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One of the most individual and influential bands on the Long Island music scene for the past 40 years has been the Freelance Vandals.  With the release of their new anthology album, "Vandalogy: Demos & Studio Tracks 1976 - 1981", the band is enjoying the kind of recognition which celebrates their long and storied history.

Photo credit: Paul Colliton

The band was formed in the mid-70's while some of the members were attending college in Ohio.  In 1976, after playing the bar circuit in Dayton and other Midwestern cities, the Freelance Vandals moved to New York to pursue its larger and potentially more lucrative music scene.  In 1978, the band was signed to RCA records and recorded a full length album which was eventually shelved and remains unreleased.  In 1979, the band recorded a pair of singles on their own Dog Record label as their reputation based on their frenzied live performances and original songs began to grow.  Their single, "Last Call for Alcohol", in particular, garnered extensive radio play on college stations across the United States.  During this same period, the band's single, "Holiday", was featured in the Rate-A-Record segment on the popular teenage dance television show, Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and, in the time honored tradition of such things, was rated as "having a good beat 'cause you can dance to it!"  Several regional tours followed as the band performed as the opening act for such artists as NRBQ, John Hiatt and Dr. John.  

Photo credit: John C. Engelhardt / Longshot Photos

Photo credit: John Chiapardi

Over the next several years, there were personnel changes within the band as they added a saxophonist and broadened their musical range with hints of jump blues and swing jazz.  In 1984, the band released a well received live album, "Yer Money or Yer Ears" which received positive reviews in such publications as Creem Magazine.  The group disbanded shortly after the release of the live album due to the band's lead vocalist, Johnny Pierre, experiencing problems with his voice.  Over the next 10 years, the band reunited for a series of reunion concerts.

Photo credit: George Gobes
 
In the summer of 1996, the Freelance Vandals returned to a regular performance schedule and released "Songs That Never Made Us Famous", a compact disc compilation in celebration of the band's 20th anniversary of making music together.  After two years of shows,  The band disbanded once again and returned to performing occasional reunion shows.

As the years rolled on, the band lost several of its members due to health issues.  Billy Cairns, the band's drummer and one of the band's founding members, passed away from cancer in 2008.  Mike Adams, the band's bassist in the group's later years, also passed away from cancer in 2013.  


In 2016, the Freelance Vandals celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the band with the release of the anthology album, Vandalogy: Demos & Studio Tracks 1976 - 1981.

 


 
Sept. 1978 - Flyer News (University of Dayton)

"Five young men believed to be in their mid-to-late 20's
were caught live on Friday night at Flanagan's Pub.  
Calling themselves the Freelance Vandals,
they have been charged with vandalism
and inciting large crowds into having a damn good time."

 
April 1978 - Hollywood Reporter
 
"GET VANDALIZED!  
They may have some problem getting hotel reservations with their name -- Freelance Vandals --
but this motley crew of rollicking rockers, who have been taking over the New York area like a storm."

 

 

May 1979 - Record World
"Giving new meaning to the expression 'This Record's A Dog!'
will be the Freelance Vandals' newly formed record company, Dog Records.  
The label has sent out 'Beware Of Dog' signs to members of the press
along with a memo touting the virtues of  
the Freelance Vandals upcoming single release, "Holiday"

 


June  1979 - New York Times
 
"Nearly all of the Freelance Vandals repertoire consists of original material,
mostly pop tunes with catchy phrases and offbeat lyrics
similar to those purveyed by Nick Lowe.  
Among the more clever Freelance Vandals tunes is 
'Shock Rock' a tale that takes place sometime in the future
in a world where people are entertained by sticking their fingers in an electric socket!"

 
July 1979 - Variety
 
"The Freelance Vandals, a hot new combo from the Long Island, NY, is a tight rock n' boogie outfit
whose performance is a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Dr. Hook."

 

Nov. 1979 - Good Times Magazine
"About 125 die-hard Freelance Vandal fans showed up in a miserable driving rain storm to see their local favorites.  
'Time to Rock & Roll!' they shouted and the band gave them exactly what they wanted."

 

Sept. 1981 - Aquarian Weekly
 
"One band that has managed to attract a large following
and garner a substantial amount of airplay is the Freelance Vandals;
an exciting sextet playing original, danceable rhythm & blues-based rock & roll."

 

Jan 1982 - New Haven Register
 
"It's evident that the Freelance Vandals have a significant edge over numerous other rock & roll acts trying to break into national prominence."
 

Jan 1984 - Creem Magazine
 
"Yer Money or Yer Ears is a document of Long Island Bar Band (genus Rockus Suffolkus)
spotted in its natural habitat (the Right Track Inn) prior to recent extinction.  
What's left as a remembrance is this disc which should find its place in some Long Island time capsule
along with a wet t-shirt, a six pack of Bud and a NY Islander hockey game ticket stub."
 


Dec 2016


"Longtime area rock mavens take heed: Mind Smoke Records recently released
Vandalogy: Demos & Studio Tracks 1976 - 1981 from the Freelance Vandals,
one of the area's legendary bands of that era.  The anthology contains
remastered versions of many of the band's most popular original tunes f
from the 1970's and 1980's.  Mind Smoke issued the album
in celebration of The Freelance Vandals' 40th Anniversary as a group."


 


DISCOGRAPHY

 
1978
Untitled album (RCA Records) - unreleased

 

1979
Double Dog Pak (Dog Records) - Vinyl double singles package

 

1984
Yer Money or Yer Ears (Gunga Din Records) - Vinyl live album

 


1996
Songs That Never Made Us Famous (FV Productions) - Compact Disc

 

1997
The Bootleg Years Vol. 1 (Dog Records) - Cassette live album

 

1996
Freelance Vandals 20th Anniversary 200 copy Limited Edition Cassette - live compilation

 

2001
Riot at The Right Track Inn (FV Productions) limited pressing 100 copies - live album Compact Disc
Produced for a 9/11 benefit to aid NYPD & NYFD Widows & Children Relief Fund

 

2016
Vandalogy: Demos & Studio Tracks 1976 - 1981 (Mind Smoke Records) - Digital Download & Compact Disc

 
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