The point of "The Point" is not the point
By BRIAN MARTIN
Times Staff WriterLIVERMORE — “The point is that there is no point,” says Greg Edwards, who went to UCLA seven years ago to become a doctor. He now plays bass guitar for The Point.
The Point is a rock band of four musicians, all of whom went to Livermore High School in the 1970s. But they felt compelled to move to Los Angeles “for the exposure,” and regrettably left family and friends behind in Northern California.
For the past four years, they’ve been exposed to some of the biggest nightclubs in Hollywood and L.A. The group’s surprising appeal led it it to make a record, and when finished last month, they drove home for Christmas to bring home the music.
The Point’s first record is a 10-inch, EP (extended play) disc on blinding white vinyl containing four of the group’s songs. It was put out by Mystic Records in Hollywood and is now available at Livermore record stores.
In keeping with their local identity, the boys decided to name their label “Radlab Records,” an obvious reference to the days when everybody in Livermore casually referred to the Lawrence Livermore laboratory as the Radlab.
“Everyone in Livermore can relate to it,” says Jon Stebbins, the group’s co-founder. “It’s just another way of showing our roots.” It’s difficult to easlly describe the group’s music. It certainly is a long way from hard or acid rock. And it’s not all that mellow. But it’s exciting and energetic, and has spawned a rabid following in small L.A. clubs
.“One record producer calls us The Byrds of punkrock,” says Tom Alford. the group’s other co founder, whose younger brother Mike plays drums.
In addition to original material, the band plays cover versions of anything from old surf music to an occasional Monkees standard.
More than once, the band has been penalized by rowdy fans who ransacked clubs in which The Point were playing— at the group’s expense
.“We have a real enthusiastic bunch of people following us,” says Jon. “We’ve actually been banned from a few clubs because they (the crowd) destroy things.
”“They’ll ban you one day and call you up the next one,” says Greg. “Especially when they look at the receipts. The crowd is very active at our shows.
”The group has a lot of stories to tell about the L.A. club circuit. One of the better ones involves a scene from Madame Wong’s in Hollywood
.“Esther Wong, who owns the place, came out of her office to check out all of the shenanigans,” says Greg. “And when she got about 10 feet from the stage, Tom lept from the stage onto a table that was about three feet in diameter. Drinks went flying off in every direction. But he never missed a note.
“Esther just kind of stood there for a while. Then she quietly turned around and went back to her office and said, ‘Point never play here again
.’”The group was back within a week, by the way. The Point has also played at Gazzarri’s on Sunset Strip, a club that opened the way for The Doors and Van Halen in earlier years. At The Point’s show, “we drew the biggest crowd of the month,” says Jon. The group’s first-ever club date was in March, 1980 at the Londoner in Santa Monica. Not knowing what to expect, the band was pleasantly surprised when the place was packed.
“I think that’s what blew us away more than anything.” says Jon. “The first time we played, we didn’t know if there would be more than 10 people, but the place was packed.
”To date, The Point has more than 20 original songs in its repertoire, most of which are written by Jon and Tom, who also play guitar and sing. The four songs on the EP were chosen on the basis of being crowd favorites
.Jon and Tom have been friends since childhood, when the idea of a career in rock music first hit them
.“In third grade, we decided we were going to be The Beatles,” said Jon. “Tom and I started playing our guitars together after school.
”“The nuns used to yell at us,” said Tom, who attended St. Michael’s (in Livermore) with Jon.
‘About the time we hit freshmen in high school, we played for a band,” Jon continued. “We played in our bedrooms, at our parents’ houses, and out in the streets. The name of the band was Rock Bottom.
”And that’s about where Tom and Jon found themselves in Livermore, a town not exactly known for nurturing rock groups
.“About the summer of 1978, Tom and I decided Livermore wasn’t going to be a venue for our ambitions,” said Jon. “We decided to move south. We didn’t know anybody or anything. It was really just the two of us
.“We didn’t have the band, but we had written a lot of music,” Jon continued. “About that time, Mike started to flower as a drummer. The first thing we had to do was organize a band, so we decided Mike was going to develop into our drummer
”The band was still without a bass player as 1979 rolled around.
