And now, the continuing adventures of sifting through dozens of home-made cassette tapes. Most of this will focus on some of the different music projects I've done over the years. Though my "recording career" started before that in childhood...
- Phant(om) and Dude #1. I thought this tape had been lost for good. But I recognized it when I was playing it. And yes, this needs a bit of background explanation.
When my brother and I were kids, one of our favorite past times was doing audio (and later, video) recording. We record all sorts of impromptu comedy skits, parody songs we'd make up, and whatever else sprang to the minds of us boys in the age span of 8-12. Later on, I tried doing something similar with a friend of mine. That was this tape. I don't think we even came up with enough material to fill side 1. But his nickname back then was "The Phantom". Mine was "the Dude".
- Copy of "The Dirty Dicks". This was more or less the first band I was in. It was a joke band. None of us could play worth a damn. Danny was the guitar player, singer, primary writer, and brainchild of the whole schtick. He gave us all stage names and personalities. He was "Ronnie Raper", the druggie. I was "Oral Sexx", the retard. There was also "Ben Dover" the Englishman, and "Les Dewitt", the nerd. Fun times, though. I've long since transferred this to CD, but it was interesting to see another copy lying around.
I was in a "serious" band sometime around then too. I have some tapes of that too somewhere. We had a mix of cover songs and and original called "Birds of a Feather", inspired by a wrongful accusation of shoplifting against two of the guys in the band.
- Personal songs, circa age 15. Have you ever been a fan of a band who has been recording albums for decades? And then you find out they have some unreleased material from their earliest days, like Black Sabbath had with the "Earth" demos? And you're mad when you find out that the band doesn't ever want to see them released, because they don't like them. Well, I can totally sympathize. This tape is an embarrassing collection of originals and covers. If I die, PLEASE don't dig up this tape and put copies on the internet. There are much, much better recordings you can exploit. Though the next one, isn't one of them.
- Dick-waving bass solos. Many musicians reach a pretentious phase, where they believe they're the best player on the planet. For me, that was some time around age 16. And I have a tape of flashy bass solo crap to show for it. Boy, was my playing sloppy then.
- 4-track Bass Songs. OK, now the creativity was finally coming. I recorded a couple of songs using my bass on several tracks, both as a lead and a back-up instrument. Also some electric drums thrown in. Not bad stuff, if I don't mind saying so.
- Several "Ursula" tapes. In high school I played with a speed metal band called Black Lung. (There is a "famous" band by that same name; no relation.) There are some tapes from that era that exist, but I don't think I have any at the moment. Black Lung went from being a quintet to a quartet with a new singer and much more tolerable sound, and we renamed the band "Time Box". We added a keyboard player and became Ursula, named after a nude painting of actress Ursula Andress, painted by the guitar's father and hanging up in the basement where we'd practice.
- Tic-Toc Man, "The Demo of Doom". By the mid to late 90s, the singer and keyboard player left, and we got a second guy who played drums and keyboard. Our drummer played keyboards too, so the two of them would switch off on different songs. By that point, we had evolved into a jazz/rock improvisational quartet. But for some reason we still liked the tacky appeal of the "evil" aesthetic, so some guys nicknamed this "Demo of Doom". Now THIS is something I'd like to put on-line one of these days.
- Unnamed Band Demo. This tape was just labeled "original songs". I listened to it, and I didn't know who the hell it was. My friend's band? Some band I was auditioning for? Actually, I figured it out by the last track. Back in 2002 I responded to an ad in a music store. An 18 year-old guitarist named Joe was looking to play stuff like Led Zeppelin, Cream, etc. with some other musicians. I was already 27 at the time, but figured what the hell. I had just moved into a new town, and wanted to do something fun musically. It turned out that the guy was 20 years old, and had put up the ad 2 years ago. Why it was never taken down, I have no idea. But fortunately he was still in the same place. He had hooked up with an attention-getting singer/guitarist named Dave (If I remember correctly) whose mic stand at the time was a floor lamp with the microphone taped on top with duct tape. Dan was the eccentric drummer, who as it turned out went to the same high school as me, though long after I graduated.
We never ended up getting a name for ourselves, and never got a gig, but we had fun playing. Mostly Led Zeppelin songs. Eventually there was some conflict with Dave's ego and where Joe wanted to be. The last practice was pretty ugly, emotionally. I kept in touch with Dan for a while, and he eventually got me networked into this band who played in New Hampshire. But in the end, that other band ended up being the same old crappy routine: play shitty original songs, having to drive an hour to practice, etc. I was glad to leave that one.
There are lots of other bands I played in over the years, but the small stack of tapes in front of me sure has a lot of personal history attached to it.