APB's remarkable success story just doesn't happen anymore in the music industry.
In 1981, the trio led by singer-bassist Iain Slater released the single "I'd Like to Shoot You Down" on a small, independent label in their home country of Scotland. That single, with all its punk-funk danceable charm, made its way -- in a pile of other records -- to WLIR/92.7 program director Denis McNamara's office in Garden City. When McNamara heard it, he loved it and started playing it on the station. A lot.
"It was one of those regional successes that happened in radio in those days," McNamara said. "The only difference was that instead of coming from a local band, it came from a band from Scotland."
Back in Scotland, Slater and his bandmates, guitarist Glenn Roberts and drummer George Cheyne, had no idea they were getting popular on Long Island and in certain Manhattan clubs.
"It didn't compute at first," said Slater, calling from Toulouse, France, where he was handling sound for the current Babyshambles tour. "It came out of the blue."
However, once APB learned how big "Shoot You Down" was getting in the area, they came over to check it out for themselves. "A lot of it is blurry," Slater says of that first trip, although he does remember playing several places on Long Island, including The Malibu, Hofstra University and some guy's 21st birthday in the Hamptons, where director Dino De Laurentiis showed up, followed by the police, who shut the party down.
Slater remembers walking into the Manhattan club Danceteria just when "Shoot You Down" was being played. Our song was on and Madonna's dancing to it on a podium," he said. "That was dead weird."
APB was never able to expand their success in America beyond the tri-State area or beyond their native Scotland, despite being championed by legendary BBC disc jockey John Peel. But they're fine with how things turned out, enjoying a string of regional hits, including "What Kind of Girl?" and "Summer Love," which both landed WLIR's "Screamer of the Week" status.
And the trio has always worked on new music among other projects, most recently releasing the "Jaguar" EP in 2011 themselves. They are set to play a series of shows on Long Island, starting with a rare acoustic show tomorrow at Page One in Glen Cove.
"We're a little nervous, but it will be a great surprise," Slater said. "We're looking forward to meeting a lot of people and seeing people we've been in touch with for years and years."
WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday, the restaurant Page One, 90 School St., Glen Cove; 7:30p.m. Friday, Revolution, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville; 8 p.m. Saturday, Studio at Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St., Manhattan
SCREAMERS OF THE WEEK
WLIR's Screamer of the Week was a powerful brand in the 1980s, as Long Islanders voted on what was the coolest new song of the week. While the title sometimes went to known powerhouses like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, it often went to relative unknowns, like APB. Here's a look at some of the best "Screamers":
Do You Wanna Touch Me?, Joan Jett (January 1981)
Tempted, Squeeze (June 1981)
Love Is Like A Rock, Donnie Iris (October 1981)
Love Plus One, Haircut One Hundred (April 1982)
Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran (August 1982)
Pass the Dutchie, Musical Youth (November 1982)
Nobody's Diary, Yaz (June 1983)
Locomotion, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (April 1984)
Love Vigilantes, New Order (June 1985)
She's On It, Beastie Boys (January 1986)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Smiths (July 1986)
La Bamba, Los Lobos (July 1987) -- GLENN GAMBOA