Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do the method

The Method Actors are pretty much a forgotten band now. That’s kind of surprising, the duo was part of the first wave of Athens bands after The B-52’s first got the town noticed. Pylon still gets plays out and plays occasionally, R.E.M. is still R.E.M., Love Tractor got back together a few years back, and the Method Actors have just about disappeared into obscurity.

The 1979 breakup of Athen’s second band band called the Tone-tones led to the Vic Varney and David Gamble forming a two piece band. The drummer & guitarist didn’t want the trouble of dealing with a lot of different people so they decided to stay a duo. The Method Actors may have been the first completely self contained two-piece guitar-and-drums rock band.

The Method Actors played clubs up & down the East Coast of the United States and were reportedly a powerhouse live act. Peter Dyer of Armageddon Records saw the band play a club show in Atlanta and signed them to his label. He flew the duo over to England and put them in a studio the very next day. The record came out in late 1980 and was named ‘single of the week’ by The New Musical Express. "The Method" is my favorite Method Actors song.

The next move for the band was a terrific 10” record called RHYTHMS OF YOU released on Armageddon Records and most of the same songs came out again on a dB records EP called DANCING UNDERNEATH. All of the Method Actors records have at least one song exclusive to that release. Get ‘em all! The records were critically acclaimed in England and the usual places where independent records get noticed in the U.S.

In January of 1982, The Method Actors releases a double album called LITTLE FIGURES. It’s too long. The songs are good, there’s just too many of them to listen to at one time. I usually only play a side or two at a time. There was a single LP version available in the U.S. but I’ve never seen a copy. A couple of the songs were re-recorded from the earlier releases. Vic Varney started playing more bass and less guitar on this record. The duo even brought in a third musician for one song - a steel drum player! Again the record was well received in the music press and ignored everywhere else.

By this point, the Actors were getting tired of wonderful reviews and empty clubs. David Gamble left the band and joined Boat Of... and made a record with Thomas Dolby under the name Jack Heard.

Vic Varney expanded the Method Actors to five members. This lineup recorded a live LP and a second studio album (worth getting for the great cover of “All Tomorrow’s Parties”). There was finally a change to the pattern, the records stopped getting favorable reviews. Varney brought the Method Actors to an end in early 1983.

Vic Varney is still playing as solo act. He gets a lot of great reviews.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

officially awesome! Little Hits and Post Punk Junk have also posted Method Actors music. The more I listen to these guys, the more I think MA are one of the great "forgotten" 80's bands.

30/6/06 9:34 AM  
Blogger Doctor Tarr said...

I just saw Athens, Ga Inside/Out and started googling some bands. I saw the Method Actors in, I believe, 1979. I'm pretty sure it was on a Wednesday at the Agora Ballroom in Atlanta. Wednesdays were 75 cent cover and 75 cent mixed drinks, but they dropped stacks of free admission tickets all over town, so it was even cheaper. A lot of the bands were mediocre, but the Method Actors (and the Swimming Pool Qs) were good enough to stick with me almost thirty years later. I am old.

13/5/07 9:02 PM  

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