Fenton ~ Drums
Jan Gregor ~ Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Don Lynd ~ Bass
John Robison ~ Keyboards
Maybe it was the isolation . . . . or the lack of cultural stimulation. Perhaps it was the scorching summers or the bone-chilling winters. An unlikely creative landscape, but who could say when that elusive muse would appear? For a short time, an obscure Spokane band grabbed that lightning bolt of creativity and claimed it as their own.
Inland Empire - 1978
The seed was planted when Jan Gregor and Mark Fenton bonded in the mid-1970s, later joined by Don Lynd. When John Robison hooked up a few years later, an original rock band rose up and reared its noisy head.
The boys didn’t let isolation deter them from zealous songwriting, frenzied practice and fueled-up recording sessions. Inspired by the post-punk wave sounds exploding out of New York and England, Sweet Madness barricaded themselves in a basement until they’d hammered out their own andrenalized sound.
There were no rules to go by, so Sweet Madness made their own rules.
In Spokane’s dreary musical landscape of country, boogie and disco bars, just the basic concept of a band getting up on a stage and performing original music was totally unheard of. That lesson was learned the hard way when Sweet Madness was unceremoniously boot-kicked from their first bar gig.
Unfazed by harsh reality, they pioneered the time-honored concept of “Do It Yourself” to create their own scene. Literally. DIY or die. They threw rowdy parties, all-age dances and unorthodox happenings . . . Like performing outside on the main drag in Minus 7 degree weather and backing up traffic. Or “booking” an all-girl band from Portland and then appearing in drag themselves.
They gradually found their own local audience of misfits, inciting both avid love and extreme loathing around town. Local press at the time called the group “bizarre, arty, and satirical”, “neo-rock and roll”, “punk new wave”, “demented boy scouts” and “like something out of the Twilight Zone”.
The band broke up in 1981, barely even heard of outside of the “Inland Empire”. Thankfully, they had the wherewithal and optimism to record their quirky sound from birth to demise. They can still be found playing on YouTube and in the documentary movie SpokAnarchy.
Sweet Madness, May 2011
If you have corrections, a neat photo or more information, please send it to:
Last Update: 18 August 2013
Credits:: Jan Gregor, Sweet Madness