Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Start the Atlanta Band Genome

Here is the Atlanta band genome in all its third draft glory, fully exploded in every direction to illustrate how all these bands are interconnected through their members, as we are well aware that no musician can be in just one band. The bands highlighted in yellow were ones that yours truly played in.

Please let me know what additions and corrections you might have, and I'll do my best to update the document. The only requirement for inclusion is that the band in question must have played at least one live show.

January 20 Update - Dr. Kinje has officially linked Noot d' Noot to John Coltrane in 5 steps, so I'm not sure how more absurd it can get. Of course I had to update the document to add that bit. The list keeps growing, so keep adding comments.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bastards Wasting Their Lives - The Midget Farmers Complete Studio Recordings 1992-1994

You wanted the best - you got the best. Here are the entire studio recordings of the Midget Farmers. 33 songs in total!

Here are all the songs for download, in both MP3 and M4A format:

Midget Farmers Complete Recordings

1992 - The first 7" - Happy As A Bastard On Father's Day

1. Rabies
2. Song 33
3. Wet Dreams
4. Mr. Alternative

Man, I should have quit when I was ahead. Could any first recorded output have been better? Ok maybe, but it really seemed to hit the mark when we were in 11th grade. It got a good review in Maximum Rock n Roll, even had a picture! It was a big-hole 33, so when we put it in Michelle Ward's jukebox, it played super fast. Cover art by Ian Maisel, who became kind of the Raymond Pettibon of the Midget Farmers. I got the title from a comic book called Marshall Law, which was similar to Judge Dredd. I have named actually quite a bit of the records that I have played on, I guess it was a talent. This was Mental Fist #2, right after the Bloodspoon 7". More on Bloodspoon later.

Here is a better image of the photo on the back cover of the 7":

Jason Albert (our first bassman) is on the bike above my head. We played a skatepark in Greenville, SC where Jason moved sometime in high school. Eric really enjoyed playing on the deck of the mini ramp. Only Miles Peterken watched us (and took the picture). Everyone else listened in the parking lot, because they didn't want to pay to see us.

1993 - The full length TAPE - America's Place to Waste Your Life

(click on any image to check out the gory details)

1. Itchy Little Finger
2. My Les Paul
3. Soylent Green
4. Black Girl
5. A-Team Theme
6. Light Up
7. James #1
8. Fall of the Memphis
9. My Friend Bob
10. Sonic Youth Song
11. Big Circles
12. My Life in 20 Seconds

The executives at Mental Fist Records (i.e. Matt Mauldin and Jeff J. Jawk) wanted us to do an LP, but we decided on a tape instead. It was hard enough getting people to buy the 7", even back in 1992 people didn't really understand it. Tapes were what high school kids listened to. The title comes from Waffle House's motto: America's Place to Eat, America's Place to Work. At the time, all of the high school kids were really into spending huge amount of time at the Waffle House, mainly drinking coffee. I'm sure this has transitioned to the Strarbucks by now. We had a general disgust for these people, and pretty much anyone in general, so the America's Place to Waste Your Life was an ode to this practice. Anyhow, My Les Paul is actually written by Danny Bloodspoon, who used to play shows with us without ever practicing or learning the songs. He was actually not too bad at it either, since he could just watch Chad and follow along without missing a beat. This is the debut of the A-Team Theme, which I believe came out pretty well (especially the samples). On My Life in 20 Seconds, you can hear Jeff J. Jawk screaming for Money and Pussy, which was another early song of ours, but never made it onto a proper release. We actually recorded it in the garage of a guy named Ross Mann, and sent it to Creative Loafing to be on their music menu. You could call up a hotline and hear the song over the telephone to hear what MF sounded like. I think we were the first band to submit a song, so our number was something like 1111 on the hotline. Light Up is about Ross Mann, but also a homage to Stand Up by Minor Threat from the Flex Your Head compilation. The Fall of the Memphis was about this Memphis guitar that we stole from Jim Huffman's brother, and Chad played it for a song at the Wreck Room on the outside stage that was a beach, and threw the guitar into the crowd and into the beach sand. The guitar was completely destroyed, but it was a fun show. Of course we still had the 2-bass lineup at that point, if you look at the band drawings by Ian Maisel, and it was recorded at the same studio as the first 7" by Jim Ebersole somewhere in the Dunwoody area off Peachtree Industrial.

