(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #14, Summer 2000)
Gary Thompson has been a staple in the Dayton music scene since the early ‘80s. Gary was influenced early in his life my electronic music especially Gary Numan. Gary has been involved in several bands in the area that defied the safe and trendy paths of popular artists. Dance Positive was an early alternative dance band with loud crunching guitars and boys with huge hair when Huey Lewis and the News were on top of the charts. Gary was the lead singer for Scream Bloody Murder which was a theatrical industrial band which expressed their art visually as well as musically when the blue jean frat boys Hootie and the Blowfish were one of the top concert draws in the US.
Currently, Gary is the lead singer of Special Patrol, which is a no frills rock band with an ‘80s edge and lots of attitude. I caught up with Gary at BW 3 between filming a local movie and a show with Special Patrol at Canal Street Tavern.
MRZ – Tell us about the movie you are in?
GT – I don’t know much about the film. I just read the piece of script I was in. I’m a landlord trying to rent the house to some college guys. Trying to figure out if they were partiers so I could leach off of them because I had no social like of my own. World State Productions is doing the film. It’s scenes from two different screenplays. It’s kinda like one giant camera test.
There will be one feature movie made from the project. Tomorrow, I will be playing a bartender.
MRZ – How did you get started in the project?
GT – I was hanging out at El Diablo. Special Patrol had a rehearsal there on a Sunday afternoon. I got talking to Shawn. He said that I should come down and read. Only he cheated me because he had me read it as a British landlord. I rehearsed it all with an English accent and today he changed his mind and I had to do an American accent, which was much more difficult. You know the word electricity is a hard one.
Is acting something you want to do more of? I’ve actually done quite a bit to tell you the truth. I’ve done some theatre. Nothing on the grade scale. If I couldn’t do music anymore I’d do theatre. I did a Crimestoppers once. I played a gang leader. Take a bite out of crime. I was walking down the street and this guy said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like a hood.” He asked me play a gang leader so I did. I was in my first play when I was five years old. It was a musical. I had a singing part. I was Mr. McGregor in Peter Rabbit. He was a bad guy. I’ve played a bad guy in theatre and in movies almost my entire career. I never get cast as anybody good.
MRZ – Where are you originally from?
GT – I’m originally from southeast England. I was born in Welwyn Garden City. I came to America when I just turned to sixteen. I started out in New Jersey and went to Omaha, Nebraska. Got stuck in Omaha, Nebraska for a year or so doing magic shows. I was a professional magician for a long time. I worked as a floor guard at a roller skating rink. I was a big roller skating dog. I had to wear a big dog head.
MRZ -How did you get to Dayton, Ohio?
I was living in Omaha and it was just sucking. I was having the worst time. I had just gotten phenomena and I had been to the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I got mono so I went back in the hospital. I totaled my car and my girlfriend dumped me. I was just really down. My stepfather is in the military and was stationed in Dayton. They were like why don’t you come out here. I got a job in Dayton working at a print shop. I got hooked up with a couple of bands. The first one was Dance Positive.
MRZ -What made you want to join a band?
GT – One day, I use to write music by myself. I had a little toy drum machine and a keyboard. In 1981, my sister said that she met somebody and they were looking for a keyboard player in a band. I thought well, I’d try out. So, I went over and played and they said, “Yeah. Okay. This will be fun.” We called ourselves Circa 22 back then and then, it became Dance Positive. They said well somebody has to sing. I ended up doing that terribly. I mean horrible. I thought this is fun and I’m still doing it.
MRZ -Where did you get the whole idea for the band Scream Bloody Murder?
GT – I wanted something that was more theatrical and visual. If you remember at the time, grunge was the thing. Everybody looked down, played and it was horribly boring. It drove me crazy so I thought that I was going to do something totally different. What I didn’t anticipate was that the girls in the band were going to take it to the next level. They came up with a lot of their own lines and they dressed the way they wanted to dress. Everybody thought I made them dress that way and I made them say those things, but that is absolutely not true.
I was a big My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult fan. I wanted Scream Bloody Murder to be a bid more guitar oriented than My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult. With the second incarnation of Scream Bloody Murder, that actually happened with Gary Pace on guitar. It got a bit more rock. Scream Bloody Murder was an experiment in theatre. We incorporated magic and illusions into the act.
