Here they are:
Freemasonry Sparrin' With The Varmit Album
Freemasonry Live at WREK May 5, 1994
Freemasonry Fall 1993 Demo
Freemasonry Pool Hall Demo
So let’s talk about Sparrin’ With The Varmit, because it is a landmark album for DIY bands from Atlanta in the 1990’s, for several reasons. For one, this was the “breakthrough” album for our scene. They were the only ones of our circle of bands that got a true record deal, recorded at a real studio, and released and album on multiple formats. That being said, the album itself had some major flaws that I’m sure the band acknowledges, but probably hindered its success at the time of release. One is that the album title is possibly the worst title in the history of Atlanta bands (although “Out of a Silent Sky” is a close second). Second, the album art is really cool, but the “Sparrin’ With The Varmit” printing on the jar looks ridiculous. I remember Kip saying the same thing to me once, agreeing with this statement. The recording is very professional, however seemed to be mixed poorly. Sarge’s vocals are really weak compared with other Freemasonry recordings. I wonder if he was having voice problems at the time, or if the engineer/producer didn't know how to place his voice in the mix. Also, Sarge’s guitar is more buried in the mix while Bruce’s is more dominant. I think this was a mistake, as Bruce is really a master of texture and complementing Sarge’s riffs, but Sarge is really the guy who leads the melodic element of the band, so his guitar should have been more prominent. Another criticism is that the recording is actually too clean for Freemasonry. They need some grit and dirtiness in the mix to give it the crunch it needs, especially in songs like “Everyday” when Sarge and Bruce start chugging together. It sounds amazing on the Live At Wrek session, but almost muted on the Varmit LP. Marcus and Kip are in top form, however, so no complaints there. I think Kip (I believe it was him) captured the feeling of the album and band very well here:
“thnx for posting these. the label went bankrupt and destroyed all remaining copies of sparrin with the varmint. members went on to Haricot Vert, Chocolate Kiss, Copa Vance (all on Moodswing Records) and presently The Forever War. three fourths of Freemasonry experienced serious bouts with drug use: one is dead, one is unaccounted for and the last fled to isolation far from atlanta.
most would be surprised to know that those songs were born of it consistently heavy drug cocktails at practice and during shows.
and sparrin with the varmint is a pretty poor representation of the band vs other unreleased recordings. it presents a pretty sterile and inconsistent album. you are your worst critic.”
My last criticism is something that I had at the time of its release, but now am glad they did it this way. The album is over 50 minutes long, which is way too much Freemasonry to take in one sitting. It’s like listening to a Rocket From the Crypt album that is 50 minutes long – it just is not a good idea. These types of bands need to come in, blow your head off, and leave before you even know what is going on. Sparrin’ with the Varmit is epic, and like it or not is a milestone in Atlanta post punk, and I am glad now that they released such a long album. There is more Freemasonry out there to listen to due to this album, and it plays as kind of a greatest hits collection for the band, along with some new jams thrown in. I really like “Kitty Come Home”, which was my favorite of their post-Lunchbox songs. It was great that they included older songs like “Everyday”, “Einahpets” and “Mrs. Ecoli” from the Fall 1993 demo, but I wasn’t too into the new vocals by Sarge on “Everyday”. It kind of took away the power of those 3 lines in the middle of the song “Every little thing, you’ve given, every little thing you’ve taken, take a little look inside and see what’s changing”. That was just so amazing when they would play that song, which was essentially an instrumental, and then hit you with those lines in the middle – it was one of the most powerful moments in music that I have ever experienced, no joke. I also wish they had included “Freemissionary Style” as that was probably one of their best songs, and definitely the best song that was not included on the album, but you can’t have everything.
All criticism of their last release aside, the band was amazing and I am very happy to have this music around to listen to every once in awhile. So many monumental bands never even go into a studio, and I’m glad that Freemasonry didn’t take that route. Now if I could just get some video footage.