Still Available - Rich La Bonté Explains MODSpeak

FLAtRich (AKA Rich La Bonté)
Hi, boys and girls!

I'm going to try to keep this brief, but I have a tendency to ramble so speed read or just stop when you get bored, OK?

I think I got my first computer in 1982. It was a Commodore VIC-20, and I bought it because I saw a Commodore TV ad featuring William Shatner who claimed you could tour the universe with the VIC.
The ad also claimed that the VIC could make music, which was my stock in trade at the time. I played in garage bands in high school and bar bands for 20 years. My fifteen minutes of fame was with Godspell in the 70s. Look it up. Buy the DVD. I don't make anything from it, but I'm not ashamed of it either.

Neither claim was exactly true. I never located the VIC Visible Solar System cartridge. VIC-20 music was hardly listenable, squeaky stuff, although I did find a British-made cartridge from Thorne-EMI and actually took the VIC into a recording studio in the mid-80s.

The only surviving tune from that session is Modern Girl, which runs all of 46 seconds. You can find it on the Argyle Ghosts EP (drums by Delmar Richardson.) Too bad, really, because a lot of my friends from the LA 70s-80s punk scene showed up to do vocals on cuts that weren't released. The all-girl band Raszebrae - (Debbie Patino, Katie, Ingrid - hi, guys!) - Kim Fowley crooning "Moonlight Becomes You", Bill Bored, Tammy Goodman, Julie Davis, Ed Smith, Harvey Kubernik and all the rest. Imagine twenty dysfunctional people singing the chorus to the Stones' "2000 Light Years from Home" against a VIC-20 and you get the idea.

I bought a Commodore 64 and found a Stereo SID cartridge. I wrote some (now) horrible-sounding stuff and did covers of old movie music. My favorite was "The Moon of Manakoora" (Frank Loesser-Alfred Newman) from the 1937 film "The Hurricane", but take my advice and never try entering an Alfred Newman score into a computer note by note.

I also used GEOS, which was then an operating system for the Commodore 64 rather than the now famous Australian online TV genre fan database. When GEOS announced that they were moving to the PC platform, I moved with them and discovered mods.

What happened next is still available on the MODSpeak site. I started doing mods in 1993. They were less horrible than SIDs, so I uploaded them to my provider (AOL back then, when they had about 250,000 members and the only AOL "interface" was built into PC-GEOS) and a few hundred folks a lot like you (but with pathetic little 286 PCs, Amigas and Classic MACs) downloaded them.

I prefer not to mention how many really great mod composers there were at the time in places like Finland. (I was just doing my thing, yuh know?) You can find some of their works in the MODSpeak Classics Library or hunt for more in the fLAtDiSk Mod Archives.

I released a cover of Mark Snow's X-Files Theme in 1994 and everything changed. Snow mentioned it in an online chat with Chris Carter on Prodigy (which I only heard about because I was stuck with AOL) and 8,000 people downloaded it that month. Pretty awful today, but people loved it at the time. Fans will be fans.

MODSpeak was born the same year. It started as an interactive newsletter and became a website. (Hey! The very website where you found this rap a decade or so later.) Eventually it spawned other music websites - fLAtDiSk Mod Archives, Key of X, etc. - and was jammed into the fLAtDiSk NeTWoRk.

The rest, as some say, is music.

Hollywood CA 2003

FLAtRich on MySpace

Back to MODSpeak

Absolutely Free Music at