The band, Pavlov's Dog, was originally from St. Louis, Missouri USA. The band was formed by Mike Safron and David Surkamp. Members of the original band were: David Surkamp - lead vocals, guitar, David Hamilton - keyboards, Doug Rayburn - mellotron, flute, Mike Safron - percussion, Rick Stockton - bass guitar, Siegfried Carver - violin, vitar, viola, Steve Scorfina - lead guitar
When talking to former members of the band, there is some difference of opinion about how the group came to be formed. According to Mike Safron, he and Siegfried Carver formed the band. David Surkamp auditioned as a guitarist, but Mike was not overly impressed with David's abilities. Before leaving, David asked if he could sing a song. When Mike heard David's voice, he was shocked and he immediately decided on the spot that David had to be the lead vocalist for the band.
According to Rick Stockton, the band actually had it's beginnings in 1972-1973 as a group called "High on a Small Hill". It consisted of the following personnel:
David Surkamp - Lead Vocal & Guitar
Geoff Benson - Lead Guitar & Vocals
Rick Stockton - Bass Guitar & Vocals
Tom Keller - Drums
David and Rick proceeded to dismantle this band with the goal of developing a group capable of performing and recording original music. They auditioned dozens of local musicians, including several drummers before Mike Safron joined the group. Next came Seigfried Carver (real name Richard Nadler), followed by Steve Scorfina, David Hamilton, and Doug Rayburn, pretty much in that order. Tom Nickeson came on board during preparation for the 2nd album and later replaced David Hamilton on keyboards for the Sound of the Bell tour.
(See the Pavlov's Dog Discography pages for a detailed listing for each album.)
Regardless of how the group came to be formed, the important thing is that they got together and produced some terrrific music over several albums.
Prior to releasing their first album in 1975, the group recorded several songs at a studio in Pekin, Illinois and an acetate album was produced as a result. According to Rick Stockton, "It's got some incredible tracks on it, only a few of which made their way on to an album. That recording exhibited the pure energy that the band produced and was famous for in those days before the record executives got a hold of us and "toned it down some". In my opinion, the "Pekin Tapes" were awesome. That studio burned to the ground in the late 70's and the master was lost (at least that's the story that went around in those days)."
The group released their first album - "Pampered Menial" - in 1975 on ABC Dunhill Records. When the band was signed, they received a $600,000 advance from ABC. This was the largest advance for any new group signed. But, remember that this was 1974. The band then switched labels to Columbia Records for their second album - "At the Sound of the Bell".
The first album - "Pampered Menial" - featured an interesting cover. The front covered featured a white dog and the back had a photo of a hound type dog in an old time setting. So where did the artwork for the first album originate?
Steve Scorfina explains: "The artist for the original artwork for the cover, inside and back of the Pampered Menial album are Original Steel Engravings by Sir Edwin Landseer, master English animal painter. Sir Edwin Landseer, 1802-1873, is perhaps the most well known and respected painter and illustrator of animals. The engravings were chosen from the Robert Vernon Collection published by D. Appleton & New York in 1850, which Gwen Scorfina, (Steve's mother) had bought at a Monastery booksale. On the front cover titled "Low Life" -- were one about to write a natural history of the dog, in his domestic character, the works of Mr. Landseer would furnish as truthful authority for the habits and manner of the various species, as the study of the living model itself could afford. His knowledge of the creature was most profound, and must have so resulted from a study deep enough to engage the attention of a philosophical physiognomist of the human race. The animal pictured under to cognomen of "Low Life" (front cover of album) has undoubtedly no claim to higher rank, either by birth, education, or those with whom he associates. Such an ill-looking mongrel is rarely seen in the company of a gentleman, and yet there is such an air of impudent self-complacency in the countenance of the creature as he sits basking in the sunshine - so much assumed dignity, as would warrant the supposition that he were of royal race, and proper company for anyone. Evidently, he is a dog not to be played with by a stranger; that broad chest and deep jowl, those short, thickset legs, would render him a formidable enemy if attacked, and a valuable ally to his master, whether good deeds or evil. The true character of a thorough fighting dog has never been better portrayed, and whatever the duties which devolve upon him there can be no question of his performing them faithfully and vigorously. By the butcher's block and knife, which form a portion of the accessories, we should surmise that his master belongs to that fraternity.
