Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chisel - Live at 242 Main (Burlington, VT) 4/16/1994

I don't know much about this except that these mp3s got posted by Bradley's Almanac about 6 years ago, recorded at something called Burlingtonitus Fest. It's Chisel, it's 1994, includes rarities "My First Resume" and "Chiefs." There's also a Jam cover... what more do you need to know?

Happy New Year!

Chisel - Live at 242 Main 4/16/1994

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chisel - 8 a.m. All Day

[Although this album was not recorded or produced in South Bend (the band was based out of DC at the time), I doubt anyone will mind too much that we are featuring it here.]

How does one articulate the impact and significance to the Notre Dame scene of a record such as Chisel's 8 a.m. All Day? A record that was the soundtrack for so many road trips, the impetus for spontaneous kitchen sing-alongs, whose songs we knew from live sets played in South Bend basements well before they were ever put to tape. This was our local boys making good with a hot album, the first breakout LP from the SBP90s era.

Even after a couple years of doing this blog, though, I'm still not sure I'd ever be able to write up 8 a.m. All Day and do it proper justice. Besides, the DCist did a fairly decent job of that not too long ago anyway. So instead of just awkwardly gushing on for awhile, I think we'll approach this one a little differently. The first thing we'd like to do is share a pretty fantastic article that Jeff Jotz (Oatmeal, Water) penned back in 1996, and was kind enough to send our way (thanks, Jeff!). The second thing we'll get to after the review, so please read on…


Chisel - 8 a.m. All Day
Reviewed by Jeff Jotz
originally featured in the Dallas magazine The Met, 1996

I first saw Ted Leo and John Dugan play together in my dormitory basement at the University of Notre Dame in 1990. Fisher Hall’s basement boasted a dirt floor and extraordinarily thick concrete walls which killed sound at the basement doors. The dorm was built in the early 1950s, so perhaps the Holy Cross Brothers, fighting the good Cold War fight against the godless Red Menace, designed a bomb-proof shelter in the dorm’s basement to protect the Notre Dame students from the hydrogen bombs hanging over the country’s collective head.

The two wailed and raged down there, with Leo blistering away on guitar in this frantic, uptighty playing style, like he was stiffening up with rigid convulsions. Dugan lazily bounced around the drums, seemingly unaware at the ear-piercing noise resonating off the concrete walls around him. The two did some an energetic cover of Mission of Burma’s “Academy Fight Song” and interpreted their favorite Wire and Mudhoney songs. By the time the two graduated in 1993, they changed bassists and seemed all the rage at a college more known for its football players and wholesome Catholic youth than some music scene. Two years ago the band relocated from South Bend, Indiana to the more friendly frontier of Washington, D.C., where their audience grew beyond the occasional beer blast.

It’s odd writing an uplifting article on the three lads who make up Chisel after watching them evolve from two (later three) guys rooted in political punk, British pop, avant-garde noise rock and standard NYC and DC hardcore to their current and most productive period as innocent harbingers of the mod re-revolution after I watched hours of TV or stumbled around in drunken glory with them. Without a doubt, I knew that this was going to be more than my average music article.

Chisel, made up of Leo, Dugan and bassist/vocalist Chris Norborg (who is a former member of the Notre Dame Glee Club and was recruited by the band in 1992), has a new album out, 8 a.m. All Day (Gern Blandsten). In the past two years, Chisel has refined its sound to the point where many listeners pin the band with the “mod” label. I refrained from including some blatant Who/Jam parallels here, maybe throwing in some reviewer’s interpretation of The Who’s performance at a 1966 show as a creative twist normally found in the higher-brained and more witty music writers. To categorize Chisel strictly with a musical and fashion movement that was always over before it began limits the band’s influences and belittles the new paths it has been forging both on stage and in the studio. All I can say for sure was that I ran into Leo at the Who concert at Giants Stadium in 1989. We all have our guilty pleasures, so nobody can knock Chisel to be Johnny-come-latelies to the Who kick.

“Yeah, the Mod comparison is undeniable,” said Leo, who admits viewing the Jam video “A Town Called Malice” on MTV fifteen years ago has impacted on his musical tastes ever since. “I won’t deny that we enjoy the looks and the sound. However when you do look a certain way perhaps other aspects of the band get overlooked.” He credits his biggest songwriting and guitar influence not the obvious -- Pete Townshend of The Who and Paul Weller of The Jam -- but Steve Marriott, lead singer and guitarist for the Small Faces, a mid-60s British band who were contemporaries of The Who and who never moved beyond cult status in the States.

Leo said that coming of musical age among the anarchistic obstinance of New York’s varied hardcore scene in the mid-1980s emboldened him with what he calls “that punk energy and ethic,” adding “Hardcore in New York was always a bit crazier and insane than other scenes. It carries over to my performance, in contrast with all those indie rock shoegazers.” The 25-year-old native of Bloomfield, New Jersey comes across offstage as a latent Dick Vitale, quietly mellow with occasional outbursts of emotion. Onstage, he assumes the identity of a nerdy Mr. Hyde, his jerky energy and absorbing guitar resonating in nervous fits and starts.

“The mod shift wasn’t a calculated thing,” said Dugan, a D.C.-area native who was weaned on the sounds of local legends Fugazi and Rites of Spring. “We figured what we liked in our songwriting and channeled it. There was no ‘defining moment’ for our new direction. The Jam comparison has been so overstated. While it’s a flattering comparison, I don’t hear it so much in our music.”

The trio’s new album -- the band boasts four singles, four appearances on compilation records and a 1995 EP/CD -- takes the listener on a slam-bang rocket trip through many styles of music, from mid-60s British and American garage punk of the same era to the hyperactive indie punk of contemporaries Superchunk. Yeah, you can hear Who-type bass lines in one song and perhaps a self-conscious guitar nod to Paul Weller in another, but the line is drawn there. The three successfully weave a variety of their respective music experiences in a powerful yet never overwhelming album. Hyperactive at times to make you think you’ve had too many cups of coffee, Chisel does not drift through their songs aimlessly without direction. They make their point and make a bee line to deliver quickly, as if the three are trying to beat each other to the end of each song. It works marvelously.

Chisel recently wrapped up a Midwest tour with fellow Washingtonians Fugazi and Lungfish -- Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto is a big fan of the band -- and play quite often in our nation’s capital and in New York City.

My picks? Try the slowly-bouncing tale of Leo’s journeys in “Citizen of Venus,” the paced and singalong rhythms of “Breaking Up With Myself,” and the CD’s title track, which really highlights the cool vocal games of Leo and Norborg.

So save your parkas, bowling shoes and Vespa scooters for the reruns of The Young Ones. Chisel is one of the few bands which proudly flaunts its musical influences while being individual enough to stand out even more distinctly among the pack of bandwagon bands who trace their roots to the first time they heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” What’s certain is if the Who ever reunites again for some big rock concert, Leo, Dugan and Norborg will be there having a dilly of a time with ol’ Pete, Roger and John.


For the second part of this we're going to put it on y'all a little. Faithful readers of the SBP90s blog, former ND rockers, casual visitors from across the internet… what did this beloved Chisel album mean to you? Contribute to the comments section and share your memories, stories, and enthusiasm for Chisel and 8 a.m. All Day.

Chisel - 8 a.m. All Day
buy it on iTunes, Amazon

[sorry, no free download. if you regularly read this blog and don't already own this --- shame on you. go buy it now!]

see also:
Chisel on MySpace
more Chisel on SBP90s

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Cole Estate - Live at the Hive 11/13/1998

My memory is so hazy, I can't remember how I came to be in the band. Maybe Ron recommended me? Anyway, I was by far the youngest in the band. It was a little intimidating. Dean was a pretty fantastic guitar player. He could pull off crazy "licks," I believe they're called. My style was (and is) based on slop. So maybe that had a nice yin/yang thing? I believe it was my role to put some quirky "leads" over the songs Dean and Amy had written. We rehearsed a few times in the basement of the Hive, aka Ron's house. Did we only play one show together? Did we ever talk to each other again? Was it a love-rectangle that forced our demise? Or an argument over a meatball sandwich? (No, definitely not that. Maybe a seitan sandwich?)

Gosh almighty, I can hardly remember anything at all. What's wrong with me? I remember our cover of "Heart of Glass," because Amy's vocals really shined on it. And I remember her song about how she loved her dog. And I remember Dean suggesting we do a cover of the Pixies' "Bone Machine," and I was always kind of bummed that never happened.

