Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not Quite Finished In This Town

I've been out straight ever since I got back to Austin, so I haven't done a blog post in a month. I'll start with some of the press I got while on tour with the Malarians and the Cheetahs. First up, "Not Quite Finished in This Town" by Matthew Dube, originally published June 10th in The Valley Advocate:Countless area bands have been conceived, lived and disappeared since former local impresario Mal Thursday (pictured above, center, with The Malarians, 1987)—also known, equally enigmatically, as J.M. Dobies—last stepped off an area stage.

Thursday's heyday was concurrent with a very active time in local music lore. Any night in the '90s could find him all over Northampton, somehow simultaneously booking shows at the Baystate Hotel, leading a band of garage rockers through a rousing rendition of The Standell's "Dirty Water," and shaking hands with someone on a deal to release a 7-inch single on his own Chunk Records.

After vanishing from the scene under hazy circumstances and leaving music altogether, Thursday is currently in the midst of a prodigal Massachusetts reunion run, playing shows with two of his former Valley bands, The Malarians and The Cheetahs. He checked in by phone from his current home in Austin, Texas to talk about his bands, his disappearance, and his spate of impending area gigs.

The Heyday

Mal Thursday's first band, The Malarians, was born in 1984 and lasted until 1990. The group was a rave-up garage band known for rollicking live shows and matching black turtlenecks.

The group produced three releases, In the Cool Room (1986), Know (1988), and Finished in this Town (1990), and reached a respectable level of success in their day, receiving good airplay and cracking the CMJ Top 20.

Thursday transitioned to a new project, The Cheetahs, following the breakup of the Malarians. They released a holiday single in 1992, followed up in 1993 by a split 7-inch with Angry Johnny, featuring the band's version of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire" with guest vocals—and pig squeals—from Angry Johnny himself.

Around this time, Thursday was cranking out releases on his own Chunk Records, an imprint that quickly became known for releasing solid singles by national acts and for producing some of the area's finest recordings before or since. His roster included seminal acts like Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, DMZ, the Lyres, New Radiant Storm King, Scud Mountain Boys, and Silver Jews.