Natrona Heights Native Jimmer Podrasky Releases Rave-Ups’ First Album in Three Decades

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After leaving the Allegheny Valley in the early 1980s, Natrona Heights, Harrison native Jimmer Podrasky didn’t miss the weather heading to Pittsburgh this weekend.

“It’s been 40 years since I drove in this kind of weather, and it still haunts me,” said Podrasky, 64, now a Los Angeles resident.

Prior to leaving Pittsburgh, Podrasky was part of the Rave-Ups, playing at a limited number of local venues like Fat City, Decade, and Electric Banana, all of which catered to the city’s punk and New Wave music scene.

“The band that formed while I was at Carnegie Mellon was four of us who were all students in 1979,” Podrasky said. “I’m still in contact with these guys, but unfortunately this band never made any recordings.”

After moving to Los Angeles, Podrasky formed a new version of the Rave-Ups when he and three mailroom colleagues from A&M Records decided to start making music together.

They released four albums between 1985 and 1990, signing with Epic Records and making an appearance in the classic ’80s movie “Pretty in Pink.”

The group built a limited but loyal fan base with the call and response of songs like “They Do Talk” and the high energy “Rave-Up/Shut-Up”.

Their 1990 record, “Chance,” saw Podrasky grapple with topics such as loss, heartache and fatherhood.

He left the music industry to focus on raising his son and was going through a tough time when fellow Natrona Heights native Ed Sikov visited him in 2011. Sikov, a film scholar, is the author of acclaimed biographies of Peter Sellers, Bette Davis and others.

Sikov – who was a few years ahead of Podrasky at Highlands High School – helped him start recording again. Podrasky eventually released a record called “Would-Be Plans”, followed by three independent solo records.

“If it hadn’t been for Ed Sikov, I wouldn’t be making music,” Podrasky said. “I owe him a lot”

Now, after more than three decades, Podrasky has recovered with the LA version of the Rave-Ups – joined by guitarist Terry Wilson, bassist Tommy Blatnik and drummer Timothy Jimenez — “Tomorrow” will be released on Friday.

“Getting back together kind of happened by chance,” Podrasky said. “There wasn’t much intention to necessarily make a record.”

But it happened all the same.

One of the first tracks released from the album, “How Old Am I”, captures the dichotomy in Podrasky’s approach to songwriting. It tackles emotional topics with a bright guitar sound and an uptempo foundation.

The album will be released in Europe next week. Although Podrasky said he won’t be traveling overseas anytime soon, he relishes the idea of ​​getting out there and performing the songs from “Tomorrow.”

“I think the performance is the best part of it all,” he said. “Being in the studio can bring some anxiety. But playing has an immediacy – they laugh, they react. You sing a certain line and look at people’s faces and have that intangible feeling of ‘Wow, they got it’ – that’s the reward.

“Tomorrow” can be purchased online at OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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