The striking contrast to "Low Life" is found on the back cover of the Pampered Menial album titled "High Life" shows us a dog, of the hound species, seated in an apartment of a castle, which judging from the furniture and its other contents, is that more especially occupied by the lord of the mansion, probably a knight of the olden time, for helmet and sword, breastplate and glove lie there. The master is evidently a Bookman and a Scribe, as well as warrior, for implements of writing are scattered on the table, interspersed with heavily clasped volumes. The breed of the dog, and the objects by which he is surrounded, clearly bear out the title of the work -- "High Life".
The engravings provided by Gwen Scorfina to CBS Records were never recovered. Hence, Stephen and Kathleen have been collecting Landseer's engravings. British Art Journals had been published during the 19th century. Finally, just last year they were able to grace Stephen's mother with the framed engravings she had once lost.
When the group switched to Columbia, there are several different stories about what happened. One story is that they simply switched labels for their second album and Columbia simply re-released their first album. Another story says that Columbia actually paid the group another $600,000 for their first album and released it less than a week after ABC Records released it. Still a third story says that Columbia Records traded groups with ABC Records - Columbia gave the group Poco for Pavlov's Dog. So which story do you believe? According to Mike Safron, formerly of Pavlov's Dog, the story is as follows: "Pavlov's Dog probably had the most screwed-up situation of any group in history. The chance we had was just unbelievable. We signed the biggest contract ever for a starting-up national band. We signed for $650,000 to ABC/Dunhill, then were fired. Two weeks later we signed for another $600,000 to Columbia. The first album came out in all stores on the same day, on two labels. Never before in history."
When Pavlov's Dog first album came out, people either loved or hated David Surkamp's voice. His voice has been compared to Geddy Lee of Rush due to his ability to hit those "high notes". The songs on the album were unique since they combined the use of the mellotron and the violin.
The song title "Theme from Subway Sue" (which appeared on the first album) was the result of someone in the band misunderstanding the lyrics, thinking David was singing, "And Subway Sue will find out where we're going" (real lyrics: "And someday soon, we'll find out where we're going"). After David finished showing the band the song in rehearsal, someone asked, "Who is Subway Sue, and why is she following us?" According to David Surkamp, it was Siegfried Carver who misheard the lyrics.
The flute solo in the middle of the song "Julia" was played by Hubert Laws. According to Mike Safron, Laws did not like the solo and stated "If I get a credit on the album, I'll sue you." Hence, the band did not list Laws on the album.
As noted, Pavlov's Dog released their second album - "At the Sound of the Bell" - on Columbia Records. This was another good album, similar to "Pampered Menial".
"At the Sound of the Bell" was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City (some tracks were also recorded in England, most notably the boys' choir tracks for "Valkerie"). While the Dog was recording there, they were using the same studio that John Lennon was using for his album of that period. So when the Dog arrived in the studio, a lot of Lennon's equipment was there, including his Mellotron. (If you're unfamiliar with the Mellotron, it contained three tape strips [similar to 8-track cartridges] for each key, usually with violin, flute, and cello recordings. Before synthesized strings were available, Mellotrons were used in concert when a band couldn't afford real musicians [which was the case with the Dog]. Although violin, flute, and cello were the standard "voices," you could theoretically record anything on the tapes.)
Tom Nickeson approached Lennon's Mellotron, excited to be so close to the actual instrument that played the haunting flute intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever." He intended to turn the three-position knob to the flute position and recreate history, but before he did that, he reached for the first key and pressed it. Instead of hearing the characteristic wow-and-fluttery violin, flute, or cello, he and the other band members were treated to the opening guitar arpeggio from "Bungalow Bill"! Needless to say, they were knocked off their feet.
I recently asked Mike Safron if he knew of any plans to re-release the first two albums on CD in the United States. He stated that he knows of no such plans. He noted that Sony Music owns the rights to the recordings and that, in his opinion, it would not make much sense for them to re-release them, given the age of the recordings and the limited sales potential.
Pavlov's Dog third album was entitled "The St. Louis Hounds" even though the band was still going by the name of Pavlov's Dog. The planned title for the third album was "Whatever Became of Siegfried?" This was a joking reference to electric violinist Siegfried Carver who left after the second album.
