MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of The Rave-Ups’ “Coming After Me”

The Rave-Ups’ frantic late-’80s run was marked by the occasional Hollywood A-list affiliation and some frustrating almosts. Pittsburgh native Jimmer Podrasky first met up with guitarist Terry Wilson, bassist Tommy Blatnik and drummer Timothy Jimenez working in the mailroom at A&M Records’ Los Angeles headquarters. That same lineup has reunited for Tomorrow (Omnivore), set for release February 2. “Coming After Me” may be the album’s best track—and it’s certainly the catchiest.

Though the Rave-Ups had existed in prior forms, Podrasky finally found the right chemistry in 1985. That year, the band’s well-received independent release, Town + Country, prompted a deal with Epic Records. Meanwhile, Podrasky’s relationship with Molly Ringwald’s sister led to some unexpected guerilla publicity in John Hughes’ classic coming-of-age flick Sixteen Candles, when the band’s name found its way onto Samantha’s notebook. A Rave-Ups appearance in 1986’s Pretty In Pink followed, and a track they performed in the movie landed on the Rhino compilation Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits Of The ’80s.

Having made an impact on the West Coast’s flourishing cowpunk scene with a nuanced country-flavored sound that predated the Americana tag, the Rave-Ups christened a new decade with their finest album, Chance, in 1990. Soon after, Podrasky left the band to raise his son. (Though not before a Rave-Ups appearance on Beverly Hills 90210.)

Fast forward to May 2011 and an ominous Friday the 13th in Los Angeles that inspired the core narrative of “Coming After Me.”

“Two LAPD officers showed up at my apartment, handcuffed me and informed me that I was a threat to myself,” says Podrasky. “I wasn’t. But I sure was bottoming out—deeply depressed and lost. They took my wallet, ID, phone, belt and shoelaces. I spent three days being shuffled from one facility to another, always told that they were going to find me a bed and I’d get to speak with a doctor. There was never a bed—only a bench and two old recliners. I was released on the third day, but trying to sleep on a bench or old recliner in a room with some seriously unstable people never stopped haunting me.”

When Podrasky played “Coming After Me” for Jimenez, the drummer had a different take on its contents. “He thought I’d written something about the situation at the southern border and the heartbreak happening there,” says Podrasky. “I realized he was right—what I’d written could easily be interpreted as commentary on that terrible situation. So I changed the focus but kept the overall sense of paranoia, fear and a desperate search for hope. I’m glad I changed it. Thank you, Tim.”

—Hobart Rowland