Friday, March 30

H-Bombs (feat. Peter & Mitch) - Live 1978

Cambridge Inn
Duke University
Durham, NC
March 18, 1978

soundboard recording
BIG THANKS to the taper and batchain for the share!

*Keep scrolling for "WHAT ALL GOOD dB’S FANS 
H-Bombs members admit they had more flyers & 'zines than actual gigs...
Hank Numb photos / Jerry Williams collection

Repercussion: see below to read about the connections between H-Bombs and The dB's.

Highlights: The 96-Second (sic) Blowout medley is a particular favorite, but also check out the “freaky” distorted vocal effects on “Bomb Scare” (how many young, impressionable minds were blown by this one performance alone?!?) 

batchain says: Guessing this is from a 2nd or 3rd generation cassette. The band did record some of their shows to reel-to-reel. The sound though is remarkably good.

ROB SEZ: Those who know the 3-song H-Bombs EP get to hear live versions of them all here. I recommend you bring your sense of humor to this listening experience…

Disc 1
01 Intro
02 Death Garage
03 Wrong Kind of Girl
04 You Love It
05 Postcard Romance
06 In a Little While
07 Money from England
08 Mind Your Manners
09 You Told Me
10 Twilight
11 Danger Danger Danger
12 Big Black Truck

Disc 2
13 The Lonely Bull (Herb Alpert Cover)
14 Bomb Scare
15 Baby Hang On
16 Take Me Back In Your Arms Again
17 Looking 'Round Corners
18 96 Second Blowout/Baby What's Wrong With You/Seeing Eye Dog
19 Sixty-five Comet
20 Caroline
21 A Heart Is Not A Home
22 Dunbar Street (aborted)
23 Komm Gibb Mir Deine Hand (Beatles cover - in German)
24 B & G Commercial
25 You Can't Catch Me (Chuck Berry cover)

Disc 1
Disc 2

MF linx (MP3@320):
Disc 2

Peter Holsapple: guitar, vocals
Mitch Easter: guitar, vocals
Robert Keely: bass, vocals
Chris Chamis: drums


After the demise of The Sneakers, members Mitch Easter, Robert Keely and Chris Chamis formed a short-lived band with Peter Holsapple called H-Bombs in the fall of 1977. The few shows they did are the stuff of local legend in Chapel Hill & Durham, N.C. Other than one 7-inch EP released on Car Records, there would be no other H-Bombs releases — despite fanciful discussions of a double-grooved 10-inch album.

Writing for the essential “NC Music History Dot Com” blog, music journalist Fred Mills has this summary of the H-Bombs’ brief musical “career”:

Chapel Hill’s H-Bombs may have only enjoyed a brief existence — roughly, from the start of UNC’s fall semester in 1977 to the end of the spring semester in ’78 — but the handful of highly memorable gigs they performed, and their helping to jumpstart the Triangle punk/new wave scene, meant that they left behind an influential and relatively sharp-looking corpse. Not only did the quartet inspire numerous other musically-minded individuals (including yours truly, who didn’t pick up a guitar but did embark upon a career as a rock writer that, for better or for worse, is still going strong), in the wake of the band’s demise several of the cadaver’s vital organs were ripe for harvesting: Guitarist/vocalist Peter Holsapple would move to New York and join Chris Stamey’s dB’s, bassist Robert Keely and drummer Chris Chamis would form the much-loved Triangle combo Secret Service, and guitarist/vocalist Mitch Easter would eventually go on to Let’s Active fame.”

Read the rest of Fred’s most excellent essay and browse through the other stuff on the NC Music History blog.

Sam Hicks, in an online article called “How North Carolina Got Its Punk Attitude,” gives some background info on the H-Bombs. Hicks describes them as a “neo-punk group”:

“Peter, Mitch Easter, Robert Keely and Chris Chamis played at street festivals, around campus, The Mad Hatter (previously The Town Hall) or Cambridge Inn on the Duke campus. At the first H-Bombs show, Peter and Robert handed out 2-4 page ‘flyers’ called Biohazard Informae, which began a long history of 'zines & music working together toward a common goal.

