Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Butterfly Effect - Now Everybody

In the summer of 1997, Ron G. mentioned he wanted to start a band with me when he got back to South Bend in late August. Later I found out that his idea was something where I was playing drums and he was on bass, but by the end of the summer I had a pile of new songs written on guitar (some left over from the end of The Cuba Five) that I was eager to play, and so The Butterfly Effect was formed. Vinny C. was living in Chicago at that point, but was convinced to come to South Bend on occasion as a temporary drummer. Not long after our first practices, Vinny moved back to South Bend and is still living there. About a year later, we recorded Now Everybody-- at Plinko Studios, our friend Garth's basement studio over Thanksgiving weekend. Four days before recording, I completely lost my voice. Timing is everything, as they say.

The tape included the following liner notes from Chris O.:

Though catchy in a grandmotherly fashion, the "From the mouths of babes" argument is hardly compelling. First, it seems to slight the unsightly. What right-minded grandmother would stoop to such a lowbrow dis? Perhaps if said grandmother had an envelope-pushing band of her own competing for market shares in the highly competitive South Bend, Indiana market and not simply biannual envelopes garnishing pop-up greetings and five dollar bills, one could start to see the seedlings of an intergenerational "scene conflict." And what sort of credence should be given to grandmothers making claims of "hipness" to current styles of punkrocity? Certainly their modes of thinking concerning current modes of coolness are outmoded. What kind of person is comfortable hearing their grandmother refer to a person as a "babe"? At the very least, it seems more grandfatherly! In the use of the word "babes," which seems most problematic, one might say that these aging laggard women mean "bab[i]es." The classic definition of the entire phrase then meaning "Interesting and insightful witticisms come out of babies' mouths." A few quick consultations with fellow consorts immersed in the "indie-rock subculture" revealed a short but thorough list of things that "hipsters" have witnessed coming out of the mouths of "bab[i]es": "a silvery stream of spittle," a "gaseous flow of small iridescent bubbles," and a "nickel." "The Butterfly Effect," then, seems to have very little to do with infant intellectualism.

At this point it should be noted that "The Butterfly Effect," the rock troupe, should not be confused with "The Butterfly Affect," a theory proposed in 1949 by Gerald Gootes and Florence Shingles of the University of Notre Dame concerning the higher IQ scores of Irish-American, Columbian-Italian, and African-American male toddlers subjected to the intensive spinning of Butterfly mobiles above their cribs as infants. (See "The Butterfly Affect," Nervous Parent Magazine August, 1949) The Butterfly Effect, with an "E," in fact rejects intellectualism in both grandmothers and infants. The Butterfly Effect rejects both the objectification of themselves as "babes" and the preposterous notion that they would resort to drooling or sucking on loose change to feign intellectualism. In fact, contrary to the opinions of the so-called "intelligentsia," The Butterfly Effect seek not to move your pituitary glands or bowels, but your sing-along mouth, heart and butt, respectively. The music seeks to kick and the lyrics seek to move. In the end, one must hope that if an emergency caucus was held, and all the infants, psychologists, grandmothers and vicariously emotional hipsters showed up, the Butterfly Effect would give them one heck of a sweaty show.

I should know.

The title comes from the final line of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. The lyrics to "Little Ode on St. Anne's Day" are a poem by Jim Carroll. I gave him a copy of this tape following his reading at Notre Dame and he briefly joked about me hearing from his lawyers before telling a story about being in the studio with Rancid. The sample in "Fat Man and Little Boy" comes from the beginning of Patton. The effect at the end of "The Idiots Dance" is a deliberate rip-off/homage of Pink Floyd. "The Idiots Dance", "The New Gods of the Underground", and "Twenty-Three on Twenty-Four" were re-recorded for the second Butterfly Effect album a year and a half later.


see also:
The Butterfly Effect on MySpace


theodore said...

"cuz there's nothing to do in south bend..."

one aspect of doug's songwriting i could always appreciate, in whatever band, was the recurring theme of how it felt to carry on in a relatively dull town in northern indiana. while the tunes of this nature are often bittersweet, they, on occasion, make you feel like you actually miss the place. it's a weird thing.

on this cassette, "last one standing" (yet another fine album closer) is the track that i think illustrates this the best. i mean, who doesn't remember hanging around downtown by the river late at night? or wished there was something more to do in south bend than, uh, hang around down by the river? and then there's that last line, which adds an appropriate closing sentiment:

"and i'll get out of here... one day....."

Kate said...

as with so much of doug's writing, i remember getting a copy of this in the mail and being absolutely gutted. you should write more these days, it's worth what it does to me, it's so good i always want to go back to it.

chris o said...

conversely, i can't even get through those stupid liner notes.

doug said...

@Ted - I do actually miss the place on occasion, for whatever that's worth.

@kate - Thanks.

Mike L. said...

Well, I haven't checked the blog in a while, so I finally am catching up with the latests posts.

I agree with theodore's assessment: Doug's songs make me miss the best of South Bend.

doug said...

Oh, for fuck's sake. How the hell did that picture surface?

theodore said...

here's an old article from The Observer on The Butterfly Effect and bits from "Now Everybody":


aside from being a nice piece about the band, it also gives pretty good insight into how the SB/ND scene developed and changed throughout the nineties. i may have to quote some of that stuff here eventually...