local music scene south carolina
Bio (Provided by Steve Adkins)
A truly unique band for Orangeburg or any other town for that matter, Altered Moods grew from Jerry Axson's 4-track recordings made in the attic of his house and followed a trail that eventually led to the boardroom of Geffen Records. Jerry had already played with local groups Ozmantis and Cloudz by this time and had written a number of original pop songs. Jerry also provided songs for both Red Menace and Columbia's Bored Suburban Youths, including "Sniper", which was a highlight of the BSY live set. Jerry began recording his songs when he bought a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder. He learned the ins and outs of recording as he went, overdubbing by ping ponging tracks on the unit while creating layers of parts and structuring songs. Jerry did all the vocals himself and played all the instruments with the exception of the drums which were dubbed from a Drum Drops LP album. (Drum Drops was a popular set of albums with different styles of drum-only tracks designed to help musicians practice different rhythms.) One notable song from this period is "Shelly's On The Radio", a perfect piece of power pop with the distinctive influence of a favorite band of his – The Producers out of Atlanta, GA. Jerry was soon joined by his brother Hal Axson, when Hal finished his tour in the Army. Hal had acquired a bass while in service and taught himself to play with the intention to be a part of Jerry's project. He learned his brother's songs from the rough cassette demos that Jerry would send by mail. Lisa Brillinger, the band's drummer, developed an interest in drums at the age of ten, starting on a toy set with paper heads. She played her first song, Elton John's "Your Song", when a friend of her father brought over his guitar and a Slingerland drum set to jam. Along the way she got some pointers from Leonard Cody, the drummer for local band, Ozmantis, and then developed a hard hitting muscular style of drumming in the punk band Red Menace on her way to joining Jerry and Hal upon Hal's release from the Army. The yet-to-be named band had its first rehearsal in September of 1985 and soon settled on the name Altered Moods. Jerry, who at that time was working as a screen printer designed the logo and did all the band's artwork including the cassette release, "Seduction Made Simple", which was recorded in the basement of Williams' Music by Mike Amos. Ron Broxton, a second guitarist, was added to the band prior to this recording.
Much has been made of the struggles of fellow Orangeburg band Red Menace for acceptance and venues to play, but in all honestly at that time there was a small but vibrant and fiercely loyal punk scene dotted across South Carolina where punk bands were welcome. No such support existed for a band playing original Beatles and Producers influenced radio pop. Altered Moods found it difficult to book jobs due to their playing almost all original material and they were shut out of local radio as well. Despite their solid catalog of what should have been radio hits, they didn't quite fit the mold - commercial radio wouldn't touch them because they were too “alternative” and alternative radio wouldn't play them because they weren't "alternative enough". As a result Altered Moods played only a few local shows usually with other local bands. Altered Moods soldiered on continuing to write material and practice continuously while submitting homemade cassettes containing their original material to any label or management company on the east coast that would listen. They finally drew the interest of Tom Lipsky and CMC Productions in Zebulon, NC where they recorded ten songs over a three session period. Hal Axson has said that his most cherished memory of Altered Moods is listening to these demo tapes on the rides home from North Carolina. The Zebulon demo’s were shopped to record labels by CMC over the period of a year where finally there were discussions at Geffen Records about the signing of the band but in the end the label passed. The band drifted apart soon after with the core members remaining good friends.
Altered Moods stands as an example of a band out of place in time; a tale of what might have been. Still, the band left behind a catalog of recordings of well written, well played, and finely crafted power pop gems. "Shelly", "Big River", and "Crooked Little Town" in particular, stand out. Altered Moods' music was, and still is, an example of what a pop band should be. The band drew from diverse influences and molded them into an original creation. Since the breakup of the band, the former members have remained active on the local music scene. Lisa Brillinger is currently playing with One Man Band out of the Columbia area, Hal Axson has since played bass in local bands too numerous to mention, and Jerry Axson continues to write and record music on his own and has produced a large quantity of CD projects of original material in his home studio.
Jerry Axson – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
Hal Axson - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Lisa Brillinger – Drums, Percussions
Ron Broxton – Guitar
Joe Whetsell – Keyboard
Jeremy (JT) Smith – Guitar