In the crack of dawn, Jay Perris, Lorenzo Gigliotti and their buddy Tim Chaplin sat awake in the empty parking lot of KROQ, the radio station based in Pasadena.
It was 1980 — the disco craze was simmering, much to their relief, and giving way to new crops of punk, new wave and pop rock groups, many of whom found their footing via the up-and-coming station. With several copies of their band Jupiter’s debut record on hand, the plan was to slip them to Insane Daryl Wayne, the morning DJ, and convince him to play a few tracks.
Around 6 a.m., they saw a half-dressed man stumble out of a car and run upstairs into the office, an old space above a laundromat. They followed behind him.
“There was absolutely no security,” Gigliotti, now 58, recalls with a laugh.
As they watched him work, they realized that the DJ was closely following the program manager’s scheduling method, so they called the program manager. He wanted to know which record stores were carrying them. The issue was, record stores wanted to know if their songs were getting plays. (“Yeah, when the record player is on top of the radio,” Perris jokes.)
Every day for three weeks, the trio relentlessly visited every independent record store they could find between San Clemente and the Valley. They managed to get it into 44 stores, including Hollywood Tour Records. Before long, their song “Rock N’ Roll is Here to Stay” was on rotation at KROQ, and Jupiter made their way through all kinds of venues across L.A. and the O.C., including Gazzari’s, a sold-out Troubadour and Club 88. In Long Beach, they played at the punk-infiltrated Lafayette’s Ballroom and hardcore biker bar Hard Rock Saloon (now Alex’s Bar).
It was a whirlwind of a period, which lasted about three years. These shows were happening three to four nights a week, and they all had day jobs. Long Beach native Gigliotti, then in his mid-20s, was a social studies teacher for Long Beach Unified. Perris, in his early 30s, worked for several companies (one of which built the first self-serve cabinets in places like 7-Eleven).
When Chaplin, the group’s bassist, left amid the recording of Jupiter’s second album, Gigliotti and Perris continued the project without hesitation. Under the name Max West, they released an EP entitled “The Rich and Famous Collection,” which was largely recorded deep in the dead in the night inside Emmylou Harris’s mobile studio. (They had run out of funds for a full album).
A few years later, they went their separate ways — Gigliotti, who sings and plays a 12-string guitar, effectively stopped playing and eased into a “more traditional way of living” while Perris continued on, drumming for the likes of Mr. Tamale, Devil Dogs, Del Peterson and Chestpie. About six years ago, Perris, a self-taught drummer since age 12, ditched his drumsticks for the guitar and spent a year playing eight hours every day. He began frequenting open mics in San Pedro and Long Beach and asked his old friend to join him.
“I wanted to take control of my destiny and my guitar playing,” Perris says. “When you’re playing back of everybody and it’s not your group, they can get rid of you, they can do shows without you.”
Fast forward to today. For the past nine months, the two have been hitting the Long Beach music scene with a tenacity reminiscent of their Jupiter days. Jay & Lorenzo, as they’re known around town, both play guitar and sing their own songs.
With encouragement from their friends, they’ve recently revived Jupiter, calling it Jupiter 2.0. Some things have changed: Perris now rocks out on an electric kit while Gigliotti thumbs the baselines on his 12-string, processed through an octave-down processor and projected through a second amp. The new wave, ’60s sensibility is very much alive, and both agree that after all these years, it feels like they never stopped playing together.
At 8 p.m. this Friday, the duo will debut an hour-long set at Rebel Bite. The set largely will be comprised with older Jupiter and Max West songs, with a couple new tunes. A slideshow of photographs from their heyday in the ’80s will grace the back wall.
“Music wouldn’t support us — we were supporting music,” Giglotti says. “If you’re an artist, are you willing to support your art? Or is your art only good if it supports you? If you’re willing to support your art, that means something, I think. And that’s what we did.”