L To R: Keith Robb (with guitar), Doug Mull (with bass), Jim Frost (with drum sticks), and Tim Leuliette (with guitar)
The Intruders were in a long line of bands in the ’60’s that recorded many times, but never had an official release. They were very popular in their home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan and later evolved into The Root Beer Stand Band. Drummer Jim Frost recalled his days as a member for 60sgaragebands.com, and nicely summarized the experience: “Lots of good music was made, and lots of fun was had. I’m sure the ’60s can never be repeated. The spontaneity that made it possible is gone. It’s great to have someone who is trying to preserve this mostly oral history of an entire popular culture. Of course, we didn’t know that’s what it was then…we were just trying to make some music, have some fun, and get the girl!”An Interview With Jim Frost
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Jim Frost (JF): I don’t remember specifically. From my earliest memories, I was interested in music of all types. In the mid-fifties I was listening to classical and jazz records my parents had, then the early rock and folk music my older brothers and sisters liked. I started playing drums when I was about eight, playing in the school band. I bought my first set at 13, and immediately formed the band that was the forerunner of The Intruders.
60s: Which band was that?
JF: The Intruders evolved as we changed musicians until we found a group that was compatible both musically and otherwise. We used The Intruders name from the beginning. By Spring 1965 the four core band members were in the group.
60s: Where was The Intruders formed, what year, and by whom?
JF: East Grand Rapids, Michigan, Spring 1964. Early members included me, John Burns, Randy Russell, Tom Geistert, and Tim Leuliette. By Spring 1965, the band was Tim Leuliette (guitar), Doug Mull (bass and vocals), Keith Robb (guitar and vocals), and me – Jim Frost (drums). We also had a road manager named Curt Hitchcock. That lineup lasted until late 1967.
In late 1967, Keith Robb left and we added Dave Pryce (guitar and vocals) and Bob Fodor (keyboards). The band’s name then changed to The Root Beer Stand Band (aka RBSB).
60s: Where did the band typically play?
JF: In Grand Rapids, we played at The Pit downtown at the YMCA; at The Plac” maybe a dozen times (we lead off a show there for The Music Explosion (Little Bit of Soul); at dances at the armory out on 44th Street; at dances at Cannonsburg (the ski place) half a dozen times; lots of dances at schools: South, Ottawa, Forest Hills, Creston, GRJC, etc. Most of the time we were on the road, though, at the Ponytail in Petoskey; the Blue Note in Big Rapids; Mad Anthony’s in Saugatuck; The Beach Bash in Grand Haven; The Hideout; Johnny’s Bandstand; and other teen clubs all over Michigan. We played at fraternity parties at UM, MSU, Ferris, and other colleges. We played on Dick McKay’s MCKAY’S PLACE TV show twice. We played three shows a day for a week in front of Gantos in the summer of 1967 for the opening of Eastbrook Mall. We played well over 100 shows while we were in high school. Teen clubs were our principal venue, and we played in many.
60s: How far was the band’s “touring” territory?
JF: The Midwest – mostly Michigan’s lower peninsula.
60s: Did The Intruders participate in any Battle Of The Bands?
JF: Yes, several. We won some, lost others. We participated in a city-wide battle of the bands at the Place, with five bands in five preliminaries and then the five winners in the finals. We won our preliminary, but The Soulbenders won the final.
60s: What were some of the band’s better gigs?
JF: It’s hard to say, we played so much. Fraternity parties were fun, for obvious reasons. They paid well, too.
60s: How would you describe the band’s sound? What band’s influenced you?
JF: It was basically Top 40 covers. We liked The Byrds, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, of course, but we also played songs of bands that had an edge, like Music Machine (Talk Talk, The People in Me). We wrote very little at that time.
60s: Did The Intruders have a manager?
JF: For the most part, we were managed by Entertainment Service Bureau in Grand Rapids. They were quite successful in lining up gigs in teen clubs for us.
60s: How popular locally did The Intruders become?
JF: I’m probably not the one to ask that question, but it seemed like we were quite popular. We certainly played a lot of gigs and we were asked back to every place we played (in many clubs, many times).
60s: The Intruders never released any singles, but did record. Where did the band record it songs?
JF: We recorded in Dave Kalmbach’s studio in a movie theatre in Sparta and in Phil Roberts’s studio in Grand Rapids. The sessions were pressed to acetate only, and were sent out as auditions for many places we played.
60s: How many songs by the band have survived?
JF: I am not aware of any, though others may have some.
60s: You’ve stated that the band didn’t write much, but you did compose and record Space Walk and Oh Kathy.
JF: I wanted to try more writing, feeling original material was the way to advance the band. The others just wanted to play, though, and we did not get into any serious songwriting at that time.
60s: Space Walk, though never released, was played on the radio. How did that come about?
JF: That song was an instrumental written by Tim Leuliette and recorded by Tim, Doug Mull, and me in the Spring of 1965 before Keith Robb joined the band. We sent acetates of it to Dick McKay and Jack Hoppus, who were disk jockeys we knew, and they gave the song some airplay. At that time, it was common to lead into the news with an instrumental, and the song got some of that play. Dick McKay invited us to play Space Walk on a special airing of MCKAY’S PLACE on July 4, 1965, broadcast from the WZZM studio in Muskegon, which we did – the other guest on that show was The Righteous Brothers, who lip-synced one of their songs (we played live).
60s: You made two appearances on MCKAY’S PLACE.
