July 3, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Question

[Ed Note: This is based on a previous post from 2007]

The Question were one of the greats in the pantheon of Southern California mod bands in the 1980s. They were there at the very beginning in the early 80s, and survived performing right through the end of the decade.

I first saw them play at The Concert Factory, I think, in the spring of 1984. I remember the show because it was before I bought my first scooter and I reallly hated having to drive to the show in my pathetic old Vega. The area was packed with scooters and the club was full of sharp dressed mods. The band was still riding high on the release of their first single the year previous.

The Question first started in 1981 and by the release of their first single in 1983 had built quite a following. In 1985 when their second single dropped they were packing out shows all over Southern California and even though they didn't play ska songs, like the Untouchables they pulled crowds equally from the mods and skinheads.

Here's how Insight Out magazine lauded The Question in the Mods Mayday 89 issue:
It was 1981 and people called them mods and scooters were their gods, and they were Los Angeles' answer to The Jam. With the enigmatic Tony Rugulo as their lead vocalist and on guitar, Daniel on bass and David White on drums (now with The Untouchables) the band took off after their appearance on the Wharf Rat Tales compilaiton with their first two L.A. mod anthems "Shall Be Love" and "Brand New World."

This was followed in early 1983 by the release of their first 7" EP with "Easy", "Stare You Down", and "Distance Apart". 1983 Also marked a big boom in the local scene which was spearheaded by The Question. Returning from a very successful three week mini-tour of Hawaii they sold out the Country Club in Reseda while headlining a show that included mod faves like The Targets, Sidewalk Society and The Jets.

Throughout '84-85 The Question continued to play to packed houses. 1985 saw Phil Cuzimano join the band on guitar while Tony changed over to bass (Phil started in The Patterns and then played a dual role in The Question and Chardon Square for quite some time), and marked the release of the band's second EP featuring "Getting Through". "Daddy Rolling Stone", and "The Right Track", all of which became crowd favorites. It was just after this that Tony wrote "Wild Child" for The Untouchables. Undoubtedly, The Question have a solid history in the L.A. mod scene, and will add another chapter at the Mayday show.


The Question always had a great mod revival sound that could either be along the lines of hard driven power pop bordering on punk, or very soulful with lots of sixties R&B influences. Their shows were always packed, and even though the band had a sort of rotating line -- up Tony kept it all together and delivered fantastic shows.

The song here is "Shall Be Love" one of the band's best. Here is a video of the band doing their version of "Wild Child", also at Fender's, at the Mod Jam Festival in 1988. (All apologies for the video quality)

The Question -- Shall Be Love





Just as an interesting side note, throughout the 80s there was a persistent rumor in the scene that Rugulo's father, Pete, was a jazz musician and a composer/arranger in Hollywood for TV and films. More than a rumor, it was the truth. Pete Rugulo, among other things, penned the theme song to Leave it To Beaver.

9 comments:

cakebread said...

Wow, I actually remember that flyer from Fenders.

Thanks for sharing that video. What memories.

Rob Cakebread

Dr. Kylldare said...

Brilliant!!!
I've just updated my own Questions
post (in spanish) at

http://modrevival.blogspot.com/2008/02/question.html

Thanx a lot for the info (& all the rest, of course)

Jason G. said...

"The Question has a rocket going right up Saddam Hussein's ass!"

Tony Rugulo
Mt. Baldy show- 1991
The Question and Chardon Square.

Loved it.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell how cool it is to see them. I was one of their 1st fans and worst band manager in the world! With such shitty music and they did not make it....?

Jim the Mop Mopsikoff
rudyboy007@sbcglobal.net

sexy said...
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eda said...
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tracesofmod said...

The Question good times back in '82&'83 @ 321 in Santa Monica. I've always preferred the raw/pop style of early WHO, Kinks, Small Faces, The Jam, Secret Affair as well as The Question. I didn’t like SKA at all. I saw The Question 2 or 3 years ago @ the Good Hurt in Venice. It was like going back in time with my eyes closed, the smell of clove cigarettes, beer and the sound of music long forgotten by most. With my eyes opened that was another story. Bloated old Mod's in tight fitting clothing brought me back to reality.

Randy Ralston said...

Yeah, great memories.

I came very close to being the replacement bass player for The Question back in the day (can't remember who was the original). It was pretty well a done deal and everyone knew it. I showed up for the audition (just a formality) and we rocked. I knew all the songs and we had a great energy together. How devastated I was when I saw Tony at Madame Wong's the next week and he said I didn't get the gig. I found out subsequently that it was because I wore a "Rick Springfield shirt the day I showed up and it wasn't well received. There was a musical (over) sensitivity to such things at that time. Ah well, so it goes!

By the way, that version of Shall Be Love is a different one than I remember. I think perhaps I had a demo version or something. This one doesn't really convey Tony's power-house vocals.

And hey, Jim, you were a pretty good manager.

- Randy