Early on Robert thought he was destined to become a Rock Star. That didn’t actually pan out, but he had hell of a lot of fun trying. In the 1980’s his band ‘The Ravers’ were regulars on the Rochester music scene and in 1990 he moved to New York City where he formed ‘The Jag’ along with his best friend Mark. Drawing influences from The Who, Bob Mould, Matthew Sweet and countless others, The Jag rocked (and smashed guitars) all over the NYC Alternative scene for eight years. Many late nights, sleazy bar managers, strange women and bizarre adventures. They played the usual haunts; CBGB’s, Kenny’s Castaway’s, The Bitter End, Continental Divide, and later Brownie’s, Arlene Grocery and even Max’s Kansas City during it’s brief revival in ’97/’98. Though never signed (despite the usual daliances with the record companies) they met a few famous people, met a few not-so-famous people, and a bunch others they’d just as soon forget. The band recorded with Producer Bryan Martin at GramaVision in Tribeca, Power Play Studio and Excello in Greenpoint. Various members included Carlos Cabrales (Bass), Chris Valentine (Bass) Chris Conway (Drums) and Tedd Dolhon (drums).
Here’s a few samples of their recordings:
2) Vacant Lot
4) What You Say
6) In Deep
Notes on the recordings:
Poll Submission was a joke within a joke tribute to The Who. Not only is the the word ‘Who’; sung as a backup on the chorus, the song was recorded and mixed on the same vintage Neve 24 track console and Studer a800 (at Gramavision) that The Who had used for recording ‘Quadrophenia’. Not that it means anything. It’s just kind of cool. Robert’s rant on popular music culture at the time (1991). Lead vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Vocals, guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Bass, vocals: Chris Valentine. Drums, vocals: Chris Conway. Check out the lyrics here
Vacant Lot was another one of Stava’s rants on pop culture and America’s obssession with fads and bottomless consumerism. Unabashed use of ‘Taxman’ riff on the chorus. Recorded during a week long marathon recording session at Excello, the bridge contains the the only known recording of the spooky ‘Death Wand’, provided by Producer Bryan Martin. Lead vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Vocals, guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Bass, vocals: Carlos Cabrales. Drums, vocals: Chris Conway. Download the lyrics here
Hung On Every Word was a rock ‘ballad’ by Robert that ran dangerously close to cliché. Or maybe just shot right past it. Originally intended as a poke on ‘Every Breath You Take’ it ran off the road into mutually destructive relationship territory. What sounds like an ‘e bow’ droning through the song isn’t – it was achieved by taking Robert’s Firebird and running it through an Hi Watt stack at an inhuman volume and simply touching each note on the fretboard – being carved from a single piece of wood the guitar naturally created a sustained feedback effect which was mixed back down to tolerable levels. Nigel Tufnel eat your heart out! Lead vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Vocals, guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Bass, vocals: Carlos Cabrales. Drums, vocals: Chris Conway. Download the lyrics here
What You Say – another relationship song about frustration and mixed signals from the other party. A ‘Screaming Tree’s’ influenced number with a dose of Bob Mould and inexplicably a ‘Deep Purple’ influenced bridge. Robert’s best recorded scream at the end, which essentially sums it up. Was Stava angry? Oh no-no-no-no. Lead & Back-up vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Bass: Carlos Cabrales. Drums, vocals: Chris Conway. Hey, here’s the lyrics.
You Call It Sleep – Another track from the Gramavision sessions, one of Mark’s spookier relationship songs. Lead vocals, guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Bass: Chris Valentine. Drums: Chris Conway
In Deep – Marks track from the Excello sessions, Robert takes the blame for the knock-off Lennon guitar riff. The lyrics were a good example of collaborative effort. Lead vocals, guitar: Mark Wyszynski. Vocals, guitar: Robert Stava. Bass: Carlos Cabrales. Drums: Chris Conway
One of the classic Jag fliers Robert at Bond Street Cafe – our fans trashed the joint after the manager tried to screw us out of the door, despite a huge turnout. Good times! The Jag – photo shoot in Brooklyn 1990, Mark and Robert in back…. Flier for gig at Underworld – used to be at Bleeker & Broadway Another whacked out gig – we opened for Blues Traveller Robert at CBGB’s 1996 – spots & stripes! Carlos and ‘Silver Pants’ Mark Shot behind Penn Station -1994 Carlos at CBGB’s
Carlos & I at Max’s Kansas City during its brief revival in midtown, NYC, March 1998 Me & trusty #5 at Excello Studios, with part of the 7 guitar amp line-up used on every track. I think we stuck with the Park, mostly. The Tele proved too noisy and we wound up using my Firebird on nearly every track – that guitar recorded beautifully!