- John

Like John, I really don’t remember how we all got together except that Ron was wanting to play the drums and I happened to live with a very good guitar player and I knew John was a cool kid. That’s it. Overall, I think it’s unfortunate that we only had maybe seven practices and two shows. I think we could have been alright if we had time to actually be a band. I’m not sure seven practices and two shows even qualifies as a side project. Again, I had no idea what I was doing, but I had fun. As with Bessie, I maintain the attitude that girls everywhere should pick up an instrument if they feel like it and see what happens. So what if it is less than amazing or downright sucks. By the way Chris, I was never ever trying to be Kim Deal. It would have been a lot simpler if I had been. If I was trying to rip anyone off it was the chic from Dahlia Seed. Much more difficult to do—especially while playing an instrument that you don’t really know how to play. I still couldn’t sing in minor keys, but continued to write songs that required such skill. Oh well--my kids love "Gertrude Is a Dog," so I guess that’s something!

Unfortunately, our time together was so brief, there is not a lot to say. I, too, regret that we never covered "Bone Machine." I remember feeling bad for John and Ron for having to listen to Dean and myself bicker about the songs…sorry about that. That last Cole Estate show also taught me never ever to drink Osco vodka. Sorry again about your car Ron. Thanks Tracy for the Febreze. Anyway—good times.

- Amy

Just like everyone else, I don't remember the exact details of our genesis as a band. I was living in the Hive with Andy, and really took to playing the drums. Amy rocked the house in Bessie and since we ran into each other all the time in the Cushing-Fitzpatrick engineering building, we were bound by fate to form a band. I think Dean was just wrapping up his time in another band (or not?), so we started playing together, practicing in my basement. Since I didn't really know how to play the drums yet I was mostly stealing ideas from the other drummers in the scene (particularly Vinny and Doug), but it was a lot of fun. Dean noted that my playing was rather unorthodox, but he seemed to enjoy it.

I had a lot of fun playing in Cole Estate. IIRC, I flaked out of the band at some point, but I have some memory of being replaced by a grateful dead-esque drummer? Sorry for being flakey.

I probably won't ever forget the Osco Vodka night. It was really funny (probably not for Amy though). Special thanks go to Tracy for fixing plumbing problems in our little beat up house (which was otherwise pretty great for throwing shows) and cleaning up my car.

- Ron

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The HickUps - Live at the Canary House 11/22/1997

At first I thought I remembered almost nothing about this band. Luckily for you some of it has come back!

It happened the first semester of my senior year, sometime in 1997, and was very short lived. I am shocked there was a recording made of this, that someone saved it and it wasn't subsequently taped over by Trusty or Juliana Hatfield or something.

This band was an effort on my part to play the kind of music I was into at the time. I did not know how to play guitar yet and no one I was friends with was really into the same stuff, so it came down to finding people who would put up with me and do their best under the circumstances. I had spent the prior summer as an intern at Crypt Records, which at the time was renting office space in LA from In the Red and Birdman Records. In a short period of time I had been turned on to a lot of music that totally changed my life and while no one at Notre Dame shared my enthusiasm for any of it, I was dying to play in a different kind of band.

This is who I liked and sought to emulate: Nine Pound Hammer, Oblivians, New Bomb Turks, Dwarves, New York Dolls, Dead Boys, Pussy Galore, and GG Allin. Also older stuff like Hank Williams and James Brown. Which as you can hear means absolutely nothing in relation to what this band turned out to be.

I was living with Doug at the Canary House (where this live show took place) and though he says otherwise I am positive I bugged the shit out of him 24 hours a day. We had played together in the Mad Dogs the prior year and he was way into his more serious bands by this time. Playing bass along to my awkward anti-PC blabbering was not his idea of how to open a Butterfly Effect show, I assure you. I do not know how I talked him into the HickUps but I know he hated it.

I was poorly trying to learn guitar around this time and I think at least one of these songs originated in the band eventually known as the Go-Lightlys, who kicked me out for guitaral ineptitude and romantic incompatibly. Andy Yang was in that band, and as the ex-drummer of the Catatonics and co-host of the Chris and Andy Boom Boom Dedication Show on WVFI, was in no position to refuse the HickUps drum stool. Though he did repeatedly and eventually permanently. Of all the people who simultaneously quit the HickUps after this our second show, I believe his abdication hurt the most because it was the last time we ever played together. Though I am making it up and it is possible we played together at least 3 times afterwards.

When starting the HickUps, the only thing I knew I wanted was a lot of searing, obnoxious rocknroll guitar solos. This was like the least cool thing imaginable in the South Bend Power 90s scene and to do so without an ironic smirk would have been even harder. I had to go outside the Mad Dogs gene pool, which I was reluctant to do. I do not know where we found John Huston and his Fender Jag-Stang, but I am glad we did. With the Catatonics' Dave "The Night" Stoker nowhere to be found, John appeared to be the only guitarist available who knew basic blues scales and was unafraid to solo using them for more than 3 seconds. We tried to talk as little as possible about the fact that he had major wet dreams about Nirvana as late as 1997.

Listening to this show, here are my thoughts:

1) I hate my voice on these songs. I hate hearing my stupid between song banter and I hate my inability to keep my mouth a safe distance from the mic. I hate how I am doing this lame HC screaming, not singing. The lyrics are awful yet I am enunciating them toooooo much for full effect (none).

2) Getting these guys to understand what I was trying to accomplish was impossible. I was not good enough to do it myself and to ask them to mimic the Dead Boys or the New York Dolls (when the prevailing influences were Braid and Jawbreaker) was too weird.

3) The songs that were not covers were written by me singing guitar parts and John trying to mimic the sounds on guitar. Every time we played them they were different and I remember this show was really like making it up as we went along.

4) "Knoxville Girl" is a cover of bluegrass warbler Hylo Brown's version of the old murder ballad. To this day his version is the most sadistic I have heard. I found it on a cheapo 60s country LP comp with a burning prison on the cover. Pretty up my alley back then.

5) "Gazebo" steals thematically from the Raymond Carver short story of the same name. Written for the Go-Lightlys I think. Awkwardness abounds.

6) I still think "Like a Rolling Head" is a great name for a song. Though to be honest, Weird Al is a major lifelong influence.

We played one show before this at Club 23 (where I spent the majority of my time 1997-98). I hope Ted has a copy of the flyer for that show, because it is so much better than the band ever was. Of course as you would expect, Moe cut the set short and told us to pack it up. I am sure I dulled the pain of embarrassment one way or another.

OK! Enjoy!


No matter what Chris says, he did not bug the shit out of me 24 hours a day. I learned a hell of a lot about music during the year we lived together, and Chris did an admirable job of trying to bust me out of the Jawbreaker/Braid/DisChord Records bubble I tended to live in. (Though I did know about the New Bomb Turks -- in fact, one of my personal high points in the history of emiLy was playing in Columbus, OH and having Eric from NBT come up to us and compliment us on our set afterwards. I also saw NBT and Gauge in Boston sometime in the 90s and it was fucking awesome.) That Chris was not more successful is more a reflection of my stubbornness winning out over his. Shocking, I know.

The HickUps played more than one show? Apparently my memory of '97-98 is hazier than I thought. Great fun, but the sort of fun that sometimes requires photographic evidence to remember.


The funny thing is, I hardly remember playing in this band! I do remember a terrible showing at Club 23, and how I felt very inadequate as a drummer with Doug (master drummer) in the band wondering why I couldn't keep a simple beat. At least that's how I felt. Haha!


I remember this show. When Chris called out the first song of the set, I instead played the last song of the set. Not because I was super punk and trying to fuck up his shit. No, it was because I was a total moron and totally didn't know the names of any of the songs.

The HickUps was Chris' thing, and we all knew it. We were all just fine with it, too. A number of weeks prior to this show, he and I got together in the very same Canary House basement to "write songs." Chris, of course, had already come up with a handful of songs. Since he couldn't play guitar, he grunted and hummed and waved his hands at me, trying to figure out how to get what he heard in his mind to come through my guitar. I did my best to decipher his vocal "melodies" and ascribe a chord progression to them.

And yeah, it was a Fender Jagstang. Let it go, dude.

But that brings me to my favorite memory of the HickUps show at the Canary House. I don't know that I've ever told Chris about this, given his obvious hatred for grunge and embarrassment by my guitar, but some dude came up to me at the end of the set and he was ecstatic. Like, overjoyed, if I dare use that word. He'd been banging around in the "audience" the entire set. He told me that he was from Seattle, and that he hadn't seen a live show like that since the early '90s. He thanked me for going nuts onstage and asked when we were going to play again.

