F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "There are no second acts in American lives," but apparently American garage rock plays by another set of rules. The Sloths were a primal garage rock band who were a vital presence on the Los Angeles rock scene in the mid-'60s, but after a few years they disappeared without a trace until the 21st century, when they not only reunited but cut the album they never made in their heyday.
The story of the Sloths began in 1964, when guitarists Michael Rummans and Jeff Briskin were both students at Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, California. Rummans and Briskin were both teenage rock & roll fans, and after months of jamming together, they decided they wanted to form a band. Hank Daniels, a long-haired proto-hippie who had recently transferred to the school, was invited to sing, and with the addition of bassist Steve Dibner and drummer Sam Kamarass, the first edition of the Sloths was born. Inspired by the tougher British Invasion acts of the day -- the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Them, and the Who -- the band started rehearsing at Dibner's house (with the permission of his parents), and after playing parties for their friends and classmates, they made their professional debut at an L.A. club called Stratford on Sunset.
By 1965, the Sloths were regularly playing the rock venues on the Sunset Strip, including Pandora's Box, the Whisky a Go Go, Bido Lito's, the Palladium, and the Galaxy, and they were sharing stages with the likes of Love, the Doors, the Seeds, the Electric Prunes, and the Animals. Impression Records approached the Sloths about making a record, and the group issued a raw but compelling single, "Makin' Love" b/w "You Mean Everything," in 1965. However, in 1966, Briskin gave in to pressure from his parents to quit the band and enroll in law school; guitarist Don Silverman took his place for a spell, and when Steve Dibner bowed out, Mick Galper came aboard as the group's new bassist. But by the end of the year, the band had finally collapsed, and several members went on to play in the May Wines, while Michael Rummans went on to a long career in music, playing with the Yellow Payges and the Hollywood Stars, eventually scoring a hit single, "My Mistake," as bassist with rockabilly revivalists the Kingbees.
In 1993, the Sloths emerged from obscurity when "Makin' Love" appeared on Back from the Grave, Vol. 2, the second volume of the celebrated garage rock reissue series, and garage rock archivists set out to find the members of the band. In 2011, Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine not only tracked down and interviewed Jeff Briskin, he arranged for a limited-edition reissue of the band's lone single (original copies were going for over $6,500 on eBay), while the online fanzine 60s Garage Bands found Michael Rummans and published his memories about the group. Briskin hired a private detective to find the other members, and though it was discovered that Hank Daniels and Sam Kamrass had died, Briskin and Rummans decided to reunite the band. In 2012, the Sloths began playing L.A. rock clubs, with former May Wines singer Tommy McLoughlin on lead vocals, Dave Provost on bass, and Jose Rendon on drums. After a few lineup shake-ups, the 2015 edition of the Sloths (McLoughlin on vocals, Mark Weddington and Patrick DiPuccio on guitars, Rummans on bass, and Ray Herron on drums) emerged from the recording studio with their first album, and first new recordings in 50 years; cheekily titled Back from the Grave, the album was picked up for release by noted Los Angeles indie label Burger Records. ~ Mark Deming