Monday, December 29, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I spend a bit of time now and then searching the net for write ups or old reviews of Stompbox. What can I say, I've got some extra time on my hands, I guess.
One recurring theme I've found in many of the things I find online is the notion that Stompbox broke up because of drugs, or more specifically the use of heroin by one of the band members.
For some reason, this annoys the shit out of me.
I'd like to say that that is not the reason we broke up. It barely even figured into it, as far as I can remember. I'm not saying that there wasn't any drug use, just that it had pretty much zip to do with the breakup of the band.
The main reason (aside from personality conflicts) was this: we had some very fundamental differences in what we wanted to do musically.
Erich was in favor (and in hindsight, he was probably right) of “giving the people what they want”. All the kids that came to our shows really wanted the “big riff” so they could get sick in the pit and hurt each other, and he was perfectly happy with that. Except for the part about hurting each other…we were very “Fugazi” about that and stopped a lot of shows when fights broke out.
The rest of us wanted to be “artists” and “express ourselves musically”. Again, hindsight (or maybe cynicism) tells me that we were probably foolish.
So, we gave him the boot and changed the name of the band to Slower, which was a play on Slayer. We wrote a bunch of new tunes and did a couple more tours. We added a second bass player (Mikey Welch, who later was in Weezer for an album) and I took over vocals.
We did one tour billed as Stompbox still, and used that to introduce the “new sound” to people who were into Stompbox. Some people liked it more, some liked it less. Then one more tour just as Slower.
On one of those tours we played with Jesus Lizard at Peabody’s in Cleveland…David Yow drank me under the table and then went out and played their show. I guess he’s got what’s called an “iron constitution”…Ha! I was so tanked I had to pass out in our van after about two Jesus Lizard songs. Good times!
After those two tours, we just sort of imploded.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here's some more Stompbox.
The two year old is ready, but not willing. She holds it for hours. ...and hours. Finally, she goes.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The band was the brainchild of Kerwin Kain (I'm nearly sure that's spelled wrong, but with a name like that I guess he's used to it) who was at the time the funkiest man I knew. Since I've never met George Clinton or Bootsy or Prince or Johnny Guitar Watson or James Brown, I guess he probably still is the funkiest man I know.
Psycho-Tec was a sort of mix of early Funkadelic trippiness mixed with punk rock, and played mainly on synthesizers. These demos are Kerwin's 4 track versions of the songs, and I'm fairly sure are performed entirely with a modified Sequential Circuits Drumtracks (or maybe it was a TOM) drum machine and a Korg Poly 61 or maybe a Poly 6. Actually now that I think about it, it might have been a Roland Juno 106. I can't remember exactly. I'm also pretty sure that these demos are all Kerwin, with a little of Jeff Biegert, and maybe some of Kerwin's roomate Butch too.
The actual live band ended up being Kerwin, Krishna Venkatesh, Jeff Biegert, Peter Moore, Will Ragano, and me, though I only played in the band for the first show at Chet's Last Call. In the band I played my friend and bandmate Krishna's Sequential Circuits Pro-1 synth, and covered mainly basslines, and other one-note-at-a-time parts, what with the Pro-1 being monophonic.
Now Kerwin not only played some of the synth parts and sang, but he was also a bass player, and at the time I felt like if there was going to be any actual (not synth) bass playing done, that I should do it. This was, as it turns out, completely unreasonable because Kerwin not only SMOKED me as a bass player, but I also wasn't anywhere nearly enough aquainted with funk (and I'm not talking about slapping) to even know how MUCH he smoked me.
In the end, I think I was feeling a little bruised, and Kerwin was probably feeling like "what the fuck, this is my band, and I'm going to play the bass parts...particularly since that guy can't even play the parts right!" So after the first show, we parted ways. I think he had Krishna come over to tell me I was out, but I remember feeling like I was ready to quit. You know, "You can't fire me, I quit!" That sort of thing.
Psycho-Tec ended up being a really great band, but they didn't last particularly long. Eventually the other guys in the band parted ways with Kerwin, added another guy named Paul Lanctot and formed a band called Think Tree.
For me, being in a band with Kerwin was both vaguely humiliating and highly instructional. I thought back then that I was "THE SHIT" and it was a real eye opener for me to have my ass handed to me. I ended up really digging into listening to real funk (ie not the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and learning a lot, and because of it I became a much better player.
I still feel a little twinge of embarrassment when I think back to the rehearsal where I was trying to cop the bass part on the song "25" and Kerwin standing there with his psychedelic homemade bass playing it over and over for me, and I was playing it wrong over and over back to him. I can't imagine what he was thinking. Well, actually I can. And it still makes me feel like a chump.
I haven't seen or heard from Kerwin in years, but in the back of my mind it kind of annoys me to think that he probably still thinks of me as the guy who couldn't play that bass part right.
The quality of this tape is fairly lame, and one song drops out in the middle for a bit. I don't know where else you'd ever hear this stuff though, so here it is in all of it's lo fi funky glory.
Open Your Mind
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
I played steel guitar in this band, and on this album. There's a ton of steel on nearly every song, but it doesn't usually sound like a steel guitar is "supposed" to sound.