Why It Matters to Michael Quercio

Michael Quercio

used with permission

One of my favorite albums from 1985 was The Three O’Clock’s Arrive Without TravellingBy ’85 Michael Quercio, bassist and lead singer, was the only remaining member of the band that started life as The Salvation Army.

The Three O’Clock were part of the same Los Angeles scene that spawned The Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate and The Bangles.  What made them particularly special was Quercio’s songwriting, which had both the psychedelia of The Dream Syndicate and the accessibility of The Bangles.  Why “Her Head’s Revolving” wasn’t a monster still baffles me — that cut is still on my desert island playlist.

The Three O’Clock split in 1988, but Quercio never gave up playing music.  His post break-up bands included Game Theory and the brilliant The Jupiter Affect.  Nowadays he hosts a radio show on  named “Michael Quercio’s Paisley Underground Consortium,” and get this — a reunited Three O’Clock are on the bill at this year’s Coachella Festival.  Busy times.

Why It Matters: How long has it been since you guys played together?

Michael Quercio: We last played together at a benefit show in Los Angeles in 1989.

WIM: Geez, so pretty much not since you guys split.  Arrive Without Travelling remains my favorite Three O’Clock album.  Can you talk a little about that one?

MQ: It was meant to be more guitar driven than our previous album, Sixteen Tambourines. We recorded it in Nuremberg Germany for our new record company, IRS records. I really liked the tracks “Knowing When You Smile,” which was sort of rock-jazz, and “Her Head’s Revolving,” which was influenced by Todd Rundgren’s group The Nazz.  It was our only LP to get into the Billboard chart (note: Peaking at 125 – WIM), and It sold the most. It got great reviews, too.  Rolling Stone gave it a very good one as I recall (note: He’s right – WIM).

WIM: Yes! The Nazz!  I don’t know why I never made that connection.  This is a music trivia question, but I have to ask:  You’re credited with coining the term “Paisley Underground.”  True?

MQ: Yeah, we were being interviewed for an L.A. weekly magazine and the guy asked me, “What do you call this scene of bands in L.A. right now — you guys, The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, and the Rain Parade?” I just blurted out, “Well, it’s The Paisley Underground!”

WIM:  You’ve had a few post Three O’Clock bands — Jupiter Affect being a personal favorite.  Are you still gigging with other bands, or is the Three O’Clock reunion your current musical home?

MQ: Thanks.  The Jupiter Affect LP Instructions For The Two Ways Of Becoming Alice is very special to me.  Right now the Three O’ Clock reunion is my only musical gig.

WIM: Tell us about the Michael Quercio’s Paisley Underground Consortium.

MQ: This is an internet radio show I host along with my long time friend, Lina Litonjua.  It’s two hours of us playing records and being silly.  I play stuff from my personal record collection, which is all over the place: pop, rock, jazz, classical, Broadway, comedy…you name it.  It is on Sunday’s 4pm to 6pm Pacific time.

WIM: Why does music matter to Michael Quercio?

MQ: You know, my mom could tell you.  Since I was a very young kid I didn’t want toys nearly as much as I wanted records. Music just made the world a much better place, still does.

You can follow the “Paisley Underground Consortium’s” fan page on Facebook.

And you can follow The Three O’Clock on Twitter at: @The3Oclock

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