10,000 Maniacs is a United States-based alternative rock band, which formed in 1981 and continues to be active with various line-ups.
The band was formed as Still Life in 1981 in Jamestown, New York, by Dennis Drew (keyboards), Steve Gustafson (bass), Chet Cardinale (drums), Robert Buck (guitar), and Teri Newhouse (Buck's ex-wife and vocalist). Gustafson invited Natalie Merchant, who was 17 at the time, to do some vocals. John Lombardo who was in a band called The Mills (along with brother guitarist/vocalists Mark Liuzzo and Paul Liuzzo and drummer Mike Young) and used to play occasionally with Still Life, was invited to join permanently on guitar and vocals. Newhouse and Cardinale left the band in July, and Merchant became the main singer. Various drummers came and left. The band changed its name to Burn Victims and then to 10,000 Maniacs after the low-budget horror movie Two Thousand Maniacs!.
They performed as 10,000 Maniacs for the first time on September 7, 1981 - Labor Day, with a line-up of Merchant, Lombardo, Buck, Drew, Gustafson, and Tim Edborg on drums. Edborg left and Bob "Bob O Matic" Wachter was on drums for most of the 1981 gigs. Tired of playing cover songs — though their first notable American hit was found in covering the Cat Stevens hit "Peace Train" — the band started to write their own music, usually with Merchant handling the lyrics and Lombardo the music. In March 1982, with Jim Foti on drums, the band recorded an EP album called Human Conflict Number Five. More gigs followed in 1982. It was during this time that they lived in Atlanta, Georgia for a short while at the encouragement of friends who said that many gigs were available there. The band moved back to Jamestown in November 1982.
At the beginning of 1983, Jerry Augustyniak joined the band as their permanent drummer. The Maniacs met Augustyniak when they played in Buffalo, New York, where he was in a punk band called The Stains. Between March and July, the band recorded songs for a second record, Secrets of the I Ching — their debut full-length album, which was pressed by Mark Records for the band's own label Christian Burial Music. The record was well-received by critics and it caught the attention of John Peel - DJ at BBC Radio 1 in London. One song, "My Mother the War" turned out to be a minor hit in United Kingdom, and it entered the independent singles chart. During 1983 and 1984, touring was a way of life for the band, which included gigs in the UK.
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