So while the HickUps initially started as a band that would combine Punk, Soul, and Country (making what I liked to call "poultry"), it was clearly a grunge band. And that was my fault.

And Chris has never forgiven me.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Pinky - Live at the Hive 12/12/1998

Attesting to the thorough nature of this blog, I would like to introduce, Pinky, possibly the only one-show-wonder, all-girl band in the history of ND Power 90s rock. Closely linked to the Florida Evans Showband and Revue, Pinky exploded out of fan-club/girlfriend status to take their place on the stage. Shamelessly using all Flo Evans equipment and practice space in the Bulla St. stone house basement, Pinky soon relished a sugary sweet sound, hailing from their icons Cub. Elfin Amy Bowman led the charge as singer/guitarist. Her shy, sweet stage presence set the tone for the band. She was supported with more enthusiasm than talent by co-habitants of the 716 Washington St estate, Courtney Blum on drums, Kristin D'Agostino on bass, and Emily Edwards on vocals and "keyboard that never managed to materialize."

While Pinky was hyped-up on the thrill of playing as a group, Matt Curreri had the foresight to make a Pinky recording (sans Edwards) of the two Cub covers before the first show. Pinky opened for Florida Evan and (to our surprise the ultra-hip and therefore extremely intimidating) Boston-based Lynx, on a cold night in the stone house basement (probably the late fall of 1998). Possibly because we stocked the audience with ready-made fans, the set was a huge hit. There were cameras and even a video, but no evidence could be relocated [ed. check that-- we found two photos!].

Still enjoying the "first show high," the band imploded with the sad truth that three Pinky members could not date two Florida Evans members and coexist.

It was great while it lasted, but love, love it tore us apart again.

- Kristin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Las Peligrosas/Speed Queen

So, it was the best of times... it was the worst of times. The heyday of riot girls had ended and emo and math rock indie bands were replacing the grunge and punk forefathers. A few bands seemed to hang on and try to differentiate their styles... but bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, L7, Kreviss, Huggy Bear, Courtney Love, Beat Happening, Red Aunts, and many more were already on the way out. In the midst of the Power 90s, the South Bend scene emerged and it was only natural that girl bands or bands with leading female vocalists would arise - it seemed a critical mass of musical creativity was being reached in the midwest and South Bend was oddly and strategically situated to be a part of it.

Most of my memories are of the early days when the idea first came up to even start a band. I think that Faye had been playing bass for a while, Annie was picking up guitar quickly, and Anne could already play drums. Think it was Faye and Annie's idea to start jamming and writing songs and they invited me to get involved. The only thing I really had to offer was a voice and we were all pretty good singers. Contributing to lyrics sticks in my mind - think we made it a collaborative effort to write "Rev" as the lyrics started out so clever and were projecting that strong, assured female voice that I think Las Peligrosas unintentionally was trying to get across. The Dalloway's concert [ed. performed under the band's original moniker, Speed Queen], the basement show at the Guerra-Concannon compound and the show in Columbia, OH (at a coffee house, I think??) made everything seem so real! I can't remember a thing about the "Rev" recording for some reason... but think I remember it being difficult to get our vocals to sound on key and good, so were were in there for a quite a few hours.

I remember that I was so inspired by Faye's punk rock ethic and bad(ass) attitude, and Annie's absent-minded innocence mixed with confidence! I had so much fun being in the band - it was nice to be a part of it all, dragged kicking and screaming into so much fun... and we were the only serious all-girl band at the time. Seemed so apropos without being predictable.

--Emily Davis

I bought my bass and practice amp with money that I had earned from waiting tables in Arlington, TX. That money was supposed to be used for books and other collegiate endeavors. But I blew it on a bass--that I have to this day. Mostly I was tired of seeing music and wanted to figure out a way to make it... along came the shining Ms. Emily Davis, the creative Annie, and the rhythmic Anne Evans. I can say that when we started this band I had no training, but Emily's vocals and Annie's basic guitar were a saving grace and --hell Anne and I weren't all that terrible holding up the rhythm section for this track, although I have no illusions. I think we had more band names than we did songs.

"Rev," if I recall, was created without lyrics. I remember that we looked through a fashion mag and wove together our lyrics. Interestingly, with as many smart women with a lot to say, we were at a loss for words for lyrics. We played several shows (why didn't anyone tell me that I should not wear ankle socks?) and I remember going to the St. Vincent DePaul and proudly scoring the black and white dresses shown in some of the photos. To be honest, none of our music was particularly good, but it was a good time.

We were originally passed up on the campus CD, sfumato, but were somehow reconsidered? If I recall it was because the CD needed more "diversity," but I also remember that we had a lot of friends encouraging us along the way. It's nice to have a musical memory of this time. It was apparent that when we got into the studio to record for the CD that we had not recorded before. We were able to record this song and now I kinda wish we had more recordings. I hope that "Rev" doesn't cause the listeners to regress into some sort of fetal position or bang your heads against the wall (but maybe that isn't so bad). It was literally a first attempt at music in a band, and one I remember fondly. Thank you Em, Anne, and Annie!


I had the house with drums, and they had the vision. I don’t remember the conversation that began the band, only that I was always up for adventure and trying anything new. I was flattered that these ladies, creative and individualistic each one, invited me to join them on their endeavor to make music.

A few clear memories:
  • In practice Emily said, try this: which was a definite punk rhythm, not rhythm and blues (which was all I knew how to play at the time); I started hammering away and it made me feel free. Thanks, Em!
  • Faye turned around so I could see her and be in rhythm with her bass; Awesome! A connection of creating something immediate. Thanks Faye!
  • Annie: Laughing always, but led us (me, at least) with intuitive, kind, and sparky grace.
  • I was so nervous about the St. Mary’s coffee house show that I dropped my new hot pink drumsticks on the 1-2-3-4- Count, and a few other times. Sorry, ladies! (I think that was our debut)
  • Going to find outfits: loved the black dresses with white collars; wish I still had mine…
  • Struggling over that tricky transition in "Rev" in general and in the studio. Still sounds so awkward to me.
  • Overall, having a blast! So much fun! I loved being part of the group, and entering, even so shallowly (I think we had five total songs) into the larger ND music scene.
I must thank Jim Bukow, whose drums were in the basement of the unfortunately named “Swamp House,” where I lived with housemate Ryan Halford. Both Jim and Ryan played with Sweep The Leg Johnny, who practiced in our basement.

I must also thank Vinny Carrasco, who gave me the gift of hot pink drumsticks (labeled “Hotsticks”) which I still have today... Thank you, Vinny, wherever you are.

Thank you also Steve Sostak, who I believe was integral to getting us on the CD, and for all the folks in bands who encouraged us and friends who supported us.

--Anne Evans


Friday, August 27, 2010

Brian, Colin and Vince - Three Cheers for Skybuster Jones


I think this was the last BCV show before Brian transferred to school in Boston – so I remember at this time also trying to find a couple hours to record what would later be half of the Bucket o’ fun n’ stuff n’ yeah album. And that even though it was our last hurrah, we wanted to go out with a big fun show and we still were trying to play new songs as soon as hey were written – I believe we had just barely learned the “She’s turning into a werewolf” a cappella round that day. But I might be wrong about that. I didn’t even remember that song existed until I heard these recordings.

One thing I remember about this show was that we wanted to do whatever we wanted to do – and for me that included carrying my bed all the way from my dorm to Washington hall so I could have the fun of listening to the other bands while lying in my bed under my comforter with a pillow on stage – that was pretty awesome. And I think we invited anybody up on stage who wanted to be there. It was pretty loose.

There was something really moving about the crowd yelling things like “Brian, don’t go!” in the middle of "Hypothetical Situation." I think we all felt mixed emotions – sad to have something so wonderful be coming to an end, but also just a warm good feeling during the act of playing. I certainly was in a bit of denial about the ending of the band – and I was lucky to have a whole semester afterwards to work on the BCV cd, so I was still a bit busy with it anyhow.

I get confused about the timeline of how and when everything happened, but when we were doing the stuff, that was what mattered the most to me. I always just felt lucky to get to hear Brian and Vince sing every time we practiced. Plus Brian’s guitar playing was a treat to watch develop – he was fantastic at everything and so easy going that the band seemed almost effortless – songs came pouring out all the time and we just sat around and played them, then walked around playing them and then sometimes took a cab to go play them somewhere else. Trees, Hugs, and Rock n Roll, man.

To be honest, I am amazed at how cheesy I was back then – not that I’ve changed so much, but that younger Colin was a bit of a dork! Yow!

