Chapter Twelve


For a while, tension had been brewing between Amis and the other Raybeats. Since the recording of Guitar Beat, they hadn’t had much luck with recording sessions, and the touring grind allowed them to barely make a living, pulling in just enough money for gas, food and lodging. On top of that, Amis’ ego was creating problems that were quickly coming to a head. Harris, Christensen and Irwin had repeatedly complained to Amis about “my bass playing and my bad tone, and my reluctance to change those things after being asked repeatedly to do so. But we all knew it went deeper than that.”

“If they’d had group therapy for bands, we could’ve used it,” Christensen cracked. “There was a lot of unspoken resentment.”

Danny Amis & Jody Harris, live, 1981

Jody Harris was the one elected to break the news to Amis with an early morning telephone call in the spring of 1982.

“Obviously, I wasn’t happy about it at the time,” Amis said, “but they certainly did the right thing. There were a lot of personality differences, mainly stemming from the fact that I was just a twenty-year-old kid. You could say I wasn’t really handling the responsibility and sudden notoriety very gracefully. . . . It took me a long time to realize my mistakes, but I completely acknowledge them now. Despite the way it looks to most people, being in a band is NOT easy – it’s like being in a really insecure family that constantly travels.”

Originally a guitarist, Amis was restricted with his role as a bassist, and he was anxious to get back to playing guitar on a full-time basis. Despite that, Amis doesn’t cite the standard “musical differences” ploy as a line of defense.

“Musically, I suppose I’m a little more traditional than the others,” Amis said in reference to his preference of straightforward surf-pop stylings, “[but] I enjoyed the new [free-form] approach [of the Raybeats’ music], so I didn’t find it frustrating at all. I definitely learned a lot.”

Even though Amis’ tenure in the band wasn’t frustrating from a musical standpoint, it did prove to be musically limiting.

“It was kind of a thankless job [for him],” Irwin said. “Here he was, the leader of his own band in Minneapolis, and then to go to New York to take somebody else’s place in an already established band . . . wasn’t exactly showing him at his best. Nevertheless, he kind of put his own spin on it. . . . I think Danny did a great job while he was with the band.”

With Amis gone, the Raybeats reverted to the plan they originally had when George Scott died – they continued as a trio, hiring on a succession of bass players. Most notably, they worked with David Hofstra (a long-time friend of Jody’s who had replaced Scott in the Contortions) and Bobby Albertson (who replaced Laura Kennedy in the Bush Tetras). They also worked with Gene Holder (of the dB’s, who were longtime friends of the Raybeats, having dedicated their debut album, Stands for Decibels, to the memory of George Scott).

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