Monday, March 2, 2009

Streganona - How Do You Feel About Plastic?

Streganona may be the number one reason I am thankful this blog popped into existence, which is a bit ironic considering they were not a South Bend band. They did grace us with their presence a number of times and rocked most mightily. Unfortunately, with the exception of a track on a split 7-inch with Sweep the Leg Johnny, Streganona's musical output is captured only on the less than sturdy medium of cassette tapes, which meant my time listening to them was cut drastically when my commuting experience changed from driving a car with a tape deck to riding a subway with my mp3 player.

How Do You Feel About Plastic?, Streganona's follow up to 4:4, was released on the eSTaTe label, which shared its name with the Chicago house where members of Streganona and Sweep the Leg Johnny lived. The tape opens with "Limit '96", a new version of a track from 4:4 that is every bit as likely to get stuck in your head in this version as it was in the original. "Eleven" encapsulates much of what I love about Streganona: intertwined guitars, furious drumming, simple grooving bass, abrupt switches from chaos to melodic parts, and shouted lines like "Don't let your mouth write checks that your ass can't cash!" or "To the right, to the right, I'm falling out of sight". "Field Trip to the Foundry" is another mini-epic, which shifts through seven parts in three movements in just over five minutes before going out in a mix of crackles and feedback. The closing track, "Esquivel", features a danceable main riff that calls to mind a bizarro version of the eponymous Mexican lounge musician.

The credits for the tape are included as follows:
7 borrowed microphones (c/o S.S, J.d, eSTaTe)
1 borrowed 8-track mixer (c/o Pangaea)
1 4-track machine *2 guitars
1 bass 1 drum kit
1 patient Friend to sound engineer (J.G.S.)
1 streganona (B.N,M.M,M.S,A.H)
* mix plastic ingredients carefully in basement * cook plastic on high for 45 hours * let plastic sit for one day, then mix for 10 more hours * mold into five shapes * blend with aged imported plastic from Indiana: ("encephlapod" from Miami St. with G.H. on drums)
***store in a cool place.

While playing a show in Raleigh, NC in 2002, I was excited to spot a Streganona sticker on the opening band's keyboard. The opening band had played with Streganona several years earlier, and we talked for a bit about what a great yet little known band Streganona had been. So go ahead, click the link below and enjoy this rare relic from mid-90s Chicago.


Photos of Streganona at the Vampire Clubhouse by Jim Jadwisiak.


theodore said...

so much goodness. this cassette is streganona at their best, imho. i love all these songs, and am happy we are able to feature them here on the ol' blog. just try not to bang your head to 'eleven' -- rock!!

doug didn't mention 'skol' but it's one of my favorites here. starts out trying to fool you into thinking it's a GBV song, but soon becomes unmistakeably 'nona. these guys were incredible.

Mark said...

Wow- What an amazing site- I can't believe that I just stumbled upon it. I played bass in Streganona and can testify that we all loved this scene dearly. We always had a great time in South Bend, made a lot of great friends, and were always made to feel right at home. It is, of course, also how we met Sweep The Leg Johnny, our primary musical partners for pretty much our entire existence as a band.

Just to complete the story here, we did actually record one more album before we broke up in '97- our only album not recorded on my old Tascam 4-track. We got some nice open-ended funding to record it, and it was slated for some pretty wide distribution (we were touring fairly far and wide and frequently at that point), but we broke up between the mastering and package design phases of the project, so it was never released. We recorded it in an all analog format over about a week at the Amphetamine Reptile Studios in Minneapolis, and mastered it at Acme Studios in Chicago. It sounds great and does a good job of capturing what we were doing over the last year or so after we recorded "Plastic". If anyone from the site wants a copy, I'd be happy to send you one.

A huge thank you to everyone who clearly puts such great work into this site. I'm an ethnomusicologist at IU now, so this sort of information dissemination regarding this piece of relatively recent Indiana music history would make me excited to see anyway, even if I wasn't so happy to have played a small guest role in it. A single place with music and info from emiLy, Spoonfed, Hace Frio, Sweep The Leg, and our other South Bend friends? I never would have guessed it, but it's well overdue.

Hope that everyone out there is doing well- -Mark

theodore said...

glad you found us! and thanks for the kind words. actually, we do have a copy of the final album, but is a dub that i'm sure is several generations removed from the original. we'd love a clean copy... hit me up at SBP90s at gmail dot com

we also have a facebook group (same name as the blog), if you want to connect with everybody. a lot of people are on there...

whatisamattgreenia said...

So glad you posted this. I still have the tape, but I've been trying to tell people about this band for years. One of the guys from this band is in From Monument to Masses.

theodore said...

one of these days we will have to post that final, unreleased album mentioned above.