Monday, February 27, 2012


Forgive me if I get a little repetitious here.  I know there's often a story arc on this blog that consists of the following: (1) Boy hears band for the first time and doesn't like it. (2) Years go by and/or circumstances change. (3) Man discovers in hindsight that said band just might have been on to something.  So, you can save yourself some time and skip to the link below to listen, or just go read a better music blog like  Awesome Tapes From Africa.
In the late winter/early spring of either 1994 or 1995, I was at a party on either Main or Cary Street in Richmond.  Some band called Ladyfinger was playing.  Their guitarist looked like a white Urkel and bore the countenance of someone that would rather slowly watch you drown at sea rather than throw you a life raft.  The bassist looked like the kind of girl in High School that was both out of your league and had a better record collection than you.  The drummer supposedly had a childhood accident that made it impossible for him to ever wear a shirt, ever.  They played math rock, but a lot of people did back then.
A year or so later, I got a job at Christie's Cafe and Bakery in Carytown.  It was basically an excuse to hang out with friends and see what we could get away with without getting fired (Once I got my boss to eat a concoction consisting of blended bacon, mayonnaise, and Triple Sec).  I worked in the kitchen sometimes with my friend Chris Wade, and we'd listen to Samhain and such.  He would also put on a Ladyfinger tape sometimes, and I didn't really get into it.

Years and years later, Chunklet magazine posted a long article about Pen Rollings which included the Ladyfinger demo that I heard at Christie's and several songs that I hadn't heard yet that were way better.  Part of it might have been that the ones I hadn't heard had better vocals on them and were catchier.  Unfortunately, they weren't as well recorded as the later material.  Regardless, I still prefer it.  The earlier songs sounded like a punk rock band/metal band whose ideas grew beyond standard 4/4 riffs and had a singer that had an intuitive feel for the music; while the later stuff sounded more complicated for the sake of being complicated with a guy choking into a delay pedal over top.  Not that it was bad at all, just not as... charming.
Oh, I forgot to mention the names of the people in the band.  Ron Dimmick (I've seen his name spelled 4 different ways) played guitar in this band and also was in Sliang Laos - possibly one of the greatest bands of all time (see June's entry on them).  Elisa played bass and is my facebook friend but will probably never read this.  Pen Rollings (drums) was the guitarist in Breadwinner and is in a band called Loincloth.  I bet you $5 he isn't wearing a shirt right now.  Sean Harris (vocals) was in Butterglove and Human Thurma and The Rams.  He is alive and well and tortures various Telecasters in Seattle.
Complete Discography
And a couple videos:
One Trick Pony
Juan Dominico

Monday, February 20, 2012

False Sacrament

Hard to believe I'm almost halfway done with this blog!  There are still some issues to be sorted out with file hosting... I like the fact that with fileden, you can click on the songs and they play immediately.  I suppose I could eventually move the songs to a site like bandcamp or even youtube.  I'll worry about that later.
I'm on vacation right now, so this week's band is going to be one I know pretty much nothing about: False Sacrament!  I know that they were around in either the late 80's or the early 90's and they were from out east - Virginia Beach or Norfolk or somewhere.  They also played some incredibly sick jams that sound just as fresh over 20 years later.

Side A
Side B

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nine Years Gone - Ian Kruske (Part Two)

