Lawnchairs (Our Daughter’s Wedding)

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Our Daughter’s Wedding began as a guitar band, split up, reformed as an electro band, the press classed them as New Wave but they considered themselves as a rock band, so perhaps it’s not surprising they weren’t around long!

Member Layne Rico explained their beginnings, “We also started off as friends in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1977 we had a band that was similar to the Cars, a rock-style guitar band, we had no synthesizers at the time, but finally we incorporated a couple of keyboard players – Scott Simon and someone else. Then we got tired of that guitar-drum line up, so we all moved to New York, I traded my drum kit for the new percussion synthesizers, and Keith Silva, the lead vocalist, dropped his guitars and learned to play keyboards. We thought that would be more interesting, because most of the music we were listening to at the time was more or less electronic, European things that American bands weren’t playing.”

Most of the New Wave / electro acts of the day, like Depeche Mode, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Gary Numan and Ultravox were English, so for an American band to fit in was always going to be fairly tough although the whole thing was inspired by a Germany group – Kraftwerk.

On their own Design record label, Our Daughter’s Wedding, who took their name from the section divider in a greeting card display stand, made their debut in the summer of 1980 with a track called Nightlife which was a three-song single. In November they released they’re second single, Lawnchairs, which quickly gained attention on college radio and in the dance clubs in major US cities. Silva recalled, “We started playing at the Hurrah club as supporting act to James Chance and Mi-Sex. At that time people did not like us and shouted ‘where the fuck are the drums, why don’t you use any guitars’ and that kind of crap. But after a few years it became a fad, so it came as a surprise to us that it all of a sudden was okay to use synths.”

This led to a recording contract with EMI records with their songs being released on the EMI-America subsidiary including a re-recorded version of Lawnchairs. It was promotion manager Malcolm Hill at EMI who gave them a slot supporting Classix Nouveaux on tour which brought them to the UK and in-turn led them to record their debut album, Moving Windows in London.

Lawnchairs only just made it into the Top 50 in the UK singles despite much play on Radio 1 and London’s local station Capital Radio. The label wasn’t entirely clear as to whether the group or the song was called Our Daughter’s Wedding and indeed on one occasion Radio 1’s lunchtime presenter Paul Burnett back-announced the song as Our Daughter’s Wedding by Lawnchairs. Mind you, given Paul’s record I’m surprised more B sides didn’t chart in their own right.

Lawnchairs missed the Billboard chart completely although it did reach number 31 on their disco chart. They relocated to California where they still remain today and continued to release singles, Digital Cowboy and Target For Life later in 1981 and Auto Music and Elevate Her in 1982 but they all failed to make any impact and that debut album also didn’t trouble the record buying public. When the album stiffed Silva commented, “Sometimes it feels pointless recording albums. It feels like you’re only doing it for your own pleasure.”

In a Melody Maker interview in 1981, Layne explained drolly, “We were watching a TV show, and it showed this cassette thing you can get now on your tombstone, so before you die you can record something like, ‘Hi! I’m glad you dropped by’,” “It’s cold down here,” adds Keith with impeccable bad taste. Layne continued: “So if people come along and think ‘well let’s hear what Layne had to say’, you can pop in the cassette and it just has Lawnchairs on it.” “Yeah,” Keith adds. “We were thinking that one our tombstones we’d just put Lawnchairs.”

In 1983, Silva remembered, “Here at home we are greeted as something completely new and different while this thing has already been exposed and established in Europe. There, they have a hard time understanding that we are actually from the United States. It does not cling to their associations about American rock. In the USA we are greeted more like a rock band, like any rock band actually. In Europe we are immediately directed to the same genre as the Human League, Depeche Mode and OMD. But we don’t think we have too much in common with these bands. These are good bands, I can’t take that away from them, but we are not doing the same kind of thing. We are more like a rock band using synthesizers and rhythm machines. Our main influences come from The Rolling Stones, and even from Van Halen.”

They started 1984 touring the US with the Psychedelic Furs and releasing one further single, Take Me, but decided that enough was enough and finally split up for good.

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