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OVERDRIVE
1980 - 1983
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Overdrive live at the Old Waldorf 1982

At age 14, following a healthy period of learning and practicing guitar together, Mark and neighborhood pal Mike Carsey began to build the beginnings of their band 'Overdrive'. On bass was local hotshot Brian Blewer and rehearsals took place in the bedroom of drummer Mark Pena. Brian's path would soon shift and the band moved on with bassist Randy Ferraira and in later years Jimmi Ward. As a four piece band doing mostly cover songs, they were now in search of a lead vocalist. After holding many auditions the band eagerly convinced Mark to handle the job as he was naturally directing the auditions. Hesitantly he accepted but now is grateful that it happened. In the beginning Mark would play and sing through Pena's Marantz stereo receiver which actually got a nice sound and for guitars it's tube driven sound would distort nicely. His first real guitar amp was a Mitchell 'Sands Amp', a gift from Pena's Uncle Tino (aka Vincent). Many blessings were bestowed on the band from family and friends that helped keep their dream moving forward.

As the main goal was always to write their own music, soon came the very first Overdrive song titled 'Music In my Head'. It was an instrumental song with a long spacey intro and was the very first song ever written by Mark. The floodgates were now open and many songs would soon follow. And with all due respect, Mike Carsey was pivotal in securing shows with his pushy, cocky nature and it definitely helped the band break through the loud noise of the local scene.

 

Overdrive was a powerful 4 piece hard rock band drawing on their early influences from the 70's and by 1980 the band began performing live in halls and parties until working their way into the professional Bay Area clubs. It was a healthy, thriving time for creativity and their were great original bands everywhere you looked. Violation, Roadrunner, Dammaj, Laaz Rockit and Tyrant to name a few! The bands attire, equipment and stage set was red and black with stripes and soon they became known as the 'Red and Black Attack'.  Shortly after, the local LA band Stryper coincidently dubbed themselves the 'Yellow and Black Attack' and Overdrive always felt that they had lifted their idea. There was without a doubt a growing competition between the Bay Area and the LA music scene.

 

Soon venues such as 'The Stone', 'Old Waldorf' Keystone Berkeley & Palo Alto', Oakland Auditorium Ballroom, Mabuhay Gardens, Ruthie's Inn and The Stage in Danville became OD's home turf with re-occurring show dates and a growing fan base! Moving up the ranks they became a featured opener for Ratt, Blue Oyster Cult, Y&T, Metallica, Quiet Riot, Randy Hansen, Loudness, as well as playing shows with Exodus (w/ Kirk Hammett) and Blind Illusion (w/ Les Claypool). Overdrive's devoted local following was impressed by their musical prowess and conviction.

Songs like 'Those Eyes',  'Queen of the Night' and 'Running from Destruction'' and the high energy openers 'Gettin Ready' and 'Maniac' were fan favorites.

 

Club managers like Toni Isabella and Rachel Matthews at the Old Waldorf as well as the Corona brothers who ran the Keystone clubs were  supportive of the band which allowed many opportunities! Their driver Roberta Briggs aka 'Birda' always got them to the gigs and without her who knows what would've happened as the band were teenagers without drivers licenses. Mark spent countless hours practicing on her nylon string acoustic guitar when away from home.

 

Their commitment to their music and their dream was fierce and together they were going to take over the world!

It was truly a magical time in the Bay Area music scene. A time when you could go out and see 3 unknown original bands on Mondays thru Thursdays and then at the same venue, see acts like Joan Jett or AC/DC on the weekends! To go hear unknown original bands was the cool thing to do! There were loyal supporters in the scene that really made a difference in their documentation of these special years. Friends like journalist John Strednansky (creator of the legendary Metal Rendezvous Magazine and Co-creator of Bay Area Godfathers) and also photographer Bill Hale

As Mark's vision was expanding, it became clear around late 1983 that his vision was not heading in the same direction as partner Mike Carsey and so he took a leap of faith and moved on to start something new!

The Overdrive era was a very proud time for the teenage rocknrollers and together they achieved a lot. No albums were made but their presence in the music scene during these times are fondly remembered and have been acknowledged in a 2 part music documentary titled ‘Bay Area Godfathers’ . It's available on most streaming services so check it out and hear Mark talk about these vintage years. 

MEMBERS:
MARK MCGEE - Vocals/Guitar
MIKE CARSEY - Guitar
RANDY FERRAIRA - Bass
JIMMI WARD - Bass
MARK PENA - Drums

"Overdrive" Videos

1) Maniac : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83

1) Maniac : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83
1) Maniac : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83
02:36
Play Video

1) Maniac : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83

2) Those Eyes : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83
03:29
Play Video

2) Those Eyes : Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83

3) She's So Young - Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83
03:57
Play Video

3) She's So Young - Live at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, Ca - 7/29/83

All songs by Mark McGee & Mike Carsey
PHOTOS