Words & Music



Left to right: Sam Salmon, Jim Ryan, Gus Vassos, Tony Walker, John Cody

The Actionauts were a short-lived Vancouver band with roots in the punk scene. In the mid-eighties, shortly before I joined, their ‘Hash Assassin’ was up for or won the Georgia Straight’s Single of the Year award. Along with strong material, the band was exciting onstage. Unfortunately, they were saddled with poor management, which they were trying to get rid of by the time I came onboard.

The singer (Gus) and guitarist (Tony Walker a/k/a Tony Balony) were a great creative team, but argued constantly during rehearsals. It was frustrating, but the music was good enough to stick around. We did a few recording sessions – not sure if anything ever made it out officially – and made a video for the song ‘Eastern Days,’ in a Turkish restaurant, although I’ve never seen it.

Actionauts posterThe two tracks here are from the old Ocean Sound Studios in North Vancouver. Very low fi, but all that I could find. We were looking for a bass player, and I think Tony is doubling on bass for these sessions, although it might be Jim Ryan, an old pal I brought into the band around that time.

Jim is in the photo above, but I can’t recall if he was there for more than a few days. The first live gig I did with the band was at the University of B.C. Sam, the keyboard player had inserted a bunch of little drink umbrellas into his hair, and between songs, programmed his synthesizer play traffic sounds at full volume. Unfortunately, he neglected to inform the rest of the band of his plan, so I was totally thrown. There was a huge racket every time we finished a song, which made it impossible to communicate with the other players. I figured it was the P.A. falling apart, and it was only after the gig that Sam told us what he’d done.

After coming to the conclusion that the constant head-butting between Tony and Gus was simply part of their unique creative process, I relaxed, and decided the band wasn’t really in danger of folding.

Then we broke up. Seems they really didn’t want to work together.

I went on to work with Tony in a few permutations. I remember a group called Famous Players, and of course as Tony Balony, and for at least one gig we were Jag Deep. I’m sure there are others.

Some Music:

Where She Lands
Eastern Days

Visit the Tony Balony & The Rubes website

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