Friday, August 28, 2009

T4

"It feels like I've been dwelling on a very small window of time in Pennsylvania on Pukekos, but I certainly hope many of you appreciate these gems I'm uncovering for you. And with T4? Well, it's no exception. T4 was a short-lived band from State College, Penna that featured members of Slag and went on to put out one single on Pop Bus (run by Manny Theiner) and dissolve by 1993.

The only reason I even know of T4 is the fact that I saw them open up for Bikini Kill in York, Penna at a frat bar on a Sunday afternoon before either of them even had a record out. And man, both were good, but T4 were white hot. I've been friendly with T4 bassist George Draguns since that meeting back in '91 and so when I contacted him about doing a small Q&A about his dark, sordid past, he was happy to oblige.

So when did T4 form? How did you all meet? Who was in the band?

I think the band formed around late 1991 or 1992.  Len, Darren and myself had played together in a band called SLAG in the late 80’s, and Travis and I were playing together in a band at the time T4 started that was mediocre at best.

Practices started with me and Travis driving four hours on the weekends to the Mon valley in Western PA to play with Len and Darren. The band later relocated everyone to State College, PA.

The band line up was:

George Draguns-bass
Travis Etling-guitar
Len Jarabeck-guitar
Darren Zentek-drums

So am I to take it you only released one single on Manny Theiner's Pop Bus label? Please do tell how you met up with the Jew That Believes He Controls Pittsburgh.

That’s right, just one 7” on Pop Bus.  Len did all the legwork for getting on Manny’s label.  Both Darren and Len lived close to Pittsburgh, so they had more interactions with Manny, just because he was the only one putting on decent shows in the post Electric Banana era of Pgh.  The Banana still did shows, but they had such a bad reputation that no one wanted to play there.  It seems Manny carried on the tradition of making sure bands are unhappy with playing Pittsburgh.  I never understood the low ceiling of expectation that seems to be the norm in the Steel City.  I also never understood why people had to slow down to 30 mph to go through the Squirrel Hill tunnel, so what do I know?

Manny was definitely not the dude you wanted to grab a drink with.

I was lucky enough to see T4 in York, PA at a frat bar on a Sunday open up for (and destroy) Bikini Kill. How much did ya'll play out of State College? Any bands you open up for worth mentioning?

We played State College probably 6-7 times as well as Pittsburgh and points west.  State College had some really great bands in the 80’s.  Wasted Talent was one of the earliest punk bands that were awesome.  The other most important band in my humble opinion was Pagan Rite.  The first time I saw them, I knew I had to practice up to keep up to the standard they had set locally.  They had a collective talent that was on par with the Bad Brains-fast, tight and precise.  By the 90’s, the bands in State College that we always ended up playing with were either somewhat “funky” or had the pervasive grown up DC influence, not the good VOID kind, but the corny FUGAZI kind.  It seemed like the good elements of post American Hardcore were purged to make way for a lighter, more sincere and sanctimonious era of mediocrity.  That’s not to say that T4 doesn’t sound dated and corny as well, but we wanted to get the gnarliest sound we could get and create a wall of sound.  That was our agenda.

I didn't find a copy of the T4 single for at least ten years after it came out. Do you know how many were pressed?

I don’t know how many singles were pressed.  I think 1000.  Manny probably still has them.

Did T4 record much besides the 2 sides to the Pop Bus single?

I’m trying to recover a very rough demo on cassette and digitize it.  The mix is HORRIBLE.  It was recorded at Carnegie Mellon’s radio station before the 7” sessions.

How did T4 break up? Was it a 'we're out of college now, and we should move on' thing, or a 'I fucked your girlfriend, and we can't jam together any more' thing?

Well, the break up of T4 was done in a very petty and cowardly way.  What happened was that Len and I had a tenuous past and our personalities were very different.  Len didn’t really have friends he had followers and sidekicks.  Basically, everyone was sick of the “my way or the highway” sort of vibe.  Darren did the dirty work of booting him out of the band while I cowardly hung out at my girlfriend’s house.  The 3 remaining members played together as a 3 piece named DONORA.  That soon dissolved when Travis just got sick of playing and around the time things started falling apart, I got the call to join Don Caballero.

Do you keep up with your former band mates? Do you know what they're up to musically or otherwise?

I kind of lost touch with all of the band members.  Darren and I are still close and stay in contact, albeit sporadically.  No hard feelings there.  Travis I think lives in Nebraska tending his family’s land, although I’m not sure of that.

Len and myself are like the mongoose and the cobra (a very Danzig-like analogy) I haven’t heard anything about him in about 12 years.  We left on pretty bad terms.  It’s all water under the bridge now, as far as I’m concerned.

I think Darren is playing with a few different people now, and I play in a 2 pc outfit called FLYING SUTRA."

-- Henry Owings & George Draguns

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, T4.



Red Ocher b/w Pretty Mouth (Pop Bus)

1. Red Ocher
2. Pretty Mouth



2 comments:

elarson said...

State College is a weird place for music. When I lived there, nothing too interesting was going on. After I left though I realized that Ethel Meserve and Remington were from there. Those were some really great bands. Nice to hear of some more great music coming from Happy Valley!

Rob Peters said...

I remember seeing T4 play at a house party in the basement. Wicked sound and it made ya want to break shit. Travis would attack the mic. I cant recall but I think it was a 3 piece that night. Weekend shows were good if you knew were to go. I remember seeing Necrocedia around the same time.
robpeters01@gmail.com