"It was absolute garbage. But it was great garbage."
- Mark Andreasson
Arguably one of Boston's most important underground bands of the past 25 years, La Peste was part of the late '70s/early '80s punk and post-punk scene in Boston, along with the oft-mentioned Mission of Burma, lesser-knowns The Neighborhoods, among others. The "power trio" played loud, punchy punk rock with both some pop hooks and the groove and sensibility of the art-punk and post-punk bands that would follow them.
Peter Dayton - Guitar, Vocals (1978-79)
Roger Tripp - Drums, Vocals
Mark Andreasson (aka Mark Karl) - Bass, Vocals
Ian Stevens - Guitar, Vocals (1979-81)
Greg Hawkes - Keyboards (1979)
The band got their start in 1978 when three roommates, Mark Andreasson, Peter Dayton, and Roger Tripp, decided to start a band - taking the name from the Albert Camus novel La Peste. Andreasson described their first show, at the Boston University student cafeteria: "We just set up and plugged in. It was absolute garbage. But it was great garbage." Their live shows must've been a sight to behold: a mullet-sporting Roger Tripp singing backup from behind the drum kit while wearing a shirt reading "Kill Me Now" - not that you could see it past his flailing arms - and Mark Andreasson joining in with guitarist/vocalist Peter Dayton on a raucous trio of vocals on songs like "Not Today."
Never willing to pigeonhole themselves, the band was as likely to play a poppy tune like "You're Too Cute" as they were to play a searing diatribe like "Spymaster" or darker tunes like "Don't Wanna Die In My Sleep Tonite" all the while keeping the energy at full tilt. They even played some very bluesy tunes and one or two slower numbers like "Let Me Sleep," and did some creative songwriting structures that would appear in later post-punk and even more mainstream alt rock acts.
La Peste gained much of their fame in the area by winning or placing in the finals at every festival or competition they played in, including the high-profile WBCN "Rumble at the Rat." They also had a local hit in '78 with a self-released 7" "Better Off Dead" b/w "Black." They garnered enough attention and buzz that Ric Ocasek of the Cars came in to record three of their songs in the studio: "Don't Wanna Die in My Sleep Tonight," "Let Me Sleep," and "Don't Know Right From Wrong." These three were the only tracks recorded with Cars member Greg Hawkes on keyboards.
As early as 1979, breakup rumors had started to circle that were soon proven to be true when Peter Dayton left to form the more pop-oriented Peter Dayton Band. The band decided to re-form with a new guitarist and, as luck would have it, they already had a perfect replacement for Dayton in guitarist Ian Stevens. Stevens had once auditioned for the band in the past when they looked to add a fourth member, but he was ultimately rejected because his guitar style was too similar to Dayton's - a fact that now made the decision to choose him to replace Dayton an easy one.
The new lineup of La Peste came back in December of '79, playing mostly new material. A new song called "Moscow Radio" continued to hold the public's attention while the band experimented with their sound, having Stevens and Karl sing in unison with Tripp adding in harmony similar to the vocals in the song "Not Today." Their last contribution as a band were the songs "Army of Apathy" and "Lease on Life" which were released in 1981 on the Modern Method label's A Wicked Good Time punk compilation. The band likely broke up after the summer of 1981, shortly after denying that they were breaking up.
Sadly, Roger Tripp was killed in a car crash caused by a drunk driver on New Year's Eve, 1993. He left a wife, two children, and what by all accounts was a happy life.
In 1996, Matador Records released a compilation of La Peste tracks, mostly from the 1979 Rumble at the Rat, but also including the Ric Ocasek tracks, the original Better Off Dead 7" version, and a another studio track, "Color Scheme." The CD was dedicated to the memory of Roger Tripp.
A small Italian label, Rave Up Records (http://web.tiscali.it/raveup/) is said to be working on releasing some of La Peste's unreleased recordings sometime in 2003, but as of this writing there is no mention of it on their website.
Similar Artists - Mission of Burma, Minutemen, The Neighborhoods, Kustomized, Hüsker Dü, Gang of Four, Dinosaur Jr., The Girls