If you read the previous entry below, you may already have visited the Pressure Boys website and looked at the brief biography I wrote for it.

But you haven't read ALL the biographical material I wrote for the P-Boys.

When John Plymale asked me to write up a bio for the press kit, I actually put together TWO bios and told him to take his pick.  One was a fairly straightforward chronological piece; the other was, um, a bit more whimsical, which to my mind was fitting for a band that once not only threw an improvised song onto an album, but even named it "Lava Booger."  Still, I wasn't surprised or disappointed when Plymale chose to use the more straightforward piece.

I kind of like the other one, and I figure you nice folks might enjoy the result, but keep in mind that Plymale contacted me in March, when I'd been spending the previous weeks reading nothing but NCAA tournament picks:


After a twenty-year absence, the Pressure Boys are going back to the Big Dance.

Not since 1988 have the P-Boys taken the floor to defend their reputation as North Carolina's greatest dance band, but now a new generation of fans (as well as quite a few who loved them in their heyday) will get the chance to see their dynamic combination of ska, pop, punk, reggae, and hard-nosed defense on display in a first-round matchup at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro on Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd. 

            Their opponent: cystic fibrosis. 

            All the proceeds from the P-Boys' performance will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Defeating CF, an inherited, chronic disease which affects thousands of Americans, is a personal goal for the whole band, but in particular for founding member John Plymale, whose daughter Allie was diagnosed with CF in 2004.  Having called together musicians from all over North Carolina for the benefit CD Songs for Sixty Five Roses back in 2006, Plymale decided that the next strike against the disease should involve the band with which he began his music career in 1981: the Pressure Boys.

            Though the P-Boys came together when most of the band was still in high school, they quickly showed they could play at the next level, earning acclaim from fans, competitors, and sportswriters alike.  Regularly exceeding 120 beats per minute, their high-octane attack filled dance floors as far away as New York, Texas, and Idaho.  Even big-name programs such as R.E.M., Duran Duran, and Billy Idol were pushed to their limits by the relentless energy of Chapel Hill's own Cinderellas.

            Seasoned bracketologists consider the 1982, 1984, and 1987 tournaments the three best Pressure Boys runs, based primarily on the recordings they released during those years.  In '82, it was the seven-song EP Jump! Jump! Jump! that electrified listeners with its youthful enthusiasm, propelled by the drumming of Rob Ladd and the rapid-fire guitar of Bryon Settle.   In '84, the four-song EP Rangledoon demonstrated a far more sophisticated grasp of the game's nuances, with "Where the Cowboys Went" becoming a concert showcase for saxophonist Greg Stafford.  It was in '87 that the P-Boys made their deepest incursion into the tourney, scoring with a full-length album Krandlebanum Monumentus, plus a video for the single "Around the World," but it would be their last appearance until this May.

            What do you need to know before filling out your bracket?  Consult this handy guide:


Center: Greg Stafford (Senior, Saxophone) The visual centerpiece of any P-Boys appearance, Stafford has both the size to steal the spotlight and the strength to bend any note. Rarely seen without his signature trench coat and houndstooth hat, the band's big man could be dominant in this tournament, or at least at the nearest Cracker Barrel after the final buzzer. A Chapel Hill High graduate, Stafford enjoys hobbies such as making t-shirts and giving legal advice. Favorite Food: lard.


Power Forward: Jack Campbell (Sophomore, Bass) Affectionately nicknamed "Burvis," Jack is an immovable object in the paint, as well as behind the retail counter. No one delivers the funk with more consistency, and when the beat is in his hands, it's not going anywhere. A CHHS grad, longtime member of Johnny Quest, and former owner of Poindexter Records, Jack has left his mark on the Triangle music scene, as well as on some opponents. Athlete He Most Admires: Kurt Rambis.


Small Forward: Bryon Settle (Senior, Guitar) No one hits from outside quite like "Elmo," a Chapel Hill product whose unconventional release has flummoxed defenders for years. His powerful forearms are intimidating in the extreme, but it's his experience, creativity, and savvy that make him such a valuable part of the team. His work with Trailer Bride and LUD shows that he's comfortable in any kind of contest, and his work at Yellow Recording shows he's the kind of teammate anyone would want. Career Highlight: final show at the Cat's Cradle's first Franklin Street location. 


Shooting Guard: Rob Ladd (Senior, Drums) Though skilled enough to play in the bigs, Rob's dedication to his teammates has seen him return from California for one more shot at glory. He's fully capable of playing with great delicacy or putting his head down and banging inside. A multitalented performer with a silky-smooth release and tireless muscles, Rob has been coveted by big names for years; Don Henley, the Red Clay Ramblers, Alanis Morissette, and others have urged him to declare for the draft, but he remains a Chapel Hillian and a Pressure Boy at heart. Favorite Food: glazed ham.


Point Guard: John Plymale (Senior, Vocals/Trombone) The glue that holds the squad together, CHHS grad "Zippy" is like a coach on the floor, directing his teammates and contributing both in front of the crowd and behind the scenes. With his positive attitude and boundless energy, the P-Boys are never out of a game. When not composing or practicing KISS songs on his guitar, Plymale has played with or produced recordings for the Sex Police, Superchunk, and Athaeneum, among others. Favorite Food: Pop-Tarts.


Sixth Man: Je Widenhouse (Freshman, Trumpet) This highly-recruited Boone product has a laid-back attitude off the court, but is all business once the ball goes up. Opponents may be fooled by his slight stature, but Je can play with anybody, and he usually will. Stints with the Sex Police and the Squirrel Nut Zippers have given fans a great appreciation for "J.W.," and his veteran teammates recognize him as the final piece they needed to advance. Career highlight: playing Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.


Manager: Mike Beard (Junior, Sound Engineering) Someone has to do the dirty work, and for the P-Boys, it's Mike. Known as "Waffle O'Cheeseman" by players and opponents alike, he is totally dedicated to providing the team with the mix they need to play their best and sound their best, plus towels and plenty of Gatorade. A member of the Transactors Improv Co., he has worked with everyone from the N.C. Symphony to the Embers. Favorite Foods: waffles, cheese.


OUTLOOK:   If they can overcome their creaky knees and remember what got them to this point, the Pressure Boys have every opportunity to make a deep run this year.  Come out to the Cat's Cradle on May 2nd and 3rd and cheer them on!


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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on April 22, 2008 11:09 AM.

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