sheriff who obviously was trying to make up for his "short" comings by going up one side of me and down the other. I stayed calm and treated him with respect. I was tired, cold, hungry and wanted to go home. In his eyes, we were hippies and druggies. In reality we were long haired musicians as straight as an arrow. After  a couple of hours and threatening to impound our truck along with all of our gear, we were released to deal with it another day. One day I received a letter in the mail which stated that my license had been revoked and that I had to attend court in Horseheads. Furious, I made phone calls demanding that Jamie attend rehearsal to clear up this matter. He did so and he did so. That is the long and short of it.

Being the driver of our large moving van most of the time made for many interesting stories. I would like to share one last incident. One night we gigged in Adams Center which is near Watertown NY. We had a good show, packed up and began our trip home. A couple of us decide to travel a different route from which we came. Billy rode with me in the truck while Tom M. followed in his car. By the time we reached Manlius NY, it was around 4 and 5 in the morning and still dark. As we traveled down the main drag, I noticed out of the corner of my left eye that a car flew out of a parking lot and almost t-boned us. I swerved to the right because I thought it was going to hit us. It was so close that I saw it was a police car. Billy is my witness to this incident. I have no idea what the cop was trying to accomplish but he followed us closely out of town. By the time we were leaving town he decided to pull us over. We pulled over and as he was walking toward us, Tom M. pulled in behind his cruiser. The cop became nervous and started shouting at Tom while putting his hand on his gun. Tom had no idea what the cop was saying because he was in his car. This went on for what seemed like several minutes. Billy and I became a little nervous about the situation developing. Finally I yelled out the window that Tom was with us and we were coming back from a gig. The cop somehow instructed Tom to pull up ahead of us and he did so. Just when we thought the circumstances were under control, Tom, for some reason had exited his car and began walking toward us. This made the cop extremely nervous and he again placed his hand on his gun and began shouting to Tom to go back to his car. Either Tom couldn't hear him or understand him because of fatigue but he kept coming and the cop kept shouting. I remember thinking aloud what the hell is Tom thinking? It was a very tense and nerve racking moment. Finally Tom realized what was going on and returned to his car. As the cop was questioning me and Billy, he kept a close eye on Tom. We tried explaining that he was with us and we were returning from a gig in Adams Center. He wasn't buying it. He made us get out of the truck and kept barraging us with questions like where we were from, where we were coming from, where we were going, do we have any drugs, do we have any contraband, do we have any illegal aliens, what's in the truck? Etc. etc. etc. He asked these questions over and over. We just kept telling him no, no, no and that we were a band with equipment in the truck and we were just going home from playing our gig. When he asked if we knew why he pulled us over, I said I had no idea. He said we swerved all over the road on the main drag and I proceeded to tell him that he almost t-boned us when he came out of the parking lot. He denied it and it seemed to infuriate him. He said he was going to run our ID's and he was calling in K9 to see what we had in the back. I told him we would open the back for him but he wouldn't let us do it without back-up. He ran our ID's and K9 arrived and we were ready to open the back. With his hands on his gun he made us open the overhead door slowly and carefully. We complied. When the door was all the way up, he nervously looked things over with a flash light from a distance with one hand on his gun. He threatened that he could make us remove all the gear and have it searched and I remember thinking that I just want to go home and sleep. Finally he trusted us enough after questioning us over and over who we were, where we came from, what we were doing, etc., to let us go. What a dick. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't be so critical, but it was his fault in the first place. I had a hard time driving the rest of the way home and slept the entire day. I convinced the rest of the band to share in the driving after this incident to put it mildly.

Lonnie Park and jeff harris
Lonnie Park recording Jeff at Ultimate Sound
Tom Mody:
In August we continued with Tom on drums and started the writing process for an album. We did a demo run on my 8-track of the songs which was actually Tom's first studio type experience.The first week in January 1997 we booked 3 days with engineer Lonnie Park of Ultimate Sound in Cortland, New York. Billy would frequent the Ultimate Sound music store often and I think Lonnie was a member of the band Destiny who the original Harbinger had opened a show for in 1990.

