An Interview with Doug Rice: Guitarist and Organist for The Perpetual Sounds
An Important Rock Band Contributor During the ‘60s in Coulee Dam, Washington
In the '60s, even the smallest of towns had a local music scene. Case in point: Coulee Dam, Washington. Perhaps the most popular of the town's groups was The Perpetual Sounds. Though the band never had any real aspirations to make it in the music biz, they still were able to perform in parts of Washington and Idaho. Guitarist and organist Doug Rice shared his recollections of those times with The Lance Monthly.
[Lance Monthly] How did you first get interested in music?
Doug Rice My dad had a collection of old 78s that I spent a lot of time listening to from the time that I was five or six. They were mostly cowboy songs or big-band instrumentals. Later, my brother and I collected 45s, favoring vocal groups and doo-wop, with the occasional guitar instrumental thrown in. A big favorite was "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" by the Virtues. I went for surf music in a big way, and the Ventures' Surfin' album got me interested in playing guitar. Plus, there was a local surf band called The Jades, and I'd hang around at their rehearsals. (The Jades evolved into James McKinley and US; you can see them on the Regent's web site). Of course, when the Beatles came along, that was it.
[Lance Monthly] Was The Perpetual Sounds your first band?
Doug Rice Bard Long and I started playing guitars together in 1964. He was a neighbor and classmate, and was equally enamored of the Beatles. Our first try at a band was Ali and the Modes in 1965, with Gary Rose on bass and Jim Wright on drums. That line-up played a couple of gigs around the Grand Coulee Dam area.
[Lance Monthly] Where then was The Perpetual Sounds formed, what year, and by whom?
Doug Rice Jim Wright left us for James McKinley and US, so we enlisted Bernard Wilson as drummer and formed Perpetual Sounds in 1966. For a while, we also had a sax player named Tim Davis. This was in Coulee Dam.
[Lance Monthly] Please recall the band's line-up for us.
Doug Rice Doug Rice - guitar and organ (1966-1969); Bard Long - guitar and bass (1966-1969); Gary Rose - bass (1966-1968); Bernard Wilson - drums (1966-1968); Tim Davis - sax (1966); Danny Everett - drums (1969); Cliff Leonard - guitar (1969).
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically practice?
Doug Rice We started out in a shed behind Bard's house. Later, we rented rooms at the Coulee Dam Yacht Club and the Elmer City City Hall.
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically play--the typical schools, parties, teen clubs, etc?
Doug Rice We were fortunate in Coulee Dam to have a weekly teen dance at the Coulee Dam City Hall. Bill Miller, a local guy who promoted dances as a sideline, arranged these. He managed to book a lot of big Northwest acts, including The Wailers. He also booked us a lot, so this was our primary venue. We did school dances, of course, and a number of dancehall gigs in and around Lewiston, Idaho.
[Lance Monthly] Was Miller your manager?
Doug Rice Not really, [but] he got us our gigs in and around Coulee Dam. The school things we arranged ourselves. Memphis Johnson, a promoter out of Spokane, got us our Idaho gigs.
[Lance Monthly] Did you play any of the local Northwest teen clubs?
Doug Rice The best-known place that we ever played was Casey's in Lewiston, Idaho. We managed to pack the place, and it was a real gas. Not too much fun to load all our gear up and down that little steep staircase they had, though. We also played the Blue Hare in north Lewiston, although that was a bar, not a teen club. We were all underage, so we had to go sit in the parking lot during our breaks.
[Lance Monthly] How far was the band's "touring" territory?
Doug Rice Home base was the Coulee Dam area. In Idaho, we played Lewiston, Kamiah, and Lapwai.
[Lance Monthly] Did The Perpetual Sounds participate in any Battle of the Bands?
Doug Rice We shared a bill with The Bards once, in Coulee Dam. It wasn't really a Battle of the Bands; we just kind of weaseled our way in. The Bards didn't care; it just meant they had to play less. We had a more legitimate Battle with The Kurks from Grand Coulee--we played Young Rascals, they played Monkees.
[Lance Monthly] How would you describe the band's sound? What band's influenced you?
Doug Rice Well, I know we were loud. And Bernard Wilson was a damn good drummer, so we were danceable. We played pretty much straight-ahead rock and roll, favoring the big NW groups. We did stuff by The Wailers, The Dynamics, The Kingsmen, The Viceroys, The Raiders, and The Bards. The early Young Rascals also heavily influenced us. We did everything off their first two albums.
[Lance Monthly] How popular locally did The Perpetual Sounds become?
Doug Rice Very popular, I think. Toward the end of our run, we were drawing crowds comparable to any big act that came through Coulee Dam. I think we were the most popular local group in the area.
[Lance Monthly] What other local groups did you compete with?
Doug Rice James McKinley and US was the only other band from Coulee Dam. In Grand Coulee, there were The Kurks and The Fugitives. In Elmer City there was The Ricks Brothers. There was also a band in Wilbur, but I don't remember their name. They wore Paul Revere outfits.
[Lance Monthly] Did The Perpetual Sounds ever record?
Doug Rice Nah. We were just kids from a small town; we didn't have any idea about how to get a record made. And nobody was going to come after us.
[Lance Monthly] Are there any Perpetual Sounds recordings? Are there any vintage live recordings?
Doug Rice There are a couple of fairly good recordings that we made in our rehearsal room: Vanilla Fudge-like arrangements of "The Look of Love" and "Summertime."
[Lance Monthly] Why did the band break up in the '60s?
Doug Rice None of us had any illusions about making the band a career. Once high school was over, we went our separate ways.
[Lance Monthly] Did you join or form any bands after The Perpetual Sounds?
Doug Rice The Perpetual Sounds was my one and only foray into the music business.
[Lance Monthly] Do you perform at all today? If not, what keeps you busy?
Doug Rice I was a television director in Spokane and Portland for many years. Today, I live in Tucson, where I do some free-lance computer consulting. I still play music every day, but only for myself.
[Lance Monthly] How do you best summarize your experiences with The Perpetual Sounds?
Doug Rice It was an unqualified gas. To be able to have some success as a musical act, even on a small level, was very gratifying. The travels with the band, the crowds, and the music are great memories I carry with me to this day.
For more on The Perpetual Sounds and other great Pacific Northwest bands, visit Sammy Carlson's website at www.pnwbands.com.