(oh shit, I just lit another cigarette, and as I was lighting it, I saw that I already had one lit and sitting in the ashtray. Fuck...)
Long post today. Just skip to the download if you'd like -- or hit another site -- I don't know.
Anyway, here we are again. Let's do it:
For me today's download is the definitive OXYMORONS offering. I mean, it's not that I think the first tape or the CD suck or anything like that. In fact, the CD (Dancing on Billy's Grave, which I will post at some point) is the one that we put the most effort into. I also think the CD is where Ben's songwriting is at its best, and the CD also contains "Unearthing Your Grave," which I have always thought of as our best recording ever. As for the first tape, well tracks like "Born So Blessed," "Cheep Beer," and "Let Go" still rawk my soul. I've got no complaints.
But this one... this one... this is the one, in my opinion. From the juvenile stupidity of "Psycho Girl" and "Jocks With Mohawks" to the maudlin enigma of "Wreckage," this is the one that hits home with me. This just is THE OXYMORONS. We had little idea what we were doing, but we did it. And it was fun. This is the one that got people actually coming up to us, referring to certain songs by name, and asking us to play them -- not just in Dayton (although that would've been good enough for me) but even in parts beyond. I don't know how to describe the feeling you get when that happens. It's intoxicating, but it's more than that.
We once played a show in Madison, Wisconsin, and I specifically remember the day after that show meeting some blonde chick who had been there the night before (we were still in town because we had a day off). We just met randomly on the street, and she said she had loved it when we played "Wreckage." She referred to the song by its title and said she had gone to the show specifically to hear it. She also said she loved the guitar on that song. To this day, I remember her eyes as she talked about it. Maybe you are cooler than I am, but for my part, that conversation changed my life. If, when I die, I find out that there really is a heaven, and if I get to go there, I think I'll just have that conversation with that nameless girl forever.
I remember Ben once telling me that he had been talking to some girl to whom he had been trying to explain why the band was so important to him -- and she just didn't get it. He had told her about how he would wake up in the middle of the night because he was worried that some part he had put into a song just wasn't working out. He had told her how he had spent hours in that basement working out parts and trying to come up with lyrics and trying to turn it all into a song and how the whole process simply dominated his brain. He had told her all about this, and she just didn't get it. Honestly, I'm not sure I got it either. But it was good to know that all that paid off for at least some listeners.
Now as you might've guessed by now, no one is a bigger OXYMORONS fan than I (except maybe Gail). I'm immensely proud of everything we ever did. I'm proud of these recordings. I'm proud of the shitty shows. I'm proud to have had the privilege to know and play in a band with such talented and off-beat personalities as Ben Schelker, Pat Hennigan, Greg Simerlink, and Nick Atkinson. I'm proud of it all. I am both proud and humbled by the entire experience of playing in a half-decent punk rock band that never made it. I'm proud and humbled in ways that even I have difficulty expressing. I'm not sure if that's good or just really pathetic. And even though, as I just said, we never "made it," I can't think of a single thing I would change about the whole thing. Not one goddam thing.
And that goes double for Bash On, Regardless. All the flubs, all the mistakes, all the screw-ups... you'll definitely hear 'em! And for years, there were so many things about this that I wanted to go back and fix. I imagine we all did. But listening to it now, I wouldn't want it to be any other way.
There is quite a bit more I could say about this cassette, but I'll just leave it all in the track notes.
Here are some notes on the cassette itself and the cover insert (scanned and included in the download pack):
- Those are sticky labels on the cassette. I don't know how many copies of this we sold (a few hundred, at least), but Grog deserves some thanks for printing, cutting, and sticking each and every one of those fucking labels onto the cassette itself. He also deserves some thanks for recording each and every one of the production copies on his home stereo. I can't even imagine doing that.
- "Psycho Side" is Side 1.
- Mark Wood drew the cover picture. He was... he was... well, he was sort of an odd character who has really faded in my memory. I don't know what else to say about him -- except that I hope he's still drawing something, somewhere.
- The title "Bash On, Regardless" we got from this guy named Angus, who came to Dayton for some reason from the UK. Angus was a really cool guy. He was studying to be a veterinarian in the UK. I don't remember how he came to give us the phrase "Bash On, Regardless," but I do remember that he is the first person in my memory to actually enunciate the concert t-shirt rule. You know: "You NEVER go to a show and wear the t-shirt of the band that's playing!" He was right. Angus and I went to many shows at Bogart's, and I always bought a t-shirt of the band, but I never wore it at the show. Still, because I would always buy the t-shirt, Angus was kind enough to tell me once, "Patrick, you are a t-shirt groupie!" Again, he was absolutely right. If you ever meet Angus, just assume that everything he says is absolutely right -- even though he makes his living "sticking my hand up cows' bums!" (as he told me once).
