Times Staff Writer

During the heyday of the Southern California punk scene in the late 1970s, veteran club owner Jerry Roach and singer Jack Lloyd were frequently on each other's nerves and occasionally at each other's throats.

"It wasn't a little bit of dislike--it was like a war every night," recalled Roach, whose Cuckoo's Nest club in Costa Mesa was the Orange County headquarters for Lloyd, his band T.S.O.L. and countless other punk groups. "I liked to make the money, but it was like going through war whenever T.S.O.L. played."

At the time, neither man expected nor even imagined that one day they might be working together as manager and musician. But in a turnaround tantamount to the tiger lying down with the lion, Roach is now attempting to help Lloyd and his latest band, Tender Fury, which plays Saturday at Night Moves in Huntington Beach, break out of the local music wars and get into the national music wars.

"Over the years I guess we developed some kind of mutual something . . . respect . . . for each other's talents," Roach said with a laugh during a recent interview. He and Lloyd shared a booth and munched on nachos at a cafe on the Huntington Beach Pier, a favorite hangout for Lloyd, who is also a surfing enthusiast.

"I always thought that Jack was the only guy who would emerge from the local punk scene and be able to reach a bigger pop audience," Roach said.

Although it has been five years this month since the Cuckoo's Nest closed, both Roach and Lloyd tend to wax starry-eyed about the punk experience.

"Maybe it's because it was something unique to this area. There were punks in England, but what was going on here was different from that," Roach said.

For a time, however, Lloyd just wanted to put behind him the notoriety he achieved with T.S.O.L. and from the group's appearance in Penelope Spheeris' cult film about punk "Suburbia."

"One time somebody wrote that I was able to really control my audience, so people started coming up to me and saying, 'Why don't you tell us to sit down or something.' So I just felt like singing nonsense and screwing around on stage."

Lloyd left T.S.O.L. in 1982 (although the band has continued with replacement lead singer Joe Wood) and formed Cathedral of Tears, a Gothic, post-punk group that sometimes incorporated eight or more musicians.

"One reason I did Cathedral and that kind of lounge-lizard music was to get away from the whole T.S.O.L. punk thing," said Lloyd, who has also been known in various bands as Jack Greggors, Alex Morgan and Jack DeLauge.

"We went through so many people in Cathedral. There were 26 members in that band. People said I was a maniac who just fired people as soon as I got mad at them. But it's not true. I just wanted guys who had problems and who needed to play in front of people like I do.

"For a while I was just writing silly stuff, but now I'm doing more social commentary (and) getting more serious about the music again. We just played a show where there were hundreds of kids jumping up and down. It felt good to be on stage with people in the audience going crazy again," Lloyd said.

For Roach, working with Tender Fury has been a way to keep his hand in the local music scene since he's been out of the concert club business. (Last February, the Anaheim City Council denied him a permit that would have allowed him to reopen Radio City, which was destroyed by fire in 1985.)

"At least the Cuckoo's Nest went out with a bang," Roach said. "Radio City went out with a whimper, which I hate. But I didn't have an open club to work from with Radio City. I thought about opening another club, but I've been burned twice," Roach said.

Lloyd recognizes the advantage in getting advice from one with Roach's background.

"He's seen so many bands, he's seen what works and what doesn't," Lloyd said. "So he'll tell us when we should drop a song that isn't working, when to add a ballad, what club owners like and what they don't."

Earlier this week, another nostalgic element of sorts was added to the Tender Fury story when the group got a new drummer: Todd Barnes, T.S.O.L.'s original drummer. (The other band members are bassist Robbie Allen and guitarist Dan Lane. In addition to Saturday's Night Moves show, the quartet plays tonight at the Scream Club in Los Angeles and opens Jan. 4 for ex-New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders at the Roxy.)

"I've been wanting to play with Todd again for a long time," Lloyd said. "We were in our first band together. We're even doing a couple of the old T.S.O.L. songs. I feel real good about this band because we've all played in punk bands, lounge bands, the whole spectrum."

Tender Fury has yet to put out a record, although a demo tape has been getting some play on hard rock station KNAC in Long Beach, which comes as a surprise considering Lloyd's punk roots.

"We haven't been pigeonholed yet, so that's why we can open for both Johnny Thunders and the Vandals (with whom the group performs at Night Moves.) We draw punk kids, rock 'n' rollers and surfers."

In fact, one of Roach's strategies for Tender Fury, about which he only half jokes, is to combine Lloyd's abilities as a singer and a surfer.

"There's never been a rock star who was a good surfer. I think it could be done right--not like Fabian-at-Waimea," he said, referring to the teen idol's portrayal of a surfer in the 1964 film "Ride the Wild Surf."

Lloyd, however, seemed only minimally impressed with the suggestion in particular and the idea of fame in general. As three long-haired men in their mid-20s walked by Roach and Lloyd during a photo session, one asked Lloyd if he was a rock star.

"No," he said straight-faced and swinging his umbrella playfully. "I play hockey. For the Kings."

LIVE ACTION: Johnny Thunders will be at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Jan. 8. Todd Rundgren will play the Coach House on Feb. 1 . . . Helen Reddy returns to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on Jan. 12 . . . The Righteous Brothers will perform at the Hop in Fountain Valley on Jan. 28.

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