New Math, Live on Channel 13’s Morning Break
At the height of their popularity, New Math were asked to play live on the WOKR-13 weekday show, Morning Break. A typical AM TV show for housewives, with some news, community calendar, maybe a cooking segment & usually some kind of live remote from somewhere around town. I have no clue who thought that the average housewife or retiree would want to see New Math, or how the appearance was even set up. I just remember being told it was gonna be live from Scorgies, and I had to be there by 8AM to set up for a 10:15 broadcast. I made arrangements to go into work late & had the guys in the AV club at Sutherland High set up the video machine to record it for me.
I remember internal chatter going back & forth on what 2 songs they should play, with one idea being to re-write the lyrics to “The Pipes of Pan”, changing it into “The Pots and Pans”. They settled on “American Survival” first, and then “They Walk Among You” after the short interview.
We decided to use a chemical fog machine without telling the shows producers, so I got that set up & hidden under the drum riser before the TV crew showed up. As the drum & bass breakdown in the middle of the song arrived, I hit the fog switch & let it flow to the point of overload. The cameraman had to retreat from his closeup of Roy, to a long shot from the middle of the dancefloor, as he couldnt see anything in the dense cloud. This was a one camera shoot so he did all the moves live, & did a pretty good job. The fog gag turned out to be an even swap, deception-wise, as the TV crew didnt tell me that they were gonna process the video feed with the ‘strobing’ feature of their video time base corrector, back at the station, during the instrumental sections of the song.
After American Survival ended the TV reporter introduced them as “New Wave”, and Kevin had to correct her “No, its New Math”. This was followed by a lame interview, as she asked them why they wore such strange clothes (as the clip will show, they werent wearing anything strange). Then after the band played “They Walk Among You”, they took phone calls from the housewives. Equally lame. I remember one housewife saying “I’d rather listen to a love song.” and Kevin saying “Well, then you should do that.” I have that all on tape somewhere buried deep, but it’s probably better left buried. I just kept a copy of the performance stuff accessible.
So here’s American Survival. I thought it came off great, and the video recording of it stands the test of time. The bands soundman Pee-Wee did a mix with grit, that must have woken them up at the senior home. Worth turning up loud thru the stereo. It showcases the band at their best, playing at the best place to see them, Scorgies. To me, its a perfect snapshot of what it they were like back in the day. In addition, it shows how far ahead of its time Gary’s song was. Take a listen to the lyrics and then apply them to todays headlines of economic collapse. Even tho it was written about the Reagan 80s, its spot on 20+ years later.
If you click on the link you can see the clip in Hi-Res. (I would let either version load fully before playing).
New Math: American Survival, Live