Other than pounding on a Radio Shack organ as a youngster and playing trumpet in the third grade, Rusty Squeezebox (born David Ramsey) had no musical training prior to buying a bass to satiate his Prince-worshipping friend and then forming the band Ach Nein as a junior in high school. The band didn't last much more than a year, but before their demise, Squeezebox took up guitar, which would eventually become his main instrument. He also began fooling around on his brother's drum kit, which was around the same time in the mid-'80s that Mike Randle asked him to replace the drummer in his mod band, Bad Press. It was a partnership that would ultimately prove long-lasting and productive. Squeezebox's stint in Bad Press lasted into 1988, after which he left the band to try out for the drum spot in Los Angeles' ska-pop band the Untouchables who had already earned a modicum of success in the U.S. and U.K. with a number of college-radio hits. He joined the band in 1989 and played with them off and on through January 1999.
That span also proved to be a busy period for Squeezebox's own musical projects. He formed the band Treehouse in 1989 with brother Eric Ramsey and former Bad Press mate Garfield Wolfe. They changed their name to Voodoo Love and recorded a strong 16-track demo but ended up breaking up due to Wolfe's drug problem. In 1991 Squeezebox again hooked up with old friend Mike Randle. They started playing music and learning about the recording process together, becoming cohorts and ultimately forming Baby Lemonade in 1992 with David Green and Henry Liu (later replaced by Dave Chapple). The band would spend the rest of the decade developing into one of the great rock bands on the Los Angeles underground scene. Baby Lemonade immediately created a small buzz throughout the city, eventually catching the ear of '60s cult rock legend Arthur Lee during a performance at the Troubadour. Lee asked the band to back him as Love for a European tour, and they did so in 1993. They resumed Baby Lemonade the following year, releasing the Wonderful EP on Sympathy for the Record Industry. As a lark, the former David Ramsey used the nom de plume Rusty Squeezebox, pulled from dialog in the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus (in which F. Murray Abraham's Salieri describes the transcendentally simplistic opening bars of a Mozart composition as sounding "like a rusty squeezebox") on what he thought might be the band's only recording. It turned out to be the first of many recordings, however, and the name stuck. The band's first full-length, 68% Pure Imagination, followed in 1995. In 1997, Squeezebox produced an album by the band of former-Wondermint Brian Kassan, Chewy Marble, and mixed several recordings by fellow Los Angeles band Yortise. In late 1998, Baby Lemonade released their second full-length album, Exploring Music.
After the latter album, Squeezebox and Randle began working on new material, but some of the songwriting had a tendency to veer outside the parameters set for Baby Lemonade, so the two decided to try their hand at solo albums, released simultaneously by eggBERT Records in May 2000. Squeezebox's effort, Isotopes, certainly explored new sonic territory, using the studio as an additional instrument to achieve a dreamlike tone. Baby Lemonade reconvened following the solo album releases to begin work on a new song cycle, The High Life Suite. ~ Stanton Swihart, Rovi