[The True Detectives]

Agressive Blues Wave

Who are the True Detectives?

[The Scream]


The True Detectives were truly the hippest, hottest, hapnin'est band in Utah for about a year in the early 80's. They never had a manager, never had a contract, never made a record, never toured, never really did anything except BURN DOWN THE HOUSE everywhere they played. They rode hard and got put up wet every night.

The True Detectives were founded on four basic principles:

  1. No Keyboards
  2. No Chick Singers
  3. If you can't play well, at least play loud.
  4. Stop when it stops being fun...

The True Detectives came together in the summer of 1983 after two semesters of four college roommates lying to each other about how musically talented they were. The group decided to spend the summer in Southern California, learning songs, so they could return for the next term ready to play some shows. In Southern California, they picked up a lead guitarist for the summer but he would not travel with the band back to Utah.

After a summer of polishing, the TD's packed up their gear and headed back to school in search of a lead guitarist. The search ended as quickly as it started when they stumbled onto a classically-trained jazz guitarist who had gone punk. Back in business, the band practiced in earnest and began playing shows in the fall of 1983. They played shows in in a variety of locations. Their style, their stage presence, their attitude was very different from anything Utah (let alone BYU) had ever seen.

Playing on this edge, they began to position themselves as the "alternative" band of choice for the rebel-wannabees at BYU. As a part of their marketing strategy, the TDs made sure they were "BANNED BY BYU" (i.e. not allowed to play on campus) which only served to add to their already growing cult status.

They stayed together through the winter of 1984; however, they soon went the way of all good things. Time marches on. The TD's broke up as the members of the band began to get married, graduate college, get real jobs, travel to the four-corners and change priorities. It has now been over 20 years since the breakup...where are they now?

What made them so good...?


The True Detectives played a very agressive brand of blues-based rock. What made the band interesting was their gritty presentation and raw style. However, being absolutely convinced from the beginning that they had no real talent, the entire playlist was covers. Much of their material came from obscure performers or from lesser-known songs from well-known artists. They were also prone to taking a popular song, and playing it in their own "style" so that no one in the audience could recognize it. You could watch an entire show and think every song was an original, because chances are you had never heard the song.

Also, the various members of the band came from a variety of musical backgrounds, from Rock, Heavy Metal and Hardcore through Folk, Country, Showtunes and Big Band all the way to Fusion, Jazz and R&B. As a result, their playlist was rather eclectic.

The Gigs

[Gym Gig #29383]


