The Problem of Pigeon-Holing
The Trials of a New Band in New York City
by David Kaplan, News Editor, NY News, December 11, 1991

Pigeon-Holing: the art of putting something in a particular category or placing a label on someone or something. Critics, in particular, love the practice of doling out classifications for bands as if they were a science project where you have to figure out the genus of a species. Musicians, on the other hand, hate it.

Frank Annunziata is the guitarist and lead vocalist of the New York City band 1 to 3, and he personally can't stand being pigeon-holed and resists any comparison placed on him or his band. Even if it's meant in a complimentary way. When told the band's music bears a similarity to the Police, he makes a face and winces as if he were being knifed in the heart.

"No, No," said Frank, shaking his head. "I don't like being stereo-typed into any one category. When I write, I don't think of a particular artist, I just write whatever's in my head that day. Speaking for the rest of the band, we're trying to be ourselves, and when someone says we sound like this group or that, even if they mean it in a good way, it bothers me. Not that I don't like the Police, but I think if someone trys to pin us down to one particular sound or form of music, it really doesn't reflect what we want to do. In fact, it actually detracts from what the band is all about. We all like a wide variety of music and that diversity comes through in our music."

Besides Frank (or "Faz," as he (is) sometimes known), who has served as the musical director for Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits fame) for several years, the other two members of 1 to 3 are bass player Orville Davis (also known as O.D.) and drummer Andy Colemorgan ("Kool"). The night of their first professional gig, the band members gathered at Kool's apartment in the East Village at around 7p.m. Relaxed, in about three hours they would make their professional debut at the Bitter End. But make no mistake, these guys are by no means amateurs. Together as a collective unit for almost seven years, they have appeared on an informal basis as the nucleus of No one's touring band.

So what took them so long?

"This is the first time we've been able to put it together," explained O.D. "We've been working with Peter, so there really hasn't been too much time. So although it's been in the making for several years, this is the first time."

O.D. has been making music with Frank (also known as "Faz") for more than a decade, and were in a previous band together called Visitor. The band opened for such groups as the Stray Cats and Todd Rundgren in the early '80s.

In addition to making music for a living, O.D.'s day job is interesting as well: he works as a counselor in a drug rehabilitation center (he said the connection between his nickname and his job is merely a coincidence). Other nicknames, he said laughing, were "unprintable").

Sitting on a bar stool, hands folded, O.D. said that after playing music for nearly half his life, the moment he quits is "when they pluck my cold, dead fingers from my guitar."

The Florida-born bassist spoke out about how the rock 'n roll lifestyle tends to put enormous strains on having a normal family relationship. O.D., the father of an 11-year-old son, acknowledged his responsibility as a role model and added that he tries to live up to that as both a parent and an artist.

"The world of politics is so full of s---," he said in a slow, southern drawl. "When something happens, it's the artist who starts it. I am trying to get into a position where I can accomplish some things so that I can have an effect socially."

Kool, the youngest member of 1 to 3, has been playing the drums since he was 14, after his older brother got a guitar. Through his brother, Kool got hooked up with Frank and O.D. ("Where did you find this guy," Frank told Kool's brother). He said he is philosophical about working in the music business and that he remains confident, if not realistic, about the odds of becoming a star.

"It's so hard to make it in the music business," he said, sipping a beer. "There is the constant anxiety of trying to get work. The chances of making it are one in a thousand. A lot depends on who you know -- it's a very clique-ish business."

He said that the only thing that really keeps him and the rest of the band going is the feeling of accomplishment when they go out in front of a live audience and everything seems to come together.

"There are moments when the music is really good," Kool said, smiling widely. "It just transcends everything else. On those nights when you're really on, you can literally step out of yourself. It's really a difficult feeling to describe."

Frank, who in addition to working with Peter Noone, has put in time with such classic rock legends as Gary U.S. Bonds, Ritchie Havens and contributed pre-production duties on John Lennon's last album, "Double-Fantasy."

The Brooklyn-born guitarist pointed to the band's amount of experience and the natural sound as their strong points.

"Every time you strike a chord or hit a drum, it's different," he said, explaining the sense of musical simplicity that 1 to 3 operates with. Frank stressed the "human element" employed by the band as a major factor in the sound they are going for, saying that the band chose "low tech" for economic reasons, in addition to esthetic reasons. The cost of touring--especially for a relatively unknown band--is astronomical these days, Frank mused, adding that the cost has not diminished his devotion to this band.

"My main focus is to get this band off in a big way," Frank commented. "Whatever I gotta do, I'll do."

The band's production coordinator, David Evans-Lombe, was standing off to the side, simply looking on and awaiting with pleasant anticipation for the moment when they would finally hit the stage. Lombe, smiling, quietly said, "This is the beginning of something special."