Jeffrey Harris:
We had some pretty cool originals which were a mix of metal and alternative. The songs were, for the most part, up with the times and I was personally pleased with what we were up to. What we were about to record was kind of an experimental style which Billy, Tom M. and myself had never explored in the past for the most part. This time we were going back to paying others to record us. So in January of 1997 we had purchased time with Ultimate Sound studio in Cortland NY. The owner/engineer was Lonnie Park, a keyboard player which had gained success through the band Destiny which we had opened for in the original line-up of Harbinger. You can read about that show in the Harbinger era history. Lonnie had also gained success as a music store owner which, his facility housed both the store and the studio. The CD which we recorded was one of the more comfortable experiences I have been part of in a studio outside of our own. Lonnie is a patient, friendly and helpful engineer/co-producer. We enjoyed the camaraderie and shared some experiences we had in our musical past including when our paths crossed. We caught up with what he and Jon (West) had been up to and how some of our same friends and acquaintances had worked together. Upon completion of our CD, we were pleased with our finished product. I personally am very satisfied with everything on that CD soup to nuts. Everyone gave 100% to that CD and I am proud to have our stamp on it. There may be a couple of things that could be changed but that is in hindsight after the funds had run empty.

Tom Mody:
That whole time there was very relaxed and alot of fun considering it had been 9 years since I recorded in a "studio".
The end product was what I would call a solid listenable album. I guess that's not glowing praise but our writing at the time was much more directed to the cover band audiences we were playing for and somewhat reflective of the music of the times. I guess I'm writing this in hindsight with my "metal" game face on so I probably view the album with a bit of weakness. But what I really like about it, also in hindsight, is that I was able to do some different styles and grooves and it was an album I could give to anyone as listenable while still being heavy and edgy.

A few weeks later we held a listening party at The Honky Tonk. This was before we got the masters pressed to CD. I expanded a CD cover concept idea of Jeff's where he wanted to call the album "Check" with a big check mark on the CD cover, like another purchase had been "checked off" or that the buyer was giving the album a stamp of approval. I came up with the idea of putting a check mark on some guys head. Eric Maynard was a guy I knew from a volleyball club I played in and eventually a fan of the band. He volunteered to have his head shaved at the listening party and was the cover model for the CD.

shaving CD model Eric Maynard

I was going to shoot the photo myself but a highschool friend of ours was there named Gary Swann who was a pro photographer and he thankfully ended up shooting the cover and back insert. We eventually held a CD release party at The Columbus Hotel which was jam packed... unfortunately, the pressing plant failed to get the CD's there as promised. Of course I went off on them and got some money back for the trouble but it was little help to getting our music distributed.

From there we continued on through the summer and though we were playing regionally on a regular basis we weren't developing or gaining any momentum. Tom Ackerman just enjoyed playing out so I doubt this was an issue to him. Jamie had been rearranging his personal work situation and I think had less time to handle any promotion. Jeff and Billy may have both been expecting their first children at this time. I may not have my time line right here but for Jeff I know it was a hectic but joyous responsibility. Billy on the other hand was having some issues. His father had died prior to us recording the album. In fact I think he learned about it on the day of a show but played the show anyway which was tough. We did a dedication to his dad on our album by displaying a song of his dad playing in the 50's. During all this I think he found out he was going to have a child and he was very upset his dad would not be around to see this. He started drinking more and more at shows and it came to a head at one of our biggest events we played annually and Jeff had to separate Billy and myself from an altercation.

Jeffrey Harris:
one night after a show it erupted into a violent scene which include me intercepting the aggressor with a clothesline move and being on top of the aggressor screaming at him at the top of my lungs. Believe me, I have lungs! I believe Jamie and Tom A. were trying to pull me off with difficulty but the tension had just built up to this moment. We all calmed down with apologies and handshakes in a band discussion but it wasn't the same after that incident.

