The Pure Plastic Tree formed in 1991. They were:
Eric Bagdonas - acoustic guitar, backing voice
Brian Bagdonas - stand-up bass
Kattie Daugherty - voice
Steve Johnson - drums, backing voice
Kattie and I had been friends at WWSU. I believe the first time I spent any significant time with her was the time the two of us went down to Bogart's to see and interview THE BUCK PETS. The whole trip just sort of fell together in five minutes. I was in the station lounge lamenting that this band I really liked was coming to town and that I could probably call and get free tickets and meet the band but didn't want to go by myself (because it's no fun seeing a band, getting fucked up, and crashing the car on the way home all by yourself). I'm not even sure I knew Kattie's last name at the time, but she was in the room and she volunteered, and so I called and we went.
Kattie has the unique distinction of being the only person who's ever thrown me a surprise party. It was for my 21st birthday, and I have to say I was completely fuckin' surprised. She had asked me to give her a ride home from Canal Street Tavern (where she was my favorite bar maid for several years). When we got to her place, she opened the door and sort of fumbled getting the keys out of the lock. So I ended up getting to the top of the stairs first. All of a sudden somebody came leaping out of her kitchen doorway, and for a moment I was sure she was being robbed and we were both about to be executed. But it was only Sterling Schissler (another WWSU DJ), and he was shoving a Britny Fox cassette (which I still own but have never listened to) in my face. About ten other people seemed to appear as if from nowhere. Gail Dafler gave me a Land Speed Record (on vinyl!) by HUSKER DU, and Ben gave me a 12-pack of Black Label in bottles (though Ben had to work and couldn't make it that night, so he sent the beer with Joel). Great birthday...
Okay, this episode really is about the first PURE PLASTIC TREE release, but I've got a little more background on Kattie before we get to that--and it's important because this would've been a very different band without her (and, in fact, was a very different band after she left). Anyway, she had an amazing singing voice then, and I was ready to play guitar anywhere, any time, for anyone. So we got together in her attic, worked out a few acoustic numbers (which I really wish I had recordings of today) and covers (I distinctly remember "He Ain't Heavy" by the Hollies), and played some musicians' co-ops at Canal Street Tavern. We also did one as a trio with Bob Moore, who was editor of Nexus (WSU's literary magazine) at the time and just learning to play guitar. As I remember, we did some of the songs Kattie and I had worked up, plus a cover of "Love Song" by THE DAMNED, and one or two originals that the three of us collaborated on. But then Bob and I had a falling out over something incredibly stupid (I've still got the letter), and the three of us never played again. Kattie and I played a few more times. I went with her to buy her first guitar and taught her a couple of chords, but no real sustainable music project ever came from any of that. All of this happened around 1988-90.
A year later, Kattie was in THE PURE PLASTIC TREE with Brian, Eric, and Steve. I saw them play on the quad one afternoon at WWSU. If I remember correctly, they had no amplification, but they sounded great. It was a windy spring day, but they had no problem cutting through that. It was their first show as a band and Kattie's first real show ever. Eric and Brian had, of course, played in LIQUID DRAINO, and PURE PLASTIC TREE was certainly a departure for them. For that matter, it was a departure from what every other band in Dayton was doing. I can't think of any other bands at the time that had no need at all for amplification--except maybe TOOBA BLOOZE. But Toobas were more or less traditional R&B. They weren't playing anything that was quite so off-beat.
After a year or two, Kattie left the band and in 1993 (I think) formed REAL LULU, in which she remained for the rest of the decade. REAL LULU released at least one seven-inch record (which I'll share on this blog if no one objects) and one full-length CD (which I will likely not be sharing because I'm pretty sure Andy Valeri is still selling it over at Big Beef Records). Her most recent band was THE NEW THIRTEEN, in which she played with her husband Dennis Mullins (guitar), friend Justin (bass -- don't know his last name), and Dave Graeter (drums -- formerly of LIQUID DRAINO, THE LARRY BRRRDS, COLAVISION, THE BARNHILLS, ART OF CHOKE). I don't know if THE NEW THIRTEEN ever released anything, but my most recent band, THE VECTORS, did a show with them at Elbow's a couple of years ago. They were great. Maybe if Dennis has some recordings, I can get him to let me share them.
THE PURE PLASTIC TREE went on in Kattie's absence for a couple more years (dates and such escape me on this one). Later, Eric and Brian moved to Portland and formed KIL-KARE. Today, Brian plays bass in the FOGHORN STRING BAND, a rootsy, Appalachian folk outfit that's getting a lot of favorable attention in that genre-world. I don't know what happened to Steve or what Eric is up to now.
As with most other download packages on this blog, this one also contains hi-res scans of the cover, insert, and cassette. I want to point this out particularly in this entry because I've always been impressed with the art on this one. I'm pretty sure we have Eric Bagdonas to thank for that. It's amazing what that man could do with nothing more sophisticated than photocopying on colored paper.
1. Turn Away
3. Cop Song
4. Waiting for the Green Light
5. Spewing Democracy
6. This Stuff Is Getting to Me
7. Plaid People Land
8. Crossing the Stepping Stones
Download it! (22 MB) (link re-upped on 2-1-2013)
Recorded at Cro-Magnon studios.
One final fun-fact about Kattie: she's had the same phone number since at least 1988 (and that's land-line, not this wussy cell phone bullshit). Other than my parents (who had the same number for forty years), I've never known anyone who's had the same number that long.