Animation History

Mike Coulter,                          Greg Lewis,                              Eric Charles

  Animation circa 2013

It all began in December of 1978 when Steve Liller and Eric Charles officially met at a Farmhouse in Wrightsville, PA. where the main room of the house was dedicated to Music. They began jamming with various friends and musicians on original songs and developing a style. By the fall of 1979 Steve and Eric added John Mosser on Drums into the mix and recorded what were to become the first Animation Songs. After discussions between Eric and Steve about communicating in the language of mathematical jazz, they both returned to Berklee, Boston MA, that year (1980) for another semester of Music study. Their objective was to write songs in a jazz/rock fusion, instrumental style much like Brand X or Return to Forever. After writing and transcribing more fusion jazz type songs they returned to Lancaster and began running adds for musicians to start a  fusion band. After 26 drummers responded to the add, Greg Barninger was added to the roster as well as his friend and Bass player Allen Swope, also from Lancaster County. The original objective was to record and perform non-vocal instrumental Jazz/Rock Fusion. Eric, Steve, Allen and Greg began recording under the name Animation for the first time. This quartet began to rehearse diligently for the next year (1981) and finally brought someone in with a 4-trak recorder to capture some of the sounds. At some point during 1981 one of our friends and musician sound tech Craig Cullinan clandestinely bused the drums and bass onto one trak, and with the keyboards and guitar on their own respective traks, he managed to record the band while still freeing up a trak. Illicitly and unbeknownst to the band he proceeded to implement what he refers to as the vocal coup of the century. After somewhat upsetting the band and managing to convince us to allow him a vocal audition, the first advent of the vocal concept to animation was incepted. Although the exchange of blows never came to be, one or more of the band members agreed to peruse the vocal concept, providing Cullinan was not involved. It later became very significant that Craig was the purveyor of the vocal concept in Animation, because it ultimately led to the long term development of Animation as a vocal band. His maneuver was later approved of and respected. We then began to pursue a vocal concept for the band. First up were Steve and Eric lending their vocal renderings on a 24-trak recording. It was then decided that the band could benefit from a more accomplished singer.  It was at this time Dave Wilson came into our lives and began to mold the future of voices in Animation Music. In 1982, with the aid of guitarist Steve Howe from yes, we managed to get an audition from Geffen Records and we had an A&R representative come hear the band at one of our gigs. Unfortunately after we submitted a demo, we were turned down by the company. Eventually this type of situation led to some measure of despondency and the band disbanded in Early 1983. Many subsequent attempts to reestablish the energy of the initial line-up were pursued by Eric in many years to come with various musicians and formats. Eric tried to keep Animation going as a trio with Eric, Greg, and Allen in 1983 after Steve initially left the group, but the lack of a keyboardist made it difficult. In 1984 Eric, Steve, and Craig (Cullinan), recruited Dave Galligan to play the drums and another recording project was embarked on. By sometime in 1985 Steve had left the group and Bill Phillips replaced Dave on drums and again we rerecorded the repertoire with some new songs. It was at this time that Eric began his role as a keyboardist also on the recordings. Eventually Bill Phillips left the band to join a heavy thrash metal band named "Hauntz" in which Eric ultimately joined for a period of time in the '80's because he was challenged to play intricate guitar rock. After that time Eric went on to play in other line-ups including Dragonfire and solo projects and Animation was once again put into stasis. Eric left for New York in the late 80's only to return to Lancaster in 1989 where yet another incarnation of animation was developed, this time with Greg Barninger and Lawrence Flowers on bass and Eric on guitar and keyboards. It was later that year that another studio project was embarked on including Steve Liller, unfortunately we were plagued with problems including the sickness of Lawrence which we followed by bringing once again Allen Swope into the project, however this project ultimately never came into fruition. In 1993 Eric recorded and gigged with Ocean Thunder. There were more Animation line-ups to follow in the early nineties including sessions with our current drummer Aaron Walker. Once again in 1994 we recorded with the same personnel as 1984 including Eric, Steve, Craig and Dave Galligan. Following later in the nineties and early in the Millennium Eric continued on his mission with various personnel including intermittently Steve Liller, and once again returned to the Eric, Greg and Lawrence Line-up and recorded and gigged locally once again. In the summer of 2002 Lawrence left the band and Steve Liller returned. In the fall of 2002 Greg left the band and Eric and Steve decided to record the new Animation record as a duo and thus Origins was incepted. In the spring of 2003 we were lucky enough to encounter and join forces with Greg Smart on Bass. The Band continued with a myriad of Drummers and The first Record "Origins" was released three different times with three different Drummers. Steve Liller left the Band in the Spring of 2006 and Eric took up the roll of Keyboardist as well as continuing with his Guitar playing duties. The current release of "Origins" features Sherrick Guthrie on Drums, Eric on Guitar and Keys and Greg Smart on Bass. Sherrick did not return to the group after a hiatus that resulted after the injury of Eric's finger in 2007. In the Fall of 2008 Roger Moody was recruited to play the drums with Animation. And now as of Summer 2009 we are putting the final touches on our second Album "Universe" which will soon be available in addition to  "Origins"  which is currently available.

Gre, Eric and Sherrick

Gregory Smart, Eric Charles and Sherrick Guthrie

Animation circa 2007

        Steve Liller ,           Tanner Shaub,          Greg Smart,        Eric Charles

                                                  Animation Circa 2005     Photo by Scott Koring



                Animation June 2005    Photo by Scott Koring


Eric & Steve New Years' Eve 2004

                    Lawrence Flowers                               Gregory Barninger                                                             Eric Charles        

                  Live at Longs Park Amphitheater      2002               



  Allen Swope, Greg Barninger, Eric Charles, Steve Liller, Dave Wilson

  Animation circa 1982