WOW! It seems like only yesterday that this band played—not 40 years ago! But believe it or not, on occasion someone will approach me in the most unusual place (one time at Madison Square Garden) and say, “Weren’t you in Mortimer Snerd?”
I was asked to play with Snerd by Tommy, who at the time was also playing guitar in a band that I was in. I was new to the area, and this was the first band that I played with in Middlesex County. He told me about Mortimer Snerd and asked me if I’d be interested. Luckily Bernie and Larry, the other members of Snerd, approved of Tommy’s suggestion and the rest is history.
I would have to say that one of the most memorable gigs was when we decided to do a KISS tribute (probably one of the first tribute bands that I’m aware of). We all made our costumes, got the make-up, blood, fire, dry ice, etc., and performed at Sayreville Jr. High. Whenever we played KISS songs, I would play bass and Tommy would play guitar with Bernie. So, during this tribute I played the Gene Simmons part. There was a point in the show that I was to spit blood. The plan was that I would do the whole blood spitting routine; run behind the bass cabinets to rinse out my mouth with water as the band started to do a guitar solo/intro to start the next song. Well, I’m spitting the blood and Bernie starts the song.
Tommy and Larry join in, but I still had about an ounce or two of blood in my mouth and it was time to sing. I didn’t have enough time to think logically—’cause hey, I’m a kid! So, instead of just spitting out the rest, I swallow the stuff and start singing the next song. At the end of the gig, I’m taking off the makeup and I got this nasty stomachache, so I tell the guys what happened. Meanwhile, someone reads the label on the bottle of blood and announces, “It says here not to be taken internally.”
She looks at the bottle…looks at me…looks at the bottle again…then says to me, “Ya know, you can’t get high from this stuff.”
Now I’m thinking, “I’m gonna die!” We get in my car and drive to South Amboy Hospital. I walk into the ER with A KISS t-shirt, my face outlined in white pancake makeup holding a bottle of fake blood trying to explain to the nurse why I’m there. She looks at the bottle…looks at me…looks at the bottle again…then says to me, “Ya know, you can’t get high from this stuff.”
I explained that I wasn’t trying to get high, but that it was part of a stage act by my band that didn’t go as smoothly as planned. She told me that if I went into the ER, it would cost me $100. I told her I didn’t have the money and asked if this stuff was gonna kill me. She told me to induce vomiting. So, we wind up going to Burger King. It was a fun show plus I got medical advice that saved me $100 bucks!
The gig at St. Joe’s in Metuchen was also memorable. It was the last gig we did as a four-piece. There were over 1,000 kids in attendance. The band was feuding internally, and it was a struggle to get us all together to do this show…but I always felt that it wound up being one of our best performances ever.
On the Post Snerd Years
I continued to play music, doing some session work for Warner Bros. with Joe Bellia and Bobby Bandiera of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. These sessions were produced by Garry Tallent of the E-Street Band and engineered by Steve Marcantonio of Alabama and J. Geils Band fame. I toured briefly with British songwriter Simon Tittley, who was promoting a record on an independent label, did multiple demos with various Jersey bands, played tons of cover for years (with a few guys from Sayreville who played in a rival band of Snerd), wrote and arranged for a few original projects, and even got the opportunity at one point to actually open a show for the Ramones in Brooklyn (up close, their skin looked green…rest in peace Joey). I pretty much stopped playing in clubs in May 2001. I became a Christian earlier that year (that’s not why I stopped playing clubs) and became interested in Contemporary Christian worship music. In April 2005, I became a worship leader for my church in Old Bridge, NJ. I currently have a band of 7 musicians that lead the congregation during services. I gotta tell ya, it’s probably the best gig I’ve ever had (about 1,200 people at a service, great players, a great sound crew, an overall great body of people PLUS they don’t make me load in through the kitchen!)
Favorite Bands Then
During the Snerd years I was into Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, Mott the Hoople, Jethro Tull, KISS, King Crimson, Montrose, and Black Sabbath.
Favorite Bands Now
Today I still enjoy these artists, but I also love the sound of the 80’s hair bands (I’m a sap for a good power ballad!) I listen to a lot of Spock’s Beard, anything by Neal Morse (a former Spock’s Beard founder), Jordan Rudess, King’s X, Ty Tabor, and Neil Finn. Along the lines of Contemporary Christian music, I also listen to Chris Tomlin, Paul Baloche, Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns along with many others.
A Lifetime of Music
God has given me the gift of music as well as various platforms throughout my life to play it. Music continues to play a major role in my life and the lives of my family today. I’ve always had a great time playing and meeting different people along the way. Thanks to all those who supported the band through the years and enjoyed what we did (especially the ones who would spray-paint our names on the sides of buildings!) It was always sort of humbling to know that people enjoyed what you did and to know that in some small way it had an impact on them. Even to this day, I try to never take that for granted. It was and continues to be an honor and a privilege to play. My thanks to all for allowing me to share in a small portion of your lives.