An Interview with Jay Kadis of Misanthropes
One of the many popular California Garage Bands during the '60s without a release
Recent garage band comp reissues like "Teenage Shutdown," "Fuzz, Flaykes, & Shakes," and the "Psychedelic States" series are beginning to reveal that the number of bands with classic single releases during the '60s is too numerous to even try to estimate. Now can you imagine the number of talented bands that never had a recorded release? One such group was California's Misanthropes, a Rolling Stones influenced garage band that actually did complete some studio time, but never saw the fruits of its labor on vinyl. Jay Kadis was kind enough to recount some of the band's story for The Lance Monthly.
[Lance Monthly] How did you first get interested in music?
[Jay Kadis] It was the Ventures and the Beach Boys that really got me interested in playing guitar, although I did have musical interests before that. I lived in France in the late '50s and heard the Drifters and the Coasters on AFRN (Armed Forces Radio Network). My parents did emphasize music, so I guess it was really Tubby the Tuba that first got me interested in music. And some 78 (album) that introduced all of the instruments in the orchestra.
[Lance Monthly] Was Misanthropes your first band?
[Jay Kadis] In fact, Misanthropes was my first band. It was an outgrowth of my high school's folk singing club. I had jammed with other musicians before, but not in a full band situation.
[Lance Monthly] In what year would this have been?
[Jay Kadis] Misanthropes formed in 1965 or so. The exact date could probably be established, but it was a sort of gradual start, with a few changes in membership before the final line-up of members.
[Lance Monthly] Could you please list the names of the members, as well as the personnel changes?
[Jay Kadis] At the start, members were Tom Brooks (lead vocalist/percussion); Nick Powers (bass); Chris Leonard (drums); Gene Chaves (keyboards); Jay Kadis (guitar); and John Rodrigues (guitar). I'm not sure exactly when John joined, but he was in from pretty much the beginning. Before too many gigs, Gene left and Chris was replaced by Mark Resare on drums. This lineup lasted a couple of years until Nick quit and was replaced by Ed Straehle on bass. At the end, John was replaced by my brother Howard on guitar for the last couple of gigs. Several years into the '70s there was a short reformation with Tom and Mark and the rest non-original members.
[Lance Monthly] Misanthropes was a very "heady" band name for 1965. Who came up with it?
[Jay Kadis] Nick found it in the dictionary. It pretty much summed up the rather rebellious reputation we were looking to create. The name pretty much got us the Filmore gig.
[Lance Monthly] Where did Misanthropes typically rehearse?
[Jay Kadis] Garages! On returning home, my mother once ran her car into the telephone pole in front of our house as she realized the band was rehearsing in the garage and upsetting the whole neighborhood. We also practiced in Nick's, John's and Mark's garage. We were a real garage band. It was good that everyone had a garage as we wore out our welcome pretty quickly.
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically play?
[Jay Kadis] We did a lot of high school dances and parties at first. There was a showcase run by some religious organization called the Penthouse that we played early on. We also played several Battle Of The Bands and usually did pretty well in the competition. Once we got a manager, we started playing more commercial venues, like teen dances at the various halls around the bay area. We played the Rollarena and Veteran's Hall and a memorable weekend at the American Legion Hall in Lake Tahoe. We did play the Fillmore and Longshoreman's Hall later on.
[Lance Monthly] What are your remembrances of your manager, Tom Brown?
[Jay Kadis] Tom Brown. The very personification of a manager. Tom was great at getting us gigs, I'll say that. They weren't always great places to play or receptive audiences, but they were gigs. Funny you should mention "Hook" . . . that was Tom's nickname. He was pretty active with the band, although he also managed another band who often got better gigs, if memory serves. I guess it was the usual love-hate relationship. Tom's still around. He owns a rock club/restaurant.
[Lance Monthly] Do you recall that other band Tom was managing?
[Jay Kadis] The Psychedelic Circuit, whom he had been managing before we met him. They were cleaner looking than we were so they were probably easier to promote to the straighter establishments.
[Lance Monthly] So the band became somewhat popular locally . . .
[Jay Kadis] I think we were getting pretty popular towards the end. I heard we were voted the third most popular bay area band at one point. It got so that people would recognize me on the street. Fortunately it never got beyond that. We sort of played through the tail end of the pre-Bill Graham era. There was a big shift from purely local musical entertainment to national acts which was cemented by the Fillmore. The smaller local venues couldn't compete and went under. There was a surprising amount of local talent in the area, and much of it did go on to become the famous San Francisco band scene of the late '60s.
[Lance Monthly] What were some of those other local bands?
[Jay Kadis] There were so many bands: Harbinger Complex, The Baythovens, Peter Wheat and the Breadmen, the Staton Brothers, Just Six, the X-Rays, the Versatiles, the Spyders and more I can't immediately recall. We were pretty friendly with other bands, not so competitive. Harbinger Complex was probably my favorite. I think I'll refrain from recounting a lot of stories as they might still be looking for the perpetrators.
