UIC Q&A About “FM HILL”
How did you guys meet? Was it in school are you all Exeter Townies?
The original members of UIC were all Exeter townies. I (Murray Heywood) did not live in town, I grew up on a farm just outside of town. We were the first farm outside of town, so I spent most of my time in Exeter. We all went to the same high school and certainly knew each other from there. The real connection in small-town Ontario is the Hockey Arena. Dave Robinson, Danny Preszcator, and I played hockey together on various teams when we were kids. Another very key piece of the puzzle of how we got to know each other was the Exeter pool, Hall. The Pool Hall was the real central meeting place of our youth. That is where Danny, Fred, Ted, and I hung out the most. Dave was not as much of a frequent pool hall guy. The Pool Hall was social central to the rest of us in our teens.
The 2 newest members of UIC are Dave Dysart (Guitar) and Andy Hauber Bass. We met Dave back in the 80’s Toronto scene when he played with local Toronto and OG record labelmates The Supreme Bagg Team. The Supreme Bagg Team played with us a couple of times on our first or second Canadian Tour. Dave Dysart was very instrumental in pushing UIC back together for the original reunion show we did in 2016. The show was put together to celebrate the life of Mike Star (Shulga), who owned Star Records in Oshawa. Mike was also the promotor who held all the Star Club gigs in Oshawa. Mike was a key supporter of underground music in Oshawa and provided a great gig (Star Club) to local and touring bands in the ’80s and early ’90s. Dave Robinson was in a band with Andy called El Speedo that was comprised of Paul McNeil (Durango 95, Purple Toads) and Ken Mikalauskas. El Speedo formed after UIC disbanded in the mid 90’s and before The Chickens started in the late 90’s. Ken Mikalauskas then became a key component and songwriter of The Chickens. Andy was also in a bunch of bands in the Star Club days.
What was it like in the Garage Rock scene in the early 80s, specifically in Exeter? Then the move to Toronto? Tell me a killer story about when you first got to Toronto?
When we started playing together in 1982 there was no music scene in Exeter. There were a few local cover bands, but no one was doing anything remotely close to what we were doing at the time. Dave Robinson played in the very first Punk Band in Exeter called The Earwigs. The Earwigs were local guys Randy Parsons (Randal P Coltrane & The Hard Livers), Pete DeKoker (63 Monroe, TVD), and Kevin (Rusty) Parsons on drums. There is a picture of the Earwigs on the inner sleeve of the FM Hill record. I also believe that Richard May (song on the new record) might have also been in the Ear Wigs in the very beginning in some fashion. That was the first time I ever heard Punk Rock, seeing them play at our high school. Pete DeKoker & Jeff (Rooster) Rooth were 2 local musicians who played in Punk Rock bands before we did. It was a pretty big deal when Pete DeKoker & Jeff (Rooster) Rooth moved to London and started playing with 63 Monroe. Some of our very early gigs were playing with 63 Monroe. We just continued to put on our own shows in Exeter and the surrounding area. As there were not a lot of bars that wanted to put on Punk Rock shows, we put on our own shows at local town and village halls. We would get special occasions permits to sell alcohol and make a donation to a local charity. We would also partner with a local hockey team or something to get the special occasion permits and throw massive parties. They were a ton of fun back in the day. There was also “The New Moon Freaker’s Ball”, a large outdoor festival type gig that was held by John (Stryker the Biker”) Stryke. John was a local legend outlaw-ish guy, who put on these huge outdoor parties on his farm. So while there weren’t any bars to play, we made our own scene and it was an absolute blast. We eventually started to play gigs in London opening for 63 Monroe and then moved on to headlining our own nights. We continue to have unreal support from our loyal UIC following.
Moving to Toronto was a very big deal in 1984, our families thought we had lost our minds. We had never even played in Toronto before we moved there. We all moved into a band house in Parkdale (13 Grenadier Road) in mid-1984. That remained UIC band house until Dave moved out in the mid-1990s. If you played in a band or frequented the garage/punk scene in the ’80s in Toronto, there is a strong chance that you spent some time at 13 Grenadier.
