1 Pretty Child
3. Take You Higher
4 Heading Home
5 Peace, Pot & Politics
6 Going Down
7 Inside Yourself
8 Visions Of Pain
From Chicago, Illinois | Release Date: July 7, 2011 | Catalog #: ER00017
Lance Thomason - Lead Vocals
Chris Kamykowski - Lead Vocals
Gino Buonamici - Guitar
Jason Bowman - Guitar
Geoff Matson - Bass
Erik Youmans - Drums
Nicky Bernardi - Drums
“What's in a Name?” Written by Mark Allen
Some rookie hard rock groups, more raw than freshly butchered beef, spend two or three eternities searching for the perfect band name, the penultimate personification of rebel attitude and reckless, razor-sharp edginess that screams street credibility. Such bands have been known to bicker, brawl, pull hair, read tea leaves, and consult Magic 8 Balls in their quest for a really cool rock ‘n’ roll moniker. SANDRA DEE, on the other hand, forced to make a split second decision, randomly plucked a snippet from a Motley Crue song and said, “What the hell, that’s our name.” Because as far as these heavy-hitting hard rockers were concerned, what mattered most was the music. They cohesively subscribed to the quality-above-coolness philosophy that it’s better to be a great band with an average name, than an average bad band with a great name.
SANDRA DEE formed in November of 1989, arriving toward the tail end of the pop-metal party but still believing their particular brand of dark-tinged, metallic-edged hard rock deserved a shot in a market glutted by glam. Vocalist Chris Kamykowski, guitarist Jason Bowman, and bassists Geoff Matson initially formed the nucleus of the band, eventually recruiting drummer Nicky Bernardi through some mutual friends and then rounding out the first incarnation of the band with guitarist Gino Buonamici. About a year later Nick and Chris departed and the band added drummer Erik Youmans and vocalist Lance Thomason to fill the gaps, resulting in the band’s second incarnation.
With all slots on their roster filled, the band, still nameless at this point, turned their attention to the process of penning songs with one goal in mind: writing tracks that featured big melodic hooks and sported a serious edge. They wanted to craft the kind of killer tunes craved by fans of the genre, the sort of songs that pleasure the ears of hard rock lovers like sonic candy. While the tracks that sprouted from the band’s creative juices early in their career clung fairly close to the hair-metal formula so prevalent in the day, the band would later churn out heavier, darker, dirtier songs with thick guitar work and a meaner, harder, more mature edge. The band hails “Visions of Pain” as one of their favorite tracks, singling it out as a prime example of how they wanted to sound and what they hoped to accomplish as a hard rock/metal group.
With the songs intact, the band burrowed relentlessly into the club circuit like a pack of rabidly hungry badgers, beginning with McGregor’s in Villa Park, Illinois. And it was here that the band stumbled upon their name. When Chris called Joey DeMarco at McGregor’s in an attempt to land the newly-formed group a gig, he was fully expecting to be given a curt are-you-kidding-me brush-off like the school dweeb asking out the prom queen, but as Lady Luck would have it, DeMarco was in dire need of an opening act for a three-band bill. He offered them the slot and then asked what they called themselves. Quickly glancing around, Chris glimpsed Motley Crue’s “Too Fast for Love” tape in the stereo and whipped up the volume just in time to hear Vince Neil sing the line, “Electric love like SANDRA DEE” from the song “Come on and Dance.” Chris quickly blurted out that their name was SANDRA DEE and from that day forward, that’s what they went by.
SANDRA DEE ripped through the club circuit as if their lives depended on it, serving up their slamming tunes at well-known places like the Avalon, Thirsty Whale, Chances R, and Gateway Theater. During their full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll rocket ride they rubbed shoulders with local acts such as Sgt. Roxx and UZI in addition to opening for mainstream groups like Bang Tango, Shotgun Messiah, and Firehouse.
In fact, opening for Firehouse at the Gateway Theater spawned one of SANDRA DEE’s favorite touring tales. As SANDRA DEE took to the stage, most of the crowd was loitering in the lobby, hanging out, drinking, socializing, doing the kind of things that people do in clubs. But as SANDRA DEE fired up their guitars and began pummeling the room with their primal power, the lobby turned into a ghost town as everyone rushed the stage to watch the young, hungry, up-and-coming hard rockers. When SANDRA DEE signed off and Firehouse blazed into their set, the mob began filtering out of the venue. That night, in that place, local heroes SANDRA DEE dominated the crowd and forced major label headliners Firehouse to fizzle out and settle for second place.
As the months and the gigs rolled on, the band’s fan base rapidly expanded until they were one of the hottest groups in the Illinois hard rock/metal scene. It was at this juncture that the band rolled destiny’s dice, took a risk, and moved to sunny California where they secured a production deal and recorded at Sandy Pearlman’s Alpha & Omega Studio. But with the clarity that comes from retrospective hindsight, the band often views this decision as a mistake, an erroneous choice that probably cost them their one shot at the big leagues. Because while California was often hailed as the Promised Land for hair-metal bands back in the late 80’s/ early 90’s, SANDRA DEE had forsaken a huge fan base and an established locality where they were at the top of their game and transplanted themselves to an area where they were just another band grinding it out on the “pay to play” club circuit. Now calling the San Francisco bay area home, SANDRA DEE watched and waited as their production team shopped them to all the major labels, but before anything could even begin to materialize, the band fell apart, crumbling internally like cold ash buffeted by high winds.
While the band refuses to say “never” when the subject of a reunion is raised, they do collaboratively agree that the chances of such an event happening are unlikely due to the members being scattered across the country as well as their individual musical tastes having evolved. But back in hair-metal’s heyday, when SANDRA DEE took their shot at rock ‘n’ roll stardom, the band gelled in a way many other groups could only dream about.
The saying goes, what’s in a name? Well, when that name is SANDRA DEE, what’s in it is some cranking hard rock and street-mean metal that will slam your ears, kick your ass, and leave you begging for more.