rise and fall

by Spencer Watson | Sync Weekly | March 25, 2010

Techno-Squid Eats Parliament

For roughly three years in the early ’90s, Techno-Squid Eats Parliament was the newest shining star of the Little Rock music scene.

Formed in early 1992, the quartet of Aaron Sarlo on guitar and vocals, Clay Bell on guitar and vocals, Mark J. Pearrow on bass and Shayne Gray on drums played their first gig in the semifinals of the Arkansas Musicians Showcase, then run by the now-defunct Spectrum Weekly. They made it to the finals — “Coming in a close second (behind Substance) in the finals,” said Sarlo via e-mail.

They were proclaimed the “Best New Band” of 1992 by Spectrum readers, released their debut album with the then newly revived Memphis record label Ardent Records and earned a mention in a January 1993 Billboard article about the Little Rock music scene, with the article describing the band’s sound as an “offbeat mix of Anglo-smart power pop with punk overtones” and noting an early XTC flavor.

Outside the written world, the band was noted for their energetic rock, crossing pop tune sensibilities and ’80s alternative rock (the real thing and not today’s alternative rock) with rockabilly guitar and an appreciation of progressive rock bands such as King Crimson and Pink Floyd.

They played club dates around Little Rock and toured exhaustively to support their self-titled debut.

And then? And then it all ended.

“We toughed it out until 1995 when the band split due to irreconcilable difference,” Sarlo said. “Three of the four members [Bell, Sarlo and Pearrow] moved to Boston to try to continue the band after having been ‘back burnered’ by the then-flailing Ardent label. After a few months, the rest of the band just called it quits.”

Sarlo formed the band Slept in Boston, but the band disbanded in 2000, and Sarlo returned to Arkansas where he is now married to Sarah Sarlo, or, as he calls her: “queen of all that is cool.”

Gray took a leading role in the 1995 Memphis indie film, The Delta, and is now the proud father of three children: two girls and a brand new baby boy.

Pearrow remained in the Boston area and is now a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the author of several books on usability and accessibility for electronic systems, and married to his wife Melissa and the father of two children.

Following a stay in Boston, Bell moved to San Francisco, where he plays in an all-’80s cover band named Pop Rocks, has a new album on the way and a baby daughter.

In 2009, Sarlo and Gray formed the self-described “gulch rock” group Dangerous Idiots along with Paul Bowling, the original bass player for Little Rock punk pioneers Trusty. And Techno-Squid Eats Parliament? Well, they did briefly reunite in 2008 for the second Little Rock Film Festival, playing the first music video competition. Perhaps another reunion might be in the future. 



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