When we first moved to 13 Grenadier Rd, we would have frequent parties on weekends and people from Exeter would come down. There were some pretty epic parties. We did not know our neighbors and we would find out years later that people in the neighborhood thought we were all badass biker types and took a wide berth around the house. That is extremely funny to us because we were about as far from outlaws as you could get. People who know us have a good laugh when they find out our neighbors were afraid of us in the beginning. Dave and Fred stayed in Parkdale and eventually got to know all the neighbors and safe to say they were no longer afraid. We were just small-town guys, who moved to the city and really just blowing off steam. In the beginning, it took some time to get adjusted. In Exeter at that time, likely 90 percent of the people did not lock their doors at night, or when they were away. My house was never locked, I do not believe a key for our door existed. My father left the keys in the ignition of all his vehicles, they never came out. So when we first moved to Toronto, we lost about 15 bikes, car stereos, ladders, ramps, and other things until we realized, “hey I guess we need to lock things up here”. The local thieves were most likely thinking “what’s wrong with these guys, do they not know we are stealing all their stuff”.
When we got to Toronto and we’re all living together we literally practiced 5 nights a week. We were already a very tight band by the time we moved, but in the mid 80’s it would have been hard to find a band tighter than UIC. We rehearsed a lot. We just started gigging wherever we could, meeting new and interesting people. Opening for whoever we could, playing any club we could. It was a complete blast. Some very early gigs were playing at Larry’s Hideaway. One of our biggest early opening slots was opening for 999 at Larry’s. That was a Gary Topp show. That was a big deal to us. To get on a Gary Topp show was the ultimate. We would continue gigging and gigging until we were filling Lee’s Palace on our own. It took some time and a lot of effort, but it was a lot of fun.
In reading about some of the song names and events around some of the songs on the album. It’s definitely a new album! But it seems to have a lot of nostalgia and history attached to it. Tell me about the process.
I guess I never really thought about that, but you are correct. When we originally reunited for the Mike Star tribute, we just needed to put a set together for a 45 min to 1 hr set. That went very well. The reception from loyal UIC fans was incredible. Then we did another gig and another, and then released The Wiseman Session album, an album that was completed in 1987 before we recorded Live Like 90. We got sidetracked by Live Like 90 and then toured to support it. The Wiseman Sessions just went on a back burner and was never released. The tapes went missing for years and resurfaced, so we released it in 2016. At that point, we decided we would continue. Then came the time to write new material. I think the way the songs came out for FM Hill is simply a case of where we were at that point in our lives. We had backstories to tell. Danny passed away which sparked “Fly Danny Fly” (written by me) and “Thunder from The Left” written by Dave Dysart. Dave only got the pleasure of playing with Danny for a short time. Hence the lyrics in the Pre-chorus bridge “four stages is all I shared with you”. The song FM Hill is a story I wanted to write and tell for a very long time. FM Hill is a large part of the basis of what UIC is, we were influenced by the Stooges. MC5 and Detroit Rock. The song Like 90 is a throwback to me and Dave Robinson driving around back roads outside of Exeter in his Blue 76 Nova when we were young. We would listen to The Ramones, Pistols, New York Dolls, Teenage Head, Stooges, etc. and singing all the lyrics, and playing air guitar. All of those bands were influences as well. So the songs come from where we were in the reunion process and drawing from that. I am working on a new song as a Tribute to original UIC guitarist Teddy T (Ted Triebner) who was a very unique dude that screams for a song to be written about him. Me and Teddy formed Positively Stompin after we left UIC in 1990 and put a lot of miles on together. Teddy T passed away a year ago. I think the next album will be somewhat different. We got a lot of that out on this record. In reality, there was some healing for us in this process.
What is/was FM HILL? P.S. does it still exist and when is the last time you were there.