- My suggestion for the title of this cassette was "Love You With A Knife!" (a line from "Psycho Girl") but I got out-voted.
- "Psycho Girl" - That's Gail Dafler doing the scream at the beginning and during the break. Ben got her to scream like that by pinching her arm really (really) hard. I was standing right next to them in the booth. Her performance merited her the nickname "Psycho Gail" in perpetuity. QUICK UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Gail and described this entry to her. According to her, she was known as "Psycho Gail" even before she recorded this scream for us. Apparently, that appellation actually came from an evening she spent at Canal Street Tavern involving a bottle of Boone's Farm and a completely different song called "Psycho Girl" recorded by another Dayton band, THE KILLJOYS.
- "I Think Like Toast" - This song is about Ben working late at Friendly's. The rock-n-roll Friendly's at the intersection of Dayton-Xenia Rd. and Linden in Beavercreek really deserves a blog entry of its own. For now I'll just say that Ben worked there in the late '80s and early '90s, as did Nick Atkinson (OXYMORONS drummer), Joel Lensch (CANDYASS), Jen Cook (COLAVISION), Keith Conly (who was one of Ben's best friends and probably came to every OXYMORONS show in Dayton), John Poe (still an enigma to this day), Andrea Donato (the future ex-Mrs. Jones), and any number of others whose names I can't remember right now. Many of Ben's songs were inspired by his experiences and the people he met working at this Friendly's. The last time I drove by that area (about a year ago), this Friendly's still existed, though it has been remodelled extensively since Ben worked there. My best Friendly's memory comes from when I was working at Orange-Frazer Press (which was just down the road) and used to go get my lunch from there. One afternoon, I was sitting at the counter and made sort of this cockroach-like monster out of a pickle with toothpicks for legs (and antennae). I then said, "No Godzilla! Please don't eat me!" and then roared and bit the thing in half as Ben watched. He laughed his ass off, and so did Andrea. I was quite proud of myself. To this day, I try to work that routine into every first date I have (that is, if I care about the girl). If she likes it, I know she's at least in the ballpark of being a keeper.
- "I Wanna Be A Shaman" - I really don't know where this song came from except for a dim memory that Ben had picked up some bits of eastern aesthetics from this girl he went out with for a few weeks in 1989. For a period of maybe three months in 1990, this was our most requested song at shows. Then people stopped asking for it, we started hating it, and we just stopped playing it. Strange how that happens sometimes.
- "New Beginning/Bottom Line" - I really don't know what this song is about. But I remember that there's a floor-tom fill in "New Beginning" that seemed very important to Nick that we get right. We spent quite a bit of studio time overdubbing it and then bringing that overdub up in the final mix so that it wasn't too loud or too soft. By the time we were done, I just didn't give a shit anymore, but to Nick it was almost like life or death. Do him a favor and try to listen for it.
- "Wreckage" - This one actually has a very interesting story behind it. It's about Joe, a very talented friend of Ben's who was an artist and student at the University of Cincinnati. Apparently, this friend once gave Ben a quickly drawn comic strip about a man who died, went to Hell, and was immediately confronted by The Devil, who threw things at the dead man and forced him to juggle them. The Devil would say things like, "Here's some insecurity! Here's your creative outlet! Here's your witty tongue!" and then throw things at the man to juggle. Sadly, this friend of Ben's committed suicide not too long after he gave Ben this comic. I saw it once, and I'd give almost anything to be able to post it here now. But I don't know what happened to it.
- "Pleasant Distraction" - This is about a long-term girlfriend that Ben had, for whom he admitted that he had no real love, yet he felt a real bond with her. If I remember correctly, Ben wrote another song ("Life Goes On," which ended up on the Piledriver compilation in Wisconsin) about this same girl. That song once prompted this girl to comment that, "You should never go out with a guy in a band because he'll just end up writing songs about you!" She was absolutely right. This is actually the first song we recorded in these sessions and was never intended to go on the cassette -- as evidenced by the totally throwaway lead I put in. But Ben liked it, so it was in.
