The Swimming Pool Q's


On May 20, 2003, the legendary Atlanta group THE SWIMMING POOL Q's will release their new disc, Royal Academy of Reality (BRN-CD-145) on Bar/None Records. Produced by Q's singer/songwriter Jeff Calder and producer/engineer Phil Hadaway, this will be the Swimming Pool Q's first full-length album in over ten years.

Royal Academy contains 20 tracks recorded at various studios and remote locations in Atlanta and Savannah. During the sessions, The Q's' core line-up since 1982 [Bill Burton, drums; Jeff Calder, vocals, rhythm guitar; Bob Elsey, lead guitar] was augmented by Neill Calabro (vibes), Marty Kearns (keyboards) and percussionist Pete Jarkunas, who played bass on The Q's' 1981 debut, The Deep End.

Anne Richmond Boston, The Swimming Pool Q's classic vocalist, returned to active service as the making of Royal Academy entered its final stage. Her alto achieves its characteristic emotional effect, most evident on the duet, "Radio in Memphis". The Q's received additional support from a distinguished cast of more than two dozen musicians, including: BRENDAN O'BRIEN (producer of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TRAIN, PEARL JAM &c); MOE TUCKER (drummer of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND); TOM GRAY (composer of "Money Changes Everything" by Atlanta greats, The BRAINS); SAMARAI CELESTIAL (the late drummer for SUN RA).


Anne Richmond Boston: vocals
Bill Burton: drums
Jeff Calder: vocals, rhythm guitar
Tim DeLaney: bass
Bob Elsey: lead guitar

Contributing to the album's rare atmospheric beauty and reinforcing the Royal Academy's themes, The Q's guitar-based sound is supplemented by glass harp, Clavioline, harpsichord, dulcimer, bagpipes, Leslie steel guitar, muted trumpet, turntables, tamboura, sitar and the Chinese version of the koto, known as the chang.

Founded in Atlanta in 1978, THE SWIMMING POOL Q's were among the first generation of Georgia's celebrated New Wave bands that included THE B-52's, THE BRAINS, PYLON and R.E.M. When original members Jeff Calder (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Bob Elsey (lead guitar) were joined by vocalist Anne Richmond Boston, the initial configuration of the Q's quickly established a reputation for superb musicianship and originality. With a barrage of East Coast and regional dates beginning in 1979 (including the Southern leg of the first major POLICE tour), The Swimming Pool Q's developed the confident live presentation which they've maintained into the present era.

The Q's first full-length release in 1981, The Deep End [DB 55], reissued in 2001 as a deluxe CD, was an immediate classic of the new creative pop sound being forged in Atlanta and Athens at the turn of that decade. The band signed with A & M Records in 1984 and released two highly acclaimed albums, The Swimming Pool Q's [A&M SP5015,1984], produced by David Anderle with Ed Stasium, and Blue Tomorrow [A&M SP5107, 1986], produced by Mike Howlett.

"Visionary pop eccentrics from Atlanta," noted Melody Maker. "Some of the most compelling rock sounds in all of America...lofty architectural style distinguished by the elegant and muscular guitar duets between Jeff Calder and Bob Elsey and [Anne] Boston's rhapsodic alto phrasings," said The Village Voice. In Rolling Stone, Kurt Loder wrote, "Overlaid with Calder's unusually literate songwriting sensibility, this musical melange is one of the freshest sounds coming out of the South." The Swimming Pool Q's were chosen as support act for LOU REED on his New Sensations comeback tour.

Anne Richmond Boston departed in 1987, though she continued to provide her artistic and vocal expertise over the years. (Boston returned in 1998 as the primary recording for the new Royal Academy of Reality was drawing to a close.) As a quartet, The Q's released their prescient satire of televangelism, The Firing Squad for God EP [DB 87] and, in 1989, the angry World War Two Point Five [Capitol/DB C1-91068]. In early 1993, The Swimming Pool Q's began recording their cosmogonical magnum opus, Royal Academy of Reality.

As fans of The Q's previous work might expect, the group's incomparable lead guitarist, Bob Elsey, conducts his solos in trigonometric fashion throughout (see, "Yin Yang" and "For No Reason"). Drummer Bill Burton's undiminished powers of invention are of particular note on the closing 5/4 jam, "Alpha Centauri's Rise", The Q's tribute to coastal net-casters who secretly serve as interstellar senders-and-receivers.

The composition of Royal Academy of Reality is punctuated by ambient interludes, such as "Cosmogonical Heliopolis". Still, "Everybody Knows Tomorrow" and "Out of Nothing" affirm The Swimming Pool Q's have lost none of the Pop sensibility that defined their mid-80s's work. Jeff Calder's familiar growl and wicked sense of humor remain intact, as well, especially on rambunctious jaunts like "The Do What and The Who What", with its reference to Atlanta's Piedmont Park, where the song's protagonist has a flashing light on the top of his head, so the planes won't hit him in the dark. Among the Royal Academy's many highlights, The Velvet's Moe Tucker pounded drum and tambourine one afternoon between 2:45 and 3:00, forming the basis for "Wheel of the Sun".

Royal Academy of Reality reestablishes The Swimming Pool Q's as an American band of first consequence. See Swimming Pool Q's Biography at for additional details.