paisley underground


Paisley Underground is a group of bands from Los Angeles, that shared certain aesthetic values and influences roughly between the years 1980 and 1985/86. The term was coined by Michael Quercio, from The Three O’Clock as a joke during an interview. Among others, they were heavily influenced by the whole West Coast psychedelic scene of the 60’s, like the Beach Boys, The Byrds, Love, and I don’t know this for a fact but I assume also more obscure bands such as The Millenium, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and The Beatles. Another big influence you could hear in all these bands was The Velvet Underground, and from there it goes to punk and post-punk, not only from New York and the UK, but also from Los Angeles. Actually some members from LA punk bands would later join or form bands that were part of the Paisley Undergound scene. One example would be The Weirdos’s drummer, Danny, who would later be part of The Three O’Clock. So the line sometimes can be blurry where one ends and the other one begins.

During this period, there was a group of bands that were central to the Paisley Underground genre, movement or scene. Those bands were The Rain Parade, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, The Bangs (that later would go on to become The Bangles), Green On Red, The Long Ryders, (to some also) Opal, and two collaborative projects, one called Rainy Day, and the other one called Danny and Dusty. There were also bands that were on the fringe of the movement, even geographically, considering many of them came from Davis, CA. Some of those are True West, The Things, Thin White Rope, Game Theory, Wednesday Week, Untold Fables and The Last, among others.

The central bands of the movement went on to achieve relative commercial success, and actually as you know The Bangles went on to become huge. But regardless of the amount of records they sold, the amount of fans that went to their shows, or how much press or airplay their records received, the critical acclaim was always there, for all of them. During this period the music coming out of these bands, was new, futuristic in a sense, modern, and yet, it contained a resemblance to classic songs from the past, without being in the shadows of them.

As I mentioned before, the bands that were part of the Paisley Underground movement, had a big influence on bands that came afterwards, such as REM, The Stone Roses, Biff Bang Pow! from Creation Records and many of the “alternative” bands that came afterwards. I can get lost in theorizing forever about indie guitar rock, and the sound that came from here went there and so on. But I don’t know much about all those currents, and I don’t think is that important, at least to me. What I do find important and fascinating is that after all these years, any kid that is getting into music that is outside of mainstream culture, at some point, inevitably she or he will come across these sounds, these songs, and these records, just like it happened to me. All these bands became stepping-stones to what we listen to today, and are as relevant today as they were 25 years ago.

This set was made to accompany a presentation that Ale gave at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in Hollywood on September 16, 2008 as part of the Popular Music Project presented by USC’s Annenberg School of Communications. At the event there was a slide show with pictures from that era, orginal artwork and four guest speakers. dublab’s own Marco Paul was one of them, plus Danny and Mike from The Three O’clock, and Lisa founder of Frontier Records. Following are some notes and information that were given at the event.



The Three O’clock – With a Cantloupe Girlfriend

The Last – She Don’t Know Why I’m Here (single version)

The Fuzztones – Bad News Travels Fast

The Pandoras – It’s About Time

The Chesterfield Kings – She Told Me Lies

The Dream Syndicate – Definitely Clean

Kendra Smith – Space: Unadorned

Rain Parade – Prisoners

The Long Ryders – Join My Gang

The Three O’clock – In Another World

True West – Look Around

Green On Red – Lost World

The Three O’clock – I Go Wild

Wednesday Week – Anyone Like Me

Opal – Empty Box Blues

Rainy Day – I’ll Keep It With Mine

Rain Parade – This Can’t Be Today

Redd Kross – Neurotica

The Dream Syndicate – Mr. Soul

The Three O’clock – Time’s Going Slower

True West – I’m Not There

Kendra Smith – Waiting In the Rain

Rain Parade – Don’t Feel Bad

The Bangs – Getting OUt of Hand

The Dream Syndicate – Slide Away

Opal – Strange Delight

The Three O’Clock – Jet Fighter

The Long Ryders – I Had a Dream

The Bangles – September Gurls

Mazzy Star – Halah

Rain Parade – Look at Merri







The Three O’Clock, Salvation Army/Before the Three O’clock, Rainy Day, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Green On Red, Opal, Kendra Smith, Mazzy Star, The Bangles, The Bangs, Game Theory, The Pontiac Brothers, Thin White Rope, The Long Ryders, The Permanent Green Light, The Jupiter Affect, The Pandoras, True West, Danny & Dusty, Steve Wynn, Wednesday Week, 28th Day, Clay Allison, The Chesterfield Kings, The, Eyes of Mind, The Fuzztones, Gravedigger Five, The Lost Patrol, The Morlocks, The Spoilers, The Untold Fables, The Verge, Red Kross, The Things, The Last, Tim Lee & Matt Piucci.

