July 14, 1989

AFFORDABLE FLOORS, Drumming on the Walls
Local heroes in their hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, on their second release (cassette and CD only-sign o' the times, eh?), the Affordable Floors fuse a keyboard- and bass-dominated pop sound with elements of jazz and lite funk, sounding at different times like Peter Gabriel, Pierce Turner and Eurythmics (musically, not vocally). The overall sound is heavy on ambience, but Blackout's prominent banjo and acoustic guitars give the song a kinda country, almost Mellencamp feel, and occasional punchy brass embellishments liven up the atmospherics. An impressive, subtle record that is a great progression from its predecessor, Drumming On The Walls shows a band with depth whose potential has apparently only been scratched. Top cuts: The Red Room, Blackout and Wedding Ring.

View From The Top , July 14, 1989

By Patrice Baldwin

Hometown heroes-every minor metropolis and tiny hamlet has them. You know the type-that hardworking band of musicians that toils away every Friday and Saturday night at the local hot spot, inciting dancing, exciting local beauties, increasing the revenues of each beer-soaked watering hole. These unsung pop-rock stars go largely unnoticed, except in unusual circumstances.

Twisted Sister, a major hit on the heavy-metal market, began as a Long Island, New York, bar band before becoming the first group in history to sell out Radio City Music Hall bereft of a record deal. And now, if the unidentified "random Oakland" punk in the Affordable Floors press release has anything to say about it, this band will be the next to take its place in the rock annals, because in Pittsburgh, "The Floors f**king rule, man."

The five-man unit is uncommonly popular in their hometown of Pittsburgh, selling out local clubs like Graffiti as well as supporting acts like the Human League at local universities. Yet all five members of the band hold down rather demanding day jobs. Drummer Ken Zenkevich is by day a mechanical engineer. "Working brings you down to earth, and that helps you keep everything in perspective, making your songwriting better," he says. "Artists start creating from day-to-day experiences-and you don't get that from being a rock star."

Harvey Coblin, the lead singer who doubles as a banker, and keyboard player Kirk Botula are the principal writers of the songs that, contrary to current guitar or sampling trends, are keyboard- and rythym-oriented. Together with guitarist Eric Hertzog and bassist Eric Riebling, they craft intelligent, worldly tunes that are definitely danceable. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of those unsigned local heroes is the fact that they have chosen to independently release their second album on CD and cassette, eschewing the usual foray into vinyl. Says Coblin, "We debated for several weeks about our first album, because the sound quality wasn't so hot-due in part to our inexperience."

The Floors recorded "The Sounding" in 1988 after winning a local band competition. Despite Coblin's misgivings about the LP, it garnered rave reviews from the local press. "When the master tape was pressed onto vinyl, it lost a lot of sound quality," he continues. "Around that time, I bought a CD player-they're addictive!" Kirk Botula concurs, adding, "It is not a whole lot more expensive to release a CD than an LP, and you get the same sound that left the studio."

Coming to an "alternative" radio station near you in the near future-"Drumming on the Walls." The hardest-core new-music aficionado is hereby defied to desist dancing to "Wedding Ring," "Blackout," or "A Thousand Days," where Burundi-beat drumming meets the best of the English synth-invasion melodies. A high-tech CD gamble for a relatively unknown talent? Maybe. But the working-class Affordable Floors will not be dissuaded. "As long as people want to hear us," says Botula, "we'll do it, and not measure success in terms of someone else's yardstick."

In terms of Pittsburgh, these guys have it made. With a little bit of luck, the rest of the world will follow.

December 1988

Drumming On The Walls (Anthem)

There are two types of local band on the scene: those who will always be a local band, and those who will launch themselves into the mainstream. The Affordable Floors are the latter type of band.

With their second release, this Pittsburgh-based band has expanded their style and they have honed their talents into an impressive edge.

Their first release, The Sounding, left me speechless. Drumming on the Walls, however, leaves me stunned. Their talent and their music can easily go toe to toe with any band on the scene today.

The music is energetic and powerful, danceable and memorable. Where some bands' music will pass you by, the songs here will burn themselves into your mind and have you singing along in no time.

The nine tracks here are diverse and varied, from the soft and melodic Berkley Square to the driving sounds of Wedding Ring. The songs have a strong constant in the five-piece band, and they are flavored with the addition of french horn, saxophone, trombone and trumpet.

It isn't often that any band can impress me like The Affordable Floors have, but I dare anyone who likes music of this genre to listen to Drumming on the Walls with an open mind, and then disagree with me.

Harvey Jules Coblin (vocals & synth), Eric Hertzog (guitars), KZB (piano), Eric Riebling (bass), and Kenneth Zenkevich (drums) have earned more than just the money I pay for their cassettes, they've earned my respect as entertainers and as musicians. Keep up the good work, guys!