Nu-Beams – Sterile Swab // One Step For What? 1981. The Nu-Beams were an early 1980′s Fullerton punk/new wave band. They played parties, the college pubs and local punk venues like Ichabod’s. They were a bunch of former art students, who had been around way before other Fullerton bands such as Social Distortion or D.I., but had never made much of an impact outside of their small but loyal cadre of fans. Their sound was a mix of punk, DEVO, and rockabilly; semi-jazzy fuzzy guitars, occasionally backed by a keyboard or synthesizer. Many of their songs seemed to be about toasters and other kitchen appliances, and their leader T. L. Ary, was the proud inventor of the “Ted Tone” (an electric guitar with a functional blender, complete with rear view mirrors).
Now, The Nu-Beams sound may not be cool enough for you hardcore punks but they definitely sound great to my ears. I literally can’t listen to Sterile Swab without cracking a grin what with the cheesy drum machine, the awesome vocals and lyrics and the analogue synth blips and bleeps. The B-Side, One Step For What? is a little more experimental I guess, and equally as great. Again, try not to grin when the spy-music guitar kicks in and T. L. Ary says “Down in his patio, listen to his radio and dancin’ with his barbeque grill.”
One thing about punk rock and new wave that is rarely mentioned today is its ridiculousness. This kinda stuff was (and is) the perfect antidote to self-righteousness. It’s hard to believe that anyone took dreck like Fleetwood Mac seriously back then. Or is it? I don’t think it’s any better today. Nine out of ten indie bands today are so self-important and smug in their countercultural status. Where’s the Ted Tone when you need it? What the world needs are the Rosta-Mesa Boys that make the big noise! I mean seriously. Have you ever experienced something so ridiculous, it becomes brilliant? And I don’t mean in a smug ironic way. I mean in a transcendent way.
I first heard the Nu-Beams on the Up Another Octave compilation and along with The Detours, they made the album. I remember thinking that their contribution to the LP, Oh Chico was one of the most idiotically catchy songs ever.