Thursday, March 22, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
YOU DON’T BELONG HERE
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
A one time collaboration between John Huston (Smirnoffs, Citrus Boy, Delirium, etc) and Jake Allee (Gristle, Threeskin, Mantapus, etc). I'm not sure how this came about, actually. As I've said earlier, I didn't really know John back in the 90s (I don't know him now, either) and Jake didn't talk about this. I remember asking Jake about it when I found out about it, but I'm sure I was confrontational and Jake didn't say much about it. I didn't actually hear this until just a few years ago and was surprised by how much I liked it.
This is anything-goes, unhinged guitar and drums rock-n-roll from the very early stages of these two below-underground music visionaries of southeastern Iowa. The found-sound snippets pasted in between the recordings is a bit distracting, but then again it does accentuate the excited, pioneering, anything-could-happen DIY spirit evoked by so-much pre-digital, pre-internet social media, home recording of the late 80's to early 90's. Kurt Cobain and flippers's influence on the young John Huston's guitar and vocals is prevalent, but that's not a bad thing. The leads are already intriguing. Jake's balls-to-the-wall drumming style is full of ideas and potential here. This was recorded during the peak Gristle era, and much of the drumming belies Jake's interest in George Hurley finesse (fIREHOSE, minutemen), and other distinctive drumming Jake was interested in at the time (Tar Babies, Stooges, Dinosaur Jr., Primus, Melvins, etc...). Check out the cover graphics, done in the classic, cheapo photocopied Pirate Alley style with the graph paper background, and mysterious driver's license photo. This is 4-track rock-n-roll fun for a one-time listen for most underground music fans, and repeated listens for me. Jake went on to become a masterful potter and teacher. John is an award-winning journalist and inspiring union dude, both still play music.
Friday, February 27, 2009
(this above image has nothing to do with the band)
I always consider myself lucky to have "learned" how to play bass the way I did. I use the word "learned" loosely, as what little formal training I had didn't stay with me. I bought my first bass guitar in either 1991 or 1992. I can't remember exactly which year now, but I think I was a sophmore in High School. Either way, it was a late start for learning an instrument. Certainly, if I wanted to be any good at playing an instrument I would need a lot of practice and/or determination. I had neither. I've never considered myself to be a musician, but more of a fan of music who wanted to be involved in music. Becoming a fluent player has never entered my mind, not once.
After buying my bass (a Fender Jazz model 4 string, black with white pick guard) I decided I should take lessons. I started taking lessons from Chris Hunter at Richardson's Music Center. Each session $15 for 30 minutes. Chris tried to teach me scales, arpeggios, common chord progressions, etc but I never practiced them after I left my lessons. I listened to 90% heavy metal, 10% punk rock, had zero interest in classic rock music and couldn't see how any of the shit Chris was teaching me would apply to the kind of music I wanted to play (I can see it now). Eventually Chris asked me why I was paying for lessons when I wasn't putting any effort into learning anything, so I just started bringing in tapes and asking him to teach me how to play songs I liked until I eventually gave up on taking lessons all together. So much for that idea...
I had known Mike Hoff since my freshman year, but it wasn't until Jake Allee moved here from Cedar Rapids that we started playing music together. Jake was a skinny, mouthy, punk kid who's "fuck what you think" attitude got him beat up more than a couple of times at school. This dude fucking LOVED Primus, like they were the only band he ever talked about, and that's all I can remember my first impression of him. Mike introduced me to Jake and we got along okay (I think?), and shortly after we decided to start playing together.
My real musical training began when I started playing with Mike and Jake. At that time, all three of us sucked about the same. None of us had any experience and together we learned to play as a group. There was no shame in not being able to play your instrument because none of us could, really. This enviroment was completely nuturing and we all made progress, some progressed faster than others. It didn't take Jake long to emerge as the best musician of the group, but he put in the hours of practice to do so. Me....? Not so much. I did okay, that's all I wanted.
I don't think SPIEL BOX ever wrote any songs. When we got together, one of us would start playing something and the others would join in and we'd jam on it for a few minutes before running out of steam and moving on to another jam. There wasn't a whole lot of fancy fingerwork done on my part, but it was here that I learned how to play along with a drummer, how to stay on time and how to anticipate chord changes. The recordings we did were done during these jam sessions and, for the most part, these songs were only played once. There were a couple of songs I had lyrics written for in advance because I had to record something for a science project at school (yup, songs about cytoplasm and paramecium... good shit!), but the music was all written on the day of recording. Before SPIEL BOX stopped playing and we went our seperate ways we had a full tape of stuff recorded, but copies were never made and it remains unreleased to this day.
The 4 songs on this recording were done right before we split up. Recorded on a hand held tape recorder in Mike's basement, they sound suprizingly good. There are two cover versions of URINAL's "Ack, Ack, Ack!" (one slow, one fast), an improvised jam with lyrics loosely based on "Ack, Ack, Ack!" and a jam that eventually evolved into a UNISEX song, "I Like Breakfast". I can't remember why we stopped playing with Jake, but soon after this Mike and I formed UNISEX with Brian and Spence.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Continuing on with his retarded improvised casio-core, Jeff recorded this tape in 1994 to get into the Christmas spirit by singing this tape "with a really bad cold". You can hear his head clogged with mucus on these 9 tracks. Completely devoid of self-censorship and shame, it sounds as if Jeff is reading from a book as he sings these while giving the "demo" button on his Casio a workout. Everything done in one take, I'm sure. "Deck the Halls" is the stand-out track here - pure cheese!
Yep, this sucks, but so do most Christmas albums.
Hope everyone has a happy holiday. Please leave a comment after listening.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I started recording a second tape soon after, but gave up on it after UNISEX formed. One of the tracks from this aborted second tape, an early version of "The Gardener's Anthem", was released as a bonus track on the UNISEX reissue. Some of these songs would re-appear in bands I was later in;"Hot Chocolate" was recorded by UNISEX and THREESKIN, "At War With the Smiths" by THREESKIN, "Safe Sex" by CAPTAIN THREE LEG. You'll also notice an early pre-occupation with Bob Beisch, something later elaborated on with THREESKIN.
Monday, October 13, 2008
While I don't consider this to be John's best work, it's an important stage in his evolution as an artist. Hopefully he's not too mad at me for posting this tape.
Well before CITRUS BOY, John was recording tapes and releasing them under the name JOHN HUSTON & HIS IMAGINARY BAND. To this day I've only heard his first tape, "Da GL Song", and I consider it to be pretty unlistenable. I'm sure John would agree. It was John's goal all along to form a grunge band, but that didn't come until 1994 when he formed DELERIUM.
I remember seeing DELERIUM stickers all over town on people's cars and wondering who the fuck they were. The band was so short lived that I didn't even hear about them until they had broken up. They were together for three live shows and this recording, that was it. With the help of left-handed drummer Paige Clause and "chord-progression-challenged" bassist Sam Long, DELERIUM recorded this lone demo tape in the spring of 1994.
While making the jump from boombox to 4 trax , the sound on this is pretty terrible, even for my tastes. I get the impression John was constantly writing and recording music and didn't spend too much time on something before moving on to the next. All of the songs on side one are originals, side two made up entirely of cover songs. The originals sound pretty good in comparison to the covers, but overall the whole tape is a fun mess.
Shortly after DELERIUM's break up, John and Sam formed The SMIRNOFFS with Matt Sims and Mark Langgin, a punk band who's botched recording session lead to the formation of CITRUS BOY.