A LOOK BACK AT ROCK RECORDS
YOU NEVER HEARD, OR MAY HAVE
FORGOTTEN BY TODD COPE
Where were you in 1984? The Detroit Tigers were
kicking maximum ass! (sadly, probably for the last
time) Gas was $1.21 a gallon (and you could actually pay for it AFTER you pumped it), the DowJones was at 1287, minimum wage was $3.35/
hr. Everybody was watching “Dallas”, “Dynasty”,
“The A-Team”, and for some reason, even “Family Ties”? Michael Jackson was still black (and alive)
and Bill Cosby was fooling everyone. It was a wonderful time. There were no smart phones to negate
romance, there were no chem. trails being sprayed
on us, and you could actually attend a rock concert
without fear of being shot. (President Trump indeed
has his work cut out for him..)
The Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and Marshall area
have long been a hot bed for local musical talent,
and this month I’m doing something a little bit different, taking a look back at a local band from the
80’s, Battle Creek’s own “Horizon”, who after 31
years, have finally released their self-titled album
I’ve known my good friend Jeff Roberts for 25 years.
He’s a fantastic local drummer, whose been through
“the mill” musically as much as any of us over the
past 30 plus years. We still get together as much as
possible to whip up a new bunch of “crap”, haha.
In our many travels together, Jeff would always be
driving my sorry ass around, and playing a variety
of great music for my enjoyment. One night driving
around with Jeff, he played me something very interesting that I didn’t recognize, and when I asked
him who it was, he said “this is my band from the
80’s”... This is the story of Horizon.
: So tell me about Horizon? Who was in the band
and how did you all meet?
JR: Myself, Andy Garrett and Paul Blanton all went
to Lakeview, so we knew each other from school,
but me and Andy played together the longest,
being in bands together before Horizon. Andy
brought out the material, and I worked out drum
parts and then Paul joined and formed the nucleus
of the band. The three of us just didn’t have the
vocal chops to carry songs, so after we layed down
the musical tracks for the songs in the studio, it was
off to find a singer. No one really wowed us or took
the reins, so to speak. Then Andy said he knew a
guy that might be available, and in came Floyd Pollock, he sounded great.
We all clicked and that’s how we became Horizon,
so we were all from the Battle Creek area.
: I hear there’s a story about your album? Is it true
that it was never released back in 1984? How did it
finally come about that you all decided to release
JR: Well, the big story about the album stemmed
from bad management. We got hooked up with a
local (out of Lansing) management group that simply wanted to soak us for money, and not really
want to do anything for us. They got us the studio
time, which being young and not knowing better,
we could have gotten ourselves, probably cheaper. We basically took the bull by the horns in getting four of our songs on an EP that we released in
Battle Creek, but management never pushed our
music to anybody. Thus, outside of Battle Creek,
we didn’t have the means to take it further. It was
not like it is now, where avenues to promote songs
are a click away on your computer. Once our money was gone, management simply tossed us aside.
Later on we found out that was basically their M.O.
with bands. We were very naive about the business
side back then, and let ourselves be manipulated
into a bad contract. All ten songs never did make it
onto an album back then for financial reasons, but
you can hear them all now on lots of music sites. It’s
very gratifying getting them out there for everyone
to finally hear. The studio tapes were basically lost
for roughly 30 years when I found them in the bottom of a filing cabinet under tons of papers. I sent
them down to Andy, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee to see if there were any studios left that still had
the equipment to play reel to reel tapes, and put
them over to CDs. Well, Andy did not find one, and
after all those years, the tapes deteriorated to a degree that it became a restoration project also. Luckily, they were brought back to life and now can be
enjoyed decades later, and hopefully they will be
liked by fans of good old kick-ass raw rock and roll.
TC: I definitely hear some progressive rock influence
on songs such as “The Offset Horizon”, “Journey
to Truth”, and “The Wailer”. Who were Horizon’s
JR: As far as our influences on our music, we do
bring out a prog rock-jazz rock flavor at times. Some
of our influences were RUSH, Al Dimeola, Yes, Kansas, Ozzy with Randy Rhoads, any music that would
stretch our imaginations and challenge us to better
our musicianship, we listened to.
: You guys played live a lot back in the day, including opening for national acts. Tell me about the
scene back then?
Any shows in particular bring back memories?
JR: The music scene around here in Battle Creek
back in the mid-eighties was pretty grim. There
were some really good bands playing cover songs
in bars, but as far as original stuff, it was pretty limited. There was us of course, and really it seemed
the only other band was “Total Control”, who was
led by a very good friend of mine, Chuck Amendt,
who recently passed away from cancer. I know there
were others in Grand Rapids and Kazoo, but Battle Creek not so much. Well, we did also have Del
Shannon and Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, can’t forget them, lol. They just happened to be a couple
decades before us.
We did open up for a couple of major acts, Rare
Earth and Black Oak Arkansas. Great experience
and great fun. I will never forget Jim Dandy Mangrum pulling up to the show in his beat up old Pinto
station wagon, stuffed to the gills with instruments
and clothes. It was not the glamorous rock star
scene you would expect to see, lol. I have another
great story about him and a couple young ladies
backstage, but not sure we can tell that here, lol!
Rare Earth was great. A fabulous bunch of guys that
were really down to earth, so to speak, and really
liked our music.
: So what are the members of Horizon up to these
JR: Nowadays, 3 of us (Jeff, Andy, Floyd) are all
working at our day jobs. We are also keeping up
on our musical ambitions. Jeff, besides being the
drummer for Horizon, also is the drummer for a
couple awesome musicians in Battle Creek in a
band named King Kooler. Andy has solo CDs out
with some great guitar work on them.
TC: So where can we find the album?
JR: Horizon can be heard and purchased on Amazon.com, Reverbnation, CDBaby.com, YouTube,
Sound Cloud, iTunes.com or stream us on Spotify. Check us out and like us on Facebook (Horizon)
where links to all these can be found.
Todd Cope is the guitarist for
King Kooler (reverbnation.
com/kingkooler) and is currently remembering those
who lost their lives in the recent Paris attacks. May God
bless them and their families.