For years, I’ve been fretting over the ultimate fate of the many cassette tapes I have of music I’ve recorded either solo or with bands that are now defunct. In many cases, these fragile cassettes are the only recorded history of some interesting times in my life. I fear that if they should be destroyed or deteriorate beyond repair, my own memory will edit the truth and something will be lost.
So tonight, I finally started transfering them to digital. Eventually, my entire recorded musical history up to earlier this year will be on one fully-packed MP3 album that I will eventually make available for the price of postage to anyone who wants it. I want to shut the door on all the music I’ve made up to this year before I start writing new, and performing again.
Why? Because all the music I’ve written to date is either so old it feels like a cover song when I perform it, or the associations I have with the songs are ones I’d rather, well, disassociate myself with!
So tonight I started archiving, pretty much at random.
I heard the two song demo from 1986 I did with Roger and a couple of kids from Anaheim — we called ourselves DMA (Doesn’t Mean Anything) and we sounded like U2 with no timing. That was the first and only time I actually did my vocals in an honest to goodness vocal booth. I was getting over being sick and it gave my voice a higher register than I had thought possible at the time.
I heard the muffled, crowded demo I made with Loveless in the top floor studio of a Sushi resturant in San Clemente, California. (1991)
I heard the fuzzy four track demo I made with psychopathway in the ShutUp / Din studio, where I would practice with Loveless and live above, two years later. The tape the actual recording was made on was used so much, there’s bleed from previous takes on two of the tracks. Makes for a cheap delay effect…
I heard the overdriven six track cassette I did in 1994, “Hundred Seller.” Yeah, I really did sell all hundred. I hurt to hear the last track, where the late Kris Shine lays down a screaming feedback guitar solo… but it felt good to remember that session, which took place after hours at the strip-mall record store where I worked at the time. I miss Kris.
I heard my “lost album,” and I mean lost to me; I forgot I recorded it! “And So I Did” has eleven tracks, many I’ve never recorded elsewhere. Once I heard it, I remembered slaving over a four-track in the Loveless rehearsal space (formerly the Shut Up / Din studio), learning as I went. That was in 1991 too… busy year, full of music, women, and pain.
I heard — maybe for the first time since it happened — one of the few live performances of Ballast, a duo I was in with my friend Robert, in 1997. Full of fuckups, but it was a good time because we didn’t care…
Thank goodness for Cool Edit Pro’s Pitch adjustment feature — many of these old tapes weren’t recorded at quite the right speed, and a couple were four-track masters that were recorded at high speed for quality. Now everything’s in tune at last!
The whole thing’s got me a little blue… most of these projects started with such fever, such hope. So many of them were tarnished by drama, heartache, and betrayal, or at least entropy. That’s rock and roll, I reckon.
Once I get done with this extensive archiving project, and package it as an MP3 album, I’m thinking of doing a covers record… then I’ll start doing my own stuff — all new stuff — once again. It’ll probably be the middle of 2004 before my sorry ass gets up on stage.
Man… that thing with Roger was seventeen years ago. Did we ever think we’d be in our middle thirties one day?