Some bands reunite for the money, others for their egos. New Hampshire's Electras, however, are doing it for the greater good of the country.
Though their original bassist, Senator John Kerry, has become somewhat preoccupied with his solo project, the Electras have been supportive of his endeavors, and early next year, they plan to reunite the original lineup for a 45th anniversary gig in Washington, D.C.
"We're planning a mega event!" said founding guitarist Jon Prouty, who hopes several of the surf and garage-rock bands they grew up with will also play at the concert, tentatively scheduled for a to-be-determined venue during the third week of January.
Prouty and founding guitarist Larry Rand are also looking forward to getting the Electras together since they have not performed in public in 43 years. The big question, of course, is whether their most famous member will strap on his bass again and join them. "Probably," says Prouty, " 'cause he'll be in Washington, too."
The Electras, so named for a Buick model popular at the time of the band's creation, formed in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1960 while the members, then in ninth and 10th grades, were attending the St. Paul's boarding school. The band began to perform rock, garage and surf songs for small crowds at Saturday evening jam sessions, and in December 1961, it recorded an album that retailed for $5 on vinyl (see "John Kerry's Rock-Star Past: The Story Of The Electras").
Three of the four founding bandmembers graduated St. Paul's in 1962, and the lineup of the Electras changed several times before the band dissolved in 1963.
The reunion of the Electras, who have gained prominence in the past year with the help of their bassist's star power, was catalyzed when the band’s name was revealed in the Washington Post in late January. One of the 500 printed copies of their eponymous album subsequently sold on eBay for $2,551, helping to speed up the reunion.
Inspired by their sudden surge in notoriety, Rand and Prouty went to Nashville in July and took four local musicians into the studio to record an album and film a DVD.
"The primary factor behind this, aside from furthering the interest of John Kerry and the nation as a whole," Rand said, "was to have fun!"
Though the band's reunion was partially motivated by the opportunity to relive their adolescent years, the founding members had a larger goal in mind: "to help change the leadership of this great nation," said Prouty.
"We gave a lot of thought to the fact that it could be a close election," Prouty explained. "As the spring unfolded, our commitment was to explain John Kerry's involvement with the band, his conduct, nature and so forth. And quite frankly we feel that if people can be aware of what we've known, it may help some people assess those characteristics and qualities in John today to understand why a vote for John Kerry is the correct vote."
Prouty and Rand, who spent four formative years with the candidate, recall noticing signs of beyond-his-years maturity in Kerry.
"Our American history teacher was fond of reminding us when he thought we weren't working as hard as we should," Rand remembered. " 'Don't you realize, you guys, that you're going to be running this country in 25 years?' And I would say, 'What a ridiculous statement.' I couldn't see it 'cause at that time I was permanently an adolescent, but John Kerry was not, and he was able to see beyond that."