photo: Zach Lanoue

About the band

About the Band

Vapors of Morphine is a Boston-based rock band with an unusual lineup, touring the US, South America, and Europe. 

Dana Colley (baritone sax), New Orleans blues guitarist/singer Jeremy Lyons, and drummer Jerome Deupree founded the band in 2009 and have released two albums, “Ever Expanding Elastic Waste Band” in 2010 and “A New Low” in 2015, with a third album “Fear and Fantasy” coming out on the UK’s Schnitzel Records in early 2021. Boston area drummer Tom Arey (Peter Wolf, J. Geils Band, Ghosts of Jupiter) took the rhythm reins in 2019 following Jerome Deupree’s departure. 

There would be no Vapors of… without Morphine. The band Morphine pioneered a new type of music — “Low Rock” — featuring the unusual yet seductive lineup of baritone sax, 2-string slide bass and drums. Morphine burned bright and fast but was snuffed out before its time when leader Mark Sandman passed away in 1999. From those ashes rose Vapors of Morphine.

Vapors of Morphine honor a progressive legacy by blazing a new path. Theirs is a truly unique sound; dreamy soundscapes and inventive arrangements with electric baritone sax (evocative of Jimi Hendrix’ guitar), the Sandman-style 2-string slide bass or electric guitar (or electric bouzouki) and jazz-rock drums. 

Back to the beginning

1989: Dana Colley (baritone sax) and Jerome Deupree (drums) formed Morphine with Mark Sandman. Sax, drums, no guitar, and Sandman played a two string bass guitar with a slide. The band’s unique sound and mood gained them a cult following. After two albums, Billy Conway took over on drums.

On July 3, 1999, Mark Sandman passed away from a heart attack onstage at a festival in Italy. After Sandman’s death all three surviving members worked together on and off in various projects. They maintained Hi N Dry, Sandman’s old recording studio he had built in his apartment in Cambridge. 

July 4, 2009: Jeremy, Dana and Jerome play a tribute show to Sandman on the 10th anniversary of his death, on the same stage in Palestrina, Italy where Mark had collapsed. A weekly residency at a pub a few blocks from Hi N Dry gave them time to rehearse. Jeremy had a 2-string bass like Sandman’s built and began learning Morphine tunes while fleshing out sets with blues, psychedelic jams and West African guitar music. The band toured the U.S., South America and Europe under various names until they hit upon Vapors of Morphine. 

A mulitplicity of drummers is seemingly baked into the Morphine legacy;  Jerome had often farmed out gigs to other drummers, including nearly 18 months at one point for tendinitis. Local musician/producer Jeff Allison filled in on local shows and played on two songs on the band’s second CD. When available, Morphine’s second drummer Billy Conway, who lived in Montana, played some away shows with the band. Things clicked when they started working with drummer Tom Arey, who has been Peter Wolf’s drummer for the last decade. The timing aligned with Tom fresh off of tour; the band whipped into rehearsal gear and had Tom gigging with them within a month of Deupree leaving the band.

Deupree’s final departure marks a new era for VoM. Their new album “Fear & Fantasy” (Schnitzel Records), to be released on a combined vinyl/CD package, features Deupree on one side and Arey on the other. The striking sonic difference almost creates an impression of two short featurettes, rather than two acts of the same play.

 

photo: Zach Lanoue
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