1994 - Weblo 7" and Bonus Tracks

I don't know how I got #164 of this 7", as I was the drummer. Anyhow, these last songs were recorded at Sleepless Nights studio on Candler Road across the street from Full Moon Records. Issa Diao was the engineer, and I remember having a good time on these recordings. I played them pretty well, and they didn't sound as bad as some other stuff coming out of that studio at the time. I still have a few boxes of these 7"s if someone wants a copy. Ian Maisel was the cover model for the 7", and he does all of the drawings on the inside and back panels. By this time we were a 3-piece, and Eric did most of the singing (Chad sings Get Off My Jock, of course). We were officially a college band at that point, and I think it was a difficult adjustment to make. There is a distinct difference between a high school band and a college band, and I think we were a great high school band, but a really bizarre college band. By the end of my sophomore year, I needed a change and we decided to end the band after a short tour of the east coast. I will tell more about that later.

Here are the songs from the 7"

1. Think About
2. What It's Like to be Me
3. Lame World

Also, here are some extra songs we recorded at the same time, but were never released:

1. Coffeine
2. Get Off My Jock
3. El Camino Real
4. Dull

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Car Vs. Driver - 2007

Steve Wishart was in Atlanta last weeked so the local members of Car Vs. Driver (and Gavin) had some tacos and reminisced over old times. Jon Rothman was not in attendance, as he is either killed in action in the Middle East, or lurking around Seattle. You decide.

"What is the most beautiful five words in the English language? This Is Our Last Song" Saucemaster 1994.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My God Has Called Me Here: Midget Farmers 1989 - 1995 (Years of Da Funk)

And So It Begins...
Back in 1989 or 1990, Jason Albert, Miles Peterken and Chad Wiener were building some dirt jumps for their BMX bikes in an empty lot at the back entrance of the Horseshoe Bend (a neighborhood in the Roswell suburb of Atlanta). The shovel, hoes, etc. they were using to build the jumps were broken in half along the shaft, so they had to bend over and squat on the ground to shovel the dirt and make the jumps and whatnot. After some time, Landon Holt walked up on Miles, Chad, and Jason digging with the crappy tools and said,"Hey guys! Did you steal those from some midget farmers?" You have to picture it at Landon volume and with spit flying out of his mouth and foam forming at the corners. Anyhow, Jason Albert had just started playing bass, and he was playing with his friend Chad Wiener, who had just started playing guitar (no drummer yet). At their next “practice”, Jason had an idea for the name of their new band, which was “Midget Farmers”. This fit in perfectly with one of their favorite bands at the time and certainly an inspiration - The Dead Milkmen.
The Midget Farmers started out with just Chad Wiener (guitar) and Jason Albert (bass).

Our fearless leader, Chad Wiener (with Jason Griset of the Go Steadys).

Jason Albert, our first bass player and primary MC.

Then they got Mike (Matt) Eckert to play drums, although he didn't have a drumset, so he just played a snare drum and hit his drum case to make the bass drum sound. Eventually he got a full drumset, and made a Midget Farmer logo on the front head in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles design with markers. A little after that time, I joined the band as a lead vocalist. I have a practice tape from that time which is completely hilarious, but I can't seem to find it at the moment. In around 1991, Jason Albert moved to Greenville, SC so we got Brian Lysne to replace him on bass. We played a high school talent show around that time and Eric Fickes really wanted to play, so he joined as a second bass player and I also switched to drums as Mike was becoming unreliable and not into the general craziness we were throwing down.

Eric Fickes on Bass - Check out the FAG sticker on the fretboard.

