Monday, March 16, 2009

100th Post! Freemasonry Live Recordings and Rejection Letters

Here are the live recordings for download:

Freemasonry Live at WREK 1995-05

Freemasonry Live on WRAS 1995-03-18

Freemasonry Live on WSBF 1994

Freemasonry Live 1994-02-12

Of course, you can download everything by Freemasonry here.

I would like to thank Kip Thomas, of course, for all the great Freemasonry tapes he loaned me from his collection. As you might know, they were my favorite of our "friend bands" during the mid 1990's, and thankfully they actually turned on a tape recorder and put down some of this music for us to enjoy later on. The first show posted is from their last Live at WREK session, and includes two songs that were never otherwise recorded or released. One was called "OK to Forget", as announced by Sarge, but the other one is a mystery. It is funny that they were in a different style from the Sparring with the Varmit stuff, with Bruce also singing dual vocals with Sarge. For a minute, I didn't even know it was Freemasonry when I listened to the tape. Soon after this recording, Sarge was out to be replaced by Rick Moore and they continued as Galanas:Cerdd, but more on them later.

The Live on WRAS (Album 88) recording is also good late-period Freemasonry from the Georgia Music Show. Kip told me that in his opinion this was the best time they recorded on the air. Too bad the set was so short! I remember back then on Album 88, they used to have you play a song or two, and then do some interviewing, which was completely awkward, and then go back to playing some songs. The Live on WSBF in Clemson recording is not so good in quality, but my favorite era of Freemasonry to have a recording, so I had to include it. Lastly, the live show recording from February 12, 1994 is very early, but does include Bruce on second guitar. It must of been one of their first appearances with him. They actually play "Poolhall" from the first demo, which is a nice surprise. Can anyone tell me where this show took place?

And now on to the rejection letters. These were saved in Kip's files, and included postcards and letters from various labels that received copies of the Pool Hall demo tape in 1993.

Slap A Ham Records - Chris Dodge tells them that he is "not your passport out of demoland". Brilliant.

Shredder Records - Mel tells Kip that Freemasonry is too generic and unoriginal. I've never heard of Shredder records before - what non-generic, original music did they put out? I'll give them Jawbreaker, but that's about it.

No Idea Records - Var avoids the whole issue of whether or not to put out a Freemasonry record by trying to book a show instead with his band Bombshell. I love that guy!

Lookout Records - Patrick calls Kip, Chris and Marcus "Freemasons". Actually all of these letters refer to the guys in strange ways. That's what happens when you call your band Freemasonry.

Jade Tree Records - Tim tells the guys to put more money into recording and not packaging. Remember the days when having a professional looking demo was a detriment? There is also a Railhed shoutout in the letter as well. Classic Jade Tree. This might have been the best label for them overall, but unfortunately it was not to be. They did like Snowden 15 years later!

By the way - here is that great Freemasonry first demo package:

Allied Recordings - I guess this is John Yates' signature, but it was definitely during the time that Kip's old band, Fiddlehead, were having singles put out on this label.

So that is all for now. Supposedly Kip has some letters from Freemasons to him about his band, but that will have to be included another time.

Thanks for 100 great posts!


  1. congrats on the 100th post. keep it up!

  2. So what was keeping these labels soooooo busy that they couldn't be bothered with Freemasonry?

    Monastery/Anarchus cd, 1993 (uh, who?)
    Spazz 7", 1993 (but of course)
    Capitalist Casualties 7", 1993 (medio-core)
    Iabhorher 7", 1994 (one of the best Slap-A-Ham releases ever)
    MDC/Capitalist Casualties 7", 1994 (boring AND over the hill)
    Man Is The Bastard cd, 1995 (hail MITB!)
    so, okay, Chris Dodge was pretty busy, plus Freemasonry would have stood out like a sore thumb on this label...unless they decided to play all their songs double time...and growl the lyrics.

    The Parasites cd, 1994 (the worst)
    McCrakins cd, 1995 (also the worst, maybe worse)
    Dragstrip cd, 1996 (no, these guys are the worst)
    gotta call bullshit on this label. they were obviously not too busy after Jawbreaker moved on to bigger, better, and blander things. by the by, can we agree that Jawbreaker are the most overrated band the underground has ever produced? but the nerve of this guy to call Freemasonry "generic" when he was banking his label on the cutting edge mall punk of The Parasites? unreal.

    No Idea
    Sparkmarker 7", 1994 (great record)
    Clairmel 7", 1994 (the ubiquitous band no one ever actually heard)
    Gus/Gus 7", 1995 (the Canadian Gus was fucking awesome)
    Floor/Tired From Now On 7", 1994 (hail Floor! hail TFRN!)
    Hot Water Music cd, 1995 (another vote for most overrated band)
    Less Than Jake 7", 1995 (only in Florida...fucking ska/punk)
    we'll give Var a break, he was incredibly busy, but Freemasonry would have been a good fit on his label. they could mop the floor with Hot Water Music...but ironically not with Floor.

    Screeching Weasel lp, 1993 (ugh)
    Fifteen cd, 1994 (who bought their records?)
    Pansy Division cd, 1993 (gay [get it?])
    Tilt cd, 1993 (thinking man's Face To Face...aka shit)
    Screeching Weasel/Born Against 7", 1993 (almost good enough to forgive the Mr. T Experience)
    The Queers lp, 1994 (but not a good Queers lp)
    Avail lp, 1994 (remember when they were such hot shit?)
    Filth/Blatz cd, 1994 (MRR just came a little)
    Rice cd, 1994 (two cups water, one cup rice, this is how you measure the worth of your life!)
    certainly, Lookout! was pretty fucking busy and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. but still, how rad would the Freemasonry / Rice tour have been?

