Doppler Effect


In this section:

Steve Gelsi recounts Doppler Effect's earliest days.

Emory Anderson tells of the first encounter with John Cale, and how Doppler Effect got it's name.
Emory Anderson describes how Doppler Effect survived through the 1980's
Kol Marshall writes of the further expansion of Doppler Effect,
of his reunion with John Cale during his days with the band See No Evil in the late 80's
Bob Plotkin contributes an "Ode to Splurge" on the occasion of Doppler Effect's 20th anniversary.


Next: Discography

Doppler Effect's Earliest Days, 1979 to 1980
by Steve Gelsi

Three teens gather in the suburban town of Dobbs Ferry, NY to spend a wasted summer
afternoon in the basement bedroom hangout at Kol's house. Armed with only a Rhodes
electric piano, a violin, a Panasonic portable tape recorder, and 3 grams of Hashish, Kol, 
Nick and Bob began recording music which can only be described as "inspired" and would 
later come to be known as "Sheesh Recorded Live August 14, 1980". First they picked some 
books out of Kol's collection, consisting mostly of science fiction and electronics books.
Then, with little or no preconceived plan or arrangement, they pressed record on the
Panasonic cassette recorder, and began spontaneously generating songs. Kol held down the
groove with trademark left handed octave bass parts and simple chords above, as Bob
improvised melodies on his violin. Nick, using words from the assorted books and magazines,
sang, shouted and moaned the lyrics. In between the songs Kol acted as "disk jockey" for the
tape, giving each song a title and fictitious band name credit. That infamous afternoon they
gave birth to 11 songs, many of which became "Doppler Effect Classics". The only 
recordings which precede this historic event are some of the "Splurge" recordings made by
Bob, Kol and his girlfriend Angela beginning in 1979. These too were spontaneous works,
free flowing and completely improvised, usually consisting of just keyboards and violin.

Emory Anderson tells the story of how
Doppler Effect got it's name:
by Emory Anderson

It was something like late 1981, but it could have been early 1982.
Kol and I were in his bottom floor apartment on West 10th street, that was
between 2 gay bars and down the street from a nursing college. Hot summer nights
were difficult in that apartment, as the roaches would be steamed up out of the
cracks by the hundreds. After tripping and seeing Eraserhead one night at the
Waverly Cinema (some of the dudes there would dress up like Eraserhead), I
remember crashing out at Kol's place and going to the bathroom: there were
roaches on the walls, roaches on the ceiling, roaches in the bathtub...I
remember counting 5 roaches on a beer can alone... night Kol and I were jamming on a totally distorted Kol-ified bass,
creating some sounds we called "Metallic Fluids" in those days, probably
classified as a form of Splurge by future Dopplerites. These deep, reverberant,
maxi-minimalist sounds must have been flowing upwards through the roach cracks
into Kinky Friedman's apartment who lived upstairs (and who used to inform us of
quittin' time with a few solid pounds on the floor with his boot), as one day
there was a knock on the door.

Opening the door, there was a couple of dudes, one of whom British or something.
The British guy spoke: "That's the most amazing thing ah've evah huudh" he says,
stunned both by music and whatever metallics were flowing through HIS fluids at
the moment. This was a friend of Kinky Friedman who was visiting him when he was
blessed by the Doppler Sounds.

Some moments later they were inside. The British dude looked around and mumbled
"How do you LIVE here..." and asked us to "do it again", but we were kind of
zoned and never got around to it. "No, of course you can't repeat that..." I
remember him saying.

So we were hangin' and  Kol had a copy of the Village Voice on the table, and
the other non-British dude started leafing through the gigs section. I noticed
John Cale was playing soon, and mentioned it. "Oh, this is John Cale" says the
american dude.

I remember him talking about Eno, Tom Verlaine, and being excited about Glenn
Branca who was really becoming known at the time. He eventually got around to
asking us to play with him at an upcoming gig. We had been talking about band
names and i had mentioned that "Doppler Effect" was interesting (it came from
hearing the pitch from an ambulance change as it passed by), "so you'd be
Doppler Effect, then?" he asked us, and somehow we responded in the affirmative.

The gig was cool, and I remember playing classic Cale Tunes such as Fear, and
Heartbreak Hotel (!). It was at the club Stillwende, and I happened to notice a
couple of weeks ago (in December 1999) that the building has half of a Statue of
Liberty head on top of it now.

The funny thing was, none of us had ever really listened to much Cale, or even
much of the Velvets. As always, Doppler Effect existed and still exists in its
own space time continuum: some influences manage to seep in through the roach
cracks, but it has always been its own, original thing. Amen.

G Emory Anderson

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Surviving the 80's:
by Emory Anderson

Eventually Kol moved East to east 10th Street, right by third avenue, perhaps in
late 1982. For a while he ran the "psycho phone", and at one point got laid off
from some job. Seeing a Fender Telecaster in a  pawn shop window, he bought it and
taught himself how to play electric guitar, getting better than your average
garage band guitarist in a matter of weeks.

Anyway, the apartment was a stone's throw from St. Marks place, which at that
time was still kind of edgy (it's kind of a tourist dump now, but there are
still a lot of interesting CD joints there). I remember grabbin' a couple of
slices at St. Marks pizza at about 3:00AM on a Saturday night. It was still
somewhat busy, but now the interesting types were out and about. Standing next
to me was a conservatively dressed....uh..lady, who ordered a slice in what
sounded a hell of a lot like male falsetto. Looking up into her face (I'm 6'1'')
it became clear that this was a man, but in very convincing drag. The look on
his face as he realized I realized he was male was something like panic mixed
with fear, which really creeped me out. In the other direction (towards 2nd ave)
there was a hinged sculpture laying out in the middle of nowhere. Smoking,
tripping, and the drinking of $5 bottles of wine occurred, and we would go and
re-sculpt the urban toy/sculpture-thing into different shapes, as appeared to be
the artist's intention. Ecstacy was still legal at this time, and Cindy X-tacy
would shuttle up to MIT (I think)  and occasionally distribute a new batch.
Musically Doppler Effect was kind of meandering at this point...we generated a
bunch of Tabla and Marimba multitracked polyrythmic stuff that i would be
surprised still existed on tape somewhere. But it was Brooklyn where Doppler
Effect started to turn into a real band...

