Avant Garde

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Avant Garde
Background information
Alias Zoom
Origin Connecticut
Years active 1985 - 1990
Website Myspace
Former Members
Rivers Cuomo
Kevin Ridel
Justin Fisher
Bryn Mutch
Eric Ridel
Michael Stanton

Avant Garde (later known as Zoom) was a progressive heavy metal band from Connecticut. It was formed in 1985 by Rivers Cuomo and Justin Fisher.

Contents

Biography

Formation

One year after Fury's formation, Cuomo wanted to play a heavier metal and Fisher, a friend of his, agreed. The two began writing as members drifted in and out. At the time, Cuomo was writing his own guitar parts as well as covering Metallica and Fates Warning. Eventually, Cuomo and Fisher would call the band Avant Garde. Cuomo has since said, "We were anything but." In 1986, Kevin Ridel was cast as the lead singer. Ridel first met Fisher and Cuomo at a local Battle of the Bands. Ridel's brother Eric also joined the band as rhythm guitarist. Cuomo's and Fisher's friend from high school Bryn Mutch was cast as the drummer. Even today, Fisher considers Bryn "an amazing drummer."

Zoom
Zoom

Avant Garde was very devoted to the music they were playing and worked meticulously. The band would typically practice four times a week for several hours at a time. Anyone who the band considered to not take the music seriously was kicked out. Eric, being a partier, was the first member to go. Even Fisher was confronted by Cuomo about his one night of partying. In an interview featured in Rivers' Edge Fisher said, "We didn't really drink, smoke, or do most of the things that people usually associate with rock music. We were really focused on being musicians and the people that we saw drinking or getting high back then didn't seem to be as 'serious' as we wanted to be. One night, I'm hanging out with our friend Jim Emino and a couple of girls -- ooh! -- and I try Schnapps, pot and cigarettes all for the first time -- double ooh! Needless to say, I didn't score very well with the ladies, and when I went to Rivers' house the next day I got the third degree from Rivers, Eric and Leaves. They were all sitting around the Kitchen table -- we were practicing in Rivers' bedroom -- and saying, 'We heard what you were doing last night -- smoking pot -- and we need to know if you are going to want to do it again.' The underlying message being, 'We're not really into having a pot smoker in the band.'"

Rehearsals typically took place at either Fisher's house, Cuomo's house or "The Band Room." Fisher described the band room as, "A small, burnt-out furniture factory in Vernon. There was absolutely no adult supervision and bands like ours would just go in there and rent our own piece of the floor for three or four hundred dollars a month and build our own walls. We'd practice in there, and kids would just go in there and hang out and listen to other bands. It was really kind of neat and scary at the same time. It was incredibly cold in the winter... We were all in high school. Looking back, I don't know how the hell we came up with the rent."

Kevin Ridel, looking back believes the band "sucked", striving more for technical prowess and focusing less on songwriting craft.

Gaining Popularity

During Cuomo and Fisher's junior year, Avant Garde released a demo tape consisting of "Tongue of Fire", "I Must Be Dreaming" and "Black Rose." The tape was called "The Blue Demo", the name evolved from the light blue label stickers on the cassette tapes.

On December 12, 13 and 18 of 1987, Avant Garde recorded six new songs at Trod Nossel studios in Wallingford, Connecticut. It costed the band $288.37. This, their first professional demo, known as The Purple Demo for it's purple label, featured "You Were Just Using Me", "Renaissance", "Standing in the Paris Rain", "Father Time", "Never Forget", and "Free Fall". It is unknown how many copies remain to this day, but approximately fifty were pressed at the time. In a matter of weeks, the demo was getting heavy rotation on WHUS 91.7, U of C's campus radio station. It appeared in the #11 slot (above Jane's Addiction's debut). Avant Garde would go on to headline shows throughout 1988. In early 1988, the band convinced Michael Stanton, whom Cuomo met at Berkley the summer previous, to leave his parent's farm in Texas and come to Connecticut to play with Avant Garde. Fisher said of the event, "Here's a 17 year old kid from Texas who moves to Connecticut to hang out with some other 17 year old kids just to play in a rock band...it's bizarre!"

Avant Garde was extremely impressed with Michael's devotion to move to Connecticut. After his arrival, the band re-entered the studio in July of 1988 to record a third demo they called Somethin' Different!. The new demo had the song "Renaissance" (redone), "Judge and Jury", "Bite the Bullet", "21st Century Shogun", "You Were Just Using Me", and "Never Forget". For the most part, the songs were collaborations between Cuomo and Ridel exclusively. Although, Stanton did contribute to some parts of "21st Century Shogun" and some lyrics to "Judge and Jury". Despite all the rehearsals, only one show was booked for the band in the winter of 1988. On the day of the show, the club was no longer open (it had gone out of business). At least, that's Stanton's account. According to Fisher, a snow storm blew in that day and closed the club (despite the storm not hitting the club until later). After this, the band decided to move to L.A.

Zoom promo picture
Zoom promo picture

Avant Garde in Los Angeles

While in LA, the band had an extremely difficult time making it. The band settled into Cherokee Avenue (as Cuomo would later sing in "Troublemaker"). In LA, Avant Garde was only getting 'Pay for Play' shows, which made it difficult to make rent and perform and record. Their young age attracted many young girls to their shows. Avant Garde decided they would have to redo their image as 1989 came to a close. After eliminating the names 'Prong' and 'Power Chicken', the band finally settled on the new name, 'Zoom'.

Zoom

Another Zoom promo
Another Zoom promo

Zoom was a revamped, more focused incarnation of Avant Garde. Unfortunately, it was also a last ditch effort to save a dying band. By the spring of 1990, Zoom was no more. The band was dissolving, they had no place to play, they had different musical interests, no money, and Cuomo was quickly finding inspiration in new bands.

Discography

Avant Garde

Zoom

  • Zoom Demo (1990)

See also

External links

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