P.S. I cannot for the life of me remember where the Skybuster Jones concept came from, but I know the show was supposed to be a benefit for the food shelf and that some folks brought cans of food. And I believe James Kennedy later used the Skybuster Jones character in his rock musical – because I got to play him! Or was the musical before the show? I think I had it right the first time.

P.P.S. I still love the countermelodies on “Powder Blue” and “She.”


I remember that we envisioned this show to be a "rock opera" without having a clear idea of what that was. That's why I brought my manequin on stage I think. In the end it was a fun creative outlet and goodbye to Brian. I still have no recollection of a werewolf song.


I think the name 'Skybuster Jones' can be attributed to John Kehoe.

My official thought on BCV is that I am thankful to have been friends with Colin and Vince. The years gone by certainly put it all in perspective. Second official thought... it was a lot of fun. There were a lot of great people around, and it's cool to see all the pictures.

Other than that... dear vast and mighty internet, indexer of all things, appearing on my phone, connecting the un-connected, friending the un-friended, index this! Yow!

[Note: There is also one song by Chisel included with this BCV set. Mostly because it was on the same tape, and also recorded at the Skybuster Jones show. It's a crackin' good medley of BCV songs: "Spectacles/Crunchy Lunch/Wizards." Need I to say anything more?]

see also:
Brian, Colin and Vince on MySpace
V/A - Incubus 1993: ND Music Compilation
Chisel vs. Brian, Colin and Vince - Spectacles/One in Ten 7"
Brian, Colin and Vince - Just Trying To Help

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Florida Evans Showband and Revue - Made Simple


My first experience with the Notre Dame band scene came by way of tapes of my older brother James' WVFI radio show in 1989 - predating the power nineties by just a couple months. I was 12 years old. For the next 4 years James would relay music from the Notre Dame power 90's scene to our home in Suburban VA, particularly Chisel CD's, which were so exciting. I really liked their music and didn't hear much like it anywhere else on the radio etc. James used to drive back and forth to ND with the drummer John Dugan, also from NOVA.

Those tapes, that music, my older brother, were all pretty influential. The first show I saw of the ND band scene was a private emiLy show for an audience of three in somebody's off campus house in 1993. I was 15, a sophomore in high school. Joe, Doug, and Mike's music was at once, loud, hard to understand, terrifying, electric, exciting, soulful, passionate, artful, complex, vastly intriguing and i mentioned loud. It was about as real and vicious a punk rock experience I've ever felt. My brother was dating Mike's older sister Melissa, so the three of us sat in their living room during our older sibling's graduation weekend and were blown away. It was so cool. And I knew that I had to be cool like that.

I'm not sure if I ever really accomplished that goal. My musical impulses were always a little less sophisticated I guess, but my love of rock and roll and desire to be an artist in general and in a band at notre dame were kicked into high gear by that experience.

The Florida Evans Showband and Revue took its name from my older brother's radio show called "Florida Evans" which I thought was hilarious. I also thought the Showband and Revue part was hilarious. If we had any thing going for us it was highly developed sense of punk rock irony.

I saw lots of basement shows my freshman year at Notre Dame in 1995, and a couple at the coffee house at St. Mary's before they closed it. I started writing songs around that time in earnest and also listening to and hearing about Matt Curreri, another singer songwriter on campus... he had some very notorious hits at the Keenan Review and Acoustic Cafe. I played my first solo show at Lula's sophmore year, which Matt came to. Around that time my roommate Brian Monberg who was the head of Amnesty International on campus was organizing a concert at stonehenge and said I should put a band together for it. I had lunch with Matt at the North Quad Dining Hall, which was kinda random cause we didn't really know each other then, and suggested we put a band together for this show, playing some of his songs and some of my songs, I'd play bass on his songs, he'd play bass on mine and we'd find a drummer. He said he was maybe gonna try to put a band together with Aaron Dunn, another Acoustic Cafe all-star, so wasn't sure... but that didn't happen... and the Florida Evan's Showband and Revue was born!

We got Dean Busack, the drummer for Stomper Bob and a real stand up guy who lived in Carroll with me, to help us out for the gig. He was super cool, liked playing music with us and agreed to play some more with us even though he was graduating. We practiced in my dorm room at Carroll Hall for that gig - we had I think one of the largest rooms on campus. We made a tape of a few songs in that room on Matt's four track. But the band became a big part of our lives from then on - we gigged a lot around all of town for the next two years.

We sucked but we were also good. We got cut off and kicked out of Club 23, ignored at Corby's, told to turn down at a bonfire at the site of the old Corby Hall... We got in fights, we had groupies, we wrote more songs, we played more shows.

Junior year first semester, we had this freshman named Jim Bilek play drums with us. He was a super sweet guy, liked The Beatles and put up with us, but I think of the band as really coming into itself once Doug started playing drums with us our senior year. Quite simply, Doug knows how to rock. The punk energy that I had always wanted behind our music finally showed up and gave my more poppy songs the edge I had hoped for. Matt's songwriting was getting really awesome and we became what I like to think of as a pretty cool band. That summer before our senior year, I had acted in a "punk rock musical" in NYC at the Ohio Theater written by my friend Sander Hicks and that kindof widened my musical horizons too. Sammy B, the lead singer of the Mooney Suzuki, who I think now goes by Samuel James Jr., Parker Kindred, Jeff Buckley's drummer, and Nick Colt, NYC impersario, were the pit orchestra. Since I was the lead actor we were kinda like a band that I sang for... We even gigged once as a band called White Collar Crime in Portchester NY, with the Mooney Suzuki opening. We recorded our "original cast album" at Sonic Youth's studio one night from midnight til dawn with Lee Renaldo at the controls. All of this is to say that (1) I like to name drop and (2) I came back to campus and started demanding we all wear suits to our gigs like I had seen the Mooney Suzuki do. It sort of worked, but then there were definitely gig's where I was the only member of the band in a suit. Ah well.

We played a ton of gigs that year, mostly in the basement of Matt and Ron's shack. It was easily one of the coolest times of my life. We played one gig in Michigan I remember - I think it was a highschool prom - that a friend of ours had some connection too. That gig stands out in my mind as particularly awesome because those kids danced their tails off. I felt like a real band that night, not just some weird art project at ND. Another fun gig, might have been before Doug's time, was a partyin my dorm room at Carroll in honor of my little brother visiting. He was 16 and drinking in our room, and at one point our rector, Fr. Mike Sullivan, was out walking behind the dorm and someone threw a beer out the window and hit him in the head. I'll always be proud of the fact that I was able to talk my way out of that and save the party/show from getting shut down, with a promise to not let my brother drink and a pledge to play guitar at the dorm mass.

Finally, in spring of 1999 at the End of the Power 90's, we won the battle of the bands at Senior Bar. But I think only because of a technicality involving the fact that we played our own songs. Because the lame-o judges really liked this other band that played a note perfect rendition of "The devil went down to Georgia". That kind of encapsulates our experience at Notre Dame to me, obliged if not actually liked. (That and the fact that Umphree's McGee, our friends in an amazing jam band, skipped the battle of the bands to get paid a thousand bucks at a bar that we went to after... kinda lessened the mystique of winning the title.) But that what made us cool, I think... like Matt's song, Night Bus, said "I always loved him cause he never was the best" I think that's how I felt about Flo Evans.

Doug and Matt continue to be two of the most inspiring and artful people I know. We broke up after graduation but continued to see music, make music, and record music together in NYC and CA for years after. They were some of the best creative partners I could've hoped for.


Made Simple: made simple.

This album was one of those albums where we decided to document nearly every song we had written, which one might argue is not the best strategy for an album, BUT, I like to argue, so bring it.

"Allen Ginsburg" - This song was always so much fun to play for me. I loved singing on it. it always felt super fun and energetic too. And somehow it felt like a weird art rock song. I always liked starting with it because I thought it was an upbeat attention getter.

"Good Times" - people really liked... it was kindof a goofy song that I wrote while jogging at age nineteen, so it's kindof hard to discuss it like literature, but i walk past the punks on the corner and get so sad that they don't know my name, is still a feeling I get. I also can say I that I stopped watching television around this time for a good 10 years, only to return for PBS children's programming as of late- a killer gateway drug.

"My Shy Tongue" was a killer song to play especially when we added that tag at the end. When people talk to me about our band in college they always mention this one. It was a pretty powerful epic tune and always exhilirating to play

I also always loved singing "You Were Wrong," too. What a great song.