Tom Mody:
Billy called me the next day and we straightened things out. Not being immune to problems myself, I dropped a bit of a downer on the band when I informed them that I was going to have a major surgery related to my health issues and that I'd be out of commission for 4 months which would run through the end of 1997. This of course would kill any momentum for our album but I know Jeff takes time off to hunt and he probably wasn't too disappointed. It gave me time to evaluate things as well. In 1997 we did a good job of maintaining fan base and did get a full length CD recorded but we also played a prom, a graduation party and some other local beer party in between our regional club shows. This didn't exactly spell success to me. We were not showcased in any capacity where we could grow.

When I returned to the band in January of 1998 Jeff and I talked quite a bit about what we needed to do to regain some momentum. We were please that our local shows didn't lose any fan base but it was still the same old cover band. I had made a sweet deal on some used lights and Jeff was able to get his hands on 4 television which we incorporated into an ambitious stage design for a club band. Instead of a truss lighting system that hung high from a light stand, I drew out a an entire back base system that grew from the floor up and could be folded in depending on the club size. It also could be reduced in height by removing a top section for that same purpose.

End on reality- Live - Mody & Harris
at Columbus Hotel with new lights & video system
The lights would be housed in this grid type structure along with 4 TV's. Tom Ackerman with his welding experience was assisted by Jeff in most of the construction. This kind of stuff excites me and Jeff and though Tom did a great a job in building it, I think it was the last thing he wanted to do because the set up was that much more involved.

It was quite impressive and definitely made us feel like we had some originality back. I had recorded to tape some animated EOR graphics that would play throughout the set on the TV's but by the third set I use to have some fun and play stuff like "The Grinch" or some classic "Little Rascals" episodes. Another thing I did which Tom Ackerman probably hated was to incorporate both the drum machine and digital mini disc player into the performances which involved him to wear a headset so he could cue off the segments I recorded. Some of our newer songs which eventually ended up on the UDM "Smash Hits" album had some techno segments and we didn't have a keyboard player so Tom had to be in cue with the drum machine which automated the tech sounds. On the mini disc recorder I would just program some intro pieces to songs. This was years before the recordable CD or DVD was a widespread technology so the digital mini disc was the most suitable option.

Again this all required some financial input and that wasn't sitting well with Billy who often cited that he used band money to make his car payment, which didn't sit well with me because I wasn't in this to pay my bills. Jamie also started to become the subject of frustration among the band concerning his responsibilities in getting new bookings and promotions. Even with the new stage set it still was becoming like all our other bands. You could feel people not as invested and if people are not invested it's hard to want to move forward in fear of greater commitments separating the band or even worse, realizing what you already knew in your heart which is that it ultimately couldn't work with the different agendas. Even though we all got along well there still were fundamental differences in what the band meant to each member.

Then one day reality finally hit me. We were playing of all things a graduation party on someone's back porch about 5 miles from my house on some country road. That was just the worst to me. I was 32 years old, engaged to my long time girlfriend, doing well with my business and hating playing this stupid party. Though my surgeries had helped my health issue it still took alot for me to be playing live and for what... someone's graduation. Riding with Jeff to the next practice I told him at the end of the summer I would be leaving the band. I think it took a moment for him to wonder if I was serious but I don't recall much resistance either. Actually, I don't recall much of a fuss from anybody. So we continued on the next few months.

During this time one couple who would come to our shows were housing some displaced older teenagers from New York City. One Kid sang, one was a rapper an the other was good with a turntable. They were up on the current music scene and knew of bands like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and especially Incubus well before they broke big which kind of reminded me of my days getting into Priest, Maiden & Queensryche before most. Jamie and I befriended them and were mentoring them and eventually supporting them with food, money and transportation. I actually had worked out some songs with them and we played a short set as warm up to EOR on one of our last shows. I doubt this went over very well with the band but it was Jamie's place and the kids did do some crew work for us. I even talked with Jeff about starting a project with these guys where there would be 2 singers. He never really trusted the situation.