MRZ -Tell us about Special Patrol.
GT – Special Patrol is now Special Patrol. Everybody has found their place. We have a new bass player, Ryan. Ryan hasn’t really been with any bands. We are working on our second CD and things are moving much better. They are my favorite band so far.
With our new material, we are starting to get positive radio and A&R press. Joe is our drummer. He used to be in Haunting Souls. He’s just brilliant. He always has been and always will be. Our guitar player, Jeremy amazes all of us. He’s the best guitar player I’ve ever worked with.
Our first CD is called Time Bomb because it’s been waiting to go off forever. We are finally going to get it out. We haven’t got a name for the next one, but we should have it finished in June or August.
MRZ -What are your other interests?
GT – Total geekiness. Computer geekness. I like geeky stuff. I like Web Monkey site and Hot Wire site, sites that have all the programming geeky stuff on it. I like cartoons. There is a lot a really good cartoon web sites out there. I ‘m big into Show Wave and Flash. If you go to the Macro Media site, there are all kinds of links to cartoons, stuff that would never get on television, stuff that is innovative an interesting. If I had more time and money, I would be interested in doing animation work. I’m really into that. I’m not good at it, but I’m really into it. I did the Scream Bloody Murder web site that has all the animation. I’m working on finishing that up. Another long-term project.
MRZ -Since you are working on a Scream Bloody Murder Web Site, are you ever going to get a Scream Bloody Murder band together again?
GT – It has so much baggage with it that I don’t know if I could ever revive it. I don’t know where anybody else is besides Eric Purtle. I don’t know where Monica, Allison or Mel are. They all just disappeared. I don’t know where anybody is. It’s actually kinda strange that I haven’t seen any of them except Eric Purtle and of course Wayne (former Special Patrol) since. The band vaporized. After Scream Bloody Murder I wasn’t going to do another band. Actually, I packed up my stuff and I didn’t even play for a couple of years. I hooked up with Joe. His band was looking for a keyboard player. They were called Brother Joe and things got really weird. I ended up being the singer and not playing keyboards, which was fine with me because I was tired of hauling stuff around.
People just didn’t get Scream Bloody Murder. After the show, they would ask why are you doing all of that here at Canal Street Tavern or wherever it was. It was really annoying when you go to all that trouble and it is a lot of work with all the lights. It was more work than it looked like. Then they go well why the hell are you doing that? Then you got people saying it’s all on tape; you’re not playing anyway. So this time it’s rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a four-piece rock n roll outfit and I’m glad. I still like the electronic genre. It’s taken a different direction. I think that the industrial music that is out there now is just stale. What is really fascinating is that there are people putting out records now who don’t play a single instrument. They put out records by sampling sounds from the TV and records. They put it all together on their computers. They put out albums and some of it is really good. That’s really cool.
MRZ – Who is your hero?
GT – Family wise, I think my grandfather is my hero. He’s the only one that played any instruments. He played the keyboards and the accordion. He taught me and got me started in music. I was a huge Gary Numan fan. Tubeway Army was absolutely fantastic. My first 45 was Are Friends Electric by Tubeway Army. I bought it when I got my first record player. We were at Woolworth’s buying a record player and it was on the PA system. I said what is that. I have to have it. He put out some really fantastic stuff in the early 80’s and 70’s. I admired the way he put his stuff together. Gary Numan along with John Fox the original lead singer of Ultravox created some great music. During the time, the Sex Pistols were doing their thing and they punk scene was huge, but there was a lot of other stuff going on that I that was a lot cooler. I like the electronic aspect better.
MRZ – What’s your favorite magic trick?
GT – My favorite trick was a stand up comedy shackle escape. It involved audience participation. My stage name was Fraudenine. At the beginning of the ‘80s, it was kinda en vogue. It was very popular. I worked with a guy named Pat Hazel who went on to become ShowTime’s comedian of the year and I didn’t. I still have all of my stuff. I did a show about six months ago. All of my younger cousins, they get a magic show occasionally on their birthdays.
MRZ – What is the best song to roller skate to?
GT – Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. I love Queen anyway. It’s a great roller skating song. Of course, anything by George Clinton does is great to roller skate to. Actually, I went rollers skating about two months ago and if you don’t use it, you lose it.