Saturday, May 10, 2008


The Affordable Floors

Formed in 1984, by the late 1980s no band was more popular in the local clubs than the Affordable Floors.

The band members were Harvey Coblin (lead vocals), Eric Riebling (bass), Kirk Botula, aka KZB (keyboards - Rich Rust sat in for him in 1994-95), Jeff Babcock (lead guitar, replacing early axeman Eric Hertzog, who replaced original member Steve Morrison) and Ken Zenkevich (drums).

And why The Affordable Floors? "The truth of the matter is this guy who owned a store called Affordable Floors sponsored us, kinda like a little league team," Botula told Laura Pace of Penn State's Daily Collegian.

The band wore the store's t-shirts and everyone thought it was their name, so they finally gave in to the obvious.

The band had won the Graffiti Rock Challenge and played the club regularly. But their career was really jumpstarted when the short-lived but influential punk rock station WXXP started to play tracks from the band's first album "The Sounding," released in 1986, and their rep took off from there.

Botula was shortly thereafter voted Pittsburgh's best songwriter, Riebling its best bass player and the Floors its best band.

"The Sounding" was followed by "Drumming on the Walls" in 1989 (on Anthem, an indie label), and the Floors were signed to major label MCA in 1990, a Pyhrric victory as it ended up.

The band was unceremoniously dumped during a corporate restructuring after sitting around and gathering dust for two long, radio-silent years.

In the spring of 1992, the band returned to Anthem Records, describing their major label experience as "a long dark tunnel with a light at the end and our dead relatives beckoning to us," according to their website.

The Floors bounced back with the release of "All the Things I Meant to Be."

The Floors played new wave, keyboard-based synth/pop music. At the time, that's the kind of sound Botula, the band's main songwriter, cranked out. Then in 1994, a repetitive stress injury took away the use of his hands.

Doctors told him he might never write or play music again and that revelation changed the way that the notes flowed through his brain.

Months later, Botula's hands began to improve but he had no way of knowing if it would last. "Each time I sat down," he told Steve Segal in Perceptions, "I'd think, 'This might be the last time I ever get to play.'"

He started to experiment with techno musical structures. Babcock was into it, but it soon became apparent that the others weren't on the same page musically.

"We kept holding on because the Floors were successful," Babcock said. "Finally, we were at a Taco Bell after a show in Erie and Ken said, 'Why don't we just quit?' I felt this intense feeling of relief. Everyone else (did), too. It was the friendliest break-up I've ever seen or heard of."

They performed their last show in the summer of 1995 at Nick's Fat City.

Botula (who has a day job as a software engineer) and Babcock went on to form Cloud, a sort of ethereal avant garde group, while Riebling joined up with Bill Deasy and The Gathering Field, local heartland rockers.

Where are they now? Well, except for appearances in a couple of tribute shows put together by old XX alum, Google is quiet on the fate of the Floors. If you know, give us a yell.


Anonymous said...

how about posting some tracks from Drumming On the Walls?

I would love it, I haven't been able to find the CD anywhere...

hook a burgh brother up...

Ron said...

Nah, don't have it either. We've been looking for one of theirs and something from the Gathering Field too, without much luck.
And we're not gonna be uploading tracks - a lot of the bands have a cut or three available on their web site or MySpace for the fans. It's enough work for the Old Mon to cut and paste You Tube vids, hehe.