Jeffrey Harris:
I agreed to come down to the pavilion in Columbus NY which is where we had been rehearsing for some time now. This was our home base because Jamie's family owned the venue and he was in charge of the pavilion. Upon arriving to the first "gathering" of the new look, I was not impressed. It seemed unorganized to me. Tom M. and the other guys had worked out this song that seemed fragmented at best and uninspiring to me. Perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance, but it didn't feel right. It was missing much. There was one kid on scratch turntables and sampling, one singer and I have forgotten what instrument the other dude played. After giving some more consideration I came to the conclusion that I didn't think that I would be able to share the vocal spotlight with another like I had originally contemplated. I also became marred at the gathering by the members for accidentally breaking their "tiki" which made me joke of their new look. I really don't think it was in those guys plans to keep me on board anyway. I believe Tom and Jamie would have kept me on but without full commitment from the others.

Tom Mody:
After my last show with EOR Jamie and I tried to help them support themselves but they kept screwing up, wrecking a car, skipping off from work and they completely hated the upstate feel. They were raw in many ways no doubt but in my eyes they were also fresh and accustom to a city scene which always eluded me. Within a couple months they couldn't handle roughing it and bolted back to New York, with a few minor pieces of our gear as well. Jamie and I just kind of laughed it off.

Also during this time Jeff and I had an actual falling out over the TV's he had acquired for the stage show. One day they were gone from Jamie's truck and he felt obliged to them for which I was furious and there was a short period of time where we were not on speaking terms. I believe he initiated the peace pipe and the matter was settled. Jamie and I dabbled in trying to start a management company but we were too involved in our other pursuits and it just died from there. And so that was the end really of 16 years of band sagas and dramas and fights and recycling. For me it ended on the reality most musicians face which is the impossible task of being married to 3 or 4 people and successfully making that work so that all are motivated by the same goals and aspirations and hoping success will help weed out all insecurities people develop which become divisive in the marriage. I had joined End on reality really to further my original music but I never did afford it my highest aspirations but I guess I was able to get more out of it than I thought. I certainly wrote and recorded and album which was a bit more diverse than I'd ever imagined playing. I became a comfortable and confident sole live guitarist in a band and I played more shows to more people than I ever had. I made some good friends with Tom Ackerman and Jamie Robinson and their families and the band did not eventually end in a bad personal situation. I tried often to become depressed about "the end" of this dream but it was self imposed and I knew it, The next few years were extremely happy without it all and Jeff and I endeavored to write and record music at our leisure in our quest to finally write the perfect album for us. Billy and Tom Ackerman would continue on for a few years together and as of 2006 they still had bands separately and play simply for the enjoyment of it. That is something I never could master. In 2007 Jeff would decide he needed to feed his "Ya Ya's" and join Tom Ackerman's band as long as they didn't interfere with our recording schedule and that they played a limited amount of shows. The name of the band is Pi$t & Broke... and it always interferes with our recording schedule.


2008 Reunion with some of our kids
In May of 2008, ten years after EOR's last show and my last stage performance we reunited for a 3 song set at Tom Ackerman's surprise 40th birthday party. Other than reviewing the songs at home it was an unrehearsed performance that meant alot to everyone involved, particularly since all 4 of us had children there.

After the show at home it finally hit me the whole ten year thing and of course just a great appreciation to have guys around for so long that you can share those memories with and it's a feeling that can be appreciated at any level of musical success as long as you are willing to let go of past issues and keep your heart in the music and the history of what was your creation.

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Band Histories
Tom Mody | Jeffrey Harris | Torrod | Lynx | Harbinger | Archivon | End on reality | I Storm | UDM
 

 

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