Welcome to the Past

In 1980, the top rock and roll FM station in the Pittsburgh, PA market, WDVE-FM, featured Teaser's song "Welcome to the Future," as the first song on the first album in the station's popular "Pittsburgh Rocks" series. Formed in fall of 1978 by the songwriting team of Chris Bontos and Butch Maxwell, Teaser began recording and playing live in 1979. The band's quirky new wave approach to British Invasion songs augmented by its mostly original music caught on among music enthusiasts bored with the local country-rock and disco scene.

Within months, Teaser quickly moved from small clubs and coffee houses to headlining at the 2500-seat Capitol Music Hall by the end of 1979. After shaking up the line-up, Bontos & Maxwell's band found greater success and an ever-growing fan base eager to shout "Teaser Rocks!" at every opportunity. The line-up in 1980 featured Chris Rewalt on lead vocals, Spike on drums, Jeff Burton on lead guitar, along with Bontos on rhythm guitar and Maxwell on bass and vocals.

By 1981, the band was performing four to five nights a week, whether at Tin Pan Alley in Wheeling or venues such as the Decade, Electric Banana and Graffiti  in Pittsburgh. Teaser recorded extensively, and was on the verge of breaking out nationally. Teaser's original music was played extensively on WOMP-FM, WCPI-FM, WDVE-FM, WKWK-FM, WYEP-FM and college radio stations throughout the Pittsburgh and Ohio Valley area. The band also headlined at the Wheeling Civic Center.

The line-up split, leaving Bontos & Maxwell to reform the band with new members Steve Cole on vocals and Scott Fisher on drums in 1982. Johnny "Kaos" Gongola joined later on keyboards. It was rebranded "Phaser," but continued in the same Teaser tradition. Successful in its own right, Phaser went under the management of DeCeasar-Engler in Pittsburgh in 1983. The agency conviced members to rebrand itself again, this time playing more current hit music, along with their original music. Now called "The Touch," the band continued to perform regionally and recorded some of Bontos & Maxwell's strongest material.

In 1985 when Bontos and Maxwell replaced Cole and Fisher with Teaser's previous drummer Spike and Rewalt on lead vocals, and reverted back to their roots - as Teaser - defiantly throwing out the contemporary cover music and returning to the mix of mostly original and smattering of "Teaser-ized" covers of mostly British Invasion songs.

The revitalized Teaser broke house records in 1985 and 1986 with new material, in addition to nearly a decade of older songs and experience. By mid-1986, Rewalt left the band again to pursue music in a duet and in 1987, Bontos left the area. Maxwell continued to lead the ensemble until early 1989, when he decided to leave in order to spend evenings with his growing family.

The band reunited in 1996 for two shows, one in the spring featuring classic Teaser material from the 80s, and one in the fall as part of a Beatles tribute weekend. When Bontos returned to the area in 1998, Teaser reformed, but not as a club band. The group played a single concert of all new material that was about to be recorded. The recording sessions for the album "In the Middle of Now" were begun in 1999 and completed in 2000. Bontos & Maxwell continued to write and record together until spring of 2001, when Bontos again left the area. Dormant again until 2009, Bontos, Maxwell and longtime drummer Spike reunited in mid-May to perform a reunion show at River City Ale Works in Wheeling. Plans are in the works for something else in 2010.