The Comateens were originally a New Wave duo formed in 1978 in New York City by bassist/vocalist Nic North and guitarist Ramona Jan. Soon after, Lyn Byrd joined on vocals and synthesiser, and the duo became a trio. When Jan departed in 1980, North's brother Oliver joined on guitar, completing the final lineup.
The band was one of the first in the world to record solely with a drum machine, joining the ranks of the burgeoning electropop avant-garde along with bands such as Suicide, Kraftwerk and Soft Cell, although later they would tour and perform live with top session drummers such as Ben Margulies, Chuck Sabo and Zachary Alford.
They contributed two tracks to the influential Marty Thau Presents 2x5 compilation and their debut album, the self-titled Comateens, (1980) featured the band's bizarrely original compositions alongside covers of "Summer in the City" (The Lovin' Spoonful), "TVC 15" (David Bowie), and the theme song from TV's The Munsters. Pictures on a String, their first album for Virgin Records, followed in 1983 yielding the dance club hit "Get Off My Case". In 1984 the band released their final album, Deal with It, which featured live drums played by Chuck Sabo. The band also rode the New Wave by appearing on the then new and innovative MTV in several videos, and in interviews with pioneer VJs Mark Goodman and Martha Quinn.
The band split up in 1985. Oliver North died in 1987 of asthma-related heart failure due to a heroin overdose. In 1988 Nic North (now Nicholas West) and Lyn Byrd recorded an album, West & Byrd, together. In 1990 the duo, again under the name Comateens, recorded the song "A Place For Me" which became a European hit. Virgin Records released a retrospective compilation of their music in 1991 called "One By One: Best Of Comateens" which has become a rare and much sought-after record among collectors of New Wave music. In 1995, their video for "The Late Mistake" was mocked in a season five episode of Beavis and Butt-head called "Top O'The Mountain".
On October 28, 2010, a three-person version of the Comateens featuring Nick West and Lyn Byrd with guitarist Mitro Valsamis performed a short set of songs at the 30th anniversary Mudd Club reunion at New York's Delancey Lounge nightclub.
Ramona Jan went on to become an artist, designer and reality-show celebrity appearing on ABC's "Wife Swap" and HGTV's "Design Star". She is the founder of Act-Up Teen Theater, a radio play theater group based in New York State. Act-Up Teen Theater is the winner of the 2009 New York Counsel on the Arts Grant. Nicholas West is a gold and platinum award winning songwriter. Lyn Byrd is a graphic designer.
- Comateens (1981)
- Pictures on a String (1983)
- Deal with It (1984)
- Comateens (limited collectors edition) (2007)
- One by One - The Best of the Comateens (1991)
West & Byrd
- West & Byrd (1988)
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