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


Greg said...

Here we go. I'd wondered if any of this had ever been recorded; somehow this was the one band that didn't do the cassette release on Colin's own label (why??). But I remember blissing out to Daydream Nathan more than once. They out-Rided Ride on that one, I tell ya.

Tom E said...

This was my favorite ND band. Yes, even more so than Chisel. I hadn't heard a band like that before and that kind of dreamy shoegazeyness has been my favorite type of music ever since. Fantastic. I had a recording of Sorry somehow and I put it on every single mix tape I made for any girl after that.

Mike L. said...

Forgive me for failing to mention Kate B., who would get up and sing "Sheila-Na-Gig" (P.J. Harvey) with us. That's her in the 2nd photo. Thanks, Kate!

Anonymous said...

yee ha - Jubie and Sev got documented. 'bout time. (this is not a rip on SBP90s to be sure; just echoing some of the previous comments.)

Allison R-C said...

Wow, the Hill Street house wallpaper is even more vertiginous than I remember.