Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Answer to the Ultimate Question: The Forty-Two (aka The 42)

Here is the unofficial "discography" for download: The 42 Discography

1-2 from the "What It's Like to Be a Musician" single
3 from the Live at WREK CD (from the same session as 4-12)
4-12 from the Live at WREK session (March 5, 1996)
Craig Lee Dempsey, Francis Karl Jensen and Jeffrey Bryan Fielden, collectively known as The Forty-Two formed sometime in 1995, dissolved sometime in late 1996 or early 1997. I have no idea where they got the name from, but I know once the band had formed, the number 42 came up everywhere in their lives, like it was some kind of universal calling for them. I knew Bryan and Craig from their Stockbridge days playing in Lowboy, but then Craig told me they started playing with this guy Frank who they knew from the Somber Reptile and he was really excited about it. Francis added a whole new dynamic to their music with his non-traditional drumming, singing and great in-between song banter, and really brought the three of them together as a true postpunk power trio.

They played the discordant, poly-rhythmic, atonal postpunk that was common during that era, but the personalities in the band really made them unique in the mid-90's Atlanta DIY scene. Craig Dempsey was originally a guitar player (he played guitar in Lowboy), so his bass style was very much like a second guitar, with plenty of chords and strumming involved and I think he played a short scale bass to play even more like a guitar. I knew Bryan initially as a guitarist during this time, but after the 42 broke up later in 1996 (or early 1997), Bryan started playing in San Augustin with the guys in Barrel and switched to drums. Francis was always a drummer, but he had the "playing drums right-handed but the hi-hat and ride are played with the left hand and snare with the right hand" approach, which led to some interesting rhythms. He also hit the kick drum and toms at really interesting times in the band, which gave them a kind of swing feeling. They played some good shows, mostly at the Driverdome, and had some great times, but eventually broke up and started new projects. Bryan started playing in San Augustin as I stated above, and they have been playing intermittently over the years with huge success in the minimalist rock world. I believe they still occasionally with play shows today. Actually, Craig and Bryan stayed together for a little bit in a mathy band called Aslund Constant with Lewis Lovely and Jon Archer, but supposedly they only have one song on a rare comp recorded. Craig went on after that to start At the Price of the Union, and then played in Thoroughbred and The Good Friday Experiment. He is still probably the most amazing and proficient guitarist from a traditional sense that I know, but I don't think he picked up the bass very much after this band. Francis started playing with Scott MC in Chapman Park (more on them later) soon after this band folded, and then moved to Chicago and started playing in The Tyrades with an old high school friend of mine. He has been in several bands up in Chicago since then, but I haven't been able to see them yet.

Here is the artwork from their only 7", and some live photos taken by Andy Stivers at the Driverdome:

Andy started smearing vaseline on the lens for these shots:

Here is a special message from Scott MC on the importance of travelling:


  1. Man, even after lurking for a copy of this single for ten years, I've yet to find it. Thanks for posting it.

  2. nothing screams mid-90s atlanta like kinko's resume card stock 7" covers. mmm mmm good.

    james call joe, we are compiling the inkwell cd and he was wondering if you have any bonus goodies. trying to track down all the live versions of our unreleased songs from various videos.

    thanks dood.

    i almost thought i'd see you at the melvins show the other night, but i forgot you are a pop.

    is it just me or is big business not as good as a 3piece? i mean now they are just another rock band. still a rockin good show though.

  3. I wish I had the original demo - you guys should have that one. I have videos of your last show with Josh at the Somber and your last show at the Driverdome, but that one is incomplete. Jon Lukens has been posting some of these on You Tube, but do you also want to transfer these to audio as well?

    Since Jared joined Melvins, I almost look at them as a Karp/Melvins hybrid. Big Business to me is not as creative or interesting as Karp was, and they do seem better as a bass/drums duo, otherwise things get too muddy and confusing with their style of rock.

