Thursday, November 16, 2023
Saturday, November 11, 2023
I meant to post this awhile ago. Treepeople played 4 songs and did an interview on KEXP in Seattle during our last tour ever in August. Our show in Seattle that night was the best one on the tour, which made sense as Seattle was our 2nd hometown and all our old friends were there. We were determined to bring it.
The KEXP staff were so lovely to us, we thank you!
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Journal entries (somewhat augmented):
Treepeople ‘Jaunt Tour.’ August 2023, final shows
The drive up the Columbia River Gorge [on the day before, Monday, 7/31/23] was beautiful, as it always is, traffic was light, it was a gorgeous day. [ok, so this is probably the least scenic stretch of the drive up the Gorge, but I was ya know, driving, and the scenic stretch is the part of the drive where you really have to focus. Even so, I probably shouldn't eh…take photos while driving, period. 'Nuf said.]
Part of getting ready for these shows has always been about listening to the songs of the set over and over again so that a groove is dug into my/our/brain/brains.This method works but it is a bit maddening and tends to make you sick of your own band! A joke between me and Scott (who also applies the groove digging method) is “I am SO sick of Treepeople!”
So on the drive to Boise, I didn’t listen to any Treepeople. I had borrowed Dug Martsch’s van, it worked out well as he had lived in Portland for a short time and had left it there, so he needed it driven to Boise, and I needed to bring my drums (I HATE playing other people’s kits and am very attached to mine, a ‘66 Ludwig, made the same year I was, as I always say, thus the 8 hour drive vs the one hour flight (it takes me the same amount of time to fly to Boise as it does to commute by bus to work in Portland!) so it was a win win.
My babies, purchased in 1990 for $500, made the same year I was; 1966
His van had a CD player, so I listened to some comp CDs I made when I lived in Boston (2003 - 2008), it was a little snapshot of what I was listening to at that time: Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Satisfact, 7 Year Bitch, Flaming Lips, Cheap Trick (the debut lp, of course), Throwing Muses, A Tribe Called Quest, my ‘guilty pleasure’ at the time, Queens of the Stone Age and many other bands. The tunes propelled me through the Gorge and into the shrub desert that leads into Boise proper.
The day of the first rehearsal wasn’t until Wednesday, 8/2/23, so I had a decompression day on 8/1/23, which I needed, as I was coming off a very stressful week at work. I did some reading, took some old man naps, and watched some news. Then off for a nice salmon dinner at a bar near the hotel I often stay at, a new tradition now when I am in town, which also includes a shot of Makers, neat, a tumbler of ice with a few limes from which I mix a cocktail of whisky, some ice, melted ice water and squeezed limes. Though we are only ramping up for two shows in town before hitting the road, this is similar to how one kills time on tour, and interestingly, similar to how one does the same when you retire. On an interesting note, one night I randomly sat next to the driver for The Breeders, who had some amazing stories about her journey as one of the few women drivers in the biz, and the sexist bullshit she has had to endure.
I am about to release a solo EP, a first for me [I have released home recording demos over the years, but that's it]. I am both excited and nervous about it. I mention it, for beyond blatant just self-promotion (which I am allowed on my own fucking blog) as it is the next focus in my musical life. As my friend and producer (who produced this record) Steve Fisk said in relation to Treepeople members and solo music after Treepeople; "No one's heard from you yet."
I did have to chat a few times with the guy who is covering for me at my big, complicated, demanding job, but I have promised myself not to log into my email at all anymore this whole trip. I am grateful for my job, and I don't hate it, in fact I plan to retire in it. But ya gotta disconnect. Rock n roll ain't a bad way to do that.
We rehearsed at a place called The Warehouse in Garden City where a number of local bands rehearse, a nice room. It took us awhile to set up and get going as is often the way the first day; setting up is slow, you need to figure out the best arrangement of equipment for the best sound for the room…Dug had recently toured in Europe with his band Built to Spill, and had recently played some out of town solo shows, so he is a little behind on rehearsing Treepeople songs, he will catch up, he's a pro, and he already sounded pretty good. In fact, we sounded way better than I expected, considering we haven't played together in 4 years (since just before COVID in 2019, when we played at the VAC in Boise). These songs are challenging (especially on drums!) but we were determined.
End of journal entries.
Note that I don't have a journal entry for 8/3, but our friends Meredith Swassing, Daniel Yoshida and Kenneth Cole were there, and Kenneth & Meredith recorded some great videos of our rehearsal that day.
Treepeople rehearsing Fishbasket, 8/3/23, in Boise, Idaho ~ Filmed by Kenneth Cole
Snippet of Treepeople rehearsing the song Handcuffs, 8/3/23 ~ Filmed by Meredith Swassing
Boise, 8/9 & 8/10/23
We played 5 shows with only a week's worth of practice, 4 years since playing together last: Two shows in Boise to kick it all off at the fabulous new arcade Realms, the first show opened by State of Confusion, the hardcore Punk band 3 of us in Treepeople formed in the mid '80s (then the band morphed into Treepeople). Incidentally, SOC had the honor of playing the first ever show on that stage, at a party at the end of our week of reunion shows in April of 2023. Thank you, Meredith, for your persistence and insistence on that happening. It's a family biz, you see, opened by her son and ex husband.