So Nick, Kol, Angela, and (I believe) Margie moved in over on the edge of Park
Slope (Brooklyn), on the top floor of a 4 story brownstone (it seemed
like we were moving Kol's furniture every few weeks!). Not technically a loft,
but what in NYC we call a floor-thru. This was within walking distance of my own
home, so nights i would march past the housing projects to go over and
jam/smoke/etc.... This is where some of the first real Doppler Effect songs were
written, and where the band started to take on a character of its own. Most
notably, this was where Nick really turned into a songwriter/lead singer: Heart
on a Chain...Andropov Drop-off (which got some college radio
airplay)..shoebox...I wrote lyrics to Bent out of Shape, Arrival Before Image,
Energy Rollercoaster, and parts of Cowboy Ronnie...Kol as usual was the musical
anchor,and also wrote such tunes as "The Doppler Effect Equation", and some
killer counterpoint guitar licks.  Musically Doppler Effect had no pre-set sound
or could be hard, soft, funny, naive, and angry as living hell. By
accident we had a set that told the odd story of a loser who wanted to go to war
and kill stuff in order to make something of his life...kind of a prototypical
Beavis/Butthead type but real angry and on crack or something, and maybe a tiny
bit schizophrenic. Massive parties were held in that space, the aftermath of one
being a baby doll tossed into the hardening green Jell-O filling the bathtub,
downstairs neighbors complaining that they couldn't hear their own TV above
Doppler's set, and soon-to-be real drummer Sasha grabbing my ass as some kind of
angry goof and certain I was gay (Note to the ladies: I'm not.)

Around this time Nick, Kol, and I kind of moved in different directions with
respect to the music: Sideways, Up, and Down, respectively. As for me, I had to
choose between getting serious about music or finishing my physics degree. As
the oldest son of pro musicians, I knew enough to choose physics, and eventually
moved to China for a while, to sit out the last of the Reagan years. Kol was the
one who really knew how to play a variety of instruments. I think he never had
to make a choice. Nick found a way to keep a fairly sane lifestyle but still
continue manning the Doppler wheel and eventually manning the manor, the defacto
hub of the Doppler wheel, which he does to this day.
Well, this is basically where I get off. Someone else will have to tell the
story from here on out if they want. As for the future? Who can tell...but it
was one hell of a manic, euphoric, psychedelic, hilarious ride...arguably the
only way we knew how to survive the  80s.

G Emory Anderson

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The Further Expansion of Doppler Effect:
by Kol Marshall


In 1985 Doppler Effect's line up  in the grew to include drummer Kevin Baetz,
bassist Michael Henegan and saxophone player Jonathan Gotleib. 
Doppler Effect performed at clubs in Manhattan, including CBGB, The Five's, 
Tramps, and The Dive. For a while we performed as a trio, and we also did some 
gigs with Jonathan. This group recorded several Doppler Effect "standards" and 
some original songs by the drummer, Kevin Baetz.

In 1987, the members of Doppler Effect began to branch out into other projects.
I began working with the band See No Evil which was signed to
CBS/Epic Records in 1989 and that band released two albums with 
Richard Robinson producing. 

Throughout this time I was also making new recordings with Nick Kane. In 1986 Kane and I 
recorded a live jam with Bob Barleen (of Critical Mass/See No Evil) which we titled "Screams
In Space" and in 1987 we produced the legendary "11:11" sound collage. In 1988 we began 
working on "Metaloplastika" with Bob Barleen, after being exposed to The Beastie Boys.
Some of these recordings are available through our Discography.

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See No Evil & The Return of John Cale:
by Kol Marshall

In 1989, I joined forces with a band then known as Critical Mass.
The band was signed to CBS/Epic Records and re-named See No Evil,
by producer Richard Robinson. Robinson had been friends with John Cale,
and had played for him some rough mixes of See No Evil's self titled debut album.
Cale was intrigued by one song, called "At Night", and offered to play viola on
the track. After recording his track I approached Mr. Cale to give thanks and
praises for both his viola track and for being such a great early influence on me.
Cale asked what specifically was referring to and I said "Does the name
Doppler Effect ring a bell?". Remembering those days of "metallic fluids" Cale
responded with a sigh and the words "Oh no." We briefly reminisced about our
chance first meeting and the gig we played at Stillwend in SoHo, then he went
on his merry way. Taking into consideration the expansion of the universe, 
space and time, and the divine truth of Chaos, perhaps one day
John Cale will return to bless the ever expanding realm of Doppler Effect once again.

Kol Marshall

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An Ode To Splurge:
By Bob Plotkin

it's hard to believe
so many years gone by
the farfisa not far
the volume on high
bells to be thrown
at the panasonic
our high tech recordings
of violins electronic
vocals from brochures
and from children's books
bar chords and blues notes
creating new musical hooks
splurge was born
or rather evolved
as we listened to bowie
the leslie revolved
marshalls in the corner
ready to blast
heads and ramones
now bands from the past
the music was selfless
self indulgent noise
it had no point
just banging on toys
the beginnings were fuzzy
so were the ends
the middles were loud
made by friends
years have passed
splurge still sounds

there were no rules

there still are none

when it comes to splurge

just do it - as we did -

and have fun.

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