Chapter Nine

“ON THE ROAD AGAIN”

After a few rehearsals with the new bassist, they played a late-night/early-morning gig at Danceteria. Despite some negative “pre-press” from the Village Voice, Amis remembered receiving “a very warm reception — I think the audience was ready to hear the Raybeats again.”

Dressed to Thrill: The Raybeats in matching garb

Amis’ debut also proved to be the debut of the matching suits, a wardrobe venture that went over well, becoming a band trademark. 

“We had discussed wearing suits when George was still alive,” Christensen recalled, “but we didn’t get it together until Danny joined.” Christensen particularly enjoyed the retroactive move, a throwback to a time when “all the bands I played in wore uniforms.”

Right after Amis’ debut, they were on the road again.

“We were poised, ready to go,” Christensen said. “We probably played and toured more than any other band in New York City at that time.”

The band toured incessantly, managing to develop a solid fan base throughout the country, if not the world. As a twenty-one-year-old realizing his dream of being a full-time professional musician, Amis really took to life on the road.

“The highlight for me was travelling to so many places I’d never been,” he said, “and meeting people from all over the world. There were so many cities I was discovering for the first time.”

The Raybeats live in San Francisco, 1981

“We played any place that would have us,” Irwin said. “We were one of the first ‘out-of-town’ bands to play the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia.”

To usher in 1981, they played some gigs at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, opening for the Go-Go’s.

“They didn’t have a record deal yet, but they were really popular and for good reason,” Irwin recalled. “The Go-Go’s would come out and announce us before we went on, which was good because the locals weren’t there to see the Raybeats – it was definitely a Go-Go’s crowd. We kind of had to fight for our lives – literally. It was New Year’s Eve on the Sunset Strip and it seemed like the center of the universe. Kathy [Valentine] was just joining the band and it seemed like everyone was there. We had met John Belushi in NYC and he was a fan and was there. John [Doe] and Exene [Cervenka] from X were there. There were lots of musicians and lots of Go-Go’s fans. The crowd was spilling out into the street.”

Live in San Francisco, Club Savoy, 1981

They also played a series of gigs in San Francisco’s Bay Area while, according to Irwin, holing up “in a dive of a hotel in Chinatown – how we survived that one, I don’t know”; did a handful of gigs with the Romantics in the southwest (Irwin: “Something jogs my memory about us drinking everything in sight from their dressing room and inviting all of their friends and fans in to our room for a party”); played with the Jam at the Palladium in New York City; and waited in the wings while the Bangles opened for them at the Peppermint Lounge.

“One of my favorite memories was playing a show with the B-52’s at West Point,” Irwin recalled. “At that point the B’s had released Whammy! and were touring to support it. They were a pretty major group at that point. We played first and I remember that the audience was a sea of cadets dressed in identical uniforms. It was surreal.”

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