Northwest Underground rock 1980 'til the End of Time


July 2010: The Icons – Masters of Disaster

Ladies and gentlemen –

  1. Love So Near The Icons 3:19
  2. Little Sally Walker The Icons 4:50
  3. Write Back To Me The Icons 2:40
  4. The Hunger The Icons 2:53
  5. Girl The Icons 3:16
  6. (Half The World Is Made Of) Women The Icons 2:54
  7. Give Me All Your Love The Icons 2:34
  8. Double-O-Zero The Icons 2:47
  9. Work Ethic Rock The Icons 1:51
  10. Beach Party The Icons 3:10
  11. We're So Bad The Icons 2:44
  12. Howlin' At The Moon The Icons 3:26
  13. Voodoo Villian The Icons 2:38
  14. I Call Your Name Tom Dyer 3:42


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At long last I present the definitive Masters of Disaster CDR for your listening pleasure. So what’s the scoop on this stuff, you are no doubt asking?

Well, it’s like this.

It was a different world in Seattle in 1983. No Sub Pop. No grunge. No double lattes. Seattle had a provincial little music scene. If you were interested in local music (I was) you could buy every local record that came out (I did), there just weren’t that many.

It was in this setting The (Mighty) Icons were born. I had been in an art/punk band, The Adults (later renamed The Colorplates). As that band headed toward eternity, I had purchased some 4-track recording gear and begun recording myself and other folks, some of whom would end up on the first GMR release, the Local Product compilation. My brother-in-law hooked me up with this guy Stevie T. and we began recording stuff for our amusement, using fine aliases such as The Rude Dudes, Stevie Nations and the United States and Group Sex.

One day we got this crazy idea that we should have a real band and play live.  I told Steve that if we came up with the right band name, the rest would fall into place. The next day The Icons appeared in my brain and we were off.  Rick the bass player worked with my wife making pottery and was lured into the band with a New York steak (medium rare). Tim played drums for a studio client of mine, occasionally referred to as The Cosmic Tunas. We just figured we’d steal him and did. We were off and running for a three year stab at glory.

80's @ the Fabulous Rainbow Tavern, Seattle

While there were no delusions about being big stars, (we were positively ancient – I was 30 and not the oldest guy in the band) there was a definite desire to make some alcohol-fueled, brain-bashing, post-punk rock and roll. This was guitar music, pure from the heart, music built on some obscure notion of truth, beauty and volume.

Even though I had a little studio and upgraded my recording gear during our run, The Icons didn’t record that much. Mostly it was about the careening, live, on the edge of out-of-control performances (described by Daniel Casado as “mad-bull-in-a-China-shop-rock”) in U District joints like the Hall of Shame (Fame!) and the Rainbow. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty nuts. We were rarely a Friday or Saturday night headlining band, mostly just a Thursday and Sunday band.

80's show poster

The end started in ’85 when we kicked out our beloved Tim because he started missing gigs. George Short filled in for a few shows and then James Gascoigne of The Queen Annes kindly filled in until the finish line. The official end came in early ’86. The band was built on the “have a good time all the time” premise, and when the fun started to fade out, so did the band. I pulled the plug.

The end? Fast forward 23 years. I released It Crawled From The Basement: The Green Monkey Records Anthology in August of 2009.The Icons, sans Tim, who has left this mortal coil, reformed to play the record release party with James on drums. As always, we were loud and sloppy and irreverent. A glorious time was had by all. A couple nights later I’m at a restaurant, my phone rings and it’s Rick wanting to know if I’m coming to practice the next day. Wot the hell sez I – the show’s over. Seems the lads want to keep going. I refused to start playing shows with ten old people attending them, but I do love to make records, so we agree to make a new record.

Icons' August 2009 reunion

photo by Howie Wahlen

Which brings us at last to this record. I decided if we were going to make our second record, it was time to finish our first record as well.

The Masters of Disaster  recordings were started in ’83 but weren’t finished up until the band’s final days in ’86. I basically ignored what I always told other bands to do; record as best you can, get it out as best you can and move on. By the time we were finishing this up, I was pretty sick of the project and pretty done with the band. I don’t think I even mixed the tracks – I just had Keith Livingston do it – made a few cassettes for posterity and moved on.

When I decided to clean these tracks up, rather than just remastering, I decided there was nothing in the old mixes that I cared about. I would remix it all from scratch. I pulled out the old 8-track multi-track tapes and baked them at 1350F in a food dehydrator for eight hours (80’s tapes fall apart if you don’t bake ‘em before you play ‘em) and transferred them into Pro Tools to mix. Much to my surprise, on the master tape I found a version of (Half the World is Made of) Women that we had never finished. I decided to finish it and added guitar, backing vocals and some fine organ from Glenn Slater.  Glenn also added some piano to The Hunger  and Work Ethic Rock.

I have added a few bonus tracks for your listening pleasure. Write Back to Me, from the Monkey Biz comp (with James on drums) was remixed, as was our first 4-track recording from a couple weeks after we formed, Voodoo Villain (featured on GM001 Local Product ). Add in a live recording of   Howlin’ at the Moon with James and my solo recording of I Call Your Name from Monkey Biz and you’re set. The Icons probably never played I Call Your Name as pretty as this version, but we did play it a few million times live.

So there you have it. And if you like this (you do!) you are going to like the new one even mo betta’ – coming soon to a web site near you!

td June 2010

The Icons:

Tom Dyer – Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Steve Trettevik – Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Rick Yust – Bass, Vocals
Tim Nelson – Drums, Vocals
James Gascoigne – Drums (Write Back to Me, Howlin’ at the Moon)

On I Call Your Name:
Tom Dyer – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Jeff Kelly – Guitar, Keyboards
Rick Yust – Bass
Peter Barnes – Drums

Produced by Tom Dyer
I Call Your Name produced by Tom Dyer & Jeff Kelly
Cover by Tom Dyer

Recorded on 8 track in 1983/84 at TDS Productions by Tom Dyer and Keith Livingston with an assist from Peter Barnes, except Voodoo Villain recorded on 4 track in 1982 and Howlin’ at the Moon recorded live at the fabulous Rainbow Tavern sometime in 1985, engineer unknown.

Mixed and Mastered by Tom Dyer at TDS Productions 2010. Digital transfer for mixdown thanks to Conrad Uno at Egg, the owner of ancient tape decks.

Additional keyboards in 2010 on Women, The Hunger and Work Ethic Rock by Glenn Slater.


The Icons wish to thank: Vicki, Sheri, Sistie and Ann, who put up with their mess back in the day; Keith Livingston, who was our long time sound guy and, most of all, their friends and fans who stuck with them through thick and thicker.

Video links:

Double-O-Zero   We’re So Bad

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