How Surrender "the mystery band" was Found
"Aren't You the AOR Dick Tracy!" "Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel" read the message board posts on Heavy Harmonies.com in March of 2005. The path that led to the release of Surrender's Better Later Than Never is, indeed, the stuff that novels are made of.
After seeing a rare 1991 CD from the much heralded but unknown band Surrender fetch $1000 on eBay one music fan wondered at its rarity - why was this CD so highly touted by so many people who never had a copy? Why did no one know anything about the band? Perhaps, he opined, it as an elaborate sham. His message set off a lively exchange, and the group of rock fans participating on the message boards turned into sleuths. Their detective work which, coupled with the subsequent outpouring of enthusiasm from the fans of the music, led to the "re-release" of the Surrender CD. See the full evolution on http://heavyharmonies.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4199), or follow the saga with excerpts used by permission.
The original CD was produced in 1991 as a promo by two musicians and singer looking to secure a record deal. Their barebones budget didn't allow for liner notes, lyrics sheets or a band bio. In retrospect, including names of the band members would have been a good idea. Some proofreading would have helped, too. And after the studio burnt down in 1995, well, there went the contact number. But somehow copies of the CD got around the world and back again, gaining acclaim and a legion of loyal fans. But where was the band? Enter the sleuths.
The Beginnings: The Mystery is Established:
"Who in their right mind produces a CD with that kind of production and more importantly that kind of talent .without putting a name on it? .Why would seemingly veteran musicians stay quiet for this long? Why? Is it because someone made it all up?"
"When something is good like Surrender is, why would you wanna hide?"
"After all of this scrutiny, and not one person, let alone how hard people here have tried, have at least found a family member, a janitor, someone, anyone, to say "Yeah, I seen them, Surrender", or "I've heard that song", or even "Yeah, so-and-so is Surrender, but doesn't want anyone to know."
"O.K. Someone got the masters, O.K. Someone came up with a fake name for the band. O.K. The band members might not even know that their material was released, but...if they were so gifted, if they were able to write this music and incredible lyrics, if they were able to put it all together as 9 wonderful songs - HOW COME THEY JUST VANISHED?"
"It has been almost 15 years and nobody ever resurfaced."
The Investigation Begins:
(There were no rehearsals or public performances. Surrender was two multi-talented musicians and a singer.)
"Damn...the f..ing riddle of the century."
"I'm thinking of posting an investigative commercial on craigslist. Maybe someone will recognize song titles...I'm not a drama queen, but I'm dying of curiosity."
"Band members had friends, mothers, fathers, relatives, girlfriends (Claire, Nikki), fans (maybe only in their region). There has to be someone out there who was present at the rehearsals, gigs, maybe public performances. There is someone out there who knows musicians and their material. The question is: where the hell all these people?"
Clues and Dead Ends from the Slip sheet:
(Surrender recorded in the legendary Jamaica, NY Studio 1212 which spawned early hip hop artists like Ultra Magnetics MC's, Onyx and Eric B & Rakim. 1212, which was owned by Mick Corey, burned down in 1995.)
One fan located scans of the original slip sheet with track listings and contact information:
"A search for Mick Corey in the New York area brings up nothing but dead ends...A letter sent to the address comes back "return to sender." A search for 1212 Productions is fruitless...The phone number has long since been disconnected and reassigned. I've spoken with the fellow who has the number now (he's had it for about 3 years), and he has no clue about the band, or anything about the CD."
"One avenue to explore would be looking for a graphic artist from the NY area who might recognize the artwork used for the cover, thus, maybe knowing the artist, who might have been close to the band, or in the band himself."
"I heard someone saying that "One Tough City" is a song about NY, but it might as well be any other city in the US."
"I have a friend who worked for Atlantic back in the day.he thinks he knows someone that can help us, as he ripped the first track to this other guy he knew that did a lot of work on the East Coast and sent it by email and the guy says he is now curious and is going to put the word out."
Six Degrees of Separation
(Singer Frank Sicoli's day job was at Airship International, the blimp/promotion company that put together The Back Street Boys and Take 5.)
"Here's a possible trail. The band Collision is from New York. Their 2nd cd 'Coarse' was mastered by a fella named Mick Corey..perhaps someone knows the Collision members, etc and can help out to see if this path helps."
"Collision's Nik Chinboukas (vocals/guitar) is apparently a producer in New York so maybe he would be guy to track down."
"Holy Crap!!! I can't believe it!!! Look at this: one of the songs listed on Surrender's album is called: SUNRISE GOODBYE.(lyrics follow).Guess what: this song is being sung by one of those boy bands that I hate called TAKE 5 on their self-titled album. I was coping and pasting Surrender's song titles in the browser and I found this one. All we need to do is to find out who wrote this song. This information should be available on their CD."
