Mad Anthony "The Lost Tapes"
Rays of late-afternoon sun drip through the rafters of an old barn in Santa Barbara, California. It’s early 1975 and three recent transplants from the Midwest sit surrounding a single microphone, acoustic strumming and rapturous harmonies filling the airy space. John K. Schwab, Larry Dotson, and Carl “Mad Anthony” Richards had made a name for themselves in the Ohio club scene, going as a trio by Richards’ outlandish nickname. And while this recording session was theoretically going to provide the demos to garner that big break, the record deal and international tour never materialized. Instead, the recording did eventually reach the ears of an important listener: Schwab’s son, Ben, now a musician himself with the bands Drugdealer and Sylvie, the latter of which takes direct influence from his father’s band. And after seven or so years of Ben’s convincing, and over 40 years of the recordings going largely otherwise unheard, the elder Schwab and his bandmates decided it was time. Introducing The Lost Tape (due in 2023, via Earth Libraries).
“I used to tell my son, ‘You can play all the hot licks, be the Eddie Van Halen of your neighborhood, but nothing will last as long as a good song,” Schwab says. “We didn’t have the ability to properly record in 1975, but Ben reminded me that it’s the quality of the songs that matters, not the recording.”
Mad Anthony developed their immaculately honeyed and breezy style first in Cincinnati, Schwab joining Richards and Dotson, who had been previously working together in other bands. At first the trio made the rounds at bars and clubs playing covers of The Birds, The Beatles, Jackson Brown, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. But as their reputation for soaring harmonies and whip-tight arrangements grew, Mad Anthony disbanded before coming back together in southern California to take their next steps. Between their time in the barn and piano tracking in a studio in the San Fernando valley, Mad Anthony pieced together enough material for 10 achingly beautiful tracks that tragically sat unlistened for decades.
Not long after recording those demos, Dotson moved to Florida, essentially ending that era of the band. Schwab and Richards would work with an array of other musicians as Mad Anthony, moving away from acoustic-driven sound and towards a bigger rock formation until Schwab returned to Ohio a few years later. But while variations of the group came and went, The Lost Tape contains the sole recordings of the core trio, tracks written and sung by each member in a charming fusion of voices, live to tape as if directly in the room.