“Although this band really can't be considered 100% punk, they were pretty strange, and would later play with punk bands who said they could drive a crowd away with the best of them. In mid 1978, with college over [Holsapple dropped out after year 3] and nothing in Chapel Hill but ‘the same 40 people to play to’, the band dissolved.

“The ‘Death Garage / Big Black Truck / 96-Second Blowout’ single (CRR-5) was recorded at Mega Sound Studio in Bailey, NC [with initial recordings taking place in NYC]. The single featuring three H-Bombs songs was released in 1978 on Car Records after the band had already broken up. Peter & Mitch are actually the only people on the record, but since these were songs Peter had written & performed with the group, the cover says, ‘Peter Holsapple of The H-Bombs.’ ”
Read the rest of Hick’s article at Perfect Sound Forever.

Here's what Peter himself wrote about the H-Bombs in 2004:

“The H-Bombs, which was me, Mitch, Robert Keely from Sneakers on bass and Chris Chamis on drums, existed for about a year or so from 1977 to 1978. There were a handful of gigs in the Chapel Hill area, many of which got taped apparently. There’s even a film made by Richard Kern (now a big name in NY underground filmmaking) of us at Duke University, performing with our friend Jonathan Sharpe seated in an easy chair, reading the paper through the whole set.

“Most of the stuff we did was either written by Mitch or myself, with Robert’s ‘Twilight’ being an exception and a brace of irritating covers (like ‘Komm Gibb Mir Deine Hand’ and ‘I Fought the Law’). Our first gig was at a Chapel Hill street fair, preceding the Apple Chill Cloggers (!) We had more posters than gigs. I would bet that Robert still has all of them somewhere, tucked away in his archives. Biohazard Informae, our little fanzine, was also a product of that time.

“I think it was a good band, but who knows? I was never in the audience for it. By the way, Chris Chamis, who served nobly as a dB's sound man for a spell, and I saw each other for the first time in years at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem a month or so ago. Chris plays drums for an excellent Beatles/60’s band called Backbeat. If you get the chance to see them, do so.

“ ‘Money From England’ was about alleged cash that was supposed to arrive to help Ork Records in NY put out an H-Bombs recording. Suffice to say, it never arrived. I recently came into a live CD of the H-Bombs that is almost listenable! We sure had a lot of material!”

At the risk of turning a musical footnote into a PhD thesis, here’s a few lines from Peter and Mitch about the band in a 2007 feature story about Mitch by Fred Mills in Magnet magazine:

After Sneakers, Stamey headed to New York and started The dB’s, while Easter and Holsapple teamed up to form the H-Bombs back in Chapel Hill. Debuting at a street fair in the fall of 1977, their timing was perfect: Punk was in the air, and the H-Bombs’ marriage of pop and garage proved hugely influential locally.

“The H-Bombs was a short-lived group, but it served a great purpose,” says Holsapple. “New wave was just hitting the area, and we seemed to fit right in the niche.”

“I was a little too old to totally buy into the punk scene,” says Easter. “I was still listening to what Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne were doing. But I was pleased that we got something going on.”

If I get up a real head of steam, I might re-type Will's alleged review of a (mythical) H-Bombs album. The review was published in 1978 in The Daily Tarheel, the campus newspaper of UNC-Chapel Hill. I call it "alleged" not only because the album did not exist, but because the article was actually a reprint of a review Will wrote for TDH (using his nom de plume) of The Sneakers' (actual) album. In the review, Will turns flowery music crit phraseology into a low-brow art form...


  1. And Thanks very much for the good stuff that you posted !!!!! greetings from the Netherlands , Alie

  2. This is a truly fantastic gem, esp the first set, which is heavier with originals I've never heard. Amazing there still hasn't been a real H-Bombs release given how many good songs they had put together.

  3. Agreed. Maybe an archival release??

    I know I'd listen to it more than Little Diesel, which the guys seemed to think was really great...

