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Bryant Simpson - My Time in the Band Called “ZOT”

by Bryant Simpson


from left to right: Patrick Knowles, Bryant Simpson, Randy Wayne, Chris Stewart

It was fall of 1982 when I responded to an ad in a local paper for a band seeking a bass player. “Zot” was a trio based in Huntington Beach, about 20 minutes from my home in Anaheim. They had a small but loyal following, playing mostly high school dances and backyard parties. Their sound was very techno pop, with Randy’s lead vocals reminding me of David Bowie on helium! My background was in R&B, funk and jazz-fusion, but somehow when we put everything together that day, it felt…great! They were excited and so was I. We immediately started rehearsing for some live shows with hopes of making a demo with Zot’s “new sound”. Randy Wayne’s songwriting was strong and while he was not the most musically talented in the band (I always thought Patrick Knowles was), he had lots of charisma. Chris Stewart’s drumming was solid as well and we really locked. We rehearsed almost daily and as the music got tighter, so did our friendship. We worked hard and played hard.

Our first demo caught the ears of a lot of people. I must admit that there was nothing out there that you could accurately compare it to. With several record labels showing interest, we looked for a manager with strong connections. We finally chose a person who I will refer to as BKP, who at the time was managing Rod Stewart. In my opinion, signing him as manager was both a blessing and a curse for Zot. Although we may not have enjoyed some of our success had it not been for BKP, he was instrumental in changing the focus of the band from making good music to making the “big time” while at the same time planting “you are the star” seeds in Randy’s head. By the time we signed with Elektra/Asylum, the tree was already growing. There was a clause in the contract that stated the band would be dropped if Randy left the group. But we were so close of friends that we were sure that would never happen.

We searched for a producer and went through many candidates. We finally settled on Pat Moran who had just finished Robert Plant’s “The Big Log”. We recorded at the Record Plant in L.A. but Randy and Pat (Moran) the mix-down was in Wales were Moran lived. Naturally, the project went over budget but we were happy with the finished results. They next few months were like a whirlwind with T.V. appearances, live shows and of course, parties and more parties. Then the bottom fell out. Shortly after the release of the album, our A&R guy who signed us (he had also signed Motley Crue and Dokken) had a big falling out with Elektra’s CEO and left us at the label without representation. He went over to Geffen Records and we were dropped. At this time, the pillow talk between Randy and BKP came into fruition. In the fall of 1985 we went on tour with Latin singer/actress Maria Conchita Alonso. When we returned in 1986, the band disbanded. Randy and BKP continued their dubious relationship for several years after but he was never able to make Randy into that “big star”. Patrick and Chris joined different bands in the Orange County. I began doing a lot of session work and moved to North Hollywood. I kept in touch with the guys for a few years but gradually lost contact by the early 90’s.

The times I had with Zot were priceless; I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Patrick, Chris and Randy will always have a special place in my heart. But after that experience, I knew that I never wanted to be in another band situation were the goal was to get signed, sell a million records and become stars. To me, the music was, is and always will be most important. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Posted by Bill at March 26, 2005 9:52 AM

Comments

Hi,

You were the second person that I thought of when I heard that MJ had passed away. The first person was my older son, he just started to listing to his music and like it!

I called you yesterday and didn't have the guts to talk to you because of how we left off so I hung the phone and you did answer. I recognized your voice. Sorry for giving you the click.

I hope you doing fine and your family. I'm not sure if you look at your post often but I hope you see mine.

Liz

Posted by: Elisabet Ramirez at June 27, 2009 3:33 AM

Thank You for the fine music.

Uranium still remains one of my favorite 80's albums, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Posted by: georgi osipov at July 20, 2014 5:13 AM

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