Family Tree

Being a Sneak

Looking back on my memories of The Sneaks twenty years after our first joining, and a full fifteen years since the last original gig, what the band most represents to me is a special period of my youth…of backyard parties, high school girls, hanging out and holding court at the local Bob’s Big Boy, Taco Treat and Freidman warehouse, custom Vans Sneaks’ shoes and '24 Furnel' lighting. With full acknowledgement of the tendency to over sentimentalize with times passing, I still hold that period to be as special as it felt when we lived it.

The Sneaks was, above all else, a real “band,” a term I find rarely understood by those who have not lived the experience. We had our own language, our own group dynamics, our own twisted, internal sense of humor, which few understood, and fewer still were invited to participate in.

Looking back now with twenty years experience in the entertainment industry, I can see The Sneaks as an emerging, solid rock outfit. European friends familiar with that period listen to this collection, and acknowledge the group as contemporaries of the “L.A. Sound” of that era. In an industry rife with myth and “could've beens” I believe The Sneaks were legitimate contenders for larger success, and am still surprised by how often I’m approached by someone in a San Gabriel Valley restaurant or club saying “Hey, didn't you used to sing with The Sneaks?” Ultimately, it is the audience that keeps the memory alive, and reminds me of our impact then.

As I listened to the Sneak Review collection, the progress over the four years and two albums is notable, recalling an accurate 1984 Music Connection review of Success, The Hard Way: “Loud, snotty and barely out of high school, The Sneaks released their first album (Sneak Preview) which, while showing promise, in the final assessment, ultimately just couldn’t be taken seriously. This time around, (with Success, The Hard Way), the boys from Arcadia take up the gauntlet with renewed panache and vigor. A sneaking feeling tells me this band might just be going somewhere.”

Cuts like Turn On The Lights, High School Brats and Mean Teen Queen still ring true to me, though, like many young bands intimidated by their first studio experience, our live sound and performances were much more raw and intense. Memories of sweaty, packed nights at Roxanne’s Night Club, with the dancers slamming and pogo dancing to Phone Booth Suicide and The Flyboys Theme are closer to the mark. The tight arrangements on tunes like Why Do You Run and Billboard Girl come closer, I believe, to the direction we were headed, though the more experimental alternative musical horizons of Rob Schilling’s imagination, hinted at in tunes like Love Bonfire and The Calling (sadly, not recorded on this Volume I disc), were never fully explored.

There are moments in listening to this disc when I laughed, cringed, laughed again, and often felt a surge of pride and passion from those brave days of absolute conviction and commitment to “the band,” and I want to end this reminiscence with heartfelt love and thanks to the many Sneaks fans who made our sense of purpose all the more real, and to my fellow 'Sneaks,' Pat Ipithy Pit Hacker, Gregory James Merci Beat (“Our main competition is everyone and no one”) Tortell, and a special thanks to Rob Schilling, who turned his noted voracity as a collector of “rare and not often seen or heard things” into the gift of this entertaining collection.

In closing, no final words could better express my feelings today than to quote the venerable Uncle Freddy, of Palmdale, California: “I'm so proud of these boys, I could shit.”

- 8/29/2000 Brett Perkins, Copenhagen, Denmark