The original planned cover art was a wonderful drawing of an overhead view of Sherlock Holmes (in classic deerstalker hat) and Watson being led down a foggy London street by an English pit bulldog that just happens to look exactly like the dog in the woodcut on Pampered Menial, which became the band's logo. The cover of the album that was eventually released was a humorous black and white drawing of the group. The name "St. Louis Hounds" and the drawings of the band members on the album were borrowed from a comic strip about Pavlov's Dog that ran in the magazine, New Musical Express, during the band's heydey.
At the time the third album was recorded, the band was still called Pavlov's Dog and was under contract to Columbia. After the album was completed, Columbia Records cut the band from its list and put the album on the shelf, never to be released.
Each member of the band received a 1/4" reel-to-reel tape copy of the master to take home after the album was completed. Several members of the band bootlegged the third album on vinyl over the years (the most notable being the "St. Louis Hounds" version), and the worldwide bootleg CDs are bootlegs of these original vinyl bootlegs. The location of the original studio master is not known.
As noted previously, Pavlov's Dog never officially went by the name "The St. Louis Hounds." This name was used on the bootleg to avoid any attention from Columbia Records and ASCAP.
The music paper, New Musical Express, was quite taken with the American band that everyone thought was British, and NME probably gave the band more press than Rolling Stone or any American outlet. They even sent a reporter to cover rehearsals for and the recording of "At the Sound of the Bell." The magazine made a big deal about Bill Bruford (who had just left Yes) flying to St. Louis to rehearse in Steve Scorfina's carriage house rehearsal space and accompanying the band to a classic American fast-food place (Steak'n'Shake) for lunch.
After being dropped by Columbia Records, Pavlov's Dog played a farewell concert on a St. Louis riverboat known as The Admiral. According to Rick Stockton, "This was indeed our farewell concert as the original band. I felt it was one of the best shows, if not THE best, that we ever did. The quality of performance and sound presentation was probably at it's highest quality level ever in front of a live audience. It should have been preserved on audio and/or video tape, but the logistics at that time just were not manageable, so we didn't do it (probably had something to do with money). I remember it was a short set, about 40 minutes, with selections from all three albums being performed. The final lineup for that day was as follows:
David Surkamp - Vocals, Valeno & Acoustic Guitars
Doug Rayburn - Keyboards, Flute
Steve Scorfina - Guitars, Vocals
Tom Nickeson - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Seigfried Carver (Richard Nadler) - Violin, Vitar
Rick Stockton - Bass, Vocals
Kirk Sarkisian - Drums
We were fortunate enough to find Seigfried and asked him to re-join us for the final show. We practiced the show for several weeks and wanted it to be the perfect set for our fans (and ourselves). I remember the stage was constructed in 3 levels, with the drum riser on the back (highest) level, the middle level was where Doug, Tom and I were located, and the front (lowest) level where David, Steve and Richard performed. The acoustics in that old dance hall were good, and the sound system we used was very good.
The performance was exceptional. That was an extremely emotional day for us. We knew it was the end of the original band and we probably could have sold out that boat for a week, but it was one night and one night only. I'll never forget it."
The groups fourth and final album was called "Lost in America" and again was released on CD on a small, local label in St. Louis, Missouri.
Pavlov's Dog was most popular in the midwest USA, particularly in cities near their hometown. Their music was predominantly played on FM radio stations - like KSHE95 - throughout the midwest. The band was also extremely popular in Europe and Australia. In fact, their first two albums can be easily found in Australia on compact disk.
Pavlov's Dog released a total of four albums and each is described in more detail on these pages. All of their original vinyl albums are out of print and collectable. Some of their best known songs include: "Theme From Subway Sue", "Julia", "She Came Shining", and "Valkerie".
The original Pavlov's Dog is no longer making music as a group today. However, some of the members of the band are making music on their own or in other bands.
After Pavlov's Dog, David Surkamp went on to join or form several other bands including Madshadows, Hi-Fi, and Memphis Underground. For a period of time, he lived in Seattle, Washington.
After returning to St. Louis, Missouri, David worked for quite awhile as a columnist and music reviewer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (In fact to this day, he occasionally still writes music reviews for the paper.) During that time he interviewed many bands in town for concerts. Several times he had the experience of Australian bands arriving to be interviewed and on being introduced, asking "Are you THE David Surkamp?! Of Pavlov's Dog?!" and then proceding to give HIM the star treatment.