- "Running" - This is the last song on the first side of the original cassette. I don't really know what it's about, but I do know that it's Nick Atkinson's favorite song on this release -- witness his amazing Neil Peart-inspired drum fills.
- "Jocks with Mohawks" - This was my first songwriting effort for this band, and I think it was only my third songwriting effort ever (I've written a number of songs over the years, but I honestly never thought of myself as a "songwriter"). I wrote the music, which was largely inspired by various hardcore songs on BAD BRAINS' first cassette. Ben wrote the words. Obviously, it was about the then-emerging trend of high school jock assholes trying to distinguish themselves by listening to hardcore punk. Funny how today you can't be cool at all in high school unless you listen to some kind of indie rock -- makes one want to buy as many FRANK SINATRA records as you can get your hands on... Anyway, this became one of those songs that we always played at every show. How can you go wrong when the chorus is, "You're just a bunch of jocks with mohawks!"?
- "If" - I'm pretty sure this is Kattie Dougherty's (REAL LULU) favorite OXYMORONS song ever. The night we all learned of Ben's death, she and Dennis came over to my house and we listened to this one many times (and it's a good thing she came over too, because I had no idea where my copy of it was at the time). I remember I fucked up the end to this one. At the very end, I tried to turn off my distortion pedal so that I could play the final riff cleanly, but for some reason, I messed up and the final riff came out distorted. It's always bothered me, but nobody else seemed to care.
- "Wasting My Time" - Ben wrote most of the lyrics for this on a cocktail napkin at Canal Street Tavern, where he often went to waste time. Grog tried to record some backup vocals for this on the chorus, and it was only as he was recording them that we realized that Grog couldn't sing a bloody note. After coming in from the soundbooth, he listened to the results and admitted the fact. Ben re-recorded the backing vocals himself.
- "Stinky Hippy/Gingerbread Man" - "Stink Hippy" was the one song on the cassette that Ben had written before Grog and I joined the band (I don't know why we didn't put it on the first cassette). He got the opening chord (A-minor-7th) from Denny Wilson (TOOBA BLOOZE). For some reason, Ben was always fascinated by the A-minor-7th. He put it in this song, and he used to use it in a stupid, jazzy version of "Iron Man" that he would dick around with at practice sometimes (I have a recording of that somewhere). "Gingerbread Man" is just sort of a fantastical tale about a gingerbread man who comes to life after being cooked in the oven and runs around the kitchen trying to escape being eaten. Maybe Ben had been doing acid with THE KILLJOYS, or maybe it came from his own stupid imagination.
- "Love Buzz" - I really, really, really don't know how this ended up on the final release of the cassette or why we even recorded it in the first place. Ben and the rest of us always hated this song. If you listen, you'll notice that my leads are entirely phoned in (no doubt I was thinking about something else as I played them) AND that we didn't even care enough about it to make up a proper ending! This may have even been the last time we ever played it (among all the live show recordings I have, I don't think "Love Buzz" appears anywhere).
- "Televise My Nervous Breakdown" - I'm pretty sure this one was my first lyrics-writing effort. Ben wrote the music -- it was kind of his attempt at a BLACK FLAG sort of tune. It's supposed to be about how people like Oprah and Barbara Walters seemed to intentionally get people to cry and generally break down in order to increase ratings. The reference to "Pringles Light Potato Chips" was Ben's idea. I was finishing up the lyrics maybe two minutes before I did the vocal track and just asked him to name a product, any product. That's what he gave me. For some reason, this song became a total joke to us. At shows, I would often sing the first line as "Spoon into my walrus!" and Ben would sing the second as "Watch me eat a can of peas!"
- "Folsom Prison Blues" - Okay, we recorded this one at these sessions, but Grog didn't put it on this cassette. Instead, he added it as a bonus track to the first cassette -- likely so that people could get a sample of Nick Atkinson's drumming (because Pat Hennigan had played drums on the first cassette). Still, because I've been listening to my studio mix of these songs all these years, I associate it with Bash On, Regardless. And when I posted the first cassette, I didn't include this one, so here it is now. Please remember, however, that although Johnny Cash covers are kind of trite and cliched now, it was actually kind of daring to do one in 1990. Even that wonderful 'Til Things Are Brighter compilation had only been released a few months earlier when we recorded this. I don't know why I feel the need to point that out, but I do.