Maybe not in order...its all a blur...
Doug's Living Room - August 1983
The first show! A pool-party where TDs invited everyone they knew. The set was well rehearsed but the TDs were very nervous. With a playlist of about 15 songs, the show only lasted about 45 minutes and the people just sort of milled about the living room and watched in amazement. Kind of like when you see a hideously ugly person...you don't want to stare, but you can't help yourself because you are not sure it real.
Youth Night at Wheatley's Brother's Church - September 1983
Mark's brother was in charge of a youth group at a local church. They wanted to have a dance, so they invited the TD's to play (for $50) a dance for a group of 12-18 year-olds. Needless to say, they were a bit confused when half-way through the show, they still hadn't recognized a single song. It was at this show that Alan began his tradition of "sassing" the crowd. This was also the first gig with Brian on guitar -- and the band's first real exposure to his unboundless musical energy juxtaposed against his stoic and emotionless demeanor. (This show was video-taped)
Rolling Scone Basement - October 1983
The first truly public gig in the basement of a Scone shop just off campus. The basement had 8' ceilings and was about 20x60 feet -- into which about 200 people squeezed their sweaty bodies. The show was a great success, serving as a great boost to the confidence of the band AND as the first step down the road to establishing a truly unique brand of musical performance. The old building was not equiped for their kind of power and they blew several fuses that night.
Old Women's Gym - October 1983
The first Big Gig. The Old Women's Gym was a gymnasium built in the early 1900's. No longer used by BYU, the gym was rented out for a variety of occasions. A local band promoter and show producer who was known by the hip crowd at BYU to bring in good talent had heard about our show at The Rolling Scone and invited the TDs to headline a dance at the Old Women's Gym. The promoter did all the leg-work -- the TD's just showed up and played -- to a group of about 500. The weather outside was freezing; however, inside the gym it was so hot that the walls were sweating!
Provo Airport Hangar - December 1983
One of the BYU social clubs invited the TD's to play their Christmas party in a hay-filled airplane hanger at the Provo Airport. The show was flawlessly executed. Possibly one of their tightest performances, but the acoustics were so bad it sounded like the band was playing in a tin box (oh, yeah, they were!).
Utah State-Sigma Nu - January 1984
Road Trip! Mark and Stan had friends at Utah State who invited the TD's up to Logan to play a fraternity party. The party was late at night after a BYU/Utah State basketball game where the theme of the game was "Detectives". Everyone came dressed up in hats and trench coats. The facilities were horrible, the weather was freezing, the floor was covered with about two inches of beer and the crowd went NUTS!. Half the band ran out of gas on the way home and nearly froze to death on a deserted highway at 2:00 am (This show was recorded with a boombox at the back of the room.)
Provo Boys Club - With The Boys - April 1984
The Old Women's Gym worked out so well, the TD's decided to promote their own show at the local Boy's Club. The gym was large, asphalat floor and had no stage...that stalwart group of fans showed up but the turnout was disappointing. Every one seemed to be just going through the motions...It was at this show that they voilated the second of their core principles (see rule #2). They had a friend whose nickname was "Wild Thing", so they let her come on stage and sing. It turned out fine...adding some variety to a boring show, but it was, nonetheless, a violation and shortly after the show, they assessed themselves a technical foul.
Tom Pier's House-Halloween - October 1984
Pier's Palace was a HUGE house in the hills overlooking Provo. Tom's dad bought the house and he and a few fellow students lived there. He invited the TD's to play a party he was throwing on Halloween -- so they did. The atmosphere was exciting and the place was a madhouse. People everywhere, all in costumes, Tom in the kitchen serving toast-on-a stick, big-screen videos were rolling down stairs and a BYU-orgy going on in the upstairs loft. (swarm of sweath bodies, hanging on each other, dancing rythmically in a group-grope...with all their clothes on and without the benefit of alcohol)
Salt Palace
Road Trip 2: Another BYU social club invited the TD's to play a show in the Salt Palace after BYU Student Night at a Utah Jazz basketball game. The room was HUGE and jammed with over 3000 people. The TD's had been together for over a year and the strain was beginning to show. Practices were volatile, patience was short, for the first time, it was beginning to feel like work (see rule #4) The show was an unmitigated disaster and spelled the beginning of the end of for the TD's. The equipment was late (due poor directions), the stage was rickety, the performance was lifeless, Brian stormed off stage when his guitar broke, Stan kept playing, Alan stopped singing and announced a break, Mark was furious, a shouting match ensued ON STAGE...needless to say, this was a harbinger of things to come. (Mark moved to Arizona soon afterward -- Alan was forced into playing a very WEAK rythym guitar)
Osmond Studios
This show featured some sort of a Battle-of-the-Bands against their local rivals, the Click (who only played songs from the Romantics and the Clash) and some other mugget band with black-tshirts and mullets (before whey were uncool). Mark had moved so Alan played rhythm guitar (it was not pretty). The Engineer ran the entire set through a phase pedal. No one can recall who won the contest but for weeks afterward, we all had recurring nightmares of the Click's tight red-leather pants and matching skinny ties...
Provo Boys Club -Underwear Night
The TD's promoted their own show at the gym, including record giveaways (flung into the audience like frisbees), slam-dance contests, Alan demolishing a guitar on stage during the performance (ala the Who. It was actually a $5 piece of junk from a thrift shop -- but the visual killed!). The hook for the show was that anyone who wore their underwear on the outside of their clothes would get in free -- over 1000 people showed up, about 200 with underwear on the outside (what a bunch of lemmings!)
Tom Pier's-Last Blast - April 1985
Brian had announced he was leaving school for a while and would quit the band -- and the TD's faded into oblivion for several months just as quickly as they had burst on to the scene. Months later, Brian returned for a week or two before heading to South America for two years. Mark came up from Arizona and the TD's had their first official reunion, officially labeled 'The Last Blast". The show lived up to its name. Over 500 people crammed into a big house on the hill. The TD's never played better. The cops came, people were hanging from the balcony, the house was wall-to-wall people. The TD's definitely went out with a bang!
DJ-Blues
Banking on the TDs reputation, but without a lead guitarist and without the "ganas" to look for one, the remaining members of the band continued to do shows in the form of DJ'd dances for several months. Although promoting and running dances was actually a much more lucrative undertaking, the energy was gone, the fun had stopped -- so the TD's were officially put it rest in late 1985.

