Brent Labeau, David Jukes, Chris Maxwell and Jud Martinale.
lost record, "Great Big Diamond," is out now on 140 gram vinyl and digitally. Via iTunes and Max Recordings
, where you can stream before you buy.
Not only was the band the first nationally regarded pop band to come out of Little Rock, it was, perhaps more than any other local act, the spark that ignited our modern music scene. Born, initially, as a punk-rock cover band called When Michael Jackson Rears His Flaming Head and later the Blunads, the band initially featured Chris Maxwell, David Jukes, Joe Cripps and Bruce Hulsey. When the later two left, Jud Martinale and Brent Labeau came aboard and the band officially became the Gunbunnies.
In 1986, they were CMJ's "Best Undiscovered Band." Sometime thereafter, they signed to Virgin and, in 1990, cut an album, "Paw Paw Patch," with Jim Dickinson. According to former Spectrum editor Stephen Buel (currently heading up the East Bay Express), they were the toast of the town at SXSW that year.
But soon thereafter, Virgin dissolved its New York office, where the Gunbunnies' champions were based, and the band was dropped. Still, they continued to tour, and along the way, someone at Warner Bros. got interested and eventually signed the them to a development deal. With that money, they recorded the demoes that make up "Great Big Diamond."
Chris Maxwell remembers the label's comment about the recordings as something along the lines of "we already have Elvis Costello and the Replacements and don't need another."
"So we dropped it and the band kind of atrophied," Maxwell says. "The recordings just kind of laid around."
Maxwell credits Jack Hill, who wrote a nice Sunday Style sort of remembrance on the band several months back, for sparking his interest in digging up the demoes.
"I think they would've been totally forgotten if not for [him] asking about them."
In recent years, Riverfest's Rob Bell has lobbied hard to get the Gunbunnies to reunite in the Arkansas Tent, and Maxwell says Bell's enthusiasm helped convince him to work with Max's Burt Taggart to put the album out. As far as reuniting, Maxwell says there aren't any immediate plans.
"I think everyone’s really open to the idea, but the timing hasn’t been good."
In the meantime, he'll be in town next Friday, Aug. 28, playing a solo gig at Satellite, with a scaled down version of the Boondogs opening. The gig was previously scheduled for Saturday. Look for him to mix new solo material with a few Gunbunnies songs.
[Earlier: Lost Gunbunnies album coming to Max]