"Night Bus" - Matt wrote after we spent the spring of 98 in London, and discovered the "night bus" "I've had enough fun for my life.... .... I want my life like rows of trees, rows of houses, rows of me" still gives me pause for it's beauty and self understanding.

"Samantha's Anthem" - Never ever ever was this song played how I intended it until Doug McEachern joined the band, like The Boss said "and The Big Man joined the band." Doug played drums like he was taller than Clarence Clemons. My roommantes and I told the Papa John's delivery girl, samantha, if she would give us a free pizza we would write a song about her. Things worked out for all parties involved.

"Tired of Being Alone" was my Evan Dando rip off.

"Clever Kids" - I played the other night for my own kids, Ivie James, my one-year old son, who said, "too loud." The band Lynx who visited us at Bulla Street paid me a compliment on this one, that always stuck with me. The also called me the bill murray of south bend, this has also stuck with me.

"Better Left Unsaid" - indeed

"Litter" - This felt like one of our earlier songs that hung in there to make it onto the album. Basically because it was awesome, youthful, "and all we did was have some fun."

"Hot Rod" - was a really insane tune. I don't feel like we ever got this one quite right in it's orchestration actually. It was our surf rock venture and I think we were all a bit confused. But "we all took French, Rick learnt cars, we can talk in code" that's deep shit.

"She's Coming Around Again" - I wrote the first verse of in Cape Cod. I'm in Cape Cod now. Tom Waits said songs find you when looking for a local habitation and a name, and it's an honor to be the one they chose and you should always try to honor the song by writing it down or remembering it or whatever he said - this song happened to me that way.

"Goodbye Girls, Goodbye Boys" was a love letter from the band, Matt really, to the people who always came to our shows. Which in retrospect is a pretty amazing thing. People did like to hear music in South Bend, and other people really liked to make music. In my opinion that's a holy bond and we were all lucky to participate.

Thanks Mike and Ted for doing this jam, and hounding us to geterdone. It's pretty cool. Peace out, dob



When I was 18 years old, two people mercifully entered my life and pulled me back from a deep depression that I was brewing; A lonely little nerd, roller skating through a sea of Catholic finance majors, football players, and priests, rescued from going clinically silly by a beautiful little elf-girl and this big goof named Dan O’Brien.

Dan and I started playing shows together. He dragged me all the way to London and all around Europe, train and hostel style. He found all of our drummers, I think, and he mostly put up with my shit while I brooded and played soccer. Once he didn’t even kill me when I drove an hour or two east to pick up Jim Bilek in Chicago, which most people find it easy to remember being west of South Bend.

But Dan is right in saying that we became a band when Doug joined. It was then that we wed into the music community of South Bend and had a connection with Ron Garcia, the Lula’s crew, and a real family of musicians and creative types.

Plus Doug rocked. He had a really cool DIY esthetic that I’d never really come in contact with before, he wrote serious and poetic “zines” in his tiny handwriting, and he had a beat up old Honda hatchback overflowing with punk rock tapes. Kick ass!

I have to include Ron in my Florida Evans experience. He was a killer bassist and a great home studio engineer. I have to admit that his dreadlocks shed, and they looked like pubes all over the floor, which I really battled with. But we shared a cute little shack just a block from campus where we had Florida Evans and Butterfly Effect band practices and shows. The first keggers that I actually enjoyed. And college was complete.

We spent the spring of 1999 recording at the house with Ron. We cut and folded all the album art ourselves. There was a color cover at first, but it was ugly and I got caught printing hundreds of them on the graphic design student printer, so we had to do the final in black and white. I love how it came out, though. One of my more forgiving design teachers helped me with the spacing and fonts. I think we had them for sale for like 3 days before graduation.

I was always bummed that Florida Evans ended in 1999, but what can you do? We all lived together in New York City a couple years later. Dan and I were in Chinatown and Doug was in Brooklyn. Doug and I worked together in the Bronx. Dan and I played together all the time in our apartment, and Doug joined me on stage a number of times during those years, but we never tried to relive Florida Evans.

I did just make a Facebook profile for the band and uploaded our main album tracks. Maybe I'll upload our earlier album, too, but I don't know where it is offhand. I redigitized this baby a couple years ago (actually just retransferred the DAT tape). I changed the order around on the Facebook page...I never really liked the Matt-Dan-Matt-Dan order we had.

Thanks for caring, Mike. I'd love for the FESBAR web presence to grow a bit. Always proud to be part of the South Bend scene.



Matt called me from London in the spring of 1998 to ask me if I wanted to play drums for FESBAR in the following school year. It sounded like a fun idea, so I said yes. I always had a good time playing in Florida Evans, largely due to the facts that
1 - The songs were fun, as was the general attitude of the band,
2 - There was little in the way of existing recordings of the band (at least as far as I knew), so I was pretty much free to play whatever I wanted to play on the songs,
3 - Matt and Dan are great people I am happy to count among my friends. It is not too much of a stretch to say that my time in Florida Evans is (more or less) directly responsible for my present job as a high school math teacher in NYC, which is a very good thing.


Somewhere I have a picture of us sitting on Ron's bed during the mixing process for Made Simple. At least one of us is drinking a 40.

Taking a quick look through the track listing I realize I can sing at least a part of every song, which is more than I can say for a lot of other SBP90s albums, including albums where I wrote the songs. My friend Rob rates this as one of his favorite albums ever, especially for driving. I remember him introducing himself to Matt and Dan by saying, "Hi, I'm Rob. I'm a fan."

I think the first three tracks (going by the original CD listing) make for a great opening salvo. One of my old cellphones had a feature where you could program ringtones note by note, so I made the opening guitar line to "You Were Wrong" my ringtone.

"My Shy Tongue" is an Acoustic Cafe classic. I've met a number of people who knew that song without knowing (or remembering) Florida Evans.

"She's Coming Around Again" may be my favorite Florida Evans song.
I once used 'gummets' in Butterfly Effect poster, in reference to a misheard line from "Litter".

For reasons I can't recall, I played guitar on "Nightbus" and Dan played drums.

I borrowed a tambourine from Mike Mirro of Umphrey's McGee for "Dopeless Hopefiends".

"Goodbye Girls, Goodbye Boys" is one of my all-time favorite album closers, period. I wanted to cover it with The Butterfly Effect at our last show, but we never had time to work it out.



see also:
Florida Evans on MySpace

Florida Evans on Facebook
Catch up with Matt's current musical work: Matt Curreri & The Ex-Friends

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bother - Boredom

"Kids... don't take your action figures to school... "

Bother shows were a revelation. Tight, grinding, metal-infused punk rock backing a wild, jumping, flailing frontman screaming at the top of his lungs about Boba Fett and Sega Genesis. In this writer's opinion, easily one of the greatest, most unique offerings of the South Bend Power 90s scene - certainly one of the defining campus bands of the early 90s.
"Bother was the first band I was ever in. I believe Kelly originally wanted it to be an all-woman band -- if I remember correctly, Bother was supposed to be an acronym (B.O.The.R, for 'Bitches On The Rag') but as it happened, Kelly ended up with three dudes instead. At our first show, we covered Mudhoney's 'Touch Me I'm Sick' and Nothing Painted Blue's 'Swivel Chair.'

To tell the truth, I'm totally embarrassed at the way I scream these songs -- there's a good reason I've rarely sung in any other band I've been in. Kelly, Jason, and Jim deserved a better vocalist. They were great musicians! I'm grateful that they took me along for the ride.

I remember hearing 'Kill the Popular Kids' from the Incubus compilation blasting from an open window in Zahm and thinking, Wow, I've really arrived."

--James K.


James K. would go on to play in Comeuppance, Krautmiser, and Toot Hopkins; Jason L. and Kelly D. later formed Pinch Point; and Jim B. played drums in Sweep The Leg Johnny version 1.0. But they got their start here with Bother, pummling their fellow students into submission, dazzling the popular kids with style. "I know it's hard; I know, I've tried."


see also:
Bother on MySpace

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Braid - Live at the Canary House - 13 December 1997

This was the second visit to South Bend for the Chicago, Milwaukee and Champaign based Braid, following a show at Clifford the Big Red House a year earlier (show #175 for Braid, according to complete Braid show list -- the Canary House show was #309), when they played with Chisel Drill Hammer from Iowa, The Fold from Chicago, and The Cuba Five. In '97, Braid visited the Canary House (aka the little yellow house at 610 N. St. Peter) on the way to Washington, DC, where they would record their third album, Frame and Canvas at Inner Ear Studios. Not surprisingly, over half of the set is songs from that album (including "Never Will Come For Us", not shown on the setlist). Florida Evans and The Butterfly Effect opened, along with Chicago's 90 Day Men, who were also returning visitors to the Bend.

