Formed in Kent Ohio in 1983, songwriter and frontman Mark Chadbourne teamed up with rhythm section Darryl Albright and Bill Plumley. Scott Benson and Rod Shiel
If Not Then When P&S version
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Formed in Kent Ohio in 1983, songwriter and frontman Mark Chadbourne teamed up with former "Payne 'n the Privates" rhythm section members Darryl Albright (bass) and Bill Plumley (drums). The band quickly gained a live following and recorded two EPs. In 1984, guitarist Scott Benson joined the group. Later that year, Rod Shields replaced Plumley on drums and Bucky Johnson was added on bass.
The band was noted for its art school performances as well as its tight musicianship and structured compositions. Songs were transformed through improvisation in live performances into totally anti-pop jam sessions, relying on chance radio broadcasts, random audience suggestions and participations and experimental instrumentations.
Chadbourne had already earned a Bachelor of Music Theory/Composition degree and was working on a Masters in Ethnomusicology at Kent State University. It was the first and only multi-racial band in Northeast Ohio in the post-punk era heavily dominated by thrasher and garage bands. Under the artistic vision of Chadbourne and Benson, who held a Masters in Video Production, the band added film and video images to their performances.
In 1985, Massai Records signed the group in an open end contract. One album "Dangerous Animals" and single "Over The Mind" was officially released. Several singles gained popularity on the college radio circuit. The band quickly gained status opening for national acts touring across the country (X, Romeo Void, Missing Persons, Berlin, Husker Du, Pylon, Shockabilly). Several unknown acts at the time, which opened for Tent Sleeps 4 later went on to phenomenal successes (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Trent Reznor in Slam Bamboo and Exotic Birds (later of Nine Inch Nails).
The band dissolved in 1987 merely from over involvement in other projects. Chadbourne had gained notoriety as a performance artist, with works showcased on PBS. With several commissioned works and Artist Series performance, Chadbourne had less time to work with the group. In 1989 he began working on a side project band "Blank Frank" (later known as Bla) with Tom Zavesky. Chadbourne has scored for TV, film and various commercial and studio work. Benson formed his own video production company and a successful career in Education. Shields went on to join the band Exotic Bird, replacing Trent Reznor who left to form Nine Inch Nails. Johnson continued doing studio sessions and played with other bands before his unexpected death a few years later.