David now has a new band - The David Surkamp Band. The band consists of: David Surkamp - vocals and guitar, Sara Surkamp (his wife) - vocals and guitar, Tom Surkamp (David's cousin) - key boards and vocals, Paul Stephens - bass, and Sam Schmidt - drums. The group plays at various venues in the St. Louis area. almost every Saturday night According to Sara Surkamp: "People have come from all over the world to see the group play. In April 1998, we had a couple of visitors from England, and Steve (Scorfina) and Mike (Safron) both came down to the club, and the three of them preformed together. It was very fun."
David has recorded and released a CD of new original songs. For more information, click here.
For more information about The David Surkamp Band, visit their homepage.
David has seen the Pavlov's Dog website and said "Nice job. I am surprised that anyone took the time to develop a site for the band."
I spoke to Mike Safron on the phone in the Fall of 1998. He still lives in St. Louis, Missouri and is the father of a three year old son. Mike is currently playing drums in a local R&B band.
Mike did lead a reformed band known as Pavlov's Dog 2000 for a period of time. According to Mike, he added the "2000" to the original name since he was the only original member. This band captured some of the early sound of the original group. They also released a CD of new songs on a local label in St. Louis, Missouri USA. For more information on Pavlov's Dog 2000, visit their homepage.
If you would like to e-mail Mike Safron, you may do so at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
After Pavlov's Dog broke up in 1977, Steve Scorfina and Tom Nickeson joined the California band Gulliver. The group had one hit, "Ridin' the Wind." Tom and Steve later played together in a few other bands in St. Louis, including Pave (with Siegfried Carver on violin) and Memphis Underground (with David Surkamp on lead vocals).
I recently heard from Stephen Scorfina and he still resides in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Stephen has seen this site and said "I certainly have appreciated all of your work on the website for Pavlov's Dog! It's a fantastic site! Many thanks for keeping the flame burning."
Stephen recently released a new CD titled "Polychrome Love Songs" which is now available in St. Louis area stores. It is a self-released project recorded at a local studio and released by a local label.
Stephen also told me that he is working on a follow-up CD entitiled "Polychrome Love Songs 2". He is also re-recording many of the Pavlov's Dog songs for a new CD entitled "Old Dog, New Tricks". The CD will feature guest appearances by many of the original members of Pavlov's Dog. No release date yet on these CDs, but check back regularly. As more information becomes available, it will be posted here.
If you would like to e-mail Stephen Scorfina, you may do so at the following address: Stephen Michael Scorfina
I heard from Rick Stockton in December 1998. After seeing the site he said "Tell me, what prompted you to do such a thing? I never realized there was still so much interest in the band."
Rick said "I've been living in Wichita, Kansas, since 1983 and currently work for a large medical center. I have not played an instrument since leaving St. Louis." After the split of Pavlov's Dog, he took a job in law enforcement in St. Louis in the late 70's and continued that career in the private sector for the now-defunct Stix, Baer & Fuller (SBF) department store chain. Just prior to SBF selling out to Dillards in the early 80's, he moved to Wichita to pursue an opportunity in healthcare safety and security. His current title is Environmental Health & Safety Manager, responsible for the safety program, emergency preparedness, security, hazardous materials, fire protection/prevention, and environmental code compliance.
Rick also provided quite a bit of new information about the band which is now posted on this page. Thanks Rick. I appreciate it and so do the fans.
I also heard from Tom Nickeson who has seen the site. He stated "Good job with the site. It is nice to see that there is still some interest in The Dog."
Tom still resides in the St. Louis area and currently, he is Director of Audio for Studio Works Inc., doing original soundtracks and audio for international companies, besides local media, etc.
So whatever became of Siegfried? According to Mike Safron, Siegfried currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is no longer in the music business, but has founded a taxpayers watch group.
I recently heard from David in June 1999. He said he is currently living in the Los Angeles area and is writing and producing music for television and cable programs. He heard about this website from two different people at a party in Los Angeles, California.
Again, according to Rick Stockton, "Kirk Sarkisian relocated to the Kansas City, Missouri area and I believe he is currently residing in the Atlanta, Georgia area."