Chasing That Rainbow
Precious Metal was an all female act from Los Angeles, California whose beginnings date back to October of 1983 with founding members Mara Fox (guitar) and Susette Andres (drums). Andres placed an add in the local classifieds paper, The Recycler, seeking to form an all-female band. Fox's guitarist friend Debbie Nishihara spotted the add and suggested the two check it out. After a few jam sessions Nishihara opted out but Fox and Andres kept right on rocking. The ladies toyed with band names like Mercury Circuit and Electric Angels but Andres came up with the name 'Precious' which would later become 'Precious Metal'.
As the band was forming Andres met with a friend who was doing the music for the movie 'American Drive-In'. A song, "L.A.", that Andres had written was soon recorded for the movie. The track would feature Andres & Fox, along with newest band member Alex Rylance on bass, Paul Sabu on guitar and Terry Woods providing the vocals.
In February of 1984 Andres, Fox and Rylance recruited vocalist Leslie Knauer and guitarist Janet Robin and Precious Metal was officially formed. This line-up soon recorded the three track demo 'Girls Night Out'. The demo was receiving radio airplay by the pioneering new rock station KROQ and it just so happened that Russ Regan, then President of Polygram Records, was tuned in and heard the demos title track. He liked "Girls Night Out" so much that he called the station in order to track the band down, and would eventually sign 'Precious Metal' to their first recording contract.
Long Island, New York's Susette Andres moved to California to persue a career in music. With Precious Metal she got her first real taste of the rock and roll experience. However, as the band started to jell both she and the other girls realized it wasn't working out so she made her exit. She went on to form Wylde Hearts and by 1992 was in another all female group, Bombshell, who stayed together for some eight years before they disbanded in 1999. Today Susette is busy with her own Professional Animal Care business. Susette & her animals have appeared on the Tonight Show, Animal Planet, Larry King Live and Magic Mountain.
Carol 'Control' Duckworth took over drum duties just a few months before Precious Metal were to sign their record deal. Carol, born in Nebraska and raised in Riverside California, played in a number of bands before joining Precious Metal. In one such band she was dubbed Carol Mass Control because of her drumming abilities, so the name Carol Control carried over to her days with Precious Metal. Also prior to joining the band Carol had played in a band with one Meredith Brooks.
Canadian born vocalist Leslie Knauer was already a known performer thanks to the success of her previous group Promises. The band also included Leslie's brothers Benny and Jed. Leslie recorded two albums with Promises, both of which went gold and platinum in Australia and New Zealand. The band had several hit singles including the # 1 German hit "Baby It's You". Leslie was also in the sunset strip band Roxy Roller that also featured guitarist Lizzy Grey of London fame, bassist Randy St. Clair and ex-London drummer Dane Rage. Grey started the project while London was in limbo. Roxy Roller recorded one single, which was a cover of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes".
Bassist Alex Rylance was originally from Wigan in the north of England, but immigrated to the United States after leaving school. She spent time in Ohio in several cover bands before moving to Los Angeles.
San Fernando Valley guitarist Janet Robin began learning the guitar at the age of nine under the tutelage of legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads. At the time of their lessons Rhoads was a member of Quiet Riot and would go on to greater success with Ozzy Osbourne before his untimely death in a plane crash on March 19, 1982.
Mara Fuchs was born in New Jersey and split time living between there and New York as her parents were divorced. At 12 years old, already anticipating a musical career, she changed her German name Fuchs to its American translation of Fox. She would leave high school and head off to Hollywood to study at the renowned Guitar Institute of Technology. Mara had always dreamed of being in an all girl band so after only six months of studies she jumped at the opportunity that would become Precious Metal.
1986 would see the release of Precious Metal's debut record 'Right Here, Right Now'. The band were then approached by Polygram to use their song "Cheesecake" for the movie "Bad Guys". Leslie had a half written song from her Promises days called "Bad Guys", so the band let on that they had a master of the track and would bring it in the next day. They raced over to the recording studio and finished writing it and recorded it from 7 p.m. until 9 a.m., they showered, and then Mara and Leslie stumbled into Polygram at 11 a.m. with the finished master like they had it all along. It was chosen as the title track and became the bands first MTV video.
The band went back into the studio, this time teamed with producer Keith Olsen. Russ Regan had been fired and the new president of Polygram envisioned the band as the next Bangles. This didn't sit at all well with the girls. To make things worse the band clashed with Olsen on every level. Olsen even wanted to fire Leslie. The band had had enough and handed Polygram their uncashed recording budget check and asked out of their contract.
