Saturday, March 8, 2008

Album Project II - WFBQ (1980)

Interviews with Tim O'Malley and Chris Lieber conducted March, 2008.

Side One:
I've Been Waiting - Pedaler
Feelin' Free - Free Spirit
Boat to Jamaica - Bill Wilson
Caught Her By Surprise - Neon Parke
Look at Me, Ma - McAllister

Side Two:
Spending The Night With Friends - Twice
Fine Line - The Edge
Waiting Room - John Kimsey
She Clown - Lifer
King of Kings - Franklin's Kite

Indianapolis-based guitarist Tim O’Malley and keyboardist Chris Lieber were big Little Feat fans, looking to follow their hearts, after playing in the popular local funk outfit, The Dan Hanley Band. So, when it came time to finding a name for their new country tinged rock band, they decided to pay homage to Lowell George and company--and their recognizable album covers. “We named the band Neon Parke for the guy that used to do the Little Feat album covers (Martin Muller, otherwise known as Neon Park). “We made it Parke to be different.” Neon Parke’s sound took a page directly from Little Feat, and the similar bands that would follow. “I would describe our group as a rock band with country and blues influences, kind of like an early version of Wilco,” he said. “We were a jam band before there were jam bands.”

In 1980, while playing around Indianapolis, at clubs such as Crazy Al’s and The Vogue, they had heard about a contest being held by local rock radio station WFBQ (which would later go on to be the home of the syndicated morning show “Bob and Tom”). O’Malley decided to submit a recording he had done prior to his forming Neon Parke, “Caught Her By Surprise.”

“I had originally recorded the song at a studio owned by Wayne Hall, who used to have a band called the Hugo Smith Band. The name of the studio was called The Underground. The original recording had John Apple on Bass, Jeff Lantz on keys, and Jan Clark on drums,” he said. “When we recorded it for the WFBQ Album Project I had Chris on keys, Bill Moring on bass and Jan again on drums.” The tape was sent to the station, and was chosen among more than 200 entries.

Caught Her By Surprise – Neon Parke

But the tune would prove to be the band’s debut…and swan song.

“I had been planning on moving to California before all this happened and I basically broke up the band and took off,” O’Malley admitted. “They had a big showcase concert I believe at the Vogue night club for the contest winners but by then I was gone.”

O’Malley left to play guitar for a studio band. The gig lasted just three months. “One day the IRS locked the doors for non-payment of back taxes. So that was that. I tried to get hooked up with some other people but it became so expensive to live out there that I just cut my losses and came back to Indiana.” When he tried to reform Neon Parke, all of the members had moved on to other opportunities.

Upon moving back to Indiana, Tim O’Malley went to work as a salesman for a paint company, but continues to play music. “I play in a band called Built for Comfort and also play with a great songwriter by the name of Slats Klug.”

“Honestly, none of us thought that Neon Parke was the last band we'd ever be in. We just enjoyed playing together for a while and then we moved on,” said keyboardist, Chris Lieber, who went on to start up rippleFX, a music production and audio post-production studio in Indianapolis. He has also recently gotten back into part time gigs with a couple of different local bands. “The members are less than half my age. I guess I've kind of gone back to my roots—playing original songs with kids in their twenties.”