Bad Sneakers


Bad Sneakers

Bad Sneakers

Power pop, Pop, Other
From: Wilmington, DE, United States

Band Members

  • Ward Camp - Vocals, keyboards
  • Dale Dallabrida - Vocals, bass, keyboards
  • Shane Faber - Vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Marc Moss - Vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Neal Tillotson - Vocals, drums

About Band

Join the global Bad Sneakers community. Between 1979 and 1986, this Newark, Del.-based band released three albums and performed 200 nights a year.

Now, you can listen to this rich recorded legacy, read the history of Bad Sneakers' meteoric rise from obscurity to oblivion, and watch video documenting the band's erratic odyssey through the '80s.

It's all at the Bad Sneakers Web site: http://www.badsneakers.info

"Sneak Attack," 1982

 

With its layered vocals, dual-guitar volleys and slick studio veneer, Bad Sneakers' 1982 debut album "Sneak Attack" aimed squarely at the pop-rock mainstream. Still, the work bore the fingerprints of five diverse composers, showing stylistic touches from blues to New Wave.

 

"Sneak Attack" gained modest regional airplay. Some critics sniffed that the band took too few risks musically. But even the mixed reviews hailed the album's glossy production and taut performances.

And the band's mid-Atlantic audiences embraced the album. Readers of Fine Times, a Philadelphia-area arts and entertainment monthly reaching 100,000 in four states, named "Sneak Attack" best album in an April 1983 poll.

Runner-up albums in the Fine Times survey were George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" and Robert Hazard's debut EP, which included MTV hits "Escalator of Life" and "Change Reaction."

Readers of the Paper Magazine, a competing regional publication with a similar reach, named "Sneak Attack" top album in 1982 and 1983 year-end polls, and declared Bad Sneakers best band of 1983.

"Beat the Meter," 1984

 

The 1983 loss of Ward Camp – founding member, multi-instrumentalist and producer – triggered a tectonic shift in Bad Sneakers' career. Rather than enlist a new keyboard player, the band had its bassist and guitarists double on synthesizers.  

 

Electronic arsenal in hand, Bad Sneakers streamlined its approach to songwriting and production. Lean, sinewy rhythm tracks and digital washes supported a stylistic palette "from the frantic crunch of 'Anesthesia' to the silky balladry of 'All I Want to Know,'" a band press release said.

 

A month after its 1984 release, "Beat the Meter" hit number 25 on U.S. Rock magazine's national independent-label airplay chart – edging out releases from Black Flag, Billy Bragg and Naked Raygun while nipping at the heels of Husker Du, Sonic Youth, the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets.

 

To some, "Beat the Meter" was Bad Sneakers' finest moment. "Packed with memorable, danceable songwriting as well as chancy, exciting arrangements," U.S. Rock critic Chris Mehl wrote. "Strong material with an abundance of hooks," New York trade magazine Cashbox reported.

 

Reviews ran positive from college radio stations nationwide:  

 

"A unique approach to modern music."
    – WLBS, Piscataway, N.J.
"Some of the best American synth dance music around. Expect lots of airplay."
    – KNWD, Natchitoches, La.
"Stunning musicianship, catchy tunes. This band can go far."
    – WCUR, West Chester, Pa.
"A pop rock band that incorporates synthesizers to add a New Wave tinge. Cool!"
    – WPNR, Utica, N.Y.

 

"Big Ducks in the Basement," 1986 

 

Stylistic differences among band members lent breadth to previous Bad Sneakers albums. But increasingly, creative conflicts and personality clashes became a source of friction. That discord spawned "Big Ducks in the Basement," the band's final release in 1986.

Bassist Dale Dallabrida, who composed six of the album's 12 songs, left the band while recording was still in progress. "It was either quit or go postal," he said.  

 The fragmented sound of "Big Ducks" reflects the chaos under which it was created. "I can only hear the sound of our grand experiment ending – not with a bang, but with a quack," drummer Neal Tillotson said two decades later.

And yet of Bad Sneakers' three albums, "'Big Ducks in the Basement,' their last, was probably their best," said radio personality Bob Bowersox of Wilmington, Del. , pop powerhouse WSTW-FM.  

"Although there are those who say 'Beat the Meter' was an excellent album too. They're all good," Bowersox said in a 1991 retrospective broadcast.

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