This is when we recorded the "Happy As A Bastard On Father's Day" 7" (we were in 11th grade) and "America's Place To Waste Your Life" tape (we were in 12th grade), as well as taking the band photo seen above. By the way, this picture was taken at the old Roswell High School after it had closed down and become abandoned. We snuck in there one night with candles and flashlights and found the "My God Has Called Me Here" graffiti in one of the inner rooms. Later that night we went to Krispy Kreme, as was our weekend ritual. These would be considered the "Salad Days" of the Midget Farmers, but soon Brian left to play primarily in the Go Steadys as well as his rockabilly band The Swingtips with Jeff Arnold, and Eric started taking over lead vocal duties for most of the songs. That was the final phase of the band, as a power trio with Chad Wiener on Guitar, Eric Fickes on Bass and myself on Drums. We recorded the "Weblo" 7" soon after starting college and floundered for a while before eventually breaking up. At the time, I was playing in the Go Steadys as well as Car Vs. Driver, and I was driving from Athens to Atlanta every weekend (and sometimes during the week) to practice in three bands as well as play whatever shows that were booked. Burnout was inevitable, and as Car Vs. Driver broke up with Jon Rothman moving to Montana, I left all the other bands and joined up with the hal al Shedad exclusively.

People would always ask us if Midget Farmers was in reference to farmers who were midgets, or people who farmed midgets. I guess based on the story above the intention was to be farmers who were midgets. At least it was an interesting name, and not the worst name for a band that started in high school that I’ve ever heard.

Now here’s the story of our first show. It might actually have not been our first show, but it was definitely one of the first. We played a party at Maya Geebis’ house (I can’t really remember how to spell her name), which was basically her and her girlfriends – who incidentally later became our girlfriends. Chad Wiener was the only one who was sixteen, and he drove his family van at the time, but it still took 2 or 3 trips to get all the equipment over to Maya’s house. These girls had first discovered the first Fugazi EP, so they played it constantly at the party. Actually, they just played the song “Waiting Room” over and over. They loved the hell out of that song. Once the song would end, they would immediately rewind the tape and listen to it again (and again, and again). I remember them sitting in a circle singing the song all together while we set up "I don't want the news!!! etc.". It was hard to turn off the damn tape so we could play some of our own songs. After we would play for a little while, they would start the tape up again, right on that bass line – da da dum da da di da dum … repeat. When you think about it, all it took was a tape of a Fugazi song to upstage us at that time. This went down in history as the "never-ending Waiting Room" show.

Here’s another early show story. We played at Jen Erts’ basement down the street in my neighborhood. I think Chad was dating Jen at the time, and her older brother was friends with a band who would also play basement shows. At that time it was the guys in their band watching us play, and us watching their band play, as most shows were back then. The were basically a funk metal band, which was like so many bands of that time, but they played a great cover of one of the Waffle House songs you can find on their jukeboxes. They might have played a few Waffle House songs. Of course it happened to be their best song. For most of the bands at that level, the cover song was their best song. Coincidentally, Midget Farmers did a mean version of the A-Team theme, which might have been our best song and what people remember us for.

I will have plenty of more stories and pictures/flyers to post, but until then here are some recordings to tide you over:

Here is our Live at WREK session on December 20, 1994 - our last recorded output. There are some of our last songs on here that were never properly recorded in a studio, so it's a nice document of the late-era MF sound. As you can tell, it also coincided with late-era Car Vs. Driver sound, or at least the drums. Jason Albert (our first bass player) does the introduction to the band. Also dig Eric's random shout outs to everyone and anyone listening at any time.

Here is the recording in MP3 format as well as M4A format for you ITunes losers:
Midget Farmers Live at WREK December 20, 1994

Here is a classic recording of the Midget Farmers practicing in my basement around 1992. This is the 2-bass player lineup with myself on drums. It is interesting how different practice was back then, especially our in-between song noise. Extra bonus is a Chad Wiener solo demo of "What It's Like to Be Me" later appearing on the Weblo 7". Chad was the primary music and lyric writer for the Midget Farmers. He would record the song playing guitar and signing in his bedroom on a little tape recorder, and then give me the song to write a drum part and Eric to learn the lyrics/write bass parts. I'm glad I still have an example of these demos from Chad. The practice has some choice cuts, such as Grey (with one of my favorite ending lyrics of all time "everybody carries a knife"), Shortcut to George's (the first song Midget Farmers ever wrote), and I Wanna Rock n' Roll (an early MF favorite).

