Of any band I've ever been in, PLANET ED was the most emotionally draining, mostly due to the nearly polar opposite personalities of Will and Dave. Those two guys had completely adverse approaches to music, which made for a lot of tension in this band. But all that tension also made for some great shows, great recordings, and great fun overall (at least from my perspective). Looking back on it now, I wouldn't change one thing.
Will had sort of a musical split personality. On the one hand, he liked punk rock. As I said in the DOBIE WILLIS post, he was (still is) an unabashed admirer of JELLO BIAFRA, THE DEAD KENNEDYS, DOA, and THE RAMONES. This is all true. But Will never quite got past his teenage obsession with LED ZEPPELIN, TED NUGENT, and other '70s cock rockers. To be fair, I had a similar obsession in my teenage years, and I never quite got past it either (just last summer I dug up a bunch of BLACK SABBATH tunes and obsessed on them for about a week -- and just in time for Satan Day 2006 (that's 6-6-06 in case you don't get it; and if I'm still alive in June of 2066 I'll be celebrating Satan Month with demonic fervor)).
But Will especially loved '70s-style groove jams: you know, like the 10-minute guitar solo in "Stranglehold" by TED NUGENT and shit like that. Most of the songs he wrote for PLANET ED featured a very long instrumental break, usually filled by Will going off on some Biafra-esque tirade (if you listened to Stand Your Ground you already know what I'm talking about). Will also loved to play incredibly long sets and talk to people while on stage. It didn't bother him too much if we spent a minute or two (or three or four or ten) between songs yelling at people in the crowd or making bad jokes -- like, imagine the FEAR sequence in Decline of Western Civilization (don't make me say Part 1), except less confrontational and less funny.
Dave, on the other hand, loved short fast songs with goofy, down-to-earth lyrics. His idols were SCREECHING WEASEL, CRIMPSHRINE, MR. T EXPERIENCE, GREEN DAY, THE QUEERS, CRINGER, 7 SECONDS, and hundreds (literally hundreds--Dave's record collection was of Bodleian proportions) of other bands that Will used to refer to as "low-grade punk rock" (of course, this was three years before Dookie! would come out and suddenly turn Dave's "low-grade punk rock" into big, BIG business). He couldn't stand long instrumental grooves, and he wanted a very short set and as little time as possible between songs. In Dave Graeter's happy place, the bands all play fifteen songs in ten minutes.
I guess I sort of fell somewhere in the middle--maybe. I mean, I definitely liked short songs, but I also wanted a little more substance in the music than Dave seemed content with. I was also totally obsessed with BOB MOULD and HUSKER DU, so I wanted more emo-type content in there too. So basically, each of us was going in a different direction. We argued. We argued a lot.
One way or another, things always seemed to go wrong for PLANET ED. The majority of horror stories I have about playing shows are from PLANET ED shows. At our "big show" with ROYAL CRESCENT MOB at Canal Street Tavern, the Mob turned out to be total assholes who wanted us off stage in like thirty minutes (so we played for an hour--and even Dave was okay with that). We played Oxford when the snow was 8 inches deep and I had a terrible head cold and we had to wait until 3 a.m. to collect our money (which turned out to be $15). Our planned five-day tour of the midwest fell apart completely at the last minute. I mean, every booking fell through the day we were supposed to leave--after we'd rented the van!
But we kept playing. We kept practicing. We kept making records. Somehow, for the two years we were together, it worked. We argued, but we compromised. We had some lousy shows, but we turned them into great stories. For all the tension, it was fun. And I think we made some good music.
PLANET ED's first release was a cassette entitled Bubblegum for the Masses, a live thing we recorded at Canal Street Tavern. That cassette is sort of a story in itself and best belongs with a post about Canal Street Tavern. Today, I'm sharing our first 7" record, Listen and Understand, Earthlings!
I like this one because I think it shows how each of us kind of set aside our usual preferences and learned something from the others. Although I wrote "Hollywood Erotic," it's really a joke song -- no emo-content whatsoever. "Feelings Turn Colors" is Will's offering, but it's a fairly straight arrangement with only a brief guitar solo and no political ranting. Dave's song "Tension Kid" (which is at least partly about Will) is actually the longest one, and it's even got a groovy instrumental break in the middle.
1. Hollywood Erotic
2. Feelings Turn Colors
3. Tension Kid
Download it! (18 MB) (link re-upped on 2-4-2013)
UPDATE 2-4-2013: The download package here is a completely new rip. The old one was done on a terrible combo-stereo system. This one is from a much better stereo.
As usual, the download package includes hi-resolution scans of the record and the insert. I think this one came out particularly well. I love Dave's layout on the inner part of the sleeve (the pictures in this entry are details of it), and I think the label on the "Planet Side" of the vinyl is so nice, I'd put it on a t-shirt.
The sample at the beginning of "Feelings Turn Colors" is from Dead Poets' Society. The one in the middle of "Tension Kid" is from Repo Man (which I should really get on DVD some time).
Nick Kizirnis and Nick Atkinson helped with the back-up vocals on "Tension Kid."
Recorded at Cro-Magnon studios. Engineered by Joe Buben.
For the bands I played in, my ultimate wish for this blog has always been to some day dig up all the masters and post better quality recordings. Unfortunately, in PLANET ED's case, this plan will always remain a dream. For some inexplicable reason, Dave and I appointed Will the official keeper of the PLANET ED masters. In typical Dalgard fashion, he lost them years ago (probably traded them for some magic beans). Today's post is from the vinyl. However, Dave tells me he's got a cassette of this stuff that came right from the studio master tapes. When I get that tape from him, I'll post it here.