[Lance Monthly] Are you sure you don't want to share just one Harbinger Complex prank story with us?
[Jay Kadis] They pushed the coke machine down the back stairs at the IDES hall after it refused to honor their dime. They had little inhibition about doing things along those lines. They would have made great rock stars.
[Lance Monthly] Misanthropes never released any singles, but you did record at Leo De Gar Kulka's Golden State Recorders. What do you recall about the sessions?
[Jay Kadis] We were purely a cover band. I think we recorded couple of Stones covers at Golden State. It's a little hard to remember as we attended a Stone concert the night before and didn't ever get to sleep. That was the night I discovered stimulants. That would have been 1965. My first real exposure to a recording studio: engineers in suits and lab coats. I guess I was somewhat impressed by the experience, as I've been doing recording myself ever since. I don't think I realized it would be my future at the time. I would have definitely paid more attention.
[Lance Monthly] How would you describe the band's sound?
[Jay Kadis] We were a Stones/Yardbirds/Them/Kinks/Beatles cover band. Most of us favored the blues, but John was a Beatles diehard and we did some Beatles.
[Lance Monthly] Do any '60's Misanthropes recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings?
[Jay Kadis] Although I went on to become a dedicated recordist, I never even thought of recording Misanthropes. Outside of the Golden State recordings, the only recording we made was a two minute 8mm film with no sound. In retrospect, it might be better that no actual sound recordings exist. We can remember it as being so much better than it probably was.
[Lance Monthly] What do you recall about the Sports-O-Rama Battle Of The Bands that Misanthropes performed in? What other bands do you recall playing against?
[Jay Kadis] I don't remember which Battle Of The Bands was the Sports-O-Rama, but I'm pretty sure the Versatiles were involved. You know, it WAS the '60s.
[Lance Monthly] Did the band make any local TV appearances?
[Jay Kadis] Was TV invented yet? My parents refused to buy a TV when we returned from living in France in 1961.
[Lance Monthly] What national acts did the Misanthropes open for?
[Jay Kadis] We opened for Muddy Waters, who was amazing. As we were not expecting to play that night. We got to use their equipment and I played his guitar. At that point I realized how much I had yet to learn. We opened for Tim Rose at the Fillmore. We also played with the Seeds at Longshoreman's Hall.
[Lance Monthly] Any memories of the Seeds?
[Jay Kadis] These guys looked pretty intimidating. Hey, we were just kids. Actually, they turned out to be nice guys.
[Lance Monthly] Why did the band break up in the '60's?
[Jay Kadis] To be honest, it was never the same after Nick Powers quit. There was a fundamental disagreement between John and the rest of us with regards to the Beatles' content of our playlist. I think there was a tension that made the band edgy on stage, but it eventually did cause a split.
[Lance Monthly] Why did Nick quit the band? What was the basis for the Beatles disagreement? Was it felt that the band was playing too much--or too little--Beatles' songs?
[Jay Kadis] Nick was a serious fan of blues and jazz. He was more sophisticated musically than we were and went on to a band doing original music. The Beatles' songs required better harmonies and more knowledge of chord voicings than we had really mastered. I never felt we did their songs justice. Most of us wanted to stick to the blues-oriented stuff, but John really liked the Beatles. So it would depend on who you asked if we played too much or too little.
[Lance Monthly] What band did you join after Misanthropes called it quits?
[Jay Kadis] Nick got involved with a band called St. Joe's Staff, later just the Staff. When he quit the Staff, I replaced him. They had been signed to Dot Records but nothing came of the recording and they had a major change of personnel. It was a blues band doing originals at that time. Mark Resare was the drummer for the Staff, so it was a fair percentage of ex-Misanthropes. This band did plenty of recording and I got my start writing songs. I think this was about 1970.
[Lance Monthly] What other bands have you been a member?
[Jay Kadis] My career took many turns, though I still play music with several members of Misanthropes from time to time. In the late '70s I played with my brother and my wife Linda in an acoustic country band called Hand Picked. In the '80s, Linda and I played New Wave originals with Hellatones and later with Urban Renewal. In 1987 I started Offbeats with bassist Tim Boomer and we're still together.
[Lance Monthly] Please tell me about your career today. How often, and where, does Offbeats perform?
[Jay Kadis] Offbeats is about to release our second CD of original rock/ska music. We play locally when we get the urge. We played more regularly around San Francisco for several years but got tired of the scene. It's nice to be in a band with similar tastes in music and levels of interest. After 14 years we can just have fun on stage with a sizeable repertoire and decent equipment.
[Lance Monthly] What are your plans musically for 2001 and beyond?
[Jay Kadis] I'm busy recording CD projects for a couple of up-and-coming artists and teaching recording technology at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. I plan to keep playing and writing with Offbeats and looking for as many interesting recording projects as I can find.