The history of the Primitive Radio Gods begins with the I-Rails. Formed in the late 1980s, the I-Rails were an alternative independent rock band based in Oxnard, California.
Consisting of three members; bassist/singer Chris O'Connor, guitarist Jeff Sparks (a childhood friend of O'Connor), and drummer Tim Lauterio; the I-Rails released a total of four albums, none of which received much public attention. After the fourth album, Panharmonium, was released in 1990 and similarly ignored, the band decided to separate. While Sparks and Lauterio went on to pursue other potential careers, O'Connor continued to work with material originally intended for a fifth I-Rails album. Inspired by bands such as Public Enemy, O'Connor recorded additional material and ultimately mixed a total of ten tracks on a broken-down 1969 Ampex 16-track tape deck on a budget of $1,000. After mastering, O'Connor released the demo to public music stations under the (misspelled) moniker "Primative Radio Gods", a song on the I-Rails album Nine Songs from Nowhere. Like his former band's works, O'Connor's Rocket, as the album came to be called, was widely disregarded by both radio and the general public. Defeated, O'Connor retired from the music business and utilized his Navy training to pursue a job as an air traffic controller at Los Angeles International Airport. The remaining copies of Rocket were put into storage, where they would remain for several years.
While housecleaning in 1994, O'Connor rediscovered the box of demo tapes he had packed away years prior. In a final act of desperation, he mailed copies of the tape to any major record label he could think of. Weeks later, he received a call from an executive named Jonathan Daniel from the New York offices of Fiction Records. One unique song in particular had caught Daniel's attention: "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand", a piano-driven ballad over a hip-hop backbeat, which heavily sampled B. B. King's "How Blue Can You Get?". Daniel immediately signed O'Connor to a publishing deal, and took him to Columbia Records for a recording deal. "Phone Booth" first appeared on the soundtrack to the Jim Carreydark comedy film The Cable Guy in May 1996, and a slightly remastered Rocket was released the following month. "Phone Booth" was released to radio as the Primitive Radio Gods' first single, and was remarkably successful in both the UK and U.S. markets. Due to the single's success, Rocket was certified gold.
Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth
Jan lays down and wrestles in her sleep
Moonlight spills on comic books
And superstars in magazines
An old friend calls and tells us where to meet
Her plane takes off from Baltimore
And touches down on Bourbon Street
We sit outside and argue all night long
About a god we've never seen
But never fails to side with me
Sunday comes and all the papers say
Ma Teresa's joined the mob
And happy with her full time job
Do do do do doo do
Am I alive or thoughts that drift away?
Does summer come for everyone?
Can humans do as prophets say?
And if I die before I learn to speak
Can money pay for all the days I lived awake
But half asleep?
Do do do do doo do x 2
A life is time, they teach us growing up
The seconds ticking killed us all
A million years before the fall
You ride the waves and don't ask where they go
You swim like lions through the crest
And bathe yourself on zebra flesh
I've been downhearted baby,
I've been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met