Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Water - Aliens Born to Human Parents
Water was a Chisel side project that recorded a 7-song demo in the summer of 1992 or 1993. The band was Jeff Jotz on drums, with John Dugan and Ted Leo both on guitars and vocals.
Over the span of a weekend, we recorded these songs in the basement of Ted Leo's parents' house in Bloomfield, NJ. I recall that Ted called his underground lair "Radium City," probably for the watchmaking factory nearby. "Looking Down at the Great Wall of China" eventually made its way to Chisel's 8 a.m. All Day. The kid groaning during "Crazy Dudes in Action!" is Ted's cousin, who is probably in his 20s now and incredibly embarrassed.
We never had any pictures taken of the recording, but below is a funny shot of John and Ted at their off-campus house from September 1992 that I took (Ted may be wearing a SB White Sox shirt).
Unfortunately, there were no liner notes for this demo cassette. In fact, the MP3s that I made from our recording were from a 2nd generation cassette. We just shared it amongst ourselves and it sat in a box for years until I was contacted by a TL/Rx junkie a few years ago.
In my mind, part of what made this stuff so fun and amazing was the fact that for this flash of time, when we were all doing these one-off, one day, mostly improv "bands," we weren't thinking of posterity at ALL. We were just truly enjoying the moment, and probably taking some pleasure in the fact that we KNEW this was just "a moment." It was an absurd and heady and energizing thought to think that we could flick this stuff off the wrist and come out with some pretty embarrassing inside jokes, sure, but also some pretty damn great songs. But ultimately, it was just for the pleasure of things as potentially deep as feeling completely "present" and amazed at our own emerging abilities, or as simple as imitating Beat Happening (as in "Patio by the Pool," if my memory serves me).
Most of these songs were improvised on the spot or jammed on once before recording. It's somewhere between a brilliant afternoon of inspiration and the end of western culture as we know it.
Water on MySpace