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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

emiLy - RTO 1.5329

In the fall of 1993, emiLy went to Miami Street Studios for our first professional recording experience. We recorded and mixed four songs in the space of two days or so, and the first three were released as a seven-inch EP called Finer Time. While waiting for the records to be pressed, we decided to make some quick copies of the recording session on cassette that we could send out to labels and venues we found in Book Your Own Fuckin' Life, the massive punk/DIY resource guide put out by Maximum Rock and Roll. (BYOFL started in 1992 and was a big bound newsprint magazine up until 2003 or 2004, when it turned into an online resource at We sent the tape out with a simple insert that asked people to "Write us if you can help us find places to play, people to play to, vinyl(or tape(or CD)) to be on, or good Indian food in the MidWest." The tape did help us in the first two enterprises, but not so much in the latter.

The tape features the same four songs on both sides. The first three are the same tracks from Finer Time ("Cartoon Sex", "Finer Time", and "5(Frialator)"), and the fourth is a studio version of "Fortune 13", which appears in a different form on engineering means i Like you. Aside from the hundred or so people who got to hear this tape in person, this is the first opportunity for most people to hear "Fortune 13" in all its Miami Street glory. (I have no idea what the significance of the .5329 is, aside from indicating that it was not meant to be a regular RTO release.)

Not too long after this demo came out, we played a show at Dalloway's with Comeuppance. We called it our birthday show, as it was roughly a year to the date from the first emiLy show. The flyer advertised free cake in honor of the occasion, and we delivered on that promise. I bought a bunch of Little Debbie snack cakes and gave them to James K. to distribute at the beginning of our set. James jumped up and ran around the room, yelling "I'VE GOT CAKE! WHO WANTS CAKE?" and handing cakes to all who asked.


see also:
emiLy on MySpace
emiLy on

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comeuppance - Tally Ho!

James Kennedy, bass:
Comeuppance is the first band in which I ever played an instrument. I learned how to play the bass by practicing along with a Teenage Dope Slaves tape in my room at Sorin, and thus will always have a fondness for "Death Spa.” I was such an amateur I remember Chris had to literally push my fingers down on the fret board where they needed to go. Chris is from South Bend, so we practiced at his parents' house, in his boyhood bedroom. You can’t get much twee-er than that.

Chris Norborg, drums:
Comeuppance came about because Allison wrote beautiful poems and turned one into a song. Then I wrote a few quickies and cobbled together a drum kit. (The same kit featured in another obscure combo, Ely Parker & the CIAs, that I hope to get Ted to document someday on this site.) I knew Kate could sing from our hours driving around singing Morrissey songs together. James contributed his (criminally underrated) bass technique and "Freak Cathode Accident." A precious few shows, then Tim Schaffler (of the infamous Tennessee Schafflers) recorded essentially our entire repertoire - save a couple clunkers best forgotten - on his big ol' reel-to-reel four-track. And that was that.

Allison Rigo, guitar:
Comeuppance was the fun of being in a band compressed into four brief months: we practiced, we learned songs, we made flyers and T-shirts and stickers, we played a few shows, we recorded, we made a cassette tape – and then it was over. Its novelty and its compactness made it feel like a gift.

The songs were sweet and sometimes melancholy, and that was perfect for who we were – college kids finding their inner fourth-graders through Beverly Cleary motifs, Ludwig Bemelmans references, and the newspaper funnies.

Kate Connell, vocals:
How to succinctly sum up my days in Comeuppance you ask? Well, as my good pal Chuck Dickens once said, "It was the good times, it was the poo times" (I'm paraphrasing here, people). It was my sophomore year at St. Mary's College, a school I never actually chose to attend but was chosen for me. By the time I hit second year there, I was thoroughly depressed. However, there was this gleaming, fleeting light of hope. And that hope had a name... no, not Obama, but rather Comeuppance. Chris, Allison, and James were very much my saving grace(s) that year. Not only did we get to play music together, we also became a family. I know, corny but true. We would practice at Chris' parents' house which to me was the best part. Usually a delicious dinner was prepared and shared with fantastic company. In fact, the first time I ever saw someone have apple pie with a slice of cheese on top happened right there in their kitchen after practice. As for the shows, they're kind of a blur to me. But I still love the songs. Sometimes I find myself these days playing guitar alone in my room I strum and hum "Non Issue" or "Clock" or "Falter." Looking back on our short-lived career, I feel given just a little more time, we could've conquered the world!! Or, at the very least, played another show or two...


see also:
Comeuppance on MySpace