Here is the recording in MP3 format and in M4A format for you Itunes nerds:

Midget Farmers Practice 1992

Stay tuned for the Midget Farmer complete studio sessions!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sonn Av Krusher - Fall 2007

Sonn Av Krusher is one of the bands I play in at the moment - it is definitely the one that practices the most, but that isn't saying much. I play drums, Gray Kiser (Regicide/Hands of an Angry God/Pink Panties/XLinedriveX) plays guitar, and Matt Mauldin (Car Vs. Driver, Chocolate Kiss, Veinocity, Bloodspoon, Joyce) sings and plays some theremin. We started about a year ago and have played a grand total of two shows thus far. To be fair, we have 5.5 children between the three of us, so this band is not going to be the most prolific endeavor.

I was excited to play with Gray Kiser again because he brought such good ideas to the table when I played with him in Regicide (Lift the Ban, Regicide - The Hammer of Hate, Battle of the Hair Capes, etc.), and I like his lyric writing process. Basically we start each song with a theme, usually inspired by the sound and feel of the song, and then develop lyrics from there. Normally both Gray and Matt collaborate on the lyrics and themes, and the song titles are developed as a group.

The band originally did not have a singer - we had this idea to switch vocalists between every song, so then the idea was that at least these people would be suckered into coming out to the show, and it would also give each song its own flavor. It also can make the band schizophrenic. Once the idea had some time to settle in, it was a little unfeasible to have 6+ singers just hanging around, so when Matt Mauldin came to sing On The Backs of the Blitzkrieg (our first song), he just kept showing up for practice. At this point in our musical lives, if a person can show up for practice, they can pretty much be in the band.

Here are some photos from our first show at Lenny's (flyer above):

We recorded five songs at the Living Room with Ed Rawls and Justin McNeight back in July 2007. Here is the link to download the MP3's:

Sonn Av Krusher 2007 Demo Tape

The Track Listing of the Sonn Av Krusher 2007 Demo LP:

1. High Holy Days
2. Snake Mountain Death Ride
3. On the Backs of the Blitzkrieg
4. I Left My Heart in San Francisco Bay
5. The Widower

Friday, September 21, 2007

Time to post some pictures

Here is the hal al Shedad in Sweden, Summer 1997. We took some professional shots for a magazine, and they had us do some strange poses. Anyhow, they looked pretty cool.

Here is the hal al Shedad playing a fest in Philadelphia, sometime early in 1998 I believe. I was using the drums from the Red Scare, as I flew up to the show using the Air Tran X fare.
Hal al Shedad in Columbus, Ohio in 1998. We played a living room, but I can't remember very much else about the show. I believe we played with a local band called Union Blue, but I'm not positive on that one.

The shot above and below are from a Food Not Bombs benefit at MJQ early in 1998.

The shot below was a band promo photo for Chocolate Kiss, taken around 1999. We all had glasses except for Matt (on right), so we decided to switch things around and he's wearing my glasses in the picture.

This shot was Chocolate Kiss in Denver, CO in July of 2001. If Bob was really having fun playing, he would take his clothes off. That was just the type of guy you were dealing with.

Here I am playing drums in the Good Friday Experiment practice space, around 2002.

Last but definitely not least, here are some pictures of the Midget Farmers playing in Huntsville, AL in 1993. I still have that green and black striped Gap shirt from Jenn Erts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some Preliminary Information Before We Get Down To Business

So I have been playing in bands for over 15 years, and have played with many amazing individuals and musicians. Over the years I have been contacted by past bandmates and random friends to locate some old recording, picture, flyer, etc. from the past. This is partly due to the fact that I keep almost everything associated with the band and have fortunately lead a somewhat stable life. One of the main tasks in starting this blog was to create a "band family tree", where relatioships between all the musicians I have played with and bands I have been a part of could be easily displayed. Attached is the fruits of my labor (please click on the family tree image to see the fruits of my labor). All of my posts on this blog will be related to one of these bands somehow - it looks like I have my work cut out for me.