The basement at the Canary House was one large, unfinished room the size of the entire house, which made it an ideal show space. Use of the unenclosed toilet attached to one wall was optional. Colored light bulbs and strings of Christmas lights gave the place a bit of atmosphere. The PA setup was a bit dodgier, with the speakers propped up on boxes and shelves. It was not a singer-friendly setup.

Inspired by the excellent treatment emiLy received at Knox College, we liked to cook meals for visiting bands, which helped evenings get off to a friendly, relaxed start. Aside from bands with ND alumni, Braid drew the most out-of-towners to shows. Some were friends from Chicago who drove the hour and 45 minutes, others were South Bend natives who came back to town for the occasion. Ultimately I think that's a reflection of the sort of loyalty and dedication bands like Braid seemed to elicit from friends and fans. Heck, I saw them a dozen or so times in the space of two years in four different cities. It also explains the inside jokes and friendly heckling you can hear on the tape.

My favorite memory of the night was before any music got played. Ben Barnett, who was traveling with Braid, pointed at a drawing by my friend Ian (who turned out to be our mutual friend) on the refrigerator door and got very excited as he was planning to get a tattoo of the same drawing. We got to talking and he explained that he had a band called Kind of Like Spitting and asked if he could play a short solo set during the night, which he did. A few years later, I ran into Ben out in Portland. He said that he looked back on that night in South Bend as his break, as it led to Braid asking him to play again the next night and later taking the full-band version of K.O.L.S. on tour. (Listen for Bob's dedication "This is for Ben!" at the beginning of "What A Wonderful Puddle!")

From what I remember, this was recorded by Ron Garcia with a single room mic, as were the majority of the live shows soon to come via SBP90s.

Braid - Live at the Canary House - 12/13/1997

see also:
Braid on Facebook
Unofficial MySpace
Twitter: @braidcentral
Studio recordings available from Polyvinyl Records

Monday, August 9, 2010

Victoria's Real Secret - Sample Tape (1992)

As a follow up to a previous post which discussed VRS’s band history and Pasta album, this post explores some earlier songs which pre-dated Pasta. Actually, two of the songs, “Been Around The Block” and “Fish” are two of the songs that made it onto Pasta, but the remaining two were never released on anything more than demo tapes for prospective gigs. These songs give some good insight into the raw and highly unpolished sound that VRS possessed in its early days.

Track 1: This sample tape is introduced by a dedication from Marty (master of time) Menes to Papa John’s Pizza—the most common provider of midnight snacks to Notre Dame students in the nineties. Following the “shout out” to Papa John’s (and the guy across the street), CD begins strumming the main guitar pattern that appears throughout the first song, “Pickpocket”. I soon jump in plucking some complimentary bass notes, and the remaining band members follow in a high spirited, energetic, but fairly derivative romp through some comical lyrics about pickpocketing the world. The song is raw, as is the production (recorded on a four track in the basement of “The Swamp”), but it is a good representation of where we were as musicians and songwriters during the infancy of VRS. Everyone starts somewhere...

Track 2: “Been Around The Block” is the next track, and as written in the previous post, this song predated VRS and was penned by the members of Schwa (including Steve, CD, and Marty). It’s a great grooving song, and this version is a bit rawer in its production than the version on Pasta. I’ll re-post what was previously written about the song to save the reader the trouble of flipping back to a different blog post:
“Been Around the Block” has a straight forward song structure like “Backwards”; however it triggers a more effective emotional response. I’ve always been a fan of hypnotic grooves, and this song brings a Fugazi-like bass line that tries its best to get your head subtly bobbing. For this alone, I enjoy this song. Although I’m not crazy about the guitar’s flange effect on the recorded version, I think this helped the mood of the song when played live. Given this song was a remnant of Schwa (that’s a whole ‘nother review), VRS sure got a lot of mileage out of it.

Track 3: The third track is the same recording of “Fish” that made it onto Pasta. As I previously wrote in the past blog:
“Fish” is another one of the first songs written by VRS. Steve conceived the song’s lyrics to chronicle the cyclical romance of two of the band’s close friends. It contains poppy and lively guitar with some acoustics layered in. The rhythm section pushes the tempo, but generally allows the guitars and vocals to carry the song. Although a simple composition, this was just an up-tempo song we always had fun with. Ryan throws in an over-qualified guitar solo to complete the song, and thus, the album. I feel that ending the album with such an early song was an appropriate reflection of how the band started, and an acknowledgment of how far we had come.

One thing I failed to mention before is that “Fish” easily became a fan favorite for VRS followers. For better or worse, this became our “Freebird” at every local show we played. I’m sure this had something to do wish this single being featured on one of the ND campus music compilations (Incubus 1993), as well as the fact that “Fish” was one of the early songs that we continued to play for a couple of years.

Track 4: The Sample Tape ends with “Ryan’s Lonely”, a crude commentary about the self-pleasuring habits of VRS’s guitar soloist. In defense of poor Ryan, I will say that he had “mad skills” around women. He played the sensitive, troubled, creative genius role perfectly, and figured out early that playing a classical guitar in one’s bedroom is a phenomenal tool to have in one’s tool box. In other words, I’ll stick up for Ryan and say that the basic theme of this song is mis-guided. This song begins with some guitar “noise”, but soon kicks into an in your face tempo, a driving drum beat, catchy guitar rift, and rapid slides up and down the neck of Ryan’s guitar. A performance note: Ryan’s action of sliding up and down the neck intentionally ties into the overall theme of the song, and he tended to exaggerate these movements when performing live. Like many VRS songs, this one contains a consistently repeated guitar rift around which the other components of the song are built. We mix in some dynamic changes, but we basically play the same parts throughout the song. Nevertheless, it is a fun and lively way to end this collection of songs, and who can’t appreciate ending it on the lyrics “Better touch myself and smile!”

In conclusion, this sample tape is a good snapshot of the early stages of Victoria’s Real Secret. Although not as polished in both content and production as Pasta, it provides a good benchmark from which one can measure the progress of our band. As I previously posted:
More than anything else, I remember VRS as a band that was FUN to see live. We always had a great time stirring the audience into a frenzy and playing off each other.

This sample tape, if nothing else, reminds me of the fun and lively shows we put on. That’s a memory I will always treasure. Thanks for reading and listening! Questions or comments? Feel free to contact me at

--Wil Freve


see also:
Victoria's Real Secret on MySpace
Victoria's Real Secret - Pasta

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Severinsen - SNUBBED! by incubus 1993 + Bonus Live

In 1993, Severinsen recorded a couple songs at Miami Street Studio, with the impression that one of them would be included on the incubus 1993 ND campus band compilation. Yet for some reason, the band was eventually excluded from the CD. This EP, affectionately dubbed "SNUBBED! by incubus 1993," represents those studio recordings, as well as a couple extra live tracks we dug up from the show we previously posted.


This was my first time recording with John Nuner at Miami Street. (I'd go on to record at least two other mega sessions with emiLy). Nervous as heck but I'm happy with the way I played and the way we sounded. Nuner was a nice guy and easy to work with.

I'm pretty sure we recorded the basics for 3 songs (another one in addition to "Limber/Sorry" and "My Greatest Fear") but only kept/overdubbed/finished those two.

Singing the backup vocals to "My Greatest Fear" with Colin and Eric was much fun.

"Limber/Sorry" was and still is my favorite Severinsen song to play and to listen to. I'm very happy we have a nice studio version of this.

Somebody (can't remember who) told me later that both of these songs were rejected from the incubus CD because Chris was already represented in Chisel and Colin was already represented in Brian, Colin, and Vince. Which to this day still seems incredibly unfair to Eric and myself, but so it goes. SNUBBED!, indeed.

I'm not sure how we started doing the PJ Harvey cover with Kate Babka, but it was always a blast. And the Kylie song always made me laugh. It is about Kylie Minogue, isn't it? When I would hear her techno stuff years later (1999-2001 or so), anytime I saw her on VH1 on directTV or something, the line "Kylie's got a crush on us" would pop into my head.


I remember Colin having to stand on top of his amp in the studio to prevent the horrible vibration it produced from being recorded. Then I remember actual vocal track takes being produced in the bathroom to produce that "natural reverb"effect. The last minute decision to provide backup vocals on "My Greatest Fear" was just hilarious. Good times.