“We couldn’t start playing the clubs until we found a bass player,” Jon explained.
Enter Greg Edwards, who, as a standout athlete at Livermore High School and pre-med major at UCLA, was not your typical rock guitarist. In fact, he couldn’t even play the guitar.
“I had known all these guys for a long time,” said Greg. “When they moved down to L.A. I was going to UCLA. They happened to move into an apartment about three blocks down from me.
”“We needed a bass player,” said Jon. “Greg was like a vision.
”“I always wanted to be a musician, or a rock guitarist, or whatever,” said Greg
.“He was the most incredible student we had ever seen,” said Jon. “He learned how to play well in about a month. In three months, he knew every song like he had been playing for five years.
”With the band complete, it meant more practice time and less time for job-hunting. It also resulted in near- poverty
.“We were living off potatoes and ketchup,” said Tom. “We had a bag of potatoes and we each ate two potatoes a day for a month. After that, I finally had to go out and get a job.
”Jon and Mike each worked at a shoe store in Century City, and Tom worked at a yogurt store. Greg, after graduating from UCLA with degrees in psychobiology and economics, went to work for a firm in the business of auditing circulations of newspapers.
The past two years have been somewhat frenetic. The group has been approached by a number of record company agents, referred to by the group as “Hollywood Image Monsters.” One man in particular, an agent who launched the group Kiss into world stardom, got a hold of The Point’s demo tape and was at its apartment door one day talking up a storm.
“He’s about 6-5 and he looks like Frankenstein,” says Jon. “But he was definitely somebody. He was saying, ‘I’m gonna make you guys rich.’ He went around telling us everything wrong, everything right with our act. What he was trying to do was mold us into something we weren’t
.”“He wanted us to be plastic,” said Tom
.“It would’ve been an incredible break,” said Jon. “He liked our songs a lot and said they had commercial potential in them. But we parted company. He calls us once in awhile and tells us we should have stuck with him, but that’s not what we’re about
.“We’re like a family,” Jon continued. “That’s what people down here can’t even understand.
”“A lot of professional musicians down here won’t even play with their friends,” says Mike. “They say it’s bad business
.”“We’re together almost every day,” says Jon, “playing music, playing basketball...”“...Or begging in the streets,” adds Tom. Eventually, the group formed a friendship with Doug Moody, a record producer who was more sensitive to The Point’s needs.
“He told us, ‘You’ve got that San Francisco sound,” said Greg. “And that was before he knew where we were from. He gave us a lot of leeway. He let us spend 12 hours in the studio and only charged us for the electricity.
”Moody co-produced The Point’s first record with Steve Brenner and may be best known for producing a golden oldie by the Five Satins, “In The Still Of The Night.”The Point is proud of its Northern California roots and is aiming that way for the future
.“This (Livermore) is our home,” says Jon. “That (L.A.) is our venue. L.A. is where we have to be in order to play. As soon as we achieve a certain amount of success, we’re definitely moving up this way.
”The band hopes to secure a date in Livermore for sometime next month, or even later this month, before returning to L.A. for more concerts
.“We’re negotiating a couple of big dates...halls, as opposed to clubs,” said Jon. “We almost opened for the Go-Gos at the Greek Theater, but they wouldn’t let us because our record wasn’t out. We were promised another shot as soon as our record got out.
”As for future recording plans, Jon explains the group has more than enough material to put out an album immediately
.“The plan is, we want exposure from this record,” says Jon. “It might do well on radio stations and a record company might like it.”From there, the band hopes for that ever-Important recording contract to put out an album.
“I know we can put out a record and sell 5,000 to 7,000 copies,” says Jon. “We have enough material, that’s for sure.”
“These two guys can sit down and come up with three hit songs in an hour,” Greg points out.“But it’s not just us,” Jon adds, “Greg writes and Mike writes, too. When you see a Point album, it’s going to be a group thing.”
That’s keeping it in the family. And that seems to be the point of The Point.
The Valley Times, Lifestyle - Jan. 19, 1982