JF: I don’t recall much about the first appearance, except I think it was before the core band was together and I believe we played an original song called Lonely Boy. I could be wrong about that. The performance was recorded, then we lip-synced it in the TV studio on videotape, and it was played on the show; at the show, only I was there live (I was dressed like I had been on the video), and Dick called me over as though I was getting up from behind my drums and interviewed me about the band. I suppose it is possible WZZM has something archived form one or both MCKAY’S PLACE appearances.
60s: As you alluded to, The Intruders evolved into The Root Beer Stand Band.
JF: Keith Robb left and Dave Pryce and Bob Fodor joined at that time.
60s: How long was the band known as RBSB?
JF: RBSB played for a year or so. RBSB played the same places, or at least the same types of places, but played edgier music. I moved to Ann Arbor to go to the University of Michigan, and the others stayed in Grand Rapids. Tom Davis replaced me on drums.
60s: Why did The Intruders / RBSB call it quits?
JF: Time, distance, and college. Some of the RBSB members joined some of The Soulbenders and formed Phlegethon.
60s: Which ones?
JF: Dave Pryce and Tom Davis. I think Dave stayed throughout Phlegethon’s existence. That was a great band and its leader, Aris Hampers, has a web site for it. He also has a CD of his music in The Soulbenders and in Phlegethon available, called The Michigan Tapes.
60s: Did you join any bands after RBSB ended?
JF: RBSB went on for a while without me. I played in a band with some friends for a while (I can’t even remember its name), mostly playing school dances and college parties, and began to switch back and forth between drums and guitar, and doing some vocals, with Bruce Rissi switching between drums and vocals. I later had a band called The Sommer Blues Band. Of course, a lot of the places we played billed us as The Summer Blues Band.
60s: What about today? How often, and where, do you perform?
JF: I am a lawyer with a plaintiff-oriented personal injury practice in Mobile, Alabama. I have not played in a band since 1986. I have occasionally been asked to play, but have declined all offers since that last band (which was all lawyers). I have a music room in my home, where I have a set of drums, a variety of guitars and basses, a piano and an electronic keyboard. Nothing serious, just to keep myself entertained. My law practice keeps me busy, of course, and most of my recreation is outdoor activity, like boating and fishing (I have lived by the Gulf of Mexico since 1974).
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Intruders?
JF: I always felt like it defined my youth. I loved it, and frankly, would have liked to have made a career of it. But I’ve had a great life and like lawyering, so all’s well.
Bottom: Tim Leuliette, Dave Pryce. On Stairs: Jim Frost, Doug Mull, and Bob Fodor
From Jim Frost of the Intruders
We recorded quite a lot, never released any. We first recorded at Great Lakes in May or June 1965. In ’64 and early ’65, we were doing a lot of instrumental music, influenced by the Ventures, the Tornadoes, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, the Surfaris, and locally by the Renegades (more on them later).
Our first recording was of two original songs, one an instrumental called “Space Walk”, and the other a vocal, “Oh, Kathy.” Dave Kalmbach was the engineer. We had the songs pressed to acetate disc, but never to vinyl. At the time, we were close to two local DJs, Dick McKay and Jack Hoppus. They gave Space Walk a fair amount of air time, as it was usual then to play an instrumental lead in before the news. Dick mcKay had a television show then on WZZM called “McKay’s Place”, and we played on it several times. The first times, we would record a song and then go to the studio and be taped lip-syncing, and then on the live broadcast, we would step in after the tape was played for a quick introduction/interview. But on July 4, 1965, we played live from the WZZM remote studio in Muskegon, playing “Space Walk” and “Oh, Kathy” before the Righteous Brothers got up and lip-synced a couple of their songs. We went back to the studio on a number of occasions, but we were not prolific writers and did not have that much good original material.
In late December 1966 and early January 1967, we recorded in Phil Roberts’s basement studio, which was quite nice and very complete, but the songs were all top 40 covers, no originals. Again, we had the songs pressed to acetate, but not to vinyl, and there were no releases. We used this output mainly as an audition tool. (I think I still have acetate discs of some of our recordings, if I can find them).
What we were was an excellent cover band, and we played a good live show. We played virtually every Friday and Saturday night from 1964 through 1968 with the core band, and then splintered and evolved into other groups. The core band, The Intruders, played literally hundreds of shows and dances during that time. We played at the places mentioned in my message in your guestbook, as well as many others that I can’t remember. School dances, many dances at the armories in Wyoming and Holland, teen clubs all over the Midwest. We played in, and won, several battles of the bands. We played in Ottawa Hills High School’s “Junior Review” in 1966, as one of our members was a junior at Ottawa that year. The other three of us went to East Grand Rapids HS.
I have pictures of the Intruders, and of the Root Beer Stand Band that evolved out of the Intruders. Other Ottawa and East bands at the time included the Soulbenders (all Ottawa), Chaos, Inc. (mostly East), Peter and the Prophets (mostly East, but I think Pete Samuelson and John Kay went to Central),(Chaos, Inc., and Peter and the Prophets later merged into a band called The Everyday Things, and released a recording of two Pete Samuelson songs)(also, Steve McKay, sax player in Chaos, later joined Iggy and the Stooges and played on their “Funhouse” album), The Guildsmen (East), the Renegades (East), the Kingtones (East, mostly, but they were several years ahead of us in school), and The Fredric (East and Forest Hills). The Renegades were Fitz Green (guitar), Brian Bracken (organ), Pete Idema (drums), and a bass player whose name I think was Bruce Baldwin. Originally an instrumental group, they released “Greensleeves” in about 1964. They then turned to vocals, and went through a couple of singers whose names I don’t remember, and they released “Wine, Wine, Wine” (a cover of a song by a group called the Astronauts who never got much recognition).
This excerpt was provided from Grand Rapids Rocks website, to whom we owe much. Here’s a link to their website: