Monday, June 25, 2012

Zentraedi

In August of 1997, I quit my band Secret Girlfriends (this is not their story).  Dave Choi (the drummer) and Nora Robinson (the singer) went on to join forces with the drummer of Lycosa (Ross Horwitz, who switched to guitar) and Adam Juresko on bass.  I think that soon after, Liz Connolly played keyboards.
It's hard to compare both bands objectively, but now that it's been long enough, I must concede that Zentraedi was the superior of the two.  There was something almost stifling or heavy-handed about Secret Gilfriends, while Zentraedi gave the listener a little more room to breathe.  Zentraedi was the kind of band that knew that the way to a young girl's heart was complimenting her shoes and asking her to talk about herself.  I seem to remember being turned off at the time by the lack of repetition in the songs, but now it kind of makes sense.  It gives them a more linear quality, opens up more room for a vocal melody, and shifts focus to things like tonal texture.  These 6 songs were recorded some time in 1998, which was when the band was at its peak.

For some reason, Nora quit and was replaced by Maud(e?), and Adam quit and was replaced by Nathan from Ipecac.  There may have been more personnel changes, but I don't remember them.  This guy from Venezuela named Tom├ís may have served as an interim bassist at one point.
Anyway, I'll shut up now so you can listen to these tracks!
Zentraedi youtube playlist

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Fire for Burning People

More Fire for Burning People was a band from Richmond in the early/mid 90's.  I think they rose from the ashes of the band Cate Allen.  Alan Siegler (I think) played bass, and this guy named Thomas might have played drums.  The guitarists/singers were Brian Landis and Curtis Brown.  For whatever reason, they replaced the rhythm section with the lovely and talented Becky Sanchez on bass and the also lovely (in a guy way) and talented Bret Payne on drums.  Which is not to say that Curtis and Brian weren't lovely and talented.  They were.  Anyway.
In the mythical land of Silver Spring, Maryland, there lived a man by the name of Mark Smoot.  He was old (mid 30's or maybe even older) and made a strong case for... getting old.  He lived in a 3-story home/recording studio.  You'd load in on Friday night, go to bed in one of his guest bedrooms, wake up Saturday morning to pancakes and bacon (if that was your thing), record until late at night, do the same thing the next day, and go home Sunday night.  This luxury rock and roll vacation would set you back $300.  So if you were in a band of 4 people, that was like not a lot of money.
More Fire For Burning People recorded a tape with Mark in November of 1995. 
Side A
Side B
Their tape included a lyric sheet, but their computer didn't seem to have a spacebar, so it reads as follows:
surillophemeitssohotbutshestillwantsacigaretteitssohotbuticanthelphersurillophemeyoumakemesurillophememovesurillophemeyoureallymovemetieyouintomywardrobecoveryourskinwithasatingagcoatsmymouthandicantbreatsurillophemeisaslowheatplacidicantstandonmyheadanylongerandletthebloodstartrushinginsleepingisalmostimpossiblewhenithinkillfliptheswitchicantplaythisgameanylongerbecauseitmakesmebrokeasijuststandpushingquaterafterquatericantsingthissonganylongerwhenitsdroppingoverslowlyoverandoveragainandalltheboysgoandrushmebybutthesedrugsarentrealandineverfollowedyoufallingoffthefacemakingallthesefacesdisappearsowhenwecomebackilldothedeed4point5liftmeimfeatherweightivegotlizardinkinmylegsheworecrushedgreenvelvetsayingillfuckanythingthatmoveshershoesfittedwitha4point5liftandredigaveherthisbigbirdwrappedincellophaneshesaidchokemecauseilikethepainallihavenowismytruthitmaybebadbutatleastimtryingwhenplansaredeniedwithayesthatreallysetsmeoffpushesmybuttongetsmygoatyourealizethissystemfailssogetonwithitbrotherliftmeimfeatherweightchinesetelephonewordsstatic

Also, I was going to start a MFFBP cover band and call it More Oil For Boiling People, but cooler heads prevailed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rebar

Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I feel like everyone wants to belong to a club that they're just barely cool enough to get into.  We want to be loved and accepted, but we also want to stand out and be unique. 
Is part of the appeal to Rebar the fact that nobody likes them?  This video kind of says it all.  To know about Rebar in the mid 90's was to belong to a small and exclusive club.  My friend Eve dubbed me their demo on a normal-bias Maxell 90 minute cassette tape.  He'd gotten it from his bassist Pete, who got it from someone else.  The poor audio quality did nothing to detract from the tunes. 
I don't know very much about the band.  I think they were from Greensboro.  Their bassist was named Brent, though rumor has it this guy named Tommy was in the band before him.  Jae was the drummer.  Masa played one of the guitars - though he replaced someone that I don't know (maybe Greg Sigmon?).  The guitarist and singer was named Sanders Trippe. 
Have you ever heard of the band Pentagram?  They were a proto-doom metal band from Northern Virginia that started in the late 70's.  Traditional success eluded them because their singer/guitarist was (is?  I haven't seen the movie) a drug addict and a not-so-great decision maker.  That seems sadly typical for proto-doom metal.  This is not their story.  Rebar was kind of like the indie rock* version of Pentagram.  Instead of being torn apart by drugs, they were torn apart by... apathy?  I don't know.
When Napster became a thing, my first search (after the Alf theme, of course) was for the long-lost Rebar album.  To my amazement, I found someone that had a few Rebar tracks, so I greedily double-clicked.  An hour or so later, the uploader (?) instant-messaged me, thanking me for liking "his" band.  Right.  I'm actually having a conversation with a guy IN Rebar?  Turns out, it was the drummer.  He turned out to be a really nice guy, and ended up sending me a burn of their album, and two of their 7" records.  A few years later, when the CD became hopelessly scratched, he even sent me a replacement.

The Rebar Album Youtube Playlist


So, where are they now?  Sanders went on to be in a band called All Night.  They were a great rock and roll band, but they didn't hit home for me like Rebar did.  I almost saw them once, but that story is for another time.  Then rumor has it he collaborated with Devendra Bernhardt (spelled wrong, don't care).  Now (?) he is in the band Vetiver, and they are (were?) fairly popular.  I think that Jae, the drummer, was in the band the Alternative Champs.

* I am loath to use the term "indie rock" to describe Rebar, due to the fact that in the mid 1990's, the parasite that was emo engulfed the term indie rock.  Instead of emo bands and their fans calling themselves what they were, they stole the tag "indie rock" from actual indie rock bands.  For whatever reason, actual indie rock died a horrible death, never to return.  Nowadays there's some kids from Australia or something called Yuck are trying to revitalize the style in a weird retro fashion, which I'm sure caused everyone over 35 to count gray hairs in the mirror.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer with the Sums

The Sums were a surf-rock band from Harrisonburg, VA.  Actually, I'll go on record saying that they were the BEST surf-rock band ever to come out of Harrisonburg, VA.  Mickey Walker played bass, Marshall Costan played lead guitar, Thomas Dean played rhythm guitar, Josh Lawson played drums, and... Travis Hunter on organ?  I forget.
See, here's the thing about bands in smaller towns - they're usually better.  If you're in a major metropolitan area like New York or Los Angeles or Austin, there are tons and tons of distractions.  In towns like Fargo or Harrisonburg, you practice.  You get better.  It's easy to tell from this CD that the Sums practiced a lot.

Sums Album Youtube Playlist
For some reason that I don't remember, Marshall was no longer in the band, so Thomas asked me to fill in.  I wasn't the only replacement - Mickey (who played on all of the recordings except for one or two of the songs) replaced Tommy Rogers (who also played Wurlitizer, organ, guitar, and bass on most of the recordings); and Travis replaced someone named Laney Devening. Thomas's dedication to the rock was such that he was willing to drive from Harrisonburg to Richmond to get me (a 3 hour drive), drive back to Harrisonburg to practice with the Sums (3 hour drive), dropped me off back in Richmond (3 hour drive), then drove back to Harrisonburg (3 hour drive).  Would you drive for 12 hours so that your band could play a show in someone's basement?  We played several shows, house parties, and I think even Mac Rock.  We never recorded, which is fine by me because I couldn't touch Marshall as a surf guitarist.  In fact, let me tell you a little story.  The Sums covered a song by Freshomatics - my old surf band.  Marshall was in the crowd as we did a rare reunion show.  I handed the guitar off to Marshall during a break in said song, and to my bandmates' amazement, this person they'd never seen before played lines I wrote better than I ever played them.
I don't really know what most of the Sums are up to nowadays.  Thomas and Josh are in a band called the Order .  Last I heard, Marshall was doing this kind of  Americana folk thing. Mickey moved to Philadelphia (?), Travis... I have no idea!