  4. There is in existence a video of this Dukes University show from March 18th 1978 recorded by Cable 13, Duke’s student run television station. It is held in the university's archive.

    here's some relevant stuff from my unreleased Mitch Easter article.
    Meanwhile back in Chapel Hill, Mitch and Peter Holsapple had started doing some tapes up in Mitch’s bedroom together, very much as he and Stamey had a couple of years before. Back when the first Sneakers record had come out Kim Fowley had discovered that they had got some press and he had started calling up Mitch and Chris
    Mitch: “He was going to make us famous, you know. He would call up and he would say things to us like: "OK, I'm going to be bringing you out to L.A. pretty soon now, if you've got girlfriends or anything I want you to get your relationship with them really squared away because when you get to L.A. these L.A. chicks are really going to fuck with your head, man". He was saying things like that to us on the phone and we're just going "Oh, OK". Then the Sneakers broke up and he called about the time that the H-Bombs were getting off the ground and said, "OK, I'm really ready to do something this time, send me a picture of your band right now". So the H-Bombs were really formed so that we could send a picture to this guy. We thought if we could get a trip to L.A. and play out there it would be fun and so we called up a couple of guys that were around and we thought, might potentially form a band.”
    The two guys they had called up were Robert Keely who had played bass with The Sneakers and Chris Chamis who they had played with in The Little Diesel Big Band. Keely and Chamis were at that point in a band Aliens with Tommy Eschelman from Little Diesel. They sent the pictures off but heard nothing more from Fowley but the four of them decided to start practising together. With an eye to the new wave and punk scene now breaking out all over America by the fall of 77 they turned up the guitars and became the H Bombs. By that time the live music scene in the area, know as Triangle was starting to stir. They played street festivals, on campus and at venues such as The Mad Hatter and the Cambridge Inn to the usual half hearted crowds who by then were starting to catch the punk bug and were not quite sure of what to make of the band. Alex Chilton and the Cossacks were playing a couple of shows on December 6th and 7th at Max’s Kansas City in New York and Peter contacted Stamey and got them the support slot. This was big news for a local group and when they returned they found they had mysteriously achieved semi-cult status as a result. Happy to capitalise on this radio and print ads called now called the group “punk rock from New York City” and urged the curious to “come and see what this punk rock is all about.”

  5. For the live shows Holsapple and Keely were keen on adding a theatrical edge handing out flyers called Biohazard Informae with self penned reviews of previous gigs and concluding “This means something, this is IMPORTANT!” At the Cat’s Cradles they liberally decorated their stage with radios, televisions, sofas and floor lamps to give the illusion of playing in a living room. At one show they had a smartly dressed friend seated in front of the stage the whole time reading a newspaper seeming oblivious to the band blasting away five feet behind him. During Easter’s song Bomb Scare Keely wore a gas mask. Trouble was while they were styling themselves neo punk and could certainly play with a certain garage aggression, they couldn’t help but show, with incredibly catchy melodies and hooks (they had a repertoire of over fifty songs), that their true leanings were more Move and Big Star than the Pistols. Mitch’s penchant for sudden tempo twists and unexpected chord changes meant they were never basic enough to fully click with the by now mostly blindly punk audiences. At the end of the spring semester in 78 they got tired of playing to the same forty or so devoted fans they had acquired and Mitch and Peter returned to recording up in his bedroom.
    Then Chris Stamey called them up with the idea they could maybe do some recording with Alex Chilton producing at Trod Nossel Studios in Connecticut. The pair had already been up there right at the start of the H Bombs with Alan Betrock and Stamey.
    Mitch: “I don't think the second Trod Nossel session was seen as an H-Bomb’s record. Somehow Peter and I seemed to think of recording as our thing, I think we thought the band was more for playing live and maybe those guys weren't as interested in recording. Which was probably unfair, but that's what I remember. I think mainly we were just eager to record in a real studio!”
    So the pair headed up to Connecticut again and recorded four of their H-Bomb songs a piece but Chilton, tired of New York and ready to move on, was being vague about his input once they were in the studio and did not really take part. All they ended up with by the end of the session was a tape of eight half finished rough mixes. From this Stamey offered Holsapple the idea putting out a single on his label Car using three of these tracks and overdubbing at Mega Sound. “Big Black Truck”, credited to Peter Holsapple and the H-Bombs came out in the late spring and features Mitch on drums and Chris on backing vocals.