Maurice Love Interview
Electric Chick Magnets

Formed five years ago, they are Syracuse's premier disco band.

In 1996, they won a SAMMY for the Best Dance/Cover Band and were voted the "Best Local Band" by the New Times in 1998.

They've shared the spotlight with a number of national acts including Eddie Money, Johnny Cash, and Dread Zeppelin.

They — are the Electric Chick Magnets.

We talked with Electric Chick Magnets member — Maurice Love.

Q - Did you and your brother Antonio put the Electric Chick Magnets together?
A - Yes.

Q - When you said "Let's put a disco band together, did your brother or anybody else say "You're crazy"!?
A - Oh, you better believe it. We started the band at O.C.C. ( Onondaga Community College); my brother was in college when they started it. The bass player that I have right now, whose name is T.C., he was one of the first (members) but, he was the first guy to drop out real fast, because he thought we were nuts. (Laughs). A lot of people thought we were nuts.

Q - Why disco?
A -I loved the music. I always wanted to be in a funk band and it seemed like a reasonable way to make money, and play the music I wanted to play. I kind of wanted to get into the fraternity, sorority scene. (Laughs). It just seemed like it would be a really good idea.

Q - So this band debuted when?
A – May 13, 1994.

Q - Prior to that were you in other bands?
A - I've been in other bands, yeah.

Q - Any bands people might've heard of?
A - No, not really. Mostly smaller bands around Utica.

Q - You are from Utica?
A - Yeah, just outside Utica, Clinton, New York.

Q - How'd you get musicians to come aboard? Were they from Utica or Syracuse?
A - Well, the first drummer was from Oneida. My first, other guitar player was from Lowville. Basically, we were all going to O.C.C. at the same time. The only person who wasn't going to O.C.C. was John Peluso, 'J.T.'. I was wearing the clothes to school all the time. This was before it was a hip thing to do, to dress 70's. I was getting more weird looks than anybody coming up and saying, 'Hey, nice bell bottoms.' We were all friends. Everybody thought it was a good idea. When we were in the cafeteria doing our lunch thing, I'd always bring in a box, a little radio, and play disco songs. We'd all make fun of it. It's basically what we were kind of doing in a way, but we all really liked the music too.

Q - Who thought up the name Electric Chick Magnets? Was that you?

Q - Is there any meaning behind that name?
A - No. (Laughs). I wanted to have three words, 'cause I was really into Mother Love Bone at the time. Chick Magnets was the first choice and then we made it Electric, 'cause we needed another word. It's a more powerful Chick Magnet.

Q - So then you opened for The Buttafuocos at the Lost Horizon in May '94?
A - We didn't open for them; we actually closed the night, that night. We had about a 5-song set. At the end of the fourth song, we had no more songs to do, so we ended up, on the spot, doing the music to 'Get Down Tonite,' and the words to 'That's The Way.' It was quite an auspicious beginning there.

Q - How many people were in the audience? Do you remember?
A - Maybe 150.

Q - After that gig, did you get offered a steady gig someplace else?
A - After that one gig, Scott Sterling had heard about it. Dracula Jones was out of town that night. He heard about the crowd going nuts. So, the next gig we played, we headlined, at the Lost Horizon.

Q - That was when?
A - A Saturday night, a few weeks later. Then we played the rest of the summer, and about November, we started playing Styleen's on Thursday nights. And from there, it just blew up.

Q - Do you understand why many people originally hated disco?
A - Oh, yeah. (Laughs). Musicians personally hated disco because it was spun by D.J.'s and killed the 'live' music scene. Therefore, I can understand why people would hate it. It wasn't rock 'n roll. It's not rock 'n roll. It's ironic that it's happening to us. It's so funny. The D.J. is coming back around and killing the disco movement. It's cheaper to hire a D.J. than pay this band. It's a certain twist of irony.

Q - Are you surprised that the Electric Chick Magnets have lasted this long?
A - I'm especially surprised with the split with John (Peluso) and The United Booty Foundation being as successful as they are and my band being as successful as we've been, that two bands can survive in this city. Playing in this market, we've had other people come down like Boogie Wonder Band from Toronto and other little disco bands come into town. The market has pretty much been saturated. I'm surprised as anybody that we've been around this long, and still able to draw.

Q - Talking about the split, is there bad blood between the Chick Magnets and the Booty Foundation?
A - Oh, no. There was. There definitely was. It's been a long time now. It wasn't amiable, our split. Definitely not. It was under a lot of duress. You get over stuff after a few years. Everything's better the way it worked out.

Q - So everything is cool now?
A - Yeah. I mean I'm not having these guys over for dinner. (Laughs). But, I like the guys in the band a lot. John, I wouldn't consider him a friend, but I know him. And, that's the way it's gonna stay forever. So, I'm happy with it. He's happy with it. That's the way it is.

Q - You took this band down to New York and played CBGB's, didn't you?
A - Yeah.

Q - What happened there? Were there industry people in the audience?
A - No. We took a bus trip. It was us, Dracula Jones, and Jeff Jones' other band, The Ghost Monkeys. It was July 4. We did really well there, but it wasn't like an industry show. It was something to do for fun. The bartender, I don't remember the girl's name; she was saying we were the first disco band to play there. The place gained all its fame in the 70's. They couldn't believe a disco band was in there. But, we played the Wetlands a lot of times. That was when we were trying to get people to come out and see us.

Q - Where can you take this group? Can you write original disco songs and get a major label deal?
A - We've had a real hard time with that. Every time we've had something that we've written, something will happen where we'll lose a singer or a member of the band that was a major part. I don't see us going original and getting a deal. We're working on a deal right now to go to Hawaii, for a couple of months.

Q - Where would you be playing there?
A - Actually, it would be a brand new club that's opening up in Waikiki. My friend is on the ground floor of that right now. They were up for getting Boogie Nights which is like big on the West Coast. My friend pretty much got us in. It's just a matter of when we're gonna be able to get out there and do it.

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