Then of course there was the incubus snub. I was probably the most affected by it, because I didn't have another band on the compilation, and I was a senior, so there would be no second chance. I remember getting my copy and giving it a chance, listening through all the tracks to hear why our recordings were not included. I was a genuine fan of many of the bands that were included (as a sidebar, I was so impressed with Bother, I asked them to play at our house during Zep Fest. The lead singer, James Kennedy, almost got into a fight with some of the people at the party because the band wanted to play during the NCAA Final Four basketball game on the TV. We eventually had to hide James in the basement to prevent him from getting hurt. So punk!!) When I heard the last forgettable track on the CD - "Punch the Clown" by The Porkchoppers (so forgettable, I had to look it up) I fully realized what a snub it was. The last song was so horrible, it turned into another valuable life lesson that you only get in college - in the music business, it's who you know. As I recall, the Porkchoppers were friends with the producers of the CD.

Our luck seemed to follow us around as we were the only band at the battle of the bands in the top 10 that played on the "student run" stage. All the other bands in the top 10 played on the stage that was engineered by professionals. The student engineers didn't even notice I was singing the last song of the set until halfway through the song when Meghan King of The Sister Chain fame yelled at them to turn up my microphone. The fact that we still got 5th made me wonder how well we could have done on the other stage.

I remember taking a recording studio class the year after graduation and bringing a copy of these recordings we made in for show and tell. I was the only brave soul in the whole class. Everyone commented how they wished they could hear the vocals better and that they were lost in the mix. I lamented at the time that I sort of wished the same, but I also recall that was somewhat intentional.


I seem to recall that the engineer, John Nuner, had some funny turns of phrase. "Put it in the can," maybe? Something like that? His studio had a strange, fly by night feel to it. I always assumed it was a front for some shady dealings. But Nuner was (and hopefully still is) a good guy.

As for the songs, I love Colin's and cringe at mine. L/S was the beginning of great things for Colin - he wrote in that vein for the next ten years or so, shoegazing with the best of them. The lyrics of MGF are inexplicable. I hope no one thinks they're autobiographical. Thank god for the backup vocals, which add the only levity to an otherwise super creepy song.


Did John Nuner have a palm tree for a logo? I was always confused by the Miami moniker.

I think we all generally had a positive experience during the sessions. I think we recorded 2 songs because we couldn't decide whether to use one of Chris' songs or one of mine - and we were not the primary songwriters in the other bands we were in. Our idea was to give the incubus folks both songs and let them pick which one they wanted to use. I don't think it occurred to us at the time that they might go with the third option - neither! Yikes! And yeah, I recall that we were led to believe that we were excluded because of Chris and I already being on there with Chisel and Brian, Colin and Vince - but I didn't have the same problem of not being able to separate the various acts in my mind.

I'm not particularly bitter about it now, but I remember feeling slighted - Severinsen was a really important band to me. I see now that we were still learning what we were even doing, but at the time we were feeling like ND music scene veterans - playing regular gigs on and off campus and such.

When I decided to make my own compilation cassette release, Shameless, on my label Sudden Shame I put BOTH of the Severinsen songs on there -- is that why so many bands got 2 songs each? Ahahaha!

As a studio newbie, I remember trying to make cool sounds and used a cassette case to do amateur slide work up and down the neck.

I'm definitely glad we made these recordings, even though they were snubbed. We knew they we good!

As far as the bonus live material goes, we were playing "Sheila na Gig" because Chris had become a massive PJ Harvey fan on his semester abroad - and he also came back to the states with a cassette that had "Kylie's Got a Crush on Us" as performed by Teenage Fanclub (but written by the BMX Bandits). So we just loved playing those songs. I remember going to see PJ play in Chicago with Chris and waiting outside afterwards to say hi! And last year I got to see both of those bands live at the same festival (Indietracks), but neither one played that song. If they had, it would likely have blown my mind!

Did we start having Kate sing on "Sheila" because we wanted to help her get into Club 23 (underage) or was it just because we thought it would be a fun thing to do? I can't remember. Maybe Chris started feeling weird about singing it (as a boy?) and wanted to get some estrogen injected back into it. I could make up theories all day long, but Kate might be the best person to ask for the real answer! A couple months ago I was playing a show in a bar in Montpelier, VT, and my friends band that we were playing with did a cover of that song, too! Boy did it bring back memories all over again.

"Belly up!" That's another blast from the past! So glad to be reminded that this song ever existed. The recording quality is waaay rough, but I'm just glad to hear enough of it to spark my memories.


see also:
Severinsen on MySpace
incubus 1993 compilation

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trendinista 5000

While many assume that the Trendinista 5000 full-length cassette was recorded at the Record Plant by Bill Laswell or perhaps on a farm in Minnesota with Brian Paulson or Smart Studios with Butch Vig, the tape was actually made in a small cellar of a student house on St. Peter’s Street in downtown South Bend, IN.

The year was, I think, 1992 and we had just gotten back in town but not yet started classes at ND—so I’m guessing August—I’d have to check my old journal from that era. Chisel, a band that housemate Ted Leo and I had been doing off and on for a year or two, was off until we could find a new bassist, but we had a lot of creative energy built up from the summer. We set up our gear in a small, dark, musty space in the basement of our shared house and called up our pal Dennis McNicholas, whom I had done Teenage Dope Slaves with about a year previous.

We let the tape roll for either one day or two—making up songs on the spot, perhaps with one run-through before recording and ultra minimal overdubs. It was my idea of an “instant music” project, almost like automatic writing as a technique for producing a lot of material without filtering or critiquing what you were doing, just fueled by camaraderie and enthusiasm and strong coffee. I was taking the lead only because I had been the one with the guitar in hand when we started taping. There was a lot of switching around, Ted covers the drums (quite masterfully) when I’m playing guitar and singing and usually vice-versa, with Dennis singing and probably playing some guitar, too. I didn’t even own an electric guitar at this point, so I assume the axe was Ted’s old Fender Squire. The kid Mark was our housemate Mason’s girlfriend Mary’s little brother. I believe Dennis came up with the band name, or perhaps we did together—we had the name before we wrote the Trendinista girl tune, I think. 5000 was slang for see ya later—as in Audi 5000 if I recall.

As you can probably hear, all three of us were very familiar with Beat Happening and T5000 is, in some way, a kind of tribute to Calvin Johnson and that band. But you can also hear a bit of Codeine—with whom I was really taken for a year or two, perhaps Buffalo Tom and also some Teenbeat/Unrest vibes in there. The tape is kind of a time capsule of the era. Considering how quickly it was made, I think the songs are pretty phenomenal—still insanely catchy. Dennis and Ted were obviously talented young men—it was fun writing songs together.

Sometime that year, Colin Clary released the cassette on his Sudden Shame label out of Vermont. Dennis did original artwork for the cassette— a woodblock print—or maybe a soap block print, I'm not sure.

--John Dugan


see also:
Trendinista 5000 on MySpace
twitter: @johnedugan, @tedleo, @SBP90s

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Obstruction - Live at Clifford

Haha! I didn't even remember that someone had recorded that show! Wow, good times. I guess everyone was just too nice to tell me how bad I sucked on drums those days!

Actually, "Eyesore" was a pretty good rendition, we always played that one well and "Holy Martyr" rocked!

Man, my timing was horrible! I think I was playing in another time zone on "Underscore" at the end there. Haha.

Once again, our best song and crowd favorite "Gunshot" seemed to always stand out from the rest. I especially liked it when I hit my cymbal so hard it flew off the stand towards the end of the song! Now that was some serious hardcore! Who was that trying to put it back on, Doug? Pretty funny.

Those were the good ol' days boys!! When is the reunion show!?

--Andy Yang


We look so young and shiny, like we have our whole rock and roll futures ahead of us!

I didn't realize that I roll my eyes every time I mess up lyrics, that's hilarious.

Bah, who needs timing when you have hardcore? I love how the verses in "Underscore" feel like we're rushing because we're late for a hanging or something and then the chorus has this laid back almost ska feel to it.

On explaining the songs: I wasn't the most eloquent public speaker. Good thing my job was to bellow our lyrics.

The darkness and dinginess captures the feel of a basement show really nicely.

Yeah, that was Doug futzing with the cymbal. Andy you were rocking it hard! We should have set our instruments on fire (if only we could afford new ones)!

It was such a blast playing in that band with two of my best friends to this day!

--Hardcore Ron


I'd have to agree with what Chris O always says about too many bands making the mistake of talking too much between songs. But with a set that could be played straight through in only around 10 minutes, I think we were sorta trying to string things out a little. Ah well...

