by DJ El Toro
Sometimes, the Internet is a life-saver. Like the other day, when I unearthed a mix tape from 1984, made by my first boyfriend, and fell in love all over again with one of the songs on it. Only I had no idea who the band was, or what the song was titled, and on the insert it still just read “?” — because my former paramour taped it off a Maryland college radio station.
Now, instead of cursing my teenage beau for not writing down the song info — like I did 24 years ago — I just fired up a search engine, typed in some lyrics, and viola! Suddenly, I finally knew that this dreamy, new wave pop tune is “Life in the Twilite Zone,” by Visible Targets. And that the band responsible came from Seattle! Where I now reside!
But what else? Well, that’s where the Internet let me down. I found a small selection of photos of the group on their modest page at an exhaustively thorough Pacific Northwest band site. But that was it. So I dug out my copy of Loser: The Real Seattle Music Story by Clark Humphrey, and found a little more information: The band was based around three sisters from Yakima; their manager and label owner, Bob Jeniker, ran the Park Avenue Records stores in PDX and SEA; that they made two EPs, the second produced by Bowie cohort Mick Ronson; and they opened for Simple Minds on a national tour before splitting in 1985.
Helpful, but I wanted more. I purchased a second-hand copy of the band’s self-titled debut EP (on the Park Avenue Records imprint) over at Wall of Sound, and noticed the sleeve art was by my colleague Charles R. Cross. So I e-mailed and asked him what the skinny on Visible Targets was. Alas, while he shared my enthusiasm for the music — “I always thought they were a great band that didn’t get enough attention… they were a great live band as well” — the only other big clue he could give me was that the band was on the cover of The Rocket once during Charles’ tenure as editor there.
So now I’m going to put my trust back in the Internet: Does anybody out there know more about this band? Are any of the members still kicking around the Emerald City area? Care to share an anecdote about seeing them live back in the Reagan years? My curiosity must be sated!
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.