NMMitch

New London

Steve Mickelsen-------Matt Smith------Carm Sciarrotta-----Jeff Mettling------- Eric Owens

Jeff Mettling, guitarist and vocalist, Matt Smith, the keyboardist and founding member is teaching and recording on the side. His project is called Dragonfly Dance. It's a mix of electronica and new age music. Steve Mickelson was working the local scene and played in The Bellyaches and then Venus Diablo. I have not heard from him in years. Eric Owens, the bassist is working the club circuit playing for various recording artists and was also working as a manager at Music Go Round. Carm Sciarotta the drummer is playing with various part-time bands but is mostly out of the scene. He works for the City of Albuquerque last I saw him. - Jeff Mettling - June 2006

Info above provided by Jeff Mettling
Pictures use with his permission
Visit Jeff Mettling's ELU Music Website





A Brief History of New London by Matt Smith, October 2000

New London began as a joke between David Hahn and Steve Mickelsen in 1987. They created a fictitious band named New London, made posters, and distributed them along Central Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The posters announced a show at the equally fictitious Mickey's Inn which was a play on Steve's last name. Soon after Steve bought a 12-string guitar and announced his intention to make New London a real band.

A Halloween party in that same year held at Steve's and his brother Robert's house was the meeting place for Steve and myself, Matt Smith, synthesizer player and composer. We agreed they would get together and see if anything musical would happen soon after the party. Soon turned out to be spring of 1988.

Steve brought his guitar and a notebook full of lyrics to my home studio where the we crafted our first song, "A Day Without Me," not to be confused by the U2 song of the same name. We garnered local radio play immediately and decided that to play live, we would need some additional musicians. Steve recruited guitarist Rick (last name gone from memory) and after advertising in local papers, veteran drummer Carm Sciarrota brought his energy and experience to the band. Bass player Jon Donovan was added soon after to complete the first New London live outfit.

About that time, just weeks before the first real performance, the band became unhappy with Rick's rudimentary guitar playing. As luck would have it, while being recruited to play in another band, I played a New London demo tape which impressed them. On my way home from the meeting, that band's guitarist pulled me over on the road and asked if New London needed a new member. Jeff Mettling was brought into the band almost immediately, Rick fired, and recording began. With our sound solidified by Jeff's polished ax play, New London performed for the first time on June 13, 1988 at the Fat Chance Bar and Grill and we were well received.

The band had culled together about 15 original songs already and decided that the next step in our evolution would be a studio recording. Fans were begining to demand a cassette and hopes were high that a tape could be successfully shopped to record labels. The Garden Wall EP was completed at Quincy Street Sound in Albuquerque over about three months at the end of summer 1988, and released in December of that year. We sold in the neighborhood of 1000 of the cassettes at $5 each. Several radio stations aired New London songs regularly and the band made the College Music Journal playlist. We participated in many interviews, and were featured in the local music rags as well as the biggest Albuquerque papers, all while continuing to hone our live act.

Our biggest fear at this point was losing our momentum. The new material was sounding great and we quickly booked more recording time to begin work on our next collection, an album tentatively titled The Misery of Joy. Once again we found themselves disappointed in the play and contributions of a member and fired Donovan, replacing him with bassist Eric Owens.

After the line up change, New London signed to Eric Larson's Street Sound records in early 1989 and hoped to quickly record and release some material to create interest in the forthcoming album. Quincy Street Sound was again the site of recording and the songs Communication and Underground were the result. Although the band felt that these were not their strongest songs at the time, it was decided that they should be committed to tape first so that the newer songs could be developed more fully.

The two song cassette was released in late 1989 and was uniformly regarded by the local music press as a solid and impressive release drawing comparison to bands like the Psychedelic Furs, the Cure and others. As the tapes began to move (they could be purchased at all live shows and at local Hastings stores) New London played shows with such well-known college acts as 27 Devils Joking, The Violet Hour, Splinter Fish, Cracks in the Sidewalk, Subculture, A Patch of Blue and many others. The tape was also heard on a growing number of radio stations and by several record labels.

The band kept hard at work, playing a live show on KUNM, writing songs that were showing both growth and promise, and building a burgeoning fan base. But the cracks were beginning to show. Factions had developed within the band. Jeff was becoming more of a songwriting force and demanding more vocal time. Steve was starting to hear a different sound that New London wasn't going to be able to play and I was growing disillusioned. All the rehearsals, the sweat poured (literally, in our oven-like practice room) into songwriting and a grueling live schedule, coupled with the fact that we all continued to work full time jobs, I was fading, contributing less each day. I think we all could tell the end was not far off. I can remember long talks with Carm and Steve about our musical direction (we comprised one faction) and noticing that we as a band were growing apart. Our marriage was on its last legs.

New London played their last show in the spring of 1990 at an all-day, outdoor music festival sponsored by the fraternities at the University of New Mexico. As the sun fell on the large crowd so it fell on a band that started out as a joke, become a promising outfit with a lot of upside and then a group that found musical differences splintering their creative energy. My recollection of the final show is that we played really hard, and that it was one of our better performances. I remember waiting all afternoon for our time to go on, sitting and talking with the other members and the people that followed us where ever we went and at once I knew that while I loved playing with these friends and musicians, I had grown tired. I think the other members felt the same way.

Not long after that show, after an agreed and much needed few weeks off, New London gathered at Carm's house to begin recording on my four track what was to be the demos of the tracks that would make up The Misery of Joy. It went well for the first few days until our bottled up frustrations came to the fore and petty bickering disintegrated into an all-out war. We all packed up our equipment and bid our practice studio, and each other farewell. Almost three years, quite a few members, many shows, lots of cassette, t-shirt and poster sales, over a hundred songs later, it was over. The last song we put to tape was Untitled, in my eyes a beautiful look at what could have been if we could have reached the next plateau together.

The former members of New London have all remained musically active in one way or another. Steve Mickelsen went on to form the Bellyachers and then Venus Diablo, both bands achieving success beyond New London's. I worked with Jeff Mettling in several projects before releasing Dragonfly Dance and various new collaborations found on this page: Matt's New Music. Carm continues to work with a variety of local bands. Jeff had modest success with several Jeff Mettro albums and is now the force behind the electronic band Elu. Eric Owens worked with Jeff on the Mettro projects.

Looking back, I can say that it was such an exciting time. In many ways I miss the stage, the fans and being part of a creative machine on a roll. I think that given different circumstances we could have made the national scene and I wonder if we would have been ready, musically and mentally. We seemed so close and yet so far. Now, all that is left is the music, some of which you can download from this page, and some pictures and memories. I hope you enjoy.


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