Early on, John and Rick did not want Combo Audio to be "a band"; they wanted to make records. It was a collaborative studio project based around John's writing with the goal of a major label deal. But, once their music began to be played on local radio stations, they were approached to perform live. Willa Iglitzen, who was managing of a new emerging hot music club called Mabel's, urged them to play. Mabel's was a former 70's style fern bar and restaurant in Champaign on Green Street that traditionally presented local live folk and jazz and had begun to book "new wave" bands. Problem was, Combo Audio had never performed any of the music in front of an audience; John and Rick had never played in a band together.

John comments:

"When Willa approached us, Rick and I were reluctant at first, but then decided to have a go at it. We had been spending all our time writing songs, rehearsing, arranging and recording them on my little cassette 4 track after hours in the hi-fi store I was working in. Word had gotten around about what we were doing. Dana Walden had heard my work. I had already been in Creative Audio studios with him and recorded one of my songs, "Television Girl". Once Rick and I had teamed up, we went back in and recorded four songs for a demo. We recorded demos of "The Look", "Shortwave", "Boys World" and another version of "Television Girl" and sent it to the local radio stations who began to play them in rotation.

Playing out meant we had to find a bass player and some other musicians. We had no idea what we wanted so we just started asking people we knew and liked to play with us. We met Rocky Maffit around that time. He liked the music and we loved what he did as a percussionist and artist so we invited him to play and he agreed.

We rehearsed for that first gig in the winter in this wood working shop outside of town and it was freezing. I just remember all of us shivering with our little amps and percussion and drums and a tiny PA system. We only had something like 6 songs and somehow we winged it through that first show. Rick and I were surprised at the turnout since the band had never played before - power of radio at the time I guess. People knew the songs, it was amazing. "