Bad Sneakers

Making Music in the 1980's
Planet Earth

 The Story

The Bad Sneakers story begins in 1975 when Shane Faber and Ward Camp met at the University of Miami Music School in Miami, Florida where they wound up in the same band, Ice Nine. After graduation, Ward returned to Maryland, purchased a TASCAM 1/2" 8-track recorder and started writing and recording original material. Shane made a couple of trips up to collaborate and in 1979, they decided to officially join forces, compose material for an album and form a group. Thus, Bad Sneakers was born.

        1979- The original group was a 3-piece band. The instrumentation was:

Ward Camp- Fender bass, Wurlitzer electric piano, Prophet 5 synthesizer, vocals
Shane Faber- Electric guitar, Wurlitzer electric piano, ARP guitar synthesizer, vocals
Bill Dube- Drums, Lights, vocals

We made a lot of noise for just 3 guys! We played our first job in June 1979 in Chestertown, MD playing a mix of covers and original material and quickly developed a local following. From our first batch of songs, we pressed a single, "Angeline". As the word spread, we began to get more jobs but this version of the band played its biggest and last gig at the 'End of the Decade Party' at the State Theatre in Newark, DE on December 31st, 1979. Bill had gotten an offer to join the Johnny Neel Band and decided to take it, so Ward and I started looking for new members.

We began auditions looking for a bass player and drummer but along came 3 guys who wanted a package deal; Dale (bass), Neal (drums) and Marc (guitar). They were fresh off a 30 day stint in a disco band at the Tally-Ho in Wilmington and hiring all of them together was the only option. They were among the best musicians we had seen and ready to go, so it was a no-brainer. Bad Sneakers v2.0 was off and running. 

1980- Bad Sneakers v2.0 5-piece band instrumentation:
Ward Camp- piano, Prophet 5 synth, mini-moog, vocals
Shane Faber- Electric guitar, vocals
Marc Moss- Electric guitar, vocals
Dale Dallabrida- Fender bass, vocals
Neal Tillotson- Drums, vocals

The new group continued growing a fan base and playing a wider geographic region, spreading into South Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Meanwhile, BS began writing and recording new material which would ultimately provide the songs for 'Sneak Attack', the first Bad Sneakers album released in 1982 on the group's own label, Now and Then Records. 

Everyone contributed songs, production ideas and musical parts as needed. We were always experimenting and trying new things. All the recordings were made on a TASCAM 1/2" analog 8-track and mixed down to 1/4" analog 2-track. No MIDI, no digital, no samplers baby, we played and sang it all. All the albums were released on the band's label. As it turns out, we were doing the project studio concept before it was even invented! 

In mid 1983, Ward decided to leave the group and once again the band was forced to evolve. The remaining 4 members decided to push the envelope, taking advantage of some new technologies. Neal got a Simmons drum kit (the first synth drum pad drum set available) and Marc, Dale and Shane all got small, polyphonic synthesizers with patch memory, and Steinberg style 'stick' guitars. In addition, we all began using headset microphones in our live performances. 

1984- Bad Sneakers v3.0 4-piece band instrumentation:
Shane Faber- Electric guitar, Roland Juno60, vocals
Marc Moss- Electric guitar, Prophet600, vocals
Dale Dallabrida- Fender bass, Moog Prodigy, vocals
Neal Tillotson- Simmons Drums, vocals

We certainly had a new look and a leaner sound which began to open some doors for us. Its funny now, but at the time, mixing synthesizers with rock and roll was quite controversial! 

The second album, 'Beat the Meter', was released in mid 1984 and was well received by college radio. We were approached by an independent video production company that wanted to catch the MTV wave, and ended up shooting a video for 'Caught In The Act' which got some national airplay as well. The band continued to play venues, up and down the mid-Atlantic and Northeast US, and write and record new material. 

In 1986, a third album was released, 'Big Ducks in the Basement'. This was the last recording released by Bad Sneakers. Dale left the group in the spring and Charlie Hill took over on bass. I left the band in September. Marc and Neal continued on for another year or so, but the writing was on the wall.

Looking back, it was an extraordinary experience. We had some truly great times together, both musically and otherwise! We also had many loyal fans who bought the albums and came out to see us play. Thank to all of you out there who supported the band. 

As the Big Ducks intro says, 'Radio sucks', it still sucks and a lot of the music we made back in the day, still sounds pretty damn good. Here's your chance to crank it up and check out some vintage 1980's jams ala Bad Sneakers.

Thanks for listening.
Shane Faber      August 2007 

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