Here’s the story of a band…
I remember writing a song with a friend of mine was when I was 8 or 9 years old; it was called “Red Whiskey and Wine”. I don’t remember anything about it but the title. I couldn’t play any instrument then, and I never could sing. At the time I didn’t know that should be an issue.
In college, I started to learn guitar. Shortly after that, I bought a used 4-track cassette recorder and my roommate Mike and I started making songs with it. We weren’t sitting down and crafting songs, or planning parts or anything like that. Mostly, we performed them onto tape. I had a sampler, a couple of effects pedals. I bought a drum machine. We figured out how to get sounds from my CD player into the effects pedals. I found an ancient cassette dictation microphone. And we were off! We were into very noisy music at the time (‘industrial’ stuff, plus Sonic Youth, Dino Jr, Swirlies, My Bloody Valentine, etc.) and we wanted to make songs like that. Whatever was in reach that could make a noise was likely to get used. We didn’t think our lack of training or ability should be much of a problem. We had eons of free time and a lot of beer.
One of the first songs we recorded was called “Carcass”. It’s built around the drum machine playing through a distortion pedal, with some fuzzy/flanged guitar for spice and Mike reading a passage from a book he’d been assigned to read for a literature class – it was something about a hunter shooting things in a forest. The microphone was plugged into the sampler then into a flanger. And while he was reading, I was twisting knobs and pushing buttons. The effect is a swirling mess, and you can’t really make out anything he says except for an isolated phrase here and there. But one of those phrases is “smaller animals”. We were so thrilled about the way it got captured and repeated in the song, that we decided to make it the name of the band.
Now, to the present…
It wasn’t much of a band. Mike and I did a handful of songs together before we moved on to other things. Maybe a half-dozen of those songs still survive. The original 4-track recorder, and the one that replaced it, are long-dead and so I have no way to read the original 4-track cassettes. Still, I’ve kept the project going for 26 years now, writing songs of varying quality, using anything I can find that makes a noise: roommates, my wife, the TV, weather, guitars, MIDI, synths, drum machines, homemade instruments, pots and pans, cats. I’ve made 13 albums worth of songs so far.
I’ve learned a bit more about playing, songwriting and recording since Mike and I started this. But this project has never really been about any of those things.
I’ve moved away from the really aggressive and harsh noise stuff of the first five songs here. But I didn’t get too far from some of the other stuff we did back then. My equipment these days is much better than the 4-track cassette recorder we started with, but all that really means is less background noise.
So, background out of the way: here are two
* on one album, all the tracks are collages of multiple songs so I just picked one from that.