Thursday, March 27, 2008
Infinite Potential - Freemasonry
(Insert cover for the Freemasonry/Scout Split LP)
Download the stuff here: Split LP with Scout
Freemasonry in my opinion was the best band that ever existed in Atlanta. I will just put it on the table right there. They took the power of a John Reis band (e.g. Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu), and combined it with the melodic elements of post-punk bands like Jawbox to make such an amazing mix of power and melody. This was a combination you got sometimes in bands like Naked Raygun, for example, but in this case sounded completely different. Sarge, the singer/guitarist had a great voice that was powerful, melodic and completely original. The dude was also one of the funniest guys I have ever met. I remember going to see them play a show in Andy Stivers’ basement, and he told me that "anything was okay in moderation" – yeah thanks for the tip Sarge. Bruce, the second guitarist, had a guitar sound that was unbelievable – especially when matched with Sarge’s guitar. Kip’s drumming might not be the most versatile out there, but it was solid and 100% Freemasonry, and was perfect for the music they played. Even later, when I played with him in Chocolate Kiss, I would hear Freemasonry whenever he played the drums. Not Fiddlehead, or Galanas Cerdd, but always Freemasonry. Also, all of the printing on the Freemasonry records were in his handwriting, so I always had him make our Chocolate Kiss set lists just to remind me of them. Lastly, Marcus was a great bassman, adding all these extra little flourishes and melodies into the guitar layers, and one of the nicest guys I ever met. I have included in this posting the songs from the split 12” with Scout, which was their 3rd and half of their 2nd demo tapes. Also included is the non-LP instrumental “Acacia”, and the last half of their Live at WREK show. If anyone has a good copy of the entire Live at WREK show (Kip?), please get in touch.
(Lyric Sheet for the Freemasonry/Scout Split LP)
The first time I saw Freemasonry was when Car Vs. Driver played with them in the fall of 1993 at the Liquid Bean. They were only a 3-piece at that time (Bruce hadn’t joined the band), but already they were amazing. Chad Wiener and I thought it was awesome that the drummer was named Kip. We kept on asking if his name was Kip Winger, and I think he got really pissed at us. Sorry Kip, we were in high school. We played with them a few more times, but things really kicked in when they added Bruce Bohannon from Fiddlehead on second guitar. That guy can play guitar like nobody’s business, and somehow had the best sound in Atlanta. I have played his guitar since then and could not get anything near his sound, it is true that so much of what makes a musician sound the way he does is not so much his or her equipment but how they play the instrument, and that dude could play. This addition improved the band’s sonic depth and composition exponentially. They were now able to add more power to the songs as well as an additional melodic element that was missing in the 3-piece lineup. For example, when they used to play “Freemissionary Style” as a 3-piece, Sarge would play harmonics on the guitar while singing the chorus, and it was very difficult to tell what was going on in that part. However, once Bruce joined he added a thick guitar melody which perfectly complemented Sarge’s vocal on the part. I don’t know why they didn’t put that song on their Sky LP, it was one of my favorites, how can you beat that opening line: SO YOU DON’T WANT ME ANYMORE - YEAH SO WHAT! They released the Pool Hall demo tape (Kip – I need a copy), and the Sensible demo tape as a 3-piece. Both “Everyday” and “Easy” are from the Sensible demo, so although they were great in that lineup, you can see what Bruce contributes to the sound. Once the 3rd demo was released, with Bruce on guitar, we knew something on a level much higher than any of us was taking place. When Car Vs. Driver was approached by Sky records to do an album, we played for them the 3rd Freemasonry demo tape and told them that this is the band they should sign, and they promptly went ahead and did it. I will post the Sky record soon, but I wanted to post all of my non-Sparrin’ with the Varmit tracks on this post as the golden years of Freemasonry.
I can’t explain in words how much I loved this band. The music is hard for me to listen to these days, because in my mind they could have been one of the biggest post-punk bands of the 90’s, easily on par with any of the Touch and Go, etc. bands of the time. And they were gone so fast, with such tragic consequences, which makes me miss them even more. As for Marcus, I don’t know if I believe in any kind of afterlife, but I hope he is at peace and wish more than anything that he was still here playing bass for us. I would love to hear “Everyday” or “Sensible”, or any of their songs played again.
(Acacia 7" cover - notice Kip's handwriting in all Freemasonry texts)