Press Tones

Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008

Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008 - photo by Stan the Man

One of my favorite bands from the Scorgies days was The Press Tones. Judging by the pile of old posters we rounded up, they were the first band we (Hi-Techs) asked to play with us at Scorgies. Our first show together would have been Friday June 10, 1980.

We missed their reunion at Abilene but we’re planning on catching them at the next reunion at the German House in November. It did seem sort of odd, a reunion before the reunion, but Tom Kohn said it only wet the whistle or primed the pump or one of those things. My extended family was calling a yearly picnic that we used to do, a “reunion”. And Peggi said, “You can’t call it a reunion if you do it every year”. I suspect the Press Tones never really broke up and that is their excuse. Everyone we know that saw them at Abilene said they sounded great. Bob Martin told us they were “really great”, in a way that implied that we better get our act together before we (Personal Effects) play with them. Here we’ve been spending all these years trying to get loose and now I feel some sort of pressure to get tight or least have a rehearsal.

This Friday we (Margaret Explosion) are playing at Village Gate and Ken Frank is on vacation so Bernie Heveron will be sitting in on bass. This could technically be a Personal Effects reunion because it would be an intact lineup. We might do a PE song. We’ll have to see what happens.

We got the Press Tones 45 out this morning and took it for a spin. I had forgotten that Dwight Glodell produced this thing and that it was on Dick Storm’s Archive Records. “Treat it like a Scar” sounded really good. They had a sort of dark pop guitar rock sound and this single captures it perfectly. Pete Presstone writes some great songs and Scott Presstone has a really good voice. Didn’t Scott used to play drums in the Bowery Boys or am I all mixed up?

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze brought this photo of himself to me when I lived over by East High. He wanted me to do a poster for a gig the Press Tones were doing with the Chesterfield Kings at Scorgies. Jim was the lead vocalist for the Press Tones for a while but I can’t remember if that was before or after Scott. Maybe Scott went to Florida for a while. And it seems like Pete sang when neither one of them was in the band. Didn’t Mick Sarubbi play bass with them too in the early days? Maybe Tony Brown was still going to East High. Somebody has to help me out on the details. Anyway I hear the classic lineup is back and they sound better than ever. I’m looking forward to their Scorgies Reunion performance.

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  1. Jason L. Brown’s avatar

    Jim was the first singer, then Scott. I started doing lights for the Press Tones in ’81, by which they had solidified into their final and most long-lived lineup – the same lineup that reunited at Abilene. I had no concept of stage lighting nor any inborn dramatic visual sense whatsoever – I just played the switches on that little six-channel light box to the beat, and used whatever gels I had available. Scott didn’t like the lights in his eyes so I took to aiming the front cans low, leaving the player’s heads in the dark and just pumping the back and side lights as fast as I could. And that band was fast, let me tell you what. It was amazing how many people were drawn to see bands do their own material in those days – the Press Tones played a lot and usually to a crowd. Pete’s songs were so damned good, and he had so many of them – he just cranked them out. They had a practice/afterhours party spot on Central Ave. that years later became an A.A. meeting house. Treat it like a scar, indeed.


  2. MartinEdic’s avatar

    Great pix. That one of Jim is the way I remember him, always wanting to be a bad boy though he seemed like a regular suburban kid.
    Scott did play drums with the Bowery Boys- good drummer.


  3. StanTheMan’s avatar

    I never saw the Press Tones with Jim; got to know the band through Rock and Roll Joel in ’81 and saw them alot. I really dug Pete’s songwriting, Simon’s fret work and Scotty’s front man style. To answer an earlier post, they weren’t over-rated, just pure fun.

    When Scotty moved away to Florida (he was, I think, working for ChemLawn) I was psyched to see Pete take the mike and enjoyed their transformation to the Chinchillas.

    As far as the gig goes, it was a blast. Here’s a link to some of the songs:

    I think someone (Maria) was dancing too hard and knocked over Dave’s Edirol.


  4. Simon Ribas’s avatar

    thanks for posting the link to the songs. I was going to e-mail Paul, but there you go.