started getting strange.  Ian started keeping odd ours - it wouldn't be uncommon for him to just casually drop by at 3 in the morning.  I guess he was doing a fair amount of LSD - a drug I wouldn't really recommend for everyone.  He'd go through Amusement-Park-Pirate-Ship sized mood swings, and often nobody would know where he was for days at a time.  He seemed to exist on a plane of existence that was oblique to normal people, with their "jobs" and "sleep schedules".  His vocabulary also started expanding in the same mercurial fashion as his consciousness was.  To this day, I have a framed piece of paper he gave me, calling me "the prestidigitational proficient."
Ian was briefly the drummer for the band Sistersound (more on them earlier), but his erratic behavior ended up cutting his stint in that band short.  Eve (their guitarist) said that at band practice, he would sometimes just sit behind his drumset and not even play.  This must have been some time in 1995.  He wrote this essay about his time in that band here.
Later that year, the unthinkable happened: Ian joined the Army.  How someone who would record themselves reciting passages from Buddhist texts and walk the streets of Richmond at night in a psilocybin dream-state could suddenly join the armed forces was way beyond my understanding.  Oddly enough, I thought it might be good for him - maybe he needed a little structure in his life.
Ian's military career did not last very long, but it did seem to have something of a positive impact on him.  He seemed a little more serious.  We didn't talk too much about what happened there, but he did say something about how it was his job to type latitudes and longitudes into computers for bombing targets.  I'm still not sure if he went AWOL.
In the late 90's, Ian lived at the Henry Street Gallery - a converted warehouse with 2 or 3 "bedrooms", a makeshift kitchen and something in the corner that functioned as a bathroom.  It was also a venue for bands to play at.  I had many happy memories watching bands like The Plumbers and Sparky and El Presidente with Ian there.  For some reason, I feel like he didn't live there for too long before moving back to his mom's house in Newport News.  We kind of lost touch, and I moved to Austin. 
My contact with Ian was scarce in the earlier part of the 2000's.  I had heard that he was going to school again and doing really well.  What I didn't hear was that he was feeling more and more suicidal.  If I had known, I would have gotten in my barely-working 1983 Honda Civic and driven up to get him.  Or would I have?  I had just gotten married and had a baby daughter.
I don't remember who told me that Ian had died in February of 2003.  Matt Gross maybe?  John Swart?  It was only a few weeks after my sister died of brain cancer.  I felt like I lost 2 siblings that month.  If you've ever seen that Jimi Hendrix documentary from the early 70's, one of the Ghetto Fighters described Hendrix as a "short fuse" - a description that unfortunately fit Ian also.  Prank calling people with his brother and beat-boxing/rapping "My Adidas" by Run DMC.  Driving from Virginia to Minnesota to meet a girl he only knew online, stealing gas the whole way up.  Writing amazing reviews about Qabalism. Working at Busch Gardens and getting caught stealing from the cash register, but somehow getting asked to return the next summer.  And of course, my favorite memory of Ian.  At Burger King, a 15-16 year old Ian asked for "an order of fucking onion rings".  The cashier became enraged, and told him he had to leave.  On the way out, Ian asked for a job application.  Now, apparently by law, Burger King had to give a job application to anyone that asked, so they gave him a job application.  What kind of person knows about laws like that?
5 months before Ian died, he got together with Neale Shaffer and recorded some informal jams.

Ian Plays Piano #1

The next two tracks also feature Jason Strickland on bass.
Rainy Delay Pedal Jam
Yea... is that recording?

Ian Plays Piano #2
Your Angel
Ian Rocks the House

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nine Years Gone - Ian Kruske (Part One) and Placebo

There weren't a lot of misfits in my High School in Williamsburg, VA back in the late 80's/early 90's.  We all had to kind of stick together.  Often, the only things we had in common were what we weren't - we weren't jocks or preps or hippies or stoners.  You could say we were punk rockers, but even that seems like a confining term by today's standards.  If there was the established clique of punk rockers, we probably wouldn't have fit in with them either.
Ian and Steve Kruske were skaters, two grades or so younger than most of my friends and I.  Like most skaters at that time, they had a disdain for authority.  Of the two, Steve was a little more straight-laced, and Ian was a little more out there.  Ian and I had more similar taste in music, so we would hang out more.  It wouldn't be an uncommon thing for the two of us to be just hanging out in my room listening to Smashing Pumpkins or Jane's Addiction or Bad Brains or Primus (this being a time before Nirvana saved/ruined everything).
When I moved to Richmond in 1992, Ian still had 2 more years of High School.  That first year, we didn't see each other often, but in the fall of 1993, Ian and Steve started coming up from Williamsburg on the weekends.  It must have been around this time that Ian started playing drums more.  He got to be proficient quickly, and was in a band called Placebo (pre-dating that other band by at least a few years - to my knowledge anyway).  Also in this band was Neale Shaeffer (more on him later) and Erik Sugg (more on him later, too).  In the spring of 1994, my band got to play with them.  They also made a demo tape:

01 Here
02 Greed Seed
03 Damocles
04 Dig
05 Royal Rumble
06 The Player
07 95%
08 Someday

To my knowledge, they only played a handful of shows.  Some time in the mid 1990's, Ian moved to Richmond.  That's when things