Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blast From The Past: New London

New London started out as a practical joke in 1987.  Steve Mickelsen and a friend made up  flyers with the name of the band plus a fictitious venue and then plastered them up and down Albuquerque’s  Central Ave.  Inspired by intrigue, Mickelsen then decided to put an actual band together. Steve Mickelsen, Matt Smith, Carm Sciarrota, Jeff Mettling & Jeff Donovan (who was later replaced by Eric Owens) brought Mickelson's prank to life.  New London was equally influenced by two UK bands (Depeche Mode and The Cure) associated with the gothic subculture that had sprang up in the UK and was then taking root in the US. New London, however avoided the dark and tormented trappings of that genre.  This combination of influences and musical talent allowed the band to evolve rapidly. New London would soon lead the way at the forefront of a musical style that chipped away at the standard rock formats of the local scene. The band's innovative sound was like a breath of fresh air on Albuquerque's stagnant musical landscape. 
The band's first single  “A Day Without Me” was recorded in a hurried fashion, however, positive feedback following airplay on KANW, inspired the band to return to the studio.  Those sessions led to the release of "The Garden Wall" ep in 1988.  By now local music fans and critics were taking notice of what was happening, New London appealed primarily to an alternative audience who were disenfranchised with the predominance of soft rock and country music on the local airwaves.  Following a series of live performances, the band started working on “The Misery of Joy” album. This was an album they had to make in order to expand their audience and please the growing legion of fans, who just couldn't get enough. However the sessions were not without tension. In order to buy time and stay in the public eye, a double sided cassette single was released in 1989.  "Communication/Underground"  was a double dose of radio ready brit goth pop, heavily influenced by  The Cure during their "Just Like Heaven" period.  The release  earned the band some more local airplay, but the hand writing was on the wall, as they still continued to struggle with the album.
Steve Mickelsen began privately to voice his discomfort at the direction the band was taking. Meanwhile the always ostentatious Jeff Mettling was demanding a much larger role as a lead singer and songwriter. Suddenly the band's future was uncertain.  In 1990 while in the midst of recording tracks for that long delayed album, tensions came to a head and the band imploded. What once had been a promising group of talented musicians was now just another band destroyed by the dreaded "artistic differences."  Steve Mickelsen would resurface, first with The Bellyachers and then with Venus Diablo, both bands were very different (musically speaking) from New London and also very successful. Jeff Mettling segued into the Jeff Mettro Project, his attempt at being a front man was comical and ill advised. Mettling soon found his niche in the new age ambient music genre with Elu, an effort that reeks of pompous egotistical tomfoolery. As if that wasn't painful enough, Jeff is also dabbling in adult-contemporary/smooth-jazz music, partnered with Don Shearer. This gift to the anxious masses is called Pretentious Q, err!  my bad, Illustrious Q.  Matt Smith put together his own project called Dragon Fly Dance, at the present time he is involved in an ambient music group called The Orbiting. Eric Owen, a later addition to New London is still active in music around the Albuquerque area.