In the next year and a half Precious Metal turned down several contract offers mainly because they didn't want to be another Barbie Doll band whose strings were being pulled by the label brass. The band went through all the sexism and disrespect handed down to female acts in those days. They always had to be twice as good as their male counterparts to get half the respect.
The band finally got the deal they were looking for when fan and President of Chameleon Records Stephen Powers signed them. At around the same time they also got a deal with Savage Records in the UK. They signed for about one tenth of what the Polygram deal was for but got what most bands never get, total control. Both labels paid for Precious Metal to do an album and the records were released simultaneously in the form of 1988's "That Kind Of Girl". Each label paid for their own cover with Chameleon having the American rights, and Savage having the rights in England.
The problem with signing to a small label is there was no money to promote the record and no tour support. The band had to work their butts off to make things work. They played ten days on, and one day off for three months at a time, selling T-shirts shirts and albums to fans out of their tour bus windows.
Precious Metal's 1990 self-titled third record saw Chameleon securing the distribution and backing of Capitol records. The record boasted some heavyweight guests including Heart's Nancy Wilson on guitar, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson and former Runaways singer Cherie Curie providing backing vocals. The band finally released the live favorite "Chasing Rainbows" which was penned by Knauer's old band mate Lizzie Grey. The record also contained a rockin' cover of the Jean Knight hit "Mr. Big Stuff" and a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Two Hearts".
Bassist Alex Rylance left the band between albums two and three so the 'Precious Metal' record marked the debut of Seattle, Washington native Julia Farey. Julia's previous band Big Trouble featured 1983 Miss Georgia and the future Macy Alexander character on the soap opera The Bold And The Beautiful, Bobbie Eakes on vocals, Julia on bass, Suzy Zarow on drums and Rebecca Ryan on keyboards. Their one and only 1987 self-titled record was produced by Giorgio Moroder. The record featured guest guitars by Richie Zito and Dann Huff as well as vocals by Eric Martin. The record spawned a small hit in "Crazy World" which peaked at # 71.
Chameleon Records twice went bankrupt and in the end Precious Metal were left without a label and decided to call it quits in 1992.
Following the bands break up Janet Robin toured for three years as part of Fleetwood Mac alum Lindsey Buckingham's back up band (the band also included Liza Carbe who had been in an early version of Vixen). She then ushered in a solo career with the release of 1998's 'Open The Door' and the 2001 follow up 'Out From Under'. Both were released on her own Little Sister label. Janet has also appeared on records by many artists including Maria Sharp, Garrison Starr, Michelle Shocked and Vertigo Road.
Vocalist Knauer formed Kanary in 1996 with bassist Mary Kay and drummer Tony Matteuci. Kanary released three records, 1998's 'Invincible', 2000's 'Porno Church Of The Ugly Man' and 2000's six song ep 'Haunted'. Kanary also released a three song ep titled 'Bundle of Hiss' and a best of record in 'Their Very Best Yet'. Invincible was released in 1999 by Universal Music/ Tricycle Entertainment in Japan under the title 'Do You Swear'. Mattuci has played with the likes of Quiet Riot & Paul Shortino. Knauer also joined Power Stripper in 1997 as a drummer/vocalist.
Bassist Alex Rylance helped form the Ya Ya's but soon lost interest in the whole music scene and now spends much of her time caring for her two children.
Drummer Carol M. Control still plays around L.A. now and then, but is mostly into computers and painting these days.
Mara Fox, now president of Rock City Records, would team up with Runaways vocalist Cherrie Currie, Berton Averre and Bruce Gary of The Knack, Craig Doucet, and Ian Mitchell of the seventies Scottish pop outfit The Bay City Rollers to form The Mix. They were together for a year before they decided to call it quits. Fox also heads Times Square Productions which helps place music in film and television.
John Edwards, the president of Renaissance Records, approached Fox about releasing a Precious Metal greatest hits record. Foxx digitally remastered 'Right Here, Right Now' (which was never released on cd); dug through boxes of old photos and sent him over a hundred to choose from for the cd booklet. Edwards let the girls choose which songs they wanted to include so Carol did the sequence. The end result was 1999's 'What You See Is What You Get; The Very Best Of Precious Metal'.
Mara hasn't ruled out the possiblity of a dvd release in the future, as she has tons of old live footage stashed away.
2005 would find Leslie and Kanary releasing record number four "Only Dead Fish Go With The Current". The record included an excellent cover of the hit from her days in Promises, "Baby It's You".
Susette Andres band The Other Otherz released a EP in 2006 and a self-titled debut album in 2008.
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