  5. Dorie’s avatar

    Well now, nice to see these photos after all these years, and I am SOOOOOOOOOO sorry I missed the “reunion before the reunion”. I never had the opportunity to hear the band with Jim, I have alawys heard Scott as the front man. Peter Presstone is a very talented songwriter, and then of course, there is Simon –fun memories for all! I am excited to hear the music still lives. I am heading back to Rochester in November and might just stop by for the actual reunion. As a matter of fact, I found a cassette in my archives from when the PressTones were in the Studio, it has “History” and a messed up version of “Help Me”. All last week I was singing…”help me,…..”


  6. Jason L. Brown’s avatar

    >he seemed like a regular suburban kid.

    From the suburbs, maybe, but there has never been anything even palpably regular about Jim.


  7. Tony Brown’s avatar

    I was 17 at that first gig – talk about deer in the headlights. You, Peggy and Martin were always great to meet up with (still are). Jason has it right on the history and, yes, Scott sang and played drums for the Bowery Boys prior to singing for the Press Tones. Scott, a great drummer, also played drums and sang for the Pistoleros. Pete is a music machine – Country or “power-pop”, he rocks. Speaking of East High, a funny thing happened to me on the way to a gig 25+ years ago. Walking downstairs I was surprised to find my math teacher, Don Menges working as the bouncer. “Did you do your homework?” One of the nicest and biggest guys I had ever known – and a great teacher. By the way, I still go to East High. Albilene was fun. I look forward to November. Dorie? Is that you?


  8. Dorie’s avatar

    Hey there, YES! It IS me! I have so many Press Tones memories and gads of photos of you guys! I prolly could write a “behind the scenes” book of the band..he he…like the time Scott quit smoking and was on the “Smoking is for Losers” kick and while bartending at Scorgies someone asked him for a light and his response was “smoking is for Losers”, needless to say some bantering went back and forth and who jumps in to “save”Scott, Jeff Laben! (who was half the size of all 3 of them!) . meanwhile, Peter is sitting at the table with a pen and te;lls me–“hey, I think that would male for a great story”, I wonder what song is written about that incident! I have photos of you all upstairs n the “green room” with The Stray Cats, the B Girls, and a few others…those were great times! CYA soon!


  9. Simon Ribas’s avatar

    any way you can scan the photos and send them this way? I don’t have too many pics from back then, and would love to see something. let me know – bribas at frontiernet dot net.


  10. Krystal’s avatar

    WOW what find. I still have pictures from Central Street practices, the Green room Buffalo gigs. I even have pictures of Buddy. What fun memories. Glad to know you are still making music. Great talent. Little did I know. Let take the train to Buffalo.


  11. erin’s avatar

    God. Crystal…do u still talk to scott…I lost track about 8 yeats ago….jenny was the best…buddy was great..I think we gave him to somebosy cause being in that place was cruel… I really cant temember..erin


  12. mick sarubbi’s avatar

    i am a little late on this posting, but i can fill in a couple blanks anyway…i was living in Hollywood, Cali till early ;80, and returned to my hometown Rochester..i knew Anthony Brown well, and my first band on guitar was with him and Justin Foy as a trio, still have good tapes of us jamming in Justin’s basement from around ’78, and Justin used to broadcast them on his local and illegal radio show at the time! he may have gotten in some trouble for that, but ended as a future DJ for the Bearsville radio station, WDST i think, maybe still..
    Tony was on bass in the band, and invited me to play some guitar with the band..i was short lived tho, only 1 gig at Scorgies downstairs stage, in which Pete’s amp fried during the early songs, and we both plugged into my Boogie combo amp for the rest of the show! it was a tough way to finish the gig! i still loved some of Pete’s songs and remember some to play to this day, including, Where I Stand, my favorite! i did come up with the break in the song, 1969, which was my only notable addition tho…eventually, i was replaced by (Simon) Bill Ribas, who was a much better player than myself, and a closer friend to Peter, and that was that! i do have a recording i made of them live at the old Record Archive on Mt. Hope during a live backroom stage gig on WRUR with Rockin Roll Joel from that time, that came out pretty good on cassette, and since remastered it on disc…really was a good band, and Pete was a masterful writer, still is…one great memory of them was when they played a Halloween gig at Brockport college, i think, when they all came out with real carved pumpkins on their heads! Hilarious for as long as they could stand it!!



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