Everybody had a band in the 80’s. I was in the Pedantiks, a downtown NYC pop band that played at a lot of clubs. Every gig was party, and it was sublime for a time. The original lineup was Mark Burkett (guitar/vocals), Yianni Naslas (bass), Sterling Campbell (drums) and me on vocals and guitar. Our first gig was at RT Firefly. Then, Tristan Avakian (guitar, keyboards and some vocals) and Roberta Freeman (backing and featured vocals) showed up and stayed. Robin Danar did sound at the Pedantiks first CBGB’s gig and almost every club date that followed. Helena Echegoyen sang back up for a while with Roberta.
The Pedantiks rehearsal studio was an incubator on the 6th floor of the music building on 8th ave in Midtown that spilled out into the clubs. It was a song writing workshop and creative convergence that was connected to a community of young musos and other artists in a big talent pool downtown. We we’re young, the vibe was high and it was magnetic.
Yianni and I we’re working at the 8th Street Playhouse. I can’t remember where we met Mark, but shortly after we met Sterling and it was a band. We promoted constantly with flyers, posters, and graffiti on the West Village walls. I think It was everyone’s first band.
Musically, the Pedantiks was an 80’s New Wave drive-by. Influenced by the flavor of the moment, usually UK touring bands on MTV like Skritty Politti, Simple Minds, PFs and XTC that all had a momentary impact till we arrived at a sound of our own.
All clubs were art in Manhattan. The shows were theatre with directional black lights, smoke machines, Day-Glo graffiti back drops with a parade of guest performances like East Village break crew, GE’s Poppy & Dino and Pyramid Club go-go dancers Mark and Gerome. John Dodd did lights for a lot of Pedantiks shows, some on his way home after he finished lighting an opera at the MET.
Over the years a lot of collaborators stopped by including Steve Picket (keyboards / bu vocals), Fred Kimmel (guitar / bu vocals), Andy Kerin (Keyboards). Dancers / rappers Poppy & Dino from GE Crew, Todd Graff as singer once at SNAFU. Pyramid Club go-go dancers, Mark and Jerome, Alex Pacion (Lust/TMC) and Josh Franklin (Stash 2/TMC) TMC did the back drops and graffiti. Derrick Smit (aka What4) was the featured rapper on “Mr. Right”, a song Martin Breeson co-wrote and produced. He played keyboards at some NYC gigs. A percussionist named Steve, a keyboard player named Martine and a monk named Shipen with an Oberheim were also in the line-up at some point.
Pedantiks with Russel and Maurice Engler at Danceteria
George Delmerico photo shoot
Andy loved Mark Burkett and so did Nikky Young. This is her photo.
Sterling at the music buildingPedantiks with Fred Kimmel
The Pedantiks last show was at The World in the East Village. I went to rehab, Yianni played with Dean and Weenies and toured with Travis Pickle with Peter Minn. Sterling went on tour with Soul Asylum, Tristan with the Turtles while Roberta played with everyone from the Guns and Roses to Pink Floyd.
The Pedantiks Played at: CBGBs, Danceteria, Area, The World, Pyramid Club, The Roxy, Pep Lounge, Irving Plaza, Studio 54, Limelight, The Ritz, NYC Piers, Trax, SNAFU, RT Firefly, Neorican Theatre, The Other End, Great Gildersleeve’s, Kat Club, 930 Club in DC and lots of others.
Songs: Boy Most Likely, Mine, Fashion Do’s, Desire, Safe as Milk, Paper the Walls, Innocence, Needle Hits Vinyl, Cry Cry, Paper the Walls, Adjectives, Trust Me, Desire, Remember This Kiss, Hit Hit Miss Kiss, Carolann and many more. Records: ACME, Elektra.Played with: Killing Joke, Midnight Oil, Souxie and the Banshees, Echo and the Bunnymen, Urban Blight, Beastie Boys, Mondo Boffo, Culture Club (Tristan says) City Beat and so many more.