The Band

[Alan Practicing]


Alan "SassKing" Melville
-- Vocal Contortionist, Stanky Rythym Guitar
Doug "Doug" Lee
-- Drums, Assundry Percussive Devices
Stan "Riddler" Mickelson
-- Bass Guitar, Pioneered NonRythmic Dancing
Brian "The Grinch" Kubarycz
-- Lead Guitar, Resident Psycho
Mark Wheatley
-- Rythym Guitar, Backup Vocals, Master of Disaster
Derek "Nashville" Lee
-- Twang Lead Guitar (Replaced by Brian)
Meg "Wild Thing" Whatz-her-Name
-- Chick Singer ( Wild Thing only)

The Song List
The Best of the True Detectives
Songs by the Original Artists; along with some official True Detectives covers (if available)


  • The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop, Little Bit o' Soul, Somebody Like Me, Sedated
  • X - Hot House, Breathless, Blue Spark, Devil Doll
  • Billy Idol - Baby Talk, Dancing with Myself, White Wedding
  • The Clash - Should I Stay or Should I Go (a la Lounge Lizard)
  • David Bowie - Rebel, Rebel
  • Gary Newman - In My Vision
  • Black Sabbath - Paranoid (Reggae Remix)
  • Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues (Funk)
  • Beach Boys - California Girls (Hardcore)
  • Blasters - Marie, Marie
  • Golden Earring - Twilight Zone
  • Eddie Cochran - Somethin' Else
  • Red Rockers - China
  • REM - Radio Free Europe
  • Greg Kihn - Breakup Song
  • The Cars - Something to Grab for
  • Devo - Satisfaction, Girl-u-Want
  • Pretenders - Precious
  • Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead
  • Gary Myrick - Promises, Promises
  • Modern English - Melt with You
  • Modern Romans - Modern Romans
  • The Police - Every Breath You Take
  • Romantics - What I Like About You, Talking in your Sleep
  • Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode (Gator Version)
  • Marshall Crenshaw - Jenny, Jenny (using their own phone #)
  • and many, many more!

Where Are they now...?


Alan

Software in Dallas, TX. Married with four kids and still has time to brush the dust off the old guitar once and a while and mess around with a little home recording studio.

Doug

Construction in Salt Lake City, UT. He is has two kids and hasn't played the drums since the "Last Blast" at the Tom Pier's house in 1984.

Stan

Radio Sales in Salt Lake City, UT. He is married, two kids. Stan went on to play lead guitar in several Chicago-area hardcore bands following the breakup of the TDs.

Brian

Professor, Artist, Writer. Although his simple braid has now become flowing locks, I imagine he still wears wears a kilt and plays the strangest lead-licks on the planet.

Mark

Sales Manager for a cabinet company in Logan, UT. Married with two kids.


As memory has been known to fail in the past (more so every day, they say the mind is the second thing to go...), Some events may have inadvertently omitted songs from the "PlayList" or shows from the "GigList". If you know of any that were missed, Email The SassKing so we can update the page.

ALSO -- Visit the TRUE EXPERIENCES page - actual quotes from actual fans who were actually at TD shows. If you had the unforgettable pleasure of seeing a show...and have a fond recollection (or an annoying memory) that you would like to add to the page -- Email The SassKing

For any other comments or questions about the True Detectives or this page -- Email The SassKing

If you have nothing else to do and would like to spend countless hours reliving the past (which, by the way, was not nearly as glorious as you wish it was), then take a seat on the back steps with Kip, Uncle Rico and the TDs and email someone who cares!

 

Last Update: July 7, 2007