Ten Hands is a rock band based in Dallas, Texas, USA, primarily active between 1986 and 1995. The band consisted of:
Paul Slavens (keyboards, lead vocals),
Steve Brand (guitar, backing vocals),
Gary Muller (Chapman stick, backing vocals),
Earl Harvin (drums, backing vocals 1986-1991),
Mike Dillon (percussion, backing vocals 1986-1991), and
Alan Emert (drums, backing vocals 1991-1995).
Described as a cross between the jazz-rock-art style of Frank Zappa and the psychedelic punk of the Meat Puppets, Ten Hands had a style that was better appreciated live, more so than in the studio. The late 80's local scene adored them and the Dallas Observer awarded Ten Hands numerous accolades in 1988-1989.
The band officially called it quits in 1995; however, reunion shows every few years draw a large following in Deep Ellum.
About Ten Hands
Born from Denton, Texas (30 miles north of Dallas) in the mid-1980s, Ten Hands enjoyed acclaim and a following in their home state. Their music tended to be high in energy, syncopated and funky. Matched with Paul Slavens' vocals, and political assertions that denigrated the ruling elite, the complacent middle class, and environmental evils, Ten Hands was one of the more politically-oriented Texas bands of the era. They rarely forgot to be fun, however, and their musical playfulness and lyrical absurdism belied any pretensions they may have had.
Sometime in late 1986, Mike Dillon, Gary Muller, and Matt Chamberlain were playing in Dallas-based band Zane Grey, who appeared on Star Search. Meanwhile, Steve Brand and Slavens were playing in a Denton band called the Gonemen. Dillon, Muller, and Chamberlain lived in the same Denton house as other members of the Gonemen, and when dissatisfaction with both groups began to appear, the idea for a new band was spawned.
The first Ten Hands rehearsal took place in late 1986 in Denton. Shortly thereafter, Zane Grey's manager, Tony Johnson, accepted an offer to manage the fledgling band. For the first year, Ten Hands played mostly small venues in Denton and performed a weekly gig at the Prophet Bar, a seminal Deep Ellum club in Dallas. During this time, a studio recording was made and handmade cassettes were sold and distributed in and around the Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Denton area.
Chamberlain and Dillon were already well known in Denton as top players in the University of North Texas Jazz program, and interest in the band soon grew. It was also during this time that the New Bohemians were becoming a major draw in Dallas. It happened that several members of that band were friends with a few Ten Hands members, and ultimately, New Bohemians offered some opening slots to Ten Hands at Deep Ellum's celebrated Club Dada. The Club Dada shows helped expose the band to a much wider audience, and the venue would later host many of Ten Hands' most memorable performances.
In late 1988, Earl Harvin joined the band as drummer after Chamberlain left to join New Bohemians. The band went into the studio to record "Kung Fu...That's What I Like". As New Bohemians vacated Dallas for bigger and better things, Ten Hands stepped in to fill the void and began what would be a three- or four-year run as one of the region's most popular draws. The band won numerous Dallas Observer Awards in 1988-1989, and shortly after the release of their first live CD, The Big One Is Coming, and sold over 20,000 copies. Joe Cripps joined the band to replace Dillon on percussion.
Earl left the band to play with Mike Dillon's Billy Goat and "Big" Al Emmert became drummer. Ten Hands started to tour and built a following with college audiences.
At a SXSW performance, the band was offered a record deal by an independent producer in L.A. Desperate to release an album after two years of inactivity, the band agreed and began work on Be My Guru in late 1991. While the album contained some of the band's best songs, the recording itself was a disappointment and the relationship with the label grew stormy. By the time the band left the label, much of their earlier momentum was lost.
As the band's popularity began to wane, a friend of the band, Byron Wilson, offered to produce a CD. Jazz for Jerks was recorded in early 1993 with the assistance of the band's friend and longtime collaborative producer, David Castell.
Steve Brand left the band in 1993. New guitarists, Chris Claridy and Chad Rueffer joined and the band wrote some new songs and continued to gig around the area. In the next incarnation, guitarist, Ed McMahon, and drummer Greg Beck were hired. A demo record was recorded with the brand new lineup, but the album was never mixed or released.
Ten Hands continues to play, with various lineups, several times a year in the Dallas area.
Ten Hands discography
Ten Hands Facebook Page