My cover story for East Bay Band Calendar
featuring the Jars (left) and the Mondellos (right).
By Devorah Ostrov
Take a band that finds it easier to relate to the pop music of the early and mid-sixties, a lead singer inspired by Sha Na Na and Dion, a keyboardist who plays atop a shopping cart, put them in Berkeley and you have the Jars — a sensational rock 'n' roll band!
Johnny Savior (vocals), Gary Nervo (keyboards), Mik Dow (guitar), Marc Time (drums) and Armin Hammer (bass), feel strongly about the local rock scene and formed the band to help improve it.
"There was nothing happening in Berkeley," states Time. "The streets were deserted after 11p.m. We wanted to help create a scene here. You really can't say we've caused the scene, but since we started playing the scene has taken off." (New bands like the Mondellos, the Young Adults, and Psycotic Pineapple are also part of the Berkeley contingent.)
The Jars at Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus
Photo: Clayton Call
What they lack in experience, they more than make up for with spontaneous energy. The kind of spontaneity that allows them to laugh when Savior says, "Tonight was the first time we had a really good sound system so I could hear my vocals, and this was the night I forgot all my words."
Counting Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators), Syd Barrett (early Pink Floyd), and TV commercials among their influences, the Jars energetic set combines cover versions of classic pop songs — "Come on Down" (Every Mother's Son), "High School" (MC5), "Mony Mony" (Tommy James and the Shondells), "Time Won't Let Me" (the Outsiders) and "Hitchin' a Ride" (Vanity Fare) — with their own fast-paced originals.
Johnny Savior (left) and Marc Time (right)
Photos: Barb Wire (used courtesy of Marc Time)
|The Jars pose outside the "Jar House" in Albany, |
California. This photo was used for the cover of
D. Mickey Sampson's CREEP fanzine.
"The worst thing about radio," adds Time, "is that they don't play any of the local stuff, like the new Dead Kennedys' single." (Mentioned because of vocalist Jello Biafra's presence at the interview). Despite their complaints about the state of radio, the Jars do plan to release a three-song single, possibly consisting of "Small Town Rock," "(I'm So) Available" and a cover of "Psycho."
"In the studio our music will sound a lot more clean and bright," says Savior. "'Tear Jerk' and 'Available' will take on a whole other dimension." He adds, "People will just have to imagine the knee drops!"
* Sadly, Johnny Savior (J.D. Buhl) passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer.
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|A selection of flyers for Jars gigs. You can find out more about the Jars|
and peruse lots more memorabilia on their Facebook page. Here's a link:
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During the band's lifetime, the Jars released two 45s. The first was a 7" EP on Subterranean Records with "Start Rite Now" b/w "Psycho" and "Electric Third Rail." The second, "Time of the Assassins" b/w "Jar Wars" was issued on Universal Records. Both recordings featured a four-piece lineup with Mik Dow on lead vocals. Here's a link to "Start Rite Now" on YouTube: