The four-piece band was formed in Los Angeles in 1979 when singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Barton linked up with Larry Dekker on bass and Dave Scheff on drums. A second singer/songwriter/guitarist, Robert Darlington, joined soon after and completed the lineup. The combination of 2 talented songwriters and a powerful energetic rhythm section became the key to their success.
Translator then relocated to San Francisco where they were signed to Howie Klein’s independent label, 415 Records, on the strength of the demo tape they sent to college radio station KUSF: the loose and rambling yet laconic “Everywhere That I’m Not” has remained the band’s signature tune. The song was featured on Translator’s debut album Heartbeats And Triggers, which was produced by the widely respected David Kahne. As a result of 415 Records’ national distribution arrangement with Columbia Records the debut album received good promotion and became an underground and College radio hit in 1982.
Between 1983 and 1986 the band completed 3 more albums for the same label. They also received some airplay for other songs such as “Un-Alone”, from No Time Like Now (1983). The self-titled third album Translator (1985) contained fan-favorites “Gravity” and “O Lazarus”. The fourth Evening of The Harvest (1986) featured “Standing In Line” and “Stony Gates of Time.” For their second pair of albums Translator worked with another top New Wave producer, Ed Stasium. Though the later albums also contained many strong original songs none of them got as much recognition as the debut.
Translator’s music continued to have underground appeal and was featured on at least 3 different compilation albums during the 1980s and 1990s. In 2007 all four original albums were re-issued on CD by Wounded Bird Records with bonus tracks. This was the first time that much of their 1980’s output became available on CD. In May 2008 the 2 CD collection Different Time was released. It contains previously unavailable demos, studio out-takes and live recordings spanning 1979 to 1986, with one track from 1996.
In 1996, ten years after their official breakup, the band was paid its highest compliment when Beatles fans mistook their take of the instrumental “Cry for a Shadow” for a new recording by the Fab Four from the Anthology sessions (in fact it was a Translator B-side from 1983.)
Translator continues to reunite on occasion, having most recently playing shows on the West Coast in September 2009, and is still releasing music, including a planned record of unreleased fully produced songs from 1993. Barton works as a solo recording artist. He recently signed a deal with Spectra Records and released a 20-song CD titled “Gallery” featuring tracks from his three solo albums, plus four brand new songs. US and UK tours are being planned for 2010 for his current band, Steve Barton And The Oblivion Click (Steve Barton, Robbie Rist, Derrick Anderson). Scheff has continued drumming, most recently with the orchestra at Teatro ZinZanni, on a 2008 summer UK tour with Dead Kennedys and, with Larry Dekker, guitarist Peter Wiley and keyboardist and singer Cynthia Haagens in Bang Bang Men. Robert Darlington published a collection of his poetry titled “Ether”. Larry Dekker continues to supply his powerful melodic bass playing for various bands.