The Three O'Clock proved to be one of Southern California's most most popular mod bands throughout the 1980s.
The Three O'Clock was really Michael Quercio's band from its earliest incarnation as the Salvation Army in 1980. Quercio, with John Blazing and Troy Howell, captured the psychadelic garage sound of the sixties perfectly. Bringing influences such as the Standells, Chocolate Watchband and the Count Five together with the raw, punk-like energy that infected so many bands during the early 80s, Quercio and company attracted the attention of Dennis Boone of the Minutemen who recorded and released their first single, Happen Happened b/w Mind Gardens.
The Salvation Army's sound was definitely power pop with a punk like feel to it, but also had the earmarks of sixties garage that was beginning to establish a toe hold in both the east and west coast scenes, notably in Southern California and in Boston. In Southern California the garage scene had diverse influences but with a more pop sensibility, more like the Byrds or the Turtles than the Small Faces or the Yardbirds. Quercio himself coined the phrase Paisley Underground which was adopted as the scene's name, and came to personify a wide array of sixties influenced bands like The Last, The Rain Parade, Pandoras, Green on Red, and even the Bangles
Just after the release of the single in 1981, Blazing left the band to be replaced by Louis Gutierrez. Still calling themselves Salvation Army, this was the real beginning of The Three O'Clock. Another demo of four more songs was sent to Rodney Bingenheimer who every Sunday evening was pioneering alternative radio by showcasing punk, mod, ska and garage bands at KROQ in Los Angeles on his show Rodney on the Roq. Rodney loved the demo and played all of the songs regularly, especially the psychadelic She Turns to Flowers.
Shortly thereafter the Salvation Army released their one and only LP Happen Happened, on Frontier Records. By 1982, Michael Mariano and Danny Benair (formerly with one of Sourthern California's earliest punk bands, The Wierdos) had joined the group turning it into the foursome it would remain. Under threat of a lawsuit from the non-profit charity they shared a name with, the Salvation Army changed their name and The Three O'Clock was born. Salvation Army played their last show in 1982 at the premiere mod club of the day, O.N. Klub, and a few short months later The Three O'Clock played one of their earliest shows there as well. In 1992 Frontier reissued Salvation Army's only LP, Happen Happened: Befour The Three O'Clock, on CD with a slew of previously unreleased material.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in the story of The Three O'Clock in a future post.
The Three O'Clock -- I Go Wild (Baroque Hoedown, 1983)