Swiss Movement

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Swiss Movement
Formed from the remnants of The Speidels, The Swiss Movement became one of the most popular San Antonio groups of the 1960’s.  In addition to winning a 1968 battle of the bands event in Austin, the group also served as backing band for Billy Joe Royal when he toured the southwest.  The Swiss Movement recorded one excellent 45, and bassist/keyboardist Bob Geissler provides the rest of the band’s story in this exclusive interview.

An Interview With Bob Geissler

60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music? 

Bob Geissler (BG): When I was 7-8 we lived out in the country north of San Antonio and there was a piano sitting around the house, so I taught myself how to play.  Back then there was very little TV, no video games and no Internet.

60s: What was the first band you were in?

BG: The Pipelines was the first band that actually had paying gigs.  We were together about a year and a half.

60s: You also were in The Speidels. Do you recall what year that band was formed?

BG: Nope.

60s: How did The Speidels originate?

BG: I don’t know.  I came along after the band was already established.  I was recruited after the bass player moved away.

60s: What led you to form The Swiss Movement? 

BG: The guy that was the "leader" of The Speidels, Billy something, was a jerk and fired us all and told us he would sue if we used the name. We wanted a name that caused people to realize we were 4/5s of The Speidels, so we took the Swiss Movement name.

60s: How did The Runaways fit into the picture?

BG: I think that was Kent Liming's band prior to The Speidels. I think they broke up and he came into The Speidels looking for a gig. He would be able to answer that much better then me. 

60s: Where and when was the The Swiss Movement formed?

BG: Sometime in 1967 by four remnants of The Speidels: Bob Geissler (bass and keyboards), Kent Liming (guitar), Gene Coleman (drums) and Gary Chesser (lead vocals). We later added a guitar player named Gene Haynes.

60s: Where did the band typically play?

BG: Schools, parties and clubs. We were the backup band for Billy Jo Royal a couple of times when our booking agent brought him to South Texas to do some concerts.  

60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs?

BG: Yes - The Pussycat Club in San Antonio and lots of other places in San Antonio (as well as) The Casket in Kerrville and The Vulcan Gas Company in Austin.

60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory? 

BG: North to Rockdale (which is north of Austin), West to Kerrville, Southwest to Carrizo Springs and Crystal City, South to Rio Grande Valley, and East to Houston.

60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?

BG: We covered as much of the top forty as we could. We were heavy into Hendrix covers and similar stuff.  

60s: The Swiss Movement apparently won an Austin battle of the bands in 1968? Do you recall anything in particular about the competition? 

BG: It was the first big crowd I had played for. There were probably 6,000-7,000 people.

60s: Did The Swiss Movement have a manager?

BG:  Yes - A booking agent who was also a lawyer in San Antonio named Brock Huffman. He was the one that lined up the Billy Jo Royal thing. I don't remember how we found each other.  

60s: How popular locally did The Swiss Movement become? 

BG: I would like to think we were one of the top five San Antonio bands outside of the Hispanic market.

60s: Where did The Swiss Movement record the "Spoonful" / "Inside of Me" single?

BG: We recorded it at a recording studio in Houston. Its name was its street address.  What I remember was that the recording engineer thought "Inside Of Me" needed a little pizzazz so he had me make a clicking sound with my mouth on the offbeat.

60s: Did The Swiss Movement write many original songs?  Who was the band's primary songwriter? 

BG: I can't even remember who wrote "Inside Of Me"! 

60s: Do any (other) '60's Swiss Movement recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased tracks? 

BG: I may have something lying around. Several years ago and had all of my old 1/4" tapes converted to digital. 

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?

BG: We did "Spoonful" on a San Antonio show called Swingtime. Which reminds me… there used to be a San Antonio TV show for which I was one of the house musicians that Mike Nesmith performed on. Back then he was a guitar playing folksinger. 

60s: What year and why did The Swiss Movement break up? 

BG: Probably around 1968. I don't remember why. I moved on to The Laughing Kind. 

60s: How long were you with The Laughing Kind?

BG: Two or three years.

60s: Did you record with the band while a member?

BG: Nope – But they recorded some stuff before I came along.  They were originally known as Max and The Laughing Kind and played summers at Port Arkansas.

60s: What keeps you busy today?

BG: I went to law school while I was playing in The Laughing Kind. That, and related activities, are my day job now. I still play, sing, arrange and record at a contemporary church service.  

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Swiss Movement?

BG: It was lots of fun and educational.

With Billy Joe Royal
The Pipelines: Pre-Swiss Movement
Promo Photo