And, for me, Bus was right there with all of them: I had it as #5 on my year-end list back in 1987, and a few years ago, when I did my list of my favorite albums of the 1980s, I had it at #36, just behind The Gift, War and Fables of the Reconstruction of The Fables, and just ahead of The Unforgettable Fire, Flip Your Wig and Tim.
At some point in 1985, Scott Oliver left Fresno to go to New York City.
At that time, he’d been playing guitar and singing backup vocals for a few months with The Wayne Foundation, a band formed by KFSR DJs Jay Fung, Ron Woods and Mike Huffman, and specializing in mostly covers and power pop, and he gave it up to go live with his model girlfriend. Oh, and work at the Tower Records in Manhattan.
It says a lot about who I was as a 22-year-old that I thought that was pretty much the pinnacle of human achievement. Or at least the coolest thing possible for someone I actually knew.
Bus was originally intended to be a demo tape, and not necessarily for public consumption. But the songs they laid down with Gray Greggson in late 1986 turned out so good that — after getting great feedback from those of us who heard it — they decided to release it locally.
It was total D.I.Y, of course. For the cover Scott used an old photo of Andrea’s mom, and they set up a makeshift assembly line at Ron’s house, and took the initial batch of cassettes to sell at Tower Records, not knowing yet what was going to happen.
And of course, in the mid-1980s, American indie rock exploded, riding an underground rocketship fueled by college radio, fanzines, people with spare couches, and club owners willing to take risks. And, of course, in the mid-1980s thousands of kids all over the country joined bands, figuring that if R.E.M. or The Replacements or X or whomever could do it, so then could they.
And of course, around these bands, music scenes sprung to life all over the country. Some of which got national attention — Minneapolis, Athens & Seattle, come on down! — but most of which operated in their own regional bubble, where maybe one or two bands might maybe get some kind of national attention, but the vast majority remained obscure, not matter how great they were.