Thankfully I had an obsession with recording just about every time I got together with friends to make music. This means I have tapes going back to making god awful noise in peoples garages through to recording rehearsals for our actual bands. And of course including real recordings for demos and not just slapping a tape into the closest boom box and hitting record. Some of it is unlistenable except to the parties involved. Some has some interesting moments and some of it is pretty damn good. I will cull through the wreckage and post the stuff that might be of interest.
With Ric now in the band we were beginning to gel so it seemed like a good idea to but together a demo so we could send it out and try and book a couple of gigs. We enlisted a good friend of Chuck and mine who had been around to participate in the garage days. Keith Davis had a 4 track and eagerly set out to help us record a couple of tunes. We ended up recording the whole thing on just 2 ambient mics taped up into the corners of our studio. The music sounded fairly well mixed but the vocals were not mixing well through the P.A. So we ended up dubbing the vocals. Overall I think it sounds pretty damn good considering how we recorded it. It is a fairly accurate document on how we sounded live.
Jose wrote this song well before HAW. It was a staple of his coffee shop repertoire. Probably the first original Chuck and I had heard from him and It was solid. It was also the first song we worked on as a band. I have a video of Jose playing this solo, just playing an acoustic, and it shows how strong a song it is.
|That’s the Way the Story Goes
This was the 4th or 5th song I had written for the band. But the first one to really stick out enough to become a staple of our set for a long time. Written in late ’90 when Scott drummer no. 2 was enlisted in the group.
Probably the best song from my early output for the band. Written about the death of an old friend Mike Prendergast in spring ’91. It was my “That’s Entertainment” moment. Crushed after receiving the news. I escaped one evening to the studio to tie one on and just make some noise. After unloading a squall of distorted guitar noise and sinking to the appropriate level of drunkenness, I still wasn’t feeling any better so I just sat on the floor, picked up my acoustic, and hammered it out in about 15 minutes. The next day It was running through my head but I couldn’t think of a title. As I was thinking this I glanced at the phone and next to it lay a notepad with the note “Silver Bell Funeral Home” written on it. The song was titled “Silver Bell” for a while then finally shortened. The band instantly decided it should be added and Jose had the brilliant idea to add the harmonica. Good call on his part. This was also right at the time we brought Ric on board to drum. On another note if you listen real carefully you can hear him yelling at me to “Go, go go.” right before the lead.
By spring ’92 we were feeling like we were firing on all 8. We had passed out all our ’91 demos and felt we could show our strengthening talent better on a new recording. The guy that ran the rehersal space we rented had a 8 track and gave us a deal since we had been one of his oldest clients (bands seemed to last about 6 months). It took about 3 or 4 days and we enjoyed the process, but I hated how he was setting up some of the equipment and didn’t feel he was getting the sound I had in my head. I differed to his experience, and on some things I was wrong, but we ended up going straight into the board through banks of rack mounted effects for the guitars and I think it hurt the overall sound. Some of the guitars just sound horrid. The mix was high on the vocals and didnt have enogh guitar pushing some of the songs. Somewhere the tape is lying around . I would love to go back and remix it to see if I could get the sound to be more of what I want.
|Mighty Tall Order
Liked this song but hated this recording. I originally had my amp set-up in the booth just like our studio. It made an unholy racket so I was told that to record I would have to go through the board and forget the amp. I should have stood my ground. The guitar sound on this is horrendous. The trashy guitar would have been much cooler.
|Happy Boy Blues
We had experimented with more twangier stuff on occasion. We all had a thing for alt country kinds of music from Neil Young to the Gun Club but the 1 or 2 previous songs just didn’t gel. We finally got it with this song. The music was all written but I was drawing a blank for lyrics. I kept kidding that we just didn’t have enough horrible things happening to give us a well to draw from. For the most part we were fairly well adjusted easy going guys. So it became a song about writing a song. Old trick but I think it worked out okay. This is also the only song on the demo that I didn’t totally hate the mix. The twangy guitars seemed to work well with the recording set up.
|What Would She Say
I penned this ditty lyrics first after witnessing a nasty argument between a friend of mine, whose condo I was sitting, and his wife. They stormed out in full scream mode leaving me to watch the place for the next week. It blew me away how vicious they were with each other. So I did what comes natural in these situations. I picked up a pen and wrote a song about the fight. We tried this song a couple of different ways. Fast , slow, dead crawl, but always keeping with Jose and myself playing the dueling leads. We chose the slow version to record but listening back at rehearsal tapes we should have gone with the fast. Side note; this song has the distinction of being the only song I ever heard of ours on the radio. Driving down the 405 I turn on the radio and, wham! this song is playing. Grant it it was only a college radio station but I still almost had to pull the car over and stop from hyperventilating. A weird footnote I will never forget.
|Nothing More to Say
This was going to be my homage to circa ’79 punk. It fell a little short but was a good barn burner when we played it live. With most of this tape the guitars just sound muddy and flat. It really needed the full on sludge distortion and punch of the guitars to make it work. Ric and Chuck do a fine job but the guitars sink it.