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Band Ready to Roll? Maybe Yes, Maybe No

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Would Don’t Mean Maybe have ridden the modern-rock boom to success if it had not taken a five-year leave of absence?

Well, maybe.

Having disbanded in 1992, just when alterna-rock was starting to roll onto the charts, the rambunctious yet nimble power trio of Mark Andrea, John Hawthorne and Ron Sloan is back in action again. The band has changed its base from Orange County to San Francisco, where a small, independent label just released DMM’s first album since 1991. It’s called “Wait.”

“Some people say, ‘Oh, dude, you should have stuck around, you would have got signed,’ ” Andrea, the band’s guitarist and singer-songwriter, said recently.

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Andrea says he has no regrets. After releasing an EP and two albums from 1989 to 1991 with minimal success, burnout was setting in.

“I just figured it was time to stop. If someone had made an offer that would have been a good enough . . . but who knows? You can’t make decisions based on that kind of potential. You never know what’s going to happen.”

After Don’t Mean Maybe broke up, Andrea became a computer software consultant, bassist Hawthorne concentrated on his teaching career, and Sloan, who was living in San Francisco, kept playing in other bands.

Things changed about a year ago when all three members found themselves in the Bay Area. Andrea’s company had transferred him to Palo Alto, Hawthorne got a teaching job in Salinas, and Sloan’s band, Flophouse, broke up. The three musicians, all in their early 30s, decided to regroup--but on a low-pressure, just-for-fun basis.

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Their CD is on Toadophile Records, a tiny San Francisco label run by another Orange County expatriate, Tardon Lawrence, who prefers to go by the nom-de-rock Tardon Feathered. They’re all keeping their day jobs, but Andrea hopes to return for regular Southern California gigs to give old fans a fresh taste of a band that, on peak nights, offered a satisfying blend of slashing intensity, arty angularity and a quaking spirit of fun.

“When we started [in the 1980s], we were doing it for the sake of fun more than anything,” Andrea said. “Then when we made a record, everything became focused on [career advancement], and we started to lose the fun aspects of being in a band. Now we don’t have to make a living off it. I look at it as something that is enjoyable to do. It would be fun to play in Southern California once a month and up here once a month. A lot of people do it this way: work, play and see what happens just because they like it.” (“Wait” is available from Toadophile Records, 135 Bluxome St., San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 777-3442. Or via Internet at https://toadophile.com/toadophile.)

GAINING ‘SPEED': O.C.'s veteran pop-reggae band Common Sense has a song on the soundtrack album for “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” The film, with Jason Patric, Sandra Bullock and Willem Dafoe, opens today, but the CD was released in May.

The first single is by UB40, while other tracks feature Shaggy, Maxi Priest and Jimmy Cliff. Common Sense’s contribution, “Never Give Up,” is culled from its 1996 debut album, “Psychedelic Surf Groove.” Common Sense’s Jai Vatuk reports that the band is negotiating a possible deal with Virgin Records, the label issuing the “Speed 2" soundtrack.

AT THE MOVIES, PART II: Also in the soundtrack sweepstakes is the O.C.-bred rap-metal-funk band, Sugar Ray. A new Sugar Ray song, “RPM,” is on the “X Games Soundtrack Album,” which also includes a previously unreleased version of Sublime’s hit, “What I Got,” as well as songs from Bush, Goldfinger, the Prodigy and Wu Tang Clan. “RPM” also appears on Sugar Ray’s second album, “Floored,” which is scheduled for release June 24.


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