The Bings – Power Pop Planet (The Lost Tapes) (Q&A)
Back in the days when Power Pop was called “New Wave-Punk”, The Bings recorded a bunch of songs that were only released this year. Mark Randle, Dave Chrenko and Quint Randle talk about how that could have happened.
After all these years a great release; how did that happen?
(Mark) We’ve all stayed in touch over the years. We’d also see our 45 single up for sale on E-bay and Discogs, places like that. So that was cool. So from time to time the band was on our minds. We even had a few reunions or some of us would have lunch from time to time with band members. Plus, one of my bandmates is my younger brother, Quint.
Then, in the middle of the Pandemic, I was doing some deep house cleaning, digging through a filing cabinet with a bunch of old scrapbook kind of stuff in it. In the very back underneath the some band memorabilia I found two boxes of tapes. I had them but didn’t really know exactly what they were so I had forgotten about them. So I texted a photo to our original studio engineer (my older brother Guy) and that’s when he said they were the multitrack masters. And when we realized these were the 16-track masters, that’s when we said, “We have to get these songs out there, cause the greater world has never heard them.”
So Guy had them transferred to digital by a place that specializes in tape restoration and Guy basically rebuilt/remixed the tracks from scratch at Rosewood Recording in Provo, Utah, where all songs were originally tracked 40 years earlier. We sort of had a vision that we wanted to keep the album true to the original 16-track sessions, which is totally different from today where bands have many, many overdubs and a song is built one track at a time. This album is old school in that there were the live rhythm tracks, a few tracks of vocals and then some lead guitar overdubs. That’s about it.
Since the time the songs were recorded the music completely changed. How did that work out for you?
(Dave) Back in the ’80s our 3-hour shows were filled with then-obscure songs by The Plimsouls, Elvis Costello, The Clash, etc., and our own originals. We were the only band treating Punk like Top-40 hits. That sound exploded on the Southern California suburbs!
“Power Pop Planet” is literally from 40 years ago. If you traveled back in time 40 years from when we recorded “Please Please Please” – in 1981 you’d be standing in 1941. See how much music changed from World War II until 1981? Well, it’s the same for us after 40 years. Yet, the response to our songs has been very gratifying. We have fans in Japan, Sweden, England, Germany… Somehow, in 40 years The Bings’ music has spread far beyond Southern California. Some of that has to do with our 1981 45 being popular among vinyl collectors.
I imagine you knew at the time that you had recorded some great songs or does that appear to be retroactive now?
(Dave) The Bings didn’t think in terms of “great songs.” That was for others to decide. We just enjoyed making music you could sing along with and dance real fast to — and that turned out to be some great songs. The tracks have been brought back to life like a time capsule. I think music fans will be surprised at how well the songs have held up.
There’s a lot of debate about what Power Pop is and what isn’t. Power Pop Planet is pure. Did you want to be a Power Pop band at the time or was the genre not important at all?
(Dave) In the late ‘70s I worked for Greg Shaw’s “Bomp! Magazine” & “Bomp! Records”- an epicenter of the U.S. Punk-New Wave scene. Bomp! Magazine popularized the term “Power Pop,” though it took years before it became a recognized genre. It’s definitely debatable how “Pure Power Pop” we were. Power Pop wasn’t a genre back then. We were “New Wave-Punk” at the time. But I had this very specific vision for a band. It’s only now that people say, “Oh, you’re Power Pop.” So “Power Pop Planet” seemed a good fit for the album title.
Have you talked about playing these songs together again?
(Quint) There has been some talk. Though we’ve all aged a few decades the core of the band is still doing music full- or part-time. Our drummer on about half the tracks, Chris Ralles’ has been a long-time member of Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo’s road band. So he’s pretty busy! But never say never. We might possibly do some more recording of songs that were in our setlist back then. We are going to take this one day at a time and see how this plays out. In the meantime, we are having a blast sharing the music we made in our 20s — that’s both old and new all at the same time.