HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE
Original Years Active: 1978-1982
Exploding out of the same Boston club scene that birthed Mission of Burma, LaPeste, Unnatural Axe and the Neighborhoods, HSR played the Rat, Cantone's, and the Paradise, before signing to local boutique label "Eat Records", who released their debut album "Fig. 14" in 1980.
Music connoisseurs will detect elements of Talking Heads and the B-52's in HSR's sound, but with a unique take on a no-holds barred exploration of outer edges of "modern rock."
The whirlwind success of HSR's debut, "Fig. 14" got them gigs all over the country, at legendary venues NYC's Hurrah and LA's Madame Wong's. They performed with acts like the Talking Heads, Ramones, Jimmy Cliff, the Knack (!), Public Image Ltd., and many others, establishing a stellar live reputation and honing their considerable talents.
Following these gigs, HSR returned to the studio with Producer Mike Thorne, who's worked with acts as diverse as Soft Cell, Wire, John Cale, and Soft Machine to follow up this incredible success. Rather than rest on their laurels and create more material in the same vein, "In A Roman Mood" takes a considerably more serious tone and is all the better for it. The band crafted an album that may have been too great a leap forward to the average fun-loving new wave fan in 1981. Today, those who've heard the album rate it as an underappreciated masterpiece.
WANNA KNOW MORE?
Originally formed as a a joke vocal quartet called Honey Bea & The Meadow Muffins” in an effort to get into a party held by Tom Leher. Because it was late-70’s new wave Boston, they formed a band. Their first show as Human Sexual Response was at the Birdcage, a rock bar in the notorious Combat Zone that doubled as a strip club.
“It was like a biker-stripper club that, for some reason, started having bands,” said Bangor, “I had seen the Inflictors there and La Peste, the Real Kids. La Peste had heard us rehearsing and said we should get a gig there. But we weren’t ready, we didn’t have the sound yet. They said that it didn’t matter. And they got us that gig.”
They played legendary Boston spots like Cantone’s, The Space, the Paradise, and The Rat. Then they released a demo and got meaningful radio support.
“We first got noticed in Boston when we put out a demo tape with ‘Jackie Onassis’ and ‘What Does Sex Mean to Me?’ and ’BCN played it, a lot,” said Bangor. “Once that happened, we started getting bigger club dates.”
Not just in Boston. Airplay came quickly and nationally, most notably on KROQ in Los Angeles, which led to gigs at the infamous West Coast venues Madame Wong’s and The Country Club.
The band happily took bookings at rock venues and gay clubs attributing some of their momentum to the growing 80's Gay Pride movement, but their goal was inclusivity. “Our crowd was so totally mixed,” Lamot says. “You’d have hard biker guys standing next to drag queens standing next to hippies standing next to beatniks and strippers from the Zone.”
Lamot recalls Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr., coming to their show and hearing "Jackie Onassis". “Caroline did not like the last line of the song and left, but John actually came backstage to say hi to the band. And Jackie’s mom, Mrs. Auchincloss heard us at a wedding and said ‘I’m sure Jacqueline would love the song.’”
They found themselves playing with the Talking Heads, the Ramones, and Public Image Ltd. KROQ picked up “Jackie Onassis” and the Go-Go’s came to watch them in Los Angeles. They met Andy Warhol at a show with the Knack in New York.
Cameron sums it up, “Our band was like a tribe of people that were totally bent on the same thing and yet were in a constant state of flow.”
Sadly, they broke up in 1982 after releasing their second album.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
“Bitingly funny, literate and theatrical, musically challenging and shout-along rocking — sometimes all in the same song — Human Sexual Response was always entertaining.”
“If you can’t be entertained by thought-provoking analysis of sexual politics while helplessly shimmying like a fool, then you simply can’t be entertained.”
“The Humans stood out in their heyday’s chiming guitar strum, jagged art punk, and bloody-nose hardcore for their insistence on putting on a show, for being as much Bowie and Motown as Gang of Four or Talking Heads. The Humans toured the country in their Checker cab, wearing their wearable dots and body paint. Their songs were college-radio staples. They should have been big. They were big to us.” –Huffington Post
“…a New Wave clusterbomb with four vocalists and a penchant for crooked pop songwriting that changed the shape of the Boston music scene during one of its most vital eras.” – Boston Globe
“…an art rock ensemble with a literate and hilarious take on sexual politics. Borrowing their name from the Masters and Johnson bestseller, the band blended four-part vocals with a bouncy new wave beat.” – Local East Village
“Human Sexual Response first gained national prominence in 1980 with its first album, Figure 14, which included the song "I Want To Be Jackie Onassis." Since then they have released another album. In A Roman Mood, and an extended play record, Pound. Their music, usually characterized as a mix of rock and new wave, attracted enough local fans this weekend to sell out three shows at Boston's Paradise club.
Since the Student Assembly sponsored the Poussett-Dart Band in the spring of 1980, these have been no other major rocks concerts at Harvard, Pearl said yesterday. She added that because of the Human's popularity, the planned concern should almost certainly sell out.
"It'll be hot," she added.” – Harvard Crimson
"during their short existence, they created a substantial buzz in their hometown and on the East Coast for their arty and energetic live shows and their sophisticated postmodern pop. – Allmusic
"'In a Roman Mood' remains a tremendous work of art just waiting to be rediscovered." – Allmusic
"Figure 15 is one of the most potent debuts of its era." – Allmusic
"They were so great! I listened to Human Sexaul Response when I was , like, 12! That’s what we thought grown-up music was. We didn’t find out until it was too late that the rest of the world would never catch up to Boston in that regard.” -Kristin Hersh, Throwing Muses
THEN WHAT HAPPENED
Casey left music and worked as a content developer in the Bay Area. Her daughter is Cameron Mesirow, who makes music as Glasser.
Travis, Gilbert, Bangor and Maclachlan went on to form a band, The Zulus (a/k/a Wild Kingdom, a/k/a Screaming Mimis, a/k/a the Gospel Birds) and released a self-titled LP in 1985, and then Down On The Floor in 1989 on Slash Records, produced by Bob Mould of Husker Du.
Malcolm Travis later played drums for Mould's Sugar, and for Kustomized, with Peter Prescott of Mission Of Burma and Volcano Suns.
Rich Gilbert was a member of Concussion Ensemble, Clown, Frank Black and the Catholics, played on four Tanya Donelly solo releases, and currently plays pedal steel with Thad Cockerell. He also played on recordings by Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn, and The Lemonheads. Gilbert toured with Jack White and Wanda Jackson’s band, playing pedal steel, including appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Conan O'Brien Show. In 2016 released his first-ever solo album, Stereo Action Music. Read more HERE
Dini Lamot launched a new career as "Musty Chiffon." Aided by long-time partner Windle Davis, Lamot/Chiffon recorded a dance version of "Jackie Onassis" in 1999.
The band reunited for special Halloween shows in 1984 at Spit and 1986 at The Channel, a New Year's Eve show in December 1988 at the Paradise, and on November 29, 2008 at Jason's Upstairs Bar in Hudson, NY. The band performed at the House of Blues in Boston on November 10, 2012.
Another reunion gig at Boston's House Of Blues (with opening act Unnatural Axe, a band from the same era and frequent co-bill with HSR back in the day) is happening on November 3rd. Tickets HERE
See great vintage Dini Lamot gig flyers HERE