FM Hill was a high spot in Huron County, outside of Exeter, that had some kind of communication tower on it back in the ’70s and early ’80s. I Have no idea what the tower was for. This is way pre-cell phone towers. Fred found it somehow and discovered that he could get Detroit radio stations clearly there on most nights. Foggy or overcast nights were the best. We would go out there in Fred’s 1968 Green Chevy Chevelle and listen to Detroit Rock radio late at night when they would play more off the wall stuff like The Stooges and MC5. It was customary for us to hang out on Main street Exeter in front of the Pool Hall playing Frisbee and being young and crazy. Eventually, if I waited long enough, I knew Fred would come around, and then off we would go. It was pretty cool because Fred was the older guy, with a nicer car and a killer Craig Powerplay stereo and he listened to strange cool music. Fred was the guy who introduced us to FM Hill. Detroit is closer to Exeter than Toronto was, so that is where you went for concerts etc. Detroit was an important part of our Musical youth. There is still a tower there for an Exeter Radio station called MYFM. It’s an easy listening station with a very limited range. They do not play UIC records haha. I haven’t been back to the Hill since we moved to Toronto, it holds a special place in our heart. I like to keep that alive, going back now may ruin it for me. It was an important place to us and It does make for a great story.
Tell me a bit about The Chickens
When Ted (Teddy T) and I left UIC in 1990 to put together Positively Stompin, UIC carried on with new players Joey Bechta (Drums) and Kevin Kelly (Guitar). That carried on until the mid-’90s. Ted and I had moved back to London Ontario, that is where we based Positively Stompin out of. When PS split up in 1996 or 1997 I decided to move back to the GTA. At that time Dave, Fred, and Danny had started to jam with Ken Mikalauskas and various drummers. Not really a band that was gigging, they were just getting together to jam. When they heard I was moving back to the GTA, they asked me to come out and jam. We jammed together for a year, writing songs and tightening, and never really thought too much about playing live. Once things got rolling we realized, “Hey we have been jamming for a year, we have some pretty great songs, maybe we should do a gig”. Then came the time to decide on a name. We bounced around the idea of just coming back out as UIC version 3, but it was eventually decided that we would come back with a brand new name. It was definitely UICish, I mean how could it not have been, it was 4/5th UIC. There was a different feel to the material, a bit more garage, and a little less frantic punk rock style. So we embarked on choosing a new name. That was never easy for us, we lamented for years about the name UIC. At one time I said well we don’t spring chickens anymore (all but Ken were in our 40’s), so what about “The Spring Chickens” and that was chopped down to The Chickens. It was a silly name that didn’t really say anything about the band, but we didn’t want the name to be pretentious in any way, we simply wanted it to have a fun feel. It stuck. The 2 Chicken records we recorded (Prepare to Plug-In & Bring it On), were and are great garage rock albums. They was very limited distribution, it was only available on CD on our own label at the time Rubber Road Records. I want to re-release the Chickens albums on vinyl and digital at some time in the near future. They really are great records that I am very proud of. The Chickens played until 2004 when Ken decided to move to the East Coast and start a fresh career out there. At that point, the band just ceased to exist. Ken was a really big component of the Chickens and carrying on without him didn’t make sense.
(Thunder from the Left) is somewhat of a tribute to Danny Preszcator. Tell me a quick killer story about Danny if you’re ok with that.
Danny “Hack” Preszcator was as unique and individual as you will find. He was a beauty. Danny and my friendship go back to our childhood. Same with Dave, Fred, and Ted, we all knew Danny since we were little kids. Danny and I got really close as teenagers, we both played on the same Midget hockey team, and we shared a love of music. We spent a lot of time together. Danny got the nickname Hack because he was always hacked up. Meaning he was always cut, bruised, or battered from being reckless. One of my favorite stories ( classic Hack) is one night we were all partying and having a good time, likely 15 or 16 years old, and Hack left where we were to head home on his bicycle. The shortcut to his house included cutting through the Exeter Legion parking lot. At the end of the parking lot were a high hedge and a tight turn to get back heading in the right direction home. Hack went barreling around the hedge, full steam, more than a little inebriated and there was a car parked across the sidewalk. He T-Boned the car and went flying across the hood of the car and face-planted and skid across the sidewalk. None of us knew this happened until he walked into the pool hall the next day and his face and entire side of his body was a mass of road rash. That was Hack, always hacked up. I could fill an interview with Hack stories. I will only give you this one. I miss him terribly, we all do. He was a special guy. UIC will never be the same without him.
