Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Figure Demo Tape

Here is the download: Figure Demo Tape

Sorry about the gap in posting. I have been on a Spring break of sorts, but am back and feeling refreshed, so there should be a regular stream of posts this way coming.

As we have been posting a great deal of Kyle Spence material lately, I thought it would be nice to include what I believe was his first recording on drums. Keep in mind that he was in his early high school days when the band Figure was around, but even then it is incredible to think that he was still miles ahead of most drummers out there. Figure was an Atlanta band from the 1990-1992 era and until writing this blog, I only knew of them as one of the "other" bands on the Bag of Jakes single that wasn’t Dirt or Fiddlehead. However, after working on this blog and coming in contact with so many new people from Atlanta’s music history, I have been able to meet up with Justin Gray, who was the bass player of Figure, among others. He has provided me with several recordings and stories from this time period, including this demo and some other gems that I will be posting soon. I am not sure how Justin Gray and Kyle Spence met, as there is a significant age difference between the guys, but he must have seen Kyle in action somewhere and knew that he was the right kid for the business.

Musically, they are a pretty decent band from this era, and I could have seen them getting interest from a major label or scam indie somewhere and becoming an established regional college/indie band during this time. It is important to remember that during this time it seemed that pretty much any band with at least some kind of refined sound was being signed by major labels, and there was almost a feeling of entitlement by every local band that they were going to be the next Nirvana or R.E.M. and never have to work another day in their lives. Justin worked at Clark Music at the time on Ponce De Leon and Boulevard/Monroe, and practiced once or twice with Kip Duvall from No Walls, but never officially joined the band. He is now playing in The Goldest, a new band that just released a nice EP, and Kyle has moved on and on and on as one of Atlanta’s drummer elite. I am not sure what happened to the guitarist John McGinnis, but I'm sure Justin can let us know.

One other thing we talked about regarding Atlanta's postpunk history. There was a Fugazi show at the Excelsior Mill (now The Masquerade) before their first record came out that went down in history as the starting point for this scene, which linked the bands like Figure, Fiddlehead, Such As, and several others. I guess it was kind of like the Sex Pistols show in Manchester for Atlanta. I wasn't at the show myself, as I was part of the next wave of bands to come through, but I don't know if there was ever a similar show like that in my early days.


  1. John McGinnis went on to be in The Jealous Sound on Better Looking Records with the original drummer from Jawbox. They sound pretty much like they're trying to support a career.

    And they Fugazi show was absolutely legendary. After Words opened and were exceptional. This was towards the end of their era and might have been their last show. The beginning of the end of the dancing era in this city. And that's because...

    Butterglove came on next (two members from Honor Role and the blueprint for Breadwinner for Pen Rollins). Most of us could tell they were doing something pretty incredible, but this was at the earliest forefront of math rock in the punk/indie scene and by and large we were all generally confused. I think Bruce Bohannon was the only Atlantan to fully comprehend what Butterglove was doing. So I think the DC/Richmond scenes are responsible for the path followed by Atlanta bands all through the '90s: math blended with emo.

    Figure played at another legendary Atlanta show: with Green Day and Fiddlehead at the Existentialist Church in Candler Park way back when. And not by coincidence, that is also where Fugazi first played in Atlanta years before.

    Of course, bands all across the country were doing it, but we got bit extra hard by the bug.

  2. The second song off this demo is the one I wanted to put on Bag of Jakes instead of "gypsy", but I got overruled on that by the band and Doug. I still like that song better.

    I was actually going to audition to sing for figure after Such As broke up. They gave me an early demo and I spent 2 weeks writing lyrics to all the songs. Then they said nevermind and that John the guitarist was going to sing. Oh well, probably for the better. I still have that demo if Justin didn't give it to you James and you want it. It is a bit more punkier than this one, but has no vocals.

    The first time I saw figure, and I think maybe their first show, was at the Underground which was the basement of a print shop that I think Bruce's or Kip's parents ran.

    The Fugazi show......I still consider it the best show of my life. After Words opened and were amazing. Then as Kip said, Butterglove took the stage and just blew everyone's minds. I mean Pen Rollins was just insane on the guitar. And then Fugazi just rocked the house. I was right up front for the whole show, and during Fugazi, Guy pulled me up to sit on the front of the stage since we were getting so crushed up front from the surging crowd. I wish I had a recording of that whole show.

  3. I like the first demo that Steve is talking about better. I was going to try out to sing for them as well, but it's probably better off that never happened.

    I didn't get to go to this infamous Fugazi show...something about the car already being "full". Bastards!