Frontier, Restless, Down There, Enigma, Bomp!, Slash Records, One Way, Voxx, PVC, New Rose, Rough Trade, and a few more out there.

– Tell Me When It’s Over – Notes From the Paisley Underground by Clive Jones
– Kaleidoscope Eyes: Psychedelic Rock from the ’60s to the ’90s, by Jim Derogatis
– Bomp!: Saving the World One Record at a Time, by Suzy Shaw


Go to the dublab video blog to see the most relevant videos from the era >


The first thing I thought when I was offered to host the Paisley Underground listening party was: “What makes me qualified to do this?” after all, I was only 10 years old by the time the movement as it’s known now was over. And even worst, I wasn’t even born or raised in Los Angeles!!! Let alone the US. So again, what makes me qualified to do this presentation? I find it funny that someone like me being a foreigner, originally from Buenos Aires Argentina is doing a presentation about a local group of friends, colleagues and bandmates that at some point connected, played and wrote songs together at a special time and place in music history. But I guess is not uncommon for a person to go to a foreign land and find something that locals take for granted fascinating, and appreciate how amazing that something is.

My first exposure to what is called Paisley Underground was in 1996, when I first moved to Los Angeles, a friend of mine owned a record by Kendra Smith, The Guild of Temporal Adventurers. And although that record technically is not a Paisley Underground record, I found the sound so unique and at the same time so connected to everything I liked, that I made it a point to find out more about who was behind this.

You have to remember that this was 1996, I didn’t own a computer, and the internet was something that only a couple of people I knew had access to. So as you can imagine it took a bit longer to find out all the connections and backgrounds. Then someone told me, “oh, yes, they are part of that whole Paisley Underground scene” The term sounded even more intriguing, just like the first time I heard the name Velvet Underground. It sounded like an elusive group of people that created this mysterious and well crafted songs that were just mind blowing. Finally a couple of years later (post internet years) all the bands started popping up one way or another. I think first came Rain Parade through their CD reissues, then The Three O’Clock with Baroque Hoedown at a record store in Ventura, and it was just a matter of time until I found out about the rest of them all.

The more I read about this time and place I realize that the Paisley Underground was never about being retro, revivalists, and even less about following any trends. I think in the end all these bands were original and created something new that influenced many bands that came afterwards. But after reading interviews, reviews, articles and just looking at pictures from that era, it’s obvious to me that it was more about collaborating, and spending time with friends and in the process writing music that stood the test of time.

So going back to what makes me qualified to do this presentation, I guess the answer is that I’m just a fan who absolutely loves this music, and find it so so so special and influential to a personal level, that I think it deserves to be featured and celebrated for what it really was.




This track was generously given to dublab by the band themselves for the Sound Share LA project. Probably one of the biggest rarities from The Three O’Clock, the song was released in a fan club 7 inch for christmas sometime in the late 80s.


jack waterson

This episode features special guest Jack Waterson from the bands The Serfers, Green On Red, Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra and many others. He also runs Future Music, one of the coolest instrument and audio gear shops in Los Angeles.



Lou Reed – Caroline Says No.2

Pere Ubu – Non-Alignment Pact

Roxy Music – All I want is you

Kendra Smith – Stars are in your eyes

Gun Club – Jack on Fire

Brian Eno – Third Uncle

Rain Parade – Blue

Opal – Rocket Machine

Green on Red – Old Chief

801 live – Diamond Head

Jack Waterson – Rampage

True West – Throw away the key

Tex and the horseheads – Oh Mother

Rain Parade – What she’s done to your mind

Bangles – The Real World

Three O’Clock- Untitled Christmas Song

Venice Dawn – Something about April