    Jade Tree
    Damnation AD cd, 1995 (Tim Owens rediscovers sXe)
    Eggs 7", 1993 (this record languished in every record store $1 bin ever..cause it sucked eggs...nice!)
    Railhed lp, 1993 (no Seven League Boots, I'll tell you that much)
    Universal Order Of Armageddon 7", 1993 (even Jade Tree gets lucky once in awhile)
    Pitchblende/Eggs 7", 1993 (a couple of real powerhouses. terrible)
    Edsel 7", 1995 (c-grade Dischord knock-offs)
    Lifetime cd, 1995 (hmmm, maybe more overrated than Jawbreaker, at least by girls wearing backpacks at shows...the worst.)
    this label has sucked 90% of the time for all times. they don't deserve a band as good as Freemasonry (or UOA for that matter). good riddance.

    The Martians cd, 1995 (poor man's Freemasonry)
    Thatcher On Acid/Wat Tyler cd, 1994 (Allied was infamous for these shitty records)
    J Church lp, 1993 (but it's SMART pop such thing)
    Schwartzenegger 7", 1993 (jesus)
    Friction cd, 1993 (poor man's Car Vs. Driver)
    Spitboy 7", 1994 (stinks)
    Freemasonry might have fit on this label, but their (the label's) inconsistency was it's downfall. for every awesome Scrog or Buzzoven record, John Yates would put out a crappy Sleeper or Phleg Camp record, it didn't balance out.

    so there you go. Freemasonry should have sent their demo to Choke Inc.

    good night.

  3. probably THEE best post i have ever seen gray make. brilliant. saw freemasonry numerous times, obviously. always liked them but had no real "connection" to them. i seem to remember one of them drunkenly yelling at us on stage at the somber reptile. possibly spitting on us. but that might have been because i was being a complete asshole and telling everyone that the somber reptile sucked and we should all go see and support house shows. sorry. i was a dick...and well...i didn't know any better. we just werent a "stage" band...haha. i should have just let it go. kip was always a friendly and educational print technition though. will james and gray please come hang out with me in athens again? i am bored. my wife doesn't let me leave.

  4. btw. the letters are fucking amazing. best idea ever.

  5. gray, you and me are in a fight.

    -the girl with the jawbreaker tattoo

  6. I honestly never heard of Shredder Records before this letter, but their letterhead is pretty awesome, I must say.

    Really, I think none of these labels were really right for Freemasonry. Of course a Quarterstick/Touch and Go/etc. type of a label would have been ideal, but I'm sure they weren't interested at the time. It is amazing how we now have two Atlanta bands on Touch and Go. After Fiddlehead, Freemasonry, The Martians, all the other Athens/Atlanta bands all through the 90s the most outside label interest was from Allied.

  7. i think freemasonry would have been a better fit on a jade tree or desoto or something like that, they were more melodically driven and lyrical than what i think of those touch and go and quarterstick bands of the time. great post gray, amazing how many mediocre music was getting released. atlanta bands at the time were very outside the loop.

  8. i suspect the live recording from 1994 is the Jawbox/Girls Against Boys show at the Masquerade. sarge (chris) and marcus and i agreed to play together at the Jawbox show one year earlier (i met sarge that night). it was crazy for us to look back at how far things had progressed in that one year especially after bruce had joined us. that night would have been bruce's first show with us. we were beyond pumped.

  9. also OK To Forget on the live at WREK from '95 turned into the first Galanas Cerdd song we re-recorded at WREK less than one year later as a three piece before adding Rick Moore (and that appeared on the Compatibility of Dissonance CD) thus neatly wrapping up the transition from Freemasonry to Galanas. the "unknown" song was a harbinger of bruce's singing/songwriting that would later manifest itself in John Brown and Copa Vance.

    and thanks so much for doing this James – these songs are MUCH more representative of us than the Sparrin' With The Varmint mega-scography double album.

  10. i remember when kip sent those letters to those labels & we got them back. i guess we were more like fuck em, we'll back ourselves as much as we can until we cuold find a label to pick us up. and we had the other recordings & t-shirts that came out of pocket along w/ backing from all our bros & sisters. kip was real good w/ money & from shows & whatever $ we made we put it back into the band.
    the 1994 show at the masquerade was pretty damn cool playing w/ bands i listened to cassette & vinyl at the time. but brucifer coming in added a another testicle to the sound which sounded ahell of alot more stereo & 3/D in our ears. by the way, hi kip still love ya man. you too james. if anyone wants to contact my
    shalom aleikim

  11. Thanks for sharing those James. I always loved Freemasonry, and was waiting for them to get picked up. My band even did a cover of You Wouldn't Understand, although I seem to recall Kip hearing it when we played with them, and he didn't recognize it...

    Great music, now added to my iPod for years to come.


  12. Thanks so much for posting sparrin with the varmint! My brother brought me home that record when I lived in Dunwoody, Ga. Not sure where he got it. I played that disc until it would not play anymore. Great record! Love that I can listen to it all over again. Thanks so much.

  13. Why are they called Freemasonry? Were any of them actually Freemasons?

  14. makoto might have been a good label for them......

  15. Thanks so much for the links! I've bought Sparrin With The Varmint twice and destroyed it twice. Always wanted to hear more of them! I run a music blog and am going to review it for my series "The Best Albums You've Never Heard." I'll post the link here when I'm done.