Friday, June 5, 2009

Amverts - Atlanta transplants take on NYC

Here is the download: Amverts Recordings

Track Listing:

1-4: "Know All The Right People" Demo
5-6: "Demo Redux"
7-14: Practice Tapes
15-22: Live at the Black Cat, Washington DC in 2003
23-29: Live at the Lit Lounge, NYC in 2002

Here are Jon Lukens' notes on the band lineup and recordings:

NYC 2001 – 2004: Ray Sullivan (Walt Lariat, The Swift and Terrible Race, Racine, Lower 48) played drums. Sean Greathead (Wheeljack, The Mascara Aesthetic, Ananke, Nights) played guitar. Benjamin Lukens (hal al Shedad, Ultivac, Ananke, Forever War) played bass and sang. Jon Lukens (Retconned, Ultivac) played synthesizer and sang.

"Know All The Right People" Recorded by J. Ellis in his Basement in Bushwick.

"Demo Redux" Recorded at our practice space in Brooklyn by the guy who lived downstairs from Ben and Kat. Remixed by J. Ellis.

Everything else recorded live to Ben's minidisc player.

Back in 2002, Benjamin Lukens from The hal al Shedad moved up to Brooklyn to finish college and get out of our fair city for awhile, and our old friend Sean Greathead from Wheeljack also moved up there to start things anew and grow his hair long. Benjamin's brother Jon was already living up there, and pretty soon the three of them started playing music together. Funny enough, when it came time to get a drummer, they enlisted Ray Sullivan who had moved up to New York from Athens after playing in The Walt Lariat, among others. So it turned out that four guys from the Atlanta/Athens area all randomly moved to NYC and ended up forming a band, calling themselves Amverts.

Sean and Ray at Benjamin's wedding, 2004

Musically, it was driving postpunk of a really melodic variety, which is a bit surprising given some of the members previous bands, but somehow it clicked with the four of them. They were active from 2001 to 2004, playing shows and recording some demos and practices, but soon after Benjamin finished his studies and moved back to Atlanta, along with Jon who decided to pack up and head for the green grasses of home. Ray and Sean have stayed behind and still play in bands up there, including the band Nights for Sean, which you should really check out, and Ray plays/played in called Racine, which includes Wendy James who was in Transvison Vamp. This is important because Tex Agile/Anthony Doughty from Transvision Vamp played in X-Ray Spex, so that means Amverts is only 2 bands away from X-Ray Spex in the family tree. Jon continued making music as Retconned, and Benjamin started a band called The Forever War, but now has been playing with Ben Davis and Gary Flom from The Purkinje Shift/Moreland Audio.

Jon and Sean have contributed some words for this post, which I have included below. I asked Benjamin if he had anything to say about the band, and he replied "I've only been swung at two times in my life, and both times were in this band".

Here are Sean's comments:

Amverts was a good band that happened at the wrong time. Or maybe it was the right time and only needed to be together for a little while. Either way it wasn’t a band that could sustain itself for long. We formed in 2002 after Ben and I had moved to Brooklyn to start a band with Jon, who was already living there, and Bill from Rainer Maria, who was looking for new project. Bill quit Amverts before we even had a full song, but luckily we recruited Ray Sullivan a.k.a. Chip Striker shortly afterwards. We were productive in some ways, but totally dysfunctional in others. The pressures of New York City, sibling rivalry, and sometimes opposing musical tastes eventually drove the band apart, but during the time we were together we whipped up a pretty solid batch of songs that I’m really happy with to this day. I sometimes feel the Amverts slipped under the radar before anyone even knew we were there, but I’m happy we had a chance to play together. As a side note, Amverts is the only band I’ve been in that has ever gotten into a brawl with another band outside of the venue and subsequently banned from the bar.

Here are Jon's comments:

When I look back on my time in the band, the quality and quantity of unreleased and unfinished material still upsets me. In many cases, what were nearly complete songs that we had been working on for weeks were abandoned or forgotten without any reason. I think this was most frustrating for Ray, but would also bother Sean – especially when the song was one he'd come up with and periodically refine and reintroduce. In the Amverts we often recorded versions of these songs in progress, and last summer I recorded all of those tapes onto my computer. The total running time was well over a day and a half. Here are approximate total durations for some of the unfinished songs:

isolate the variable 50 minutes
bridge to nowhere 15 minutes
counter-clock 50 minutes
ben number three / forever war 30 minutes
sean number one 12 minutes
sean number two 9 minutes
ben number four 1 hour 10 minutes
untitled instrumental 1 hour
ladder 16 minutes
tone2 20 minutes
"long song" 30 minutes
stairs 10 minutes
unknown 30 minutes
escalator 8 minutes

From all of that (and some CD-Rs I found), I put together a few (very) rough edits of what I think the rest of an Amverts LP may have sounded like had we been able to find ourselves in the same place at the same time, working toward a common goal.

Lastly, one of Sean's other passions is surfing, and keep in mind he still lives in New York. I asked him to send me some photos of him surfing out on Long Island, but he didn't have any so he sent some from a trip to New Zealand instead. Lucky guy.


  1. My wife went to college with Sean at The Atlanta College of Art, so I hung out with him a good bit back in the late 90s. I had no idea he was in Wheeljack. They were one of those bands whose name I saw all over, but I don't think I ever heard them. Going to download the discog now...

  2. I saw Sean a few months ago when we met up to have a little 'goodbye' party for Cathy before she moved from NYC to Portland. His hair is still long and he still rules!