The following excerpt is from an interview conducted by Paul Bezanker originally published in his “Paul’s Record Magazine©,” volume 4, number 1, in 1976, and republished in Bezanker’s book, Connecticut Rocks! The History of Connecticut Rock ‘N’ Roll.© The interview or portions thereof may not be copied in any manner whatsoever. For information on Paul’s Record Magazine or Connecticut Rocks!, contact Paul directly at PBezanker1@aol.com with “Connecticut Rocks” in the subject line.
The following excerpt is from an interview originally published in Paul’s Record Magazine, volume 4, number 1, in 1976. It gives a good overview of Doc Cavalier’s impressions of the Connecticut music scene during the late sixties and early seventies.
What was the first Poison Ring record?
The first Poison Ring record ever put out was the Downbeats’s “Ask Me.”
Who owned the label?
Actually it was a favor at that particular time, because Hy [Steinberg, manager of the Downbeats] wanted to get off the “Downbeat” label with the Downbeats, and I said fine, I’ll start Poison Ring Records. We were all wearing these poison rings around the area and it all got to be a big joke…everybody thought it had a negative meaning but it was only meant to be funny because of the fact that we were all wearing these rings.
I loved music; I was playing while I was in dental school, playing rooms and clubs….
No, with a trio; and we just got into making a living and I liked that better, working in the Bradford Hotel in Boston rather than parking cars in their parking lot to get through school. But when I got out, I just went into practice and happened to join the New Haven Jewish Community Health Club. There was a little kid named Johnny Stanton who was the drummer for the group known as the Shags….one night he came over and said, “Hey, I always dig you, you’re in clubs, you come and see us, we’re having difficulty and could you help us out for a couple of weeks? Put us back together and shape us up financially?” They were in very bad shape; they had just come off what I considered a pretty strong record locally, so I did it. And the rest is history; I just never left it again.
Was this building, or this company, manufacturing microphones?
Before it was a recording studio?
Let me tell you—when I was practicing dentistry, I had nothing to do with Syncron whatsoever..they were a microphone manufacturer. Ed Flynn who was a disc jockey at WAVZ called me up one night and said, “Hey you always take the Shags down into New York or Philly to cut them. There’s a little studio in Wallingford—why don’t you try them out?” So I said fine, and I made a recording date. The night of the session, they called me up and said, “Look, we’ve had a breakdown.” In reality, I found out later, it was never a breakdown; actually, they weren’t ready. They only had a two-track machine.
So they all got ready for, you know, “The Big Producer of Connecticut” to come in. They bought a four-track machine and set it up for the following week. We came in and did some recording. I became a regular customer there along with the New York and Philadelphia sessions.
When they ran into financial difficulty, the bank that was dealing with them asked me if I wanted to buy the recording studio portion of it. So that originally was 10 ½ George Street Rear, and later on if you see the studio, we had the back part and the microphone company kept the front. The bank at the time was in for $250,000. We picked up the note for $7,000 and the microphone company continued to function. I forget who bought them out on the West Coast, and at that point we took over the whole building.
When was this, 1966?
’67 or ’68…and from there…Bill Lobb, recording engineer, said to me, “What are you going to do?” So I started cutting some acts that we had already signed, because I had been running Trod Nossel Productions, which is older than Trod Nossel Recording, out of my dental office.
Trod Nossel Productions was….?
A management and production firm. At that time we had the Shags and the Bram Rigg Set before we even came here. As a matter of fact, the Bram Rigg Set was one of my groups that came in and cut here as a customer…I paid to have that record cut (Kayden #406—Bram Rigg Set: “I Can Only Give You Everything”).
Do you remember any of the other early acts?
In the early days, and Tony Deutsch just reminded me of this, of a group named Body Heat that was from the old Detroit Soul…and he said, “Hey, man, we came in to cut and you didn’t come and start producing.” I used to help everybody. I wanted everybody to get a good shot, and I felt obligated somehow, I don’t know why, morally…ethically…to go in and help them produce their records for zip money. So when Deutsch came back now six years later and went in and all he got was an engineer in the studio, he was pretty shocked. He expected production right along with it.
Do you have any information about a Drum Recording studio?
I have no idea. As far as I’m concerned, the only two recording studios [in 1976]…that have any kind of professional approach are Connecticut Recording in Bridgeport, Paul Leka, and us.
Ever heard of Steam? “Na Na Hey Hey?” Harry Chapin? “Cat’s In The Cradle”? It’s all been done in Bridgeport. And we’ve had people like Donovan cut here, and Fleetwood Mac and Joe Cocker and a whole host of other people who seem to be making hit records….
Know anything about Co-Op Records?
Just go down and talk with Rudy at Merl’s in New Haven; he’s a great guy. He was a pioneer, like Jerry Greenberg. They will get local talent on records. They worked these one-shot affairs; they were really trying to do something.
Green-Sea Records was Jerry Greenberg?
Yes, that was Jerry’s label…that’s where the Wildweeds’ record (“No Good To Cry”) was supposed to go originally; Atlantic, the bigger label, passed on it. Jerry wanted to put it out on Green Sea and I said we should go for a major label, so Phil Chess flew in, and, in a limosine the middle of a drive-in theatre in East Haven…Phil Chess is sitting there smoking a cigar, and I said, “You gotta hear this thing”…and Phil heard it and said, “Oh yeah, man, it’s a record,” but we had gotten turned down by about eight other labels including Columbia and Atlantic.
Chime Records? Cherry Records?
Well, you’ve got to remember, a lot of people, they’re working in a factory someplace, they make a record, and they hope all their dreams are going to come true…they’re very difficult to track down.
You were one of the key people I thought might know.
Yeah, but I try not to get involved with a lot of things that sometimes might be mundane to my main purpose and the artists that I’m working for, but more importantly than that—every one of these records is important to the record industry and most people are not aware of that. Even the one-record company…keeps the industry cooking. It’s a very difficult concept to understand. Even though that company might go under, they’re important, because without records, the CBSs and the RCAs and all the rest of them don’t exist…
The Chosen Few on Co-Op Records?
Oh, "Hey Joe" was cut here. There's an interesting story about when we cut that...the end of the record, the gun shot. This was done all night with Roy Sicala and Bill Lobb; Roy now owns the Record Plant in New York. It started about 6:00 at night and at 7:30 in the morning we needed a sound effect for the gunshot, and we couldn't get it...and we ended up firing into a tree stump in the back, which didn't help...
Yes. Wow! “Sweet Bird Of Love” on Majestic Records by the N.A.I.F. was cut here.
The tambourine track on “The Collector” by The #1 was done with me hanging by my feet from the ceiling, upside-down, so it could fill the room and come from a different spot.
There must have been some studios in the state that were back rooms and garages that I haven’t heard of before…but, with all the problems, there’s never a “problem” that exists that can’t be solved by writing a check…really! Real problems exits with people and people’s heads, and in my estimation the one reason why you don’t have that much happening out of this state is that people’s heads are just starting to come around. Having dealt with a lot of British rock ‘n’rollers, it’s a whole different concept. They don’t come on like they’re superstars even though they are; they come in knowing that they’re going to take all our money back to the Queen…and it’s that simple. I think England would be bankrupt if it weren’t for rock’n’roll. I sincerely believe that.
Where did the name Trod Nossel come from?
From the first Bram Rigg Set record….from the background vocal chants. Trod Nossel is my writing name. A bass player named Lance Beasley who used to be with the original Shags thought it up.
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