I love seeing Ron rage on the mic, and watching Andy beat the drums into submission. The guitar work here is, as usual, somewhat regrettable. But whatever-- punk rock! Obstruction GO!!!

So cool that this video exists!

--Ted Hennessy

see also:
Obstruction - One Step Closer
Obstruction on MySpace
follow @SBP90s on twitter

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comeuppance - Live at the Pre-Nuptial Bash

Our first show was at Bronwyn and Ted’s engagement party at St. Peter Street. We dressed in our finest and nervously took our places on stage. Justin Mitchell graciously let me use his amp and set it up for me. We played four songs, which went by in a blur but for a moment in “Madeleine” when I had to hit the distortion pedal: the worry of finding the right pedal in the dark, stabbing at it with my toe and half-missing, then relief at hearing the piercing sound – and astonishment and thrill that I was actually playing guitar onstage in a band and not falling to utter pieces.

--Allison Rigo


see also:
Comeuppance on MySpace
Comeuppance - Tally Ho!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Faye, Leslie, and Shelley - Live at Clifford

I am so glad that we were able to participate in the scene and do so with our very own style and sound - without feeling that we had to emulate any of the other bands that were there. I am glad as well that people gave us a listen, and for the most part were respectful of the fact that we were just doing our own thing. How awesome for this suburban housewife to have some video of me hanging around where I am playing in a band at Clifford the Big Red House, with two smart as hell, outspoken, wonderful women - not to mention the times when Zoe played with us as well - another smart as hell wonderful lady.

Thank you to whoever recorded that moment in my life [ed. it was Roger] - and thank you Ted for putting it into the ether forever...


see also:
Faye, Leslie, and Shelley - Demo Recordings
Faye, Leslie, and Shelley on MySpace

twitter: @SBP90s

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ted Leo - "Innocents Abroad" (Chisel) live on WFMU 3/2/2010

Last night, Ted Leo made his latest in a series of recurring appearances on The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Sharpling, during their annual fund drive. Aside from playing a few solo versions of songs from his forthcoming album, The Brutalist Bricks, and a couple goofy covers, Ted whipped out an old Chisel classic... "Innocents Abroad." As Ted explains, he actually had to download the lyrics from the internet, to refresh his memory after not having played the tune in about 13 years!

Well, it sounded as good as ever, and was certainly a special treat for all the old-school Chisel fans out there. We've procured an MP3 of the cut for you, so check it out!

Ted Leo (solo) - "Innocents Abroad"

Additionally, you can stream the entire show by clicking here.

UPDATE! Video footage of the performance has popped up on YouTube:

follow Ted: @tedleo
follow us! @SBP90s

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Severinsen - Live at Dalloway's 4/24/1993

I can claim "Girl of Confusion" and "Call to Arms" as the two tracks I contributed to the group and sang. That's Mike yowling with me in the latter song.

Some highlights I can recall from my Severinsen career...

I remember the gigs at that coffeehouse on St. Mary's campus. Those were well attended, high energy shows. Back before they had energy drinks, I fueled those gigs with 2 liters of Dr. Pepper.

I remember playing a triple bill in my living room at the Zep Fest house on Portage Ave. with Brian, Colin and Vince, Severinsen and Chisel. I'm sure we were using the PA equipment owned by Palace Laundry. At least two of the musicians playing there that night went on to successful music careers (see Colin Clary and Ted Leo).

I remember practicing in the basement of that same house in my room next to the community showers in the house. My roommates used to tell me they liked attending concerts in the shower.

I remember how tight we were towards the end that we didn't even need practices... we would just show up for gigs.

I remember booking the biggest gig near the end of senior year playing outside at the big barbecue on St. Mary's campus during spirit week, only to have the gig cancelled completely because of the THREAT of rain (it never actually did rain that day). Naturally they had no back up plan for us to play indoors.

I only vaguely recall why we went with the name Severinsen (not -son!). I think my friend Robert and I had a running joke about Doc Severinsen. I'm sure it was hilarious. This band was a carryover of sorts from Richard Scarry, a group Colin and I had in Vermont over the summer of '92. A lot of the songs made the trip back to school with us. We hooked up with Mike and Eric, two awesome musicians, much better than us, and played a few shows. Eric kicked in a couple songs. All was well. Improbably, we played Zep Fest. I'm virtually certain we didn't try any Page/Plant numbers, though nowadays I do enjoy rocking a rousing "Immigrant Song" with my kids.

I remember we practiced in the downstairs of the house Eric lived in. And also that we almost had a keyboard player - for some reason at that time I had the notion that rock bands shouldn't have keyboards in them so we decided to not have the keyboard player join the band, but we let his amp be in the band because Mike used it for his bass! I kinda feel bad about it now, but what did we know then - it's also kind of funny...

I remember the bit Chris mentions about the Doc Severinsen comedic riffing with Robert -"he was cooking!" - it was at least funny enough that we thought it would make a cool band name.

I don't remember how the band came together, but I am so glad it did - Mike and Eric and Chris were awesome to play with - Chris and I were living together at that time and we each had other bands as well - with him in Chisel and me in Brian, Colin and Vince - for me it was just the beginning of having multiple musical outlets. I had been in the London program with Mike's sister. Maybe Eric remembers how we met - I used to play pool in the Gorch gameroom when he was working, but I'm fuzzy on how the band came together - It definitely started with Chris and I and our batch of songs held over from the summer previous.

At that time, the ND music scene was so much fun to be a part of - so many bands and friends playing all the time - I actually didn't have any recordings of some of these songs, so thanks to whomever taped this show and saved it! I never thought I'd get to hear "Daydream Nathan!"

Sometimes I felt like Severinsen was overlooked or under appreciated - speaking here about us not being included on the Incubus comp! I felt we should have been on there, but my impression was that we weren't because Chris and I were already on the disc in our two other bands. Fair enough, but I am sure I was ticked at the time. Severinsen was a solid contributor to the local scene on it's own. It wasn't the last time I felt like that, because I seem to have kept up since then with having multiple bands going at the same time. That said, the ND scene was extra awesome as a place where anyone who believed they could be in a band could start one and have one - lots of us dared to and made a whole scene out of whatever we wanted to do.

As far as those photos go, I can tell the tux shirt one was from the 40 ounce formal we held at our house! I really feel lucky to have gotten to play with folks who were willing to try each others' ideas - Chris and I and Eric each wrote different types of songs, but we all did our best to make them work.

Chris is one of my favorite people to sing with ever - I just liked the way our voices sounded together.

As far as the "Immigrant Song"... I'm pretty sure we covered that one in a medley with "The Joker" and another song when we were in Ice Nine a couple years before... Hope this helps with the blog post - I have been enjoying these trips down memory lane you keep preserving for us!


ps- I seem to remember playing a trainwreck version of "Hey Joe" at a party at Eric's - was that Zep fest? I know that we took a set break and the second half was more chaotic - I think we were lucky to have such a solid and talented rhythm section holding us together.

I credit my sister for helping get this band together; she met Colin (and Chris?) the prior year on the London Program. They told her they needed a bassist for their new band, and she arranged for us to meet. At first, I thought she meant her friends from the band Chisel needed a new bassist. So, during the last few months of high school, I spent some time listening to The Jericho Sessions CD, memorizing the bass part to "Swamp Fox/Spike." Silly Mike.

I arrived on campus that August, and instead of going to any Freshman Orientation stuff, I spent my first weekend in South Bend practicing with Severinsen. I did not realize at the time how lucky I was. Turns out Chisel did need a new bassist, and that new bassist was Chris. Which was nice, because we got to open for Chisel more than a few times that year. I got to say "yeah, I'm in that band, Severinsen... you know... with that one guy from Chisel, and that other guy from Brian, Colin and Vince." Almost famous. The shows we played with BC&V and Chisel still rank among my personal favorites of all time.

I was amazed by these two guys (Chris and Colin) and their seemingly effortless hooks and harmonies, their ease at writing and blending songs together. I was still in full-on prog-rock mode, so it was quite a shock to play this kind of lush pop punk. Eric and I hit it right off, with similar music tastes and interests, and we worked diligently to create a locked-down rhythm section to back up the Glee Club power duo.

I really enjoyed this Introduction to Notre Dame Campus Bands 101, getting to jump right in the scene as a freshman, go to all these great shows and play with great bands, right off the bat. It ended too soon, as the other guys graduated that spring. I'm so happy that we have a record of these songs, especially "Limber/Sorry," a song that, even after all these years, I could still sing to myself, even though I had not heard it played in almost 15 years, until now. Thanks.


see also:
Severinsen on MySpace