The Offbeats were a punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio, active from 1981 to 1987. Founding guitarist and singer Tom "Hawk" Miller was the only member to play in every incarnation of the group.
The original lineup was Tom “Hawk” Miller (guitar/vocals), Bob Richey (drums), Larry "Lair Matic" Lewis (guitar/vocals) and John Lovesin (bass/vocals). This lineup recorded several songs for "Cleveland Confidential," a compilation LP issued in 1982 by Terminal Records, a record label run by Pagans lead singer Mike Hudson.
By the beginning of 1982, Lovesin had dropped out and was replaced by bassist Scott Vocca. Also at this time the focus of the group began to shift from a garage/pop/rock sound toward a faster hardcore/thrash style (although some “pop” elements still remained). Four songs were recorded for a 1982 cassette compilation, but the band fell apart in June 1982 when drummer Bob Richey joined the Pagans and Larry Lewis quit over musical differences.
The Offbeats resurfaced in January 1983 with a new lineup of Tom Miller (lead vocals and guitar), Scott Vocca (bass and vocals), Chris Justus (guitar) and Larry "Bud" Wright (drums). Soon after they recorded the band's first vinyl release, the "Why Do You Hang Out,” 7” EP, released in August, 1983 on the band’s own "Oops" records.
Chris Justus was replaced with guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Doug Enkler in the fall of 1983. An LP was recorded with producer Tom Hamilton (Lemonheads). The album never materialized, but 4 songs from the sessions became the band's second 7" E.P., “I Can See Your House from Here," (St. Valentine Records, 1984). Just before the record was released, Scott Vocca left and was replaced by bassist Carl Miller (no relation to Tom).
In 1986 the Offbeats signed to New York-based Relativity Records. They recorded their debut LP "Evolution of the Stickman" in October of 1986 at Suma Recording. The 13-tracks on the album were all originals with the exception of a cover of David Bowie’s “Hang On To Yourself.” Problems arose when the original sessions were deemed "unreleasable" by Relativity. The label quickly flew in west coast producer Randy Burns (Megadeath, Flaming Lips, Zoethrope) to salvage the project. Eventually he convinced the band to re-record the entire album, which they did in a 3-day non-stop session in November of 1986.
Relativity issued the "Stickman" album in April of 1987. By this time, tensions that had started to surface during the recording of the album were beginning to take their toll. Bud, dissatisfied with the band’s touring arrangements, quit on the eve of a summer 1987 co-headlining tour with the Lemonheads. Regan Sylverstri (later of the Beatnik Termites) was quickly drafted in on drums and the shows went ahead as scheduled. These, however, turned out to be the last gigs the band would play. Immediately following the tour, Doug Enkler announced his decision to quit the band. Rather than look for a replacement, the Offbeats broke up.
Tom Miller went on to play guitar with Starvation Army from 1988 to 1991, recording several singles and two full-length LP’s with that band. He spent most of the 1990’s playing in Swank Motel, a popular Cleveland “new swing” band. He has been retired from live performance since 2001.
Doug Enkler joined Prisonshake in 1988. For the last several decades they have recorded and released many singles, LP’s and CD’s on the Scat Records label. As of 2010, they were still sporadically active.
Bob Richey played drums for the Pagans throughout much of the 1980’s; he was also a guitarist and a founding member of the Pink Holes, a popular Cleveland garage punk band.
Larry Lewis went on to play in many 1980’s Cleveland bands including Faith Academy, New Salem Witchunters and Lurid. He died at age 49 due to cancer, on October 3, 2011.
Carl Miller and Bud retired from music in 1987, shortly after quitting the Offbeats.
In 2002, Smog Veil records released an Offbeats retrospective CD and vinyl LP entitled “Dumb Looks Still Free.” It consists of recordings, many previously unreleased, spanning the entire history of the band.
In December 2005, Tom Miller, Doug Enkler, Scott Vocca and Bud Wright played a 12-song set at “Cleveland’s Screaming,” a one night punk rock festival featuring the Offbeats and several other bands from the 1980’s. This has been their only public performance together since 1987.
"EVOLUTION OF THE STICKMAN" (Relativity Records, 1987)
"DUMB LOOKS STILL FREE" (Smog Veil Records, 2002)
7” EP’s and Singles:
"WHY DO YOU HANG OUT" 7" EP (Oops! Records, 1983)
"I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE" 7" EP (St. Valentine Records, 1984)
"OUT OF BREATH / DON'T TAKE MY ADVICE" 7" single (St. Valentine Records, 1986)
"CLEVELAND CONFIDENTIAL" LP (Terminal Records, 1981)
The Offbeats appear on 3 tracks: “I’m Confused” (under the name "Offbeats"), “Lost In Rome” (under the name “Lair Matic”) and “Key of E” (under the name “John Lovesin”).
"THIS TAPE SUCKS" Cassette Compilation (Oops! Records, 1982)
Tracks: Why Do You Hang Out, Hey Mate Ahoy, Society, Look at Them Go/Go Away and “M-16.”
"THE NEW HOPE" LP (New Hope Records, 1983)
Tracks: Why Do You Hang Out, Who the Fuck Do You Think You Are
(re-released with extra tracks by Smog Veil Records in 2011)
"SHED YOUR PRIDE" Cassette Compilation (Oops! Records, 1984) Tracks:
"THEY PELTED US WITH ROCKS AND GARBAGE" LP (After Hours Records, 1985)
The Columbus, Ohio based band Scrawl, covered the Offbeats song “Sad,” (written by Doug Enkler), on their 1987 “Plus, Also Too” LP.
You can find more info about the Offbeats at: http://www.clepunk.com/bands/offbeats