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Noise Petals '88

  • BAND
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Hearn ChoHearn ChoLead Guitar and Vocals
Tom StegemanTom StegemanDrums
Jeremy TobackJeremy TobackBass and Vocals
James TriggJames TriggLead Vocals and Guitar
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Noise Petals began like many bands circa 1985, with a flier. Guitarist Jim Smith’s photocopied shout out in spring of that year wrangled singer guitarist James Trigg. And another round of push pinned appeals the following fall, no doubt referencing REM as an influence, magnetized drummer Tom Stegeman and bassist Jeremy Toback. The group began rehearsing and writing, and almost immediately performed at a battle of the bands at one of Princeton’s infamous eating clubs, Cloister Inn. Somewhere around 2AM they opened with a cover of I’m Not Your Stepping Stone, followed with their first original, the very Athens inflected Walk Thin Walls, and closed with a Trigg composition called Cry. Though James now charitably characterizes their closer as ‘terrible,’ that show in tandem with an early demo cassette was enough to get the Petals playing the Prospect Street eating club scene. By fall of ’86 Noise Petals had become a campus fixture, known for energetic and often inebriated sets that combined their own jangle infused originals with contemporary and classic chestnuts like Lucifer Sam, What Difference Does It Make, Loose and Do It Clean. But the wildness of Petals gigs along with Toback’s intense So Cal temperament proved a bit much for Smith; and he left the band to concentrate on his thesis; such is college rock. A manhunt ensued, and prestidigitatious axe man Hearn Cho joined to complete the classic Noise Petals lineup heading into the winter of that school year. With Hearn in the fold, the Petals took their art and ambition to another level, and began their autumn of ‘87 campaign with an Alabama to Jersey tour. Aside from a solid kickoff gig at the Nick in Birmingham (Trigg’s hometown), and a packed show opening for North Carolina’s Connells in Charlotte, they didn’t play for many people, or have a particularly good time; but it was great! The Petals returned to campus and continued their eating club exploits, expanding beyond Princeton walls to rock at colleges from Swarthmore to Yale to Trenton State, as well as legendary clubs like CBGBs, Hoboken’s own Maxwell’s and Revival in Philly. That year also saw the band open for national acts like 10,000 Maniacs and Throwing Muses at Trenton’s now defunct City Gardens. And in a fun reversal of future fortunes moment, the Petals even headlined a lawn party with Princeton High’s own uppity Blues Traveller as the support. By winter of ‘88 the band had stashed away enough show cash to go into New Jersey’s Epsilon Studios and properly capture their eclectic sound on tape. With local engineering whiz Tom Zepp at the board, and the band’s friend Chris Mohr offering production input, the boys spent five days (or so) tracking and mixing seven songs. The resulting recordings became the Noise Petals EP, which was originally released on LA’s Stonegarden Records to mixed acclaim, and is now being made available digitally for the first time by Almost immediately after sending their vinyl testament out into the world, the Petals did what any proper Ivy League rock band would do; they broke up and got jobs. Tom remains a formidable force on the skins, though he is a peripatetic real estate mogul by trade. Hearn is a cancer researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in NYC, but owns a beautiful anti-indie rock guitar, and can still move his fingers across the frets with frightening speed. James is a copyright attorney in Atlanta, where he numbers Petals heroes REM as clients, and has put out several albums over the years with bands like the Jupiter Watts. Jeremy, who now ghost writes for commercial directors in LA, has made some noise in the music business as a founding member of seminal Seattle band, Brad, as well as with current projects: Renee & Jeremy and Chop Love Carry Fire. Interestingly, the Petals did launch one wildly successful music career. Their manager, Stu Bergen, is now President International at Warner Recorded Music. Let that be a lesson to all you aspiring academic rockers!
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