- "Walking Backwards" - As the liner notes in the booklet say, we recorded this live at Apollo's in Columbus on August 1, 1990 (which means that as of this day, this recording is legally able to buy cigarettes in the State of Ohio -- RAWK!). I do have the rest of this show on tape and will rip and post it some time this fall. We played with LIQUID DRAINO that night, and I've got their set on tape also. "Walking Backward" was always one of our favorites -- so much so that we did a cleaner, nicer, studio version for the CD. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the "Jenny" mentioned in the first line is actually "Janey," who was a manager that Ben worked with at Friendly's.
- The idea for even doing a little booklet to insert into the cassette case was inspired by a similarly-sized booklet inserted into the second album by JANE'S ADDICTION, Ritual de lo Habitual, which was released about the same time we were recording this. Our friends in LIQUID DRAINO inserted a booklet like this into their second cassette release.
- p. 1 - Hey, check it out! Keith Conly (who worked with Ben at Friendly's) did backup stuff on three songs! I had totally fogotten that!
- p. 2 (inside front cover) - "Joe Boob" is, of course, Joe Buben. As I've mentioned in previous entries, he was the owner and main recording engineer at Cro-Magnon studios for many years. He had a hat with fake dogshit glued to the brim that said "Shithead." That's the kind of guy he was -- and a great engineer too.
- pp. 6 & 7 - These are mini-reproductions of flyers we distributed for shows at places that had closed by the time we released this tape. That happened a lot back then (and probably still does now): a place would open, and some shows would happen, and then suddenly it would either close its doors or they'd book different types of bands. Grog always did our booking, and so he became kind of attached to these places. I designed both of these flyers. There's a lot I could say about them, but this entry is long enough already, so I'll save it for when I post these flyers.
- p. 9 - On "Gingerbread Man," the "Ode to D. Boon" part. Yeah, this one was kind of inspired by THE MINUTEMEN (as if that weren't apparent just from listening to it). For those who don't know, old D. Boon was killed in a van accident while on tour. Seems that whenever we'd be on tour and whoever was driving the van would have some kind of mishap (which seemed to happen most when I was driving), the others would say something like, "Don't give us the D. Boon treatment here!"
- p. 9 - On "Love Buzz," where it says "Howl Right Along." See? We didn't even care enough to write the stupid lyrics down!
- p. 11 - "REJECT" Filling up the final page with this graphic was my idea, but I don't remember where I got the graphic from.
- p. 12 (back cover) - This is a reproduction of the first OXYMORONS sticker we ever made. I drew it and added the caption. Let me say here that in general I have always turned out to be very good at pretty much anything I really wanted to do. The one exception to that has been drawing. Since I was a kid, I always wished I could draw, but I really can't. Still, for some reason, I would take every opportunity I could to draw something. So I drew this sticker, and it always pleased me to no end that Grog liked it -- hope you do too.
- The scans of the cover and insert come to you courtesy of The Gail Dafler Collection (because I never had a production copy of this cassette).
- Rips of all studio tracks are from a first-generation cassette I made of the recordings on the same day we made them (which is why "Folsom Prison Blues" is in there). My memory fails me at this point, but it is possible that the cassette I ripped from was not the final mix. It's possible that it's a rough mix. I'd have ripped Gail's production copy, but after eighteen years it was just too muddy, and the one I had sounded far more clear. But even if my cassette is just a rough mix, it's pretty damn close to the final. I listened to both, and even I can't tell the difference.
- The rip of "Walking Backwards" is from the original cassette onto which it was recorded on a "piece-of-shit boombox" (which was my boombox!) on August 1, 1990. So the song may start and cut off in different places than it did on the original. But once again, it's a better-sounding recording.
- Psycho Girl
- I Think Like Toast
- I Wanna Be A Shaman
- Bottom Line
- Pleasant Distraction
- Jocks With Mohawks
- Wasting My Time
- Stinky Hippie/Gingerbread Man
- Love Buzz
- Televise My Nervous Breakdown
- Folsom Prison Blues
- Walking Backwards
Download it! (link re-upped on 6-4-2014)
Enjoy! And as always, feel free to copy and share as you see fit. It's all free here! No license, no... whatever. Just don't try to sell it to anybody, or I'll hunt you down in my Ford!
Anyway, "You keep eatin' your hand, you ain't gonna be hungry for lunch..."
("I've seen you before, y'know...")
ps. We'll be back in a few days with some DEMENTIA PRECOX!