Drummer Bob Tunmer walked into practice with suede boots and one chain down his leg, and San Antonio’s The Monarchs suddenly found the new name for which they'd been searching. But guitarist/vocalist Charlie Eddleman hated The Chains, too plain, too ordinary for the kind of music he wanted to make. He liked how lead guitarist Myles Wells spelled his name, and it was unusual enough to work. “Myles is spelled with a y instead of an i. You know, like the Beatles—Chayns.”
Eddleman had started gigging as a teenager with the Nomads before joining the Monarchs in ’65. The band consisted of Wayne Gustafson on rhythm guitar, Dale Watson on bass, Tunmer, Eddleman, and Myles—a 14-year-old wunderkind who wrote most of their original recorded material. As Chayns, they played the Teen Canteen once a month, won the Battles of the Bands several times, and performed on bills with the Royal Jesters, the Standells, the Music Machine, and the 13th Floor Elevators. To go with the new name, they followed Tunmer’s lead and soon all wore Beatle boots draped with chains, and played through glittery upholstered amps.
Their crowds liked to dance and get rowdy, as Eddleman insisted that “the band play music that people wanted to hear. It had to be dance-type music.” Playing close to a hundred gigs a year in south Texas and touring as far as Louisiana with Classics Four, their rowdiness got out of hand on at least one occasion: “We played at this place called the Dunes.... One time they turned a car over outside. So naturally they decided to tear-gas inside the Dunes, which meant I got some tear gas too, of course,” he said. They used their earnings from gigs to fund a session at Alamo Audio in 1966, emerging with a cover of The Strangeloves’s “Night Time” b/w “Live With the Moon,” a haunting Myles original, issued on their own Chayn-Reaction Productions. “Live with the Moon” originally had vocals sung by Eddleman, though he preferred the melody the way Myles played it on guitar. “You could sing it, but you’d have to have a phenomenal voice. I didn’t have a phenomenal voice,” Eddleman admits.
They sold the record locally and put it as consignment at local record stores. Their media strategy was just as DIY: Eddleman and Watson started hanging around KTSA and befriended the local DJs until they were invited on air. The single went to #2 locally and was eventually picked up by International Artists out of Houston, who they promoted “Moon” to the A-side. “There's Something Wrong in This Place” b/w “See It Thru,” also distributed by IA, reached #40 locally in 1968. “Run And Hide” b/w “Why Did You Hurt Me?” followed in 1969, recorded at Texas Sound Studios and once again released on Chayn-Reaction.
After four years of shredding San Antonio, Myles left for Texas A&M in 1969, forcing Eddleman to put together a short-lived second lineup of the group, which never recorded. Myles returned in 1971, and a third lineup coalesced around he and Eddleman—featuring Jimmy Bruzel on organ, John Stevenson on drums, and Larry Milligan on bass—that recorded the final Chayn-Reaction single, “You” b/w “Let Yourself Go.”
Eddleman married at 23 and by 1972, he said, the band was “growing up and apart.” After that initial dislike, he’d become so attached to the Chayns name that years later he resurrected it for a nonmusical business venture, Chayn Reaction Video.