"BREAKING NEWS!!!!! I found out who wrote this song-SUNRISE GOODBYE!!! .Written by: Kenneth Hamberg, Frank Sicoli and Mick Carrey .Mick Carrey and Mick Corey is one and the same person. I think it is obvious. I also assume that he as well as co-writers are the original band members!!!"
"Aren't you just the AOR Dick Tracy! Great Job!!!"
"Here the man Mick Carrey is...you even get a mention of 1212 Studios: http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:SSZro...lient=firefox-a
It looks like Mick went the hip-hop route...that would explain how the song "Sunrise Goodbye" wound up being done by a hip-hop boy band....Well, after reading a little further, it looks like 1212 Studios burnt to the ground in 1995....Also, Mick went on to run Soho Music, which you can find listed in New York's phone directory, but, "the number is not in service at this time."
"Oh the intrigue!!!"
Say the Word
The lyrics to Sunrise Goodbye were confirmed by several fans listening to their Cdr copies .
"The lyrics match up ...same song...and I can see how it was turned into a "boy band."
"Who knows, if the studio was burned out in 1995, maybe this dude Mick got a hold of more than one mastertape and then the studio was burnt. This is not the accusation though, this is just a hypothesis.
"Sounds more like an Agatha Christie novel."
"Checked my Collision's S/T debut which was recorded in 1992...quote: "Recorded by Collision and Mick Corey at 1212, NYC"..So I guess we know this is the same guy...he was at 1212 Productions in the early to mid 1990s."
"Lots of people are ashamed of their guilty pleasure hip-hop cds, maybe he is the same with his AOR background."
"This is personal and I want to know the truth - even if nothing extraordinary happened.
I am currently looking for any info about the third dude listed as a co-author of "Sunrise Goodbye"- Kenneth Hamberg. So far-nothing, but I'll keep digging."
Do you think this might have some people ducking for cover, or getting a little nervous at the moment?
"Somebody involved with this project needs to come forward... Come out come out wherever you are!!!"
The Mystery Solved
(Ken Hamberg has collaborated with many New York musicians since Surrender, including sound designer Matt Miller who included Ken on his website.)
"I think I found one of the co-writers of the "Sunrise Goodbye"-Kenneth Hamberg."
"I will contact Mr. Miller tomorrow and I'll try to get any contact info about Ken Hamberg."
"Good job...I bet it is him...Matt Miller was born and raised in NYC and was in New York music scene in mid 1990s. Good chance he and Ken Hamberg crossed paths and are still friends and working together."
"Alright folks...here ya go: Kenneth Hamberg, Frank Sicoli and Mick Carrey (Corey) are indeed Surrender! Spoke to Ken's wife earlier (very nice lady) and she confirmed that these guys were Surrender."
"Ok guys and gals....just got off the phone with one of the nicest people you'd ever want to talk to, Mr. Ken Hamberg himself..They worked on the CD on and off for about 2-3 years whenever they had time at 1212 Studios.All the guys involved are still living, and 100% real people!.They had somewhere between 100-200 copies pressed to send out to record companies, radio stations, etc.. and use for promotion. They got a pretty good nibble from a major label, but unfortunately, it didn't pan out..Ken would love to hear from fans of Surrender.If enough people are interested, this CD may well see a proper release!"
"Nice work everyone who put forth an effort to unravel this twisted little mystery... Now, did Ken nearly swallow his tongue when you told him his "little project" sells for $2,000.00, or did he already know?"
"During our phone conversation, I told Ken about how much the CD goes for on eBay, and the amounts it has been said to sell for away from eBay...he was simply astounded by these numbers, and also just the fact that people are discussing and enjoying this CD after all these years... and yes, I asked about getting a CD."
"Curiosity, Adoration and joint effort payed off.Great news on the possibility of re-releasing .Rock on everyone!!! And hail to SURRENDER."
"This was better than reading a mystery novel. Kudos to everyone that took the time and effort to get to the bottom of "The Great Surrender Debate.""
"It was well worth being dead wrong about this band for finding out what happened to this great lost treasure of a release in return! I am just excited that these guys/great musicians have been found and informed, and that they are now aware of how many people have found out about them over the years wondering just who they were and where they went."
"I'm just glad it was brought to the band's attention so they can see that their music has influenced a lot of people out there in which the admiration for these tunes is very high, even when they might not have known it until now (or at least the extent of it from all of us here). Seems like they were as unknowing as us, except in a different way! Just awesome news!!!"
Who knew we were lost? Had we googled ourselves we might have found out sooner, but the fact remains that until March, 2005 we had no idea that the Surrender CD had been heard by anyone beyond the music executives to whom we pitched the project in 1991, let alone found such a broad and enthusiastic audience.
That this music has found its way literally around the world on its own is truly a testament to the power of music.
Better Later Than Never.