Richard May, Exeter’s First Punk Rocker tell me a bit about the first time you saw/met him.
Richard was a guy I knew around town, but he wasn’t necessarily a guy I hung out with. He was a couple of years older and we simply didn’t run in the same circles. Richard wasn’t a hockey guy or a pool hall kid. That is probably why we didn’t really connect. I do remember when he first showed up dressed like a punk. I remember thinking, wow, that’s pretty strange and weird and brave. He was simply outside the norm, and I think that is exactly what drew him to be a punk rocker. I was like most of the other kids, we were more concerned about fitting in, Richard didn’t care. I think Dave Robinson captured it beautifully in the lyrics “ I wish I could be more like you, do what you want to do”. That was Richard. I did get to know him better once we moved to Toronto where Richard had also relocated too. He was just a cool and special guy. I am glad that the song about him was written and got on the record.
The comeback trail / one of the first gigs back was Gables in the Bend. Describe that feeling when you stepped out onto the stage and looked out.
In reality, the Gables show was not one of the first gigs back, it was the last show we played before starting to record FM Hill and pre-Covid. It was absolutely awesome to have all those people come out and support us. I mean there was the usual UIC crew from Exeter, London, and Goderich, but what was special was the number of people who saw UIC for the first time. My older siblings (I am the youngest of 10 kids) had never been to a UIC show before. Some of my nephews and nieces had never been to a UIC show. I was the uncle and young brother who played in a punk rock band and they had simply never bothered. It was nice to see them out and that they were blown away by the music. Remember the first time around was pre-Green Day and Blink 182 and before the Ramones were played at Hockey and Baseball games. That sort of exposed them to stuff that they hadn’t been exposed to yet when UIC seemed so strange, weird, and aggressive to them in the early days. It was an amazing night and I look forward to another one there post-Covid.
Now you’re here at the Horseshoe about to go LIVE STREAMING!!! How do you feel and how do you feel in comparison?
I have to admit I wish we were playing to a loud sweaty full house rather than a Live Stream with 50 people in the crowd. It is going to interesting and I am a certain kind of strange. However, at least we are getting to do something to promote the record. I have no idea when live music is going to get back to normal. The one cool thing is that UIC fans that have the early records and never got a chance to see us live will get a chance. Hopefully, we get some people from Europe and Japan and other places where we sold records but never toured hopefully they will hear about it and check it out.
Plans after COVID-19. I heard you have tentative plans for a mini-tour through Europe what are the stops you most want to make and why!!!
That is something I have said in a few interviews and I have not been told by the guys to “stop saying that”….so I won’t. I do want to do a mini-tour of Europe. That is my one regret of the UIC days in the ’80s. That we never went to Europe. I know the people of Europe would appreciate UIC live. It’s never too late right?
In your mind’s eye what does this comeback look like and where does it go?
We will take this one day at a time. We are having fun and I know we are going to reach new fans and hopefully reconnect with fans who lost touch with the band and likely wondered what the hell happened to us. I cannot wait for this Covid headache to disappear so we can go out and do what we do best, play live music. I can also see us starting to put together new material for another record. We are really happy with the way FM Hill turned out. It was great working with Jeremy Darby a Canterbury Sound and Ian Blurton on this record. It is the best-produced and sounding UIC album to date, yet still, live off the floor raw. That is how we have to do it. I think we still have a better one in us. That is a challenge to myself and the band. That is where it goes I believe. Stay tuned!!!!