  4. The DU show was a lot of fun, but good christ, I love seeing Melvins at the 40 Watt every damned time. You didn't hear it from me, but I think their new album Stone Temple Pilots.

  5. Funny - I haven't heard the new album yet, but I really loved the last one. Honestly, the Melvins are legends and everything, but given a choice between the current incarnation of the Melvins (not the entire Melvins history), Big Business, or Karp, I would probably have to go with Karp. It's probably because they've been gone so long, but I do have a soft spot for them. Also, I agree about seeing them at the 40 Watt. Atlanta either has huge halls/caves for the mega draws (i.e. Variety, Center Stage), or small more locally geared venues (i.e. EARL or DU). When you have a band that is in between these two levels, there is no good solution. 40 Watt is perfect for that. Masquerade had that designation for Atlanta in the past, but thank christ they haven't booked any bands I have wanted to see in years. I think literally the last 5 shows I've been to there going backwards were X (twice), Rollins' Rise Above show, RFTC and Seam. And they all sounded like shite.

  6. melvins is always fun at the 40watt i agree. too bad its always packed with fucking people from atlanta, though...

    now if you can just get fucking oxbow to play here, i will be a happy camper. hop to it, chunks, i'll make the flyers/posters...haha.

  7. i agree with you phil, i liked big business better live as a duo; and sorry i didn't see you there. i was there with my teenage son, i wanted to educate him on some good shit.

    the DU show was awesome, it was good enough to make me not harken back to the whirley ball show, which was an inspiration to me. not many bands have inspired me live over the course of 18 years, melvins definately have. i saw them first at masquerade in 1990 with OCB opening. i only wish my melvins vampire face t-shirt was still wearable,,, i wore that one out.

    james, don't forget we saw celtic frost at masquerade in 2006. same weekend as melvins at whirly ball... i think that was the weekend i decided that i wanted to be in a band again.

    henry, i agree... it's definately some straight up rock on the melvins but i really dig it. it comes off alot heavier live. not sure whether the STP comparison is good or bad,,, i used to hate that band but after years and years i actually listened to their (later)songs when they came on the radio.

    steve wishart and i got free tix for STP when jawbox was opening (steve knew kim c.). we were at Lakewood and in like the 10th row. we left after STP's first song and gave our stubs to some folks in the lawn so they could move up... they were pretty stoked.

  8. Love the new headline photo on the main page! I wish I documented those days better!

  9. Classic Driverdome lineup. Actually, it was from the hal al Shedad show on 8/21/96, so I know most of the people in the audience (L to R) Steven Cummings, Bryan Fielden, I can't remember her name, Francis Jensen, I don't know that dude, Scott Sloan, Shana Wood, Matt Mauldin (face only), and Josh Bohannon (cut-off). As usual in DIY music, you play for your friends. I think a lot of people forget this and get an inflated image of themselves. With very few exceptions, you mostly play for your friends. It only takes a trip out of town to reinforce that.

  10. yeah, i loved this last post, as well as the new picture. hadnt seen some of those faces in a long time! im sure i was upstairs playing the atari that was hooked up. e.t. was a bitch of a game.

    sad to have missed the du melvins show. was out of town. i would've loved to rock with your son matt!!

    cheers james for the great blog!

  11. I have some more Driverdome and other crowd shots, but I wish I had more. If anyone out there has crowd snapshots from this era (I-Defy, Driverdome, Godless Red Athens/Atlanta, BLTs, etc.), please send them my way.

  12. i remember sitting outside at the DD around this time with saucemaster and him saying that "this is our last song" were the five most beautiful words in the english language.

    also, will, was the "not punk enough for beth johnston" show your idea? that was a great one. i think that flyer was on earler post.

  13. The 7" was also a concurrent release that also released The kossabone reds LP and Rinse 7"
    I bought this 7" before listening to this band. I lolled what I had heard. I didn't think they had something to do with At the price of the union but then again they are all from Atlanta