One interesting thing that happened at this show was that the guy in Boise who makes and sells merch for both Treepeople and State of Confusion also road-manages the legendary LA Punk band FEAR and he asked if State of Confusion wanted to play a show with them the following week; “Um, yes, please.” (more on that later in a separate entry on the State of Confusion reunion shows).
All the shows were supported by the mighty Prism B*tch (who did their first ever tour with us back in 2018).
Photos of Prism B*tch and all other photos are by the author, unless otherwise noted
The second Boise night our direct support was our sister Boise band Dirt Fishermen, who we came up with in the early days in Boise and played many shows with. It was perfect that our last Boise show was with them. They ripped it up, as usual.
We got our sea legs with these shows, and people had a lot of fun, but also, as with all these last shows, it was bittersweet; Boise spawned us and has always been good to us and we thank you.
Then Treepeople hit the road. Our old friend and Merch Guy Supreme, Dave Wall, ate ice cream with a Buck knife. I was impressed enough to take a photo:
Portland was up next at the beautiful old theater The Aladdin, where we played to a nearly full house of warm and friendly Portland fans with Seattle's Patrons of Husbandry, featuring one of our favorite Seattle songwriters, Rusty Willoughby. They played a beautiful, flawless set, Portland loved it and so did we.
Prism B*tch was up next, and they were made to play on a stage like that and killed it that night.
Prism B*tch in action, click for video ~ Filmed by the author
The Aladdin begins to fill up. A wonderful show, thank you Portland!
~ Filmed by Rezellen
We were asked by the Seattle radio station KEXP to play on their live room show, so we left Portland about 7 am to make load in. As often happens after playing a show, I took forever to unwind and be able to sleep, and thus I got a whopping 2.5 hours of sleep before we hit the road.
When we rolled up in Seattle at KEXP, and began to unload, Scott realized he left his guitar in Portland! Oh shit! Luckily Doug had a spare guitar, Scott played his familiar red Stratocaster. The staff at KEXP were lovely to us and it was super fun! Thank you KEXP! (Note: As of this writing this has not been released, but will be soon, and I will of course post it here).
A note about KEXP: When out of towners bought the beloved college radio station KCMU years ago, we in the Seattle scene were bummed and assumed they would ruin it, but they sure proved us wrong!
The Seattle show on 8/12/23 is being described by many folks (old friends from our Seattle years who we trust and who don't blow smoke up people's asses) as 'epic.' As I have written on social media, I agree (and as you may know about me, I also don't blow smoke up my own…nevermind).
It felt great playing in our second home town to so many dear old friends, including people to whom we owe a great debt, like Steve Fisk, John Goodmanson and Stuart Hallerman.
And later, Scott and I discussed how we both felt our departed member and Scott's brother Pat in the room that night.
Pat 'Brown' Schmaljohn, ripping it up at the very beginning of the band at rehearsal in 1988, playing my gone but not forgotten State of Confusion bass
On a negative note, we had already scheduled an early show, starting at 7 pm, but The Crocodile informed us last minute that there was a 'dance party' scheduled after our show and we had to start at 6 pm! While we love the Crocodile staff, always, and the new room, while austere, sounds killer, this was bullshit and our aforementioned old friends were kicked out! Boo Crocodile! (though in full disclosure, many of our Seattle fans are older, like us, and some were happy about an even earlier show!)
Seattle friends from way back at the Crocodile show (Left to right behind me, in the center): Film score composer/drummer Steve Cavit, Cedric Ross (AKA Fred Roth) of the bands Imij, TAP and The Fred Roth Review), Stuart Hallerman, owner Avast Studio. Note that, nope, I was not high, quit that stuff years ago, but I do have neural issues on my left side and thus my left eye is droopy! ~ Yours, Self Conscious Wayne).
Seattle friends from way back at the Crocodile show: (Left to right behind me, in the center):
Cedric Ross (AKA Fred Roth) of the bands Imij, TAP and The Fred Roth Review, John Goodmanson, producer/musician, Steve Fisk, producer/musician
This show was opened by our favorite Seattle band, whose studio Electric Eel we rehearsed beneath in the '90s, The Purdins. They tore it up with their introspective, sad but humorous pop Punk.
Prism B*tch brought it again, as they do every night, and as I have mentioned, they won many new fans that night.
Sadly, I have no live Prism B*tch photos from this show as during their set I was taking a nap upstairs in their hotel room, which they graciously offered me, as I only had 2.5 hours of sleep the night before, so I will just use this awesome photo from their Instagram:
Treepeople, playing the tune Handcuffs, Seattle, 8/12/23 - Scotty was on fire that night! Seattle was our best performance for sure.
~ Screenshot by author from Janet Crisp's video, see actual video here
Bellingham, 8/13/23 - Last Treepeople show ever…😕
Bellingham was fun, a smaller show like the ones we came up playing. We were conscious of the fact that it was our last show ever, but it was a chill night, and a relaxed, looser set. The crowd had a great time and so did we.
[in the first post of this entry somehow this next section on the openers got cropped, apologies to the bands!]
Opening was the mighty band from Spokane, Washington who we played with at Treefort once, Itchy Kitty. They were incredible and topped it off with a killer, intense version of Talking Heads' Psycho Killer.
Prism B*tch were relaxed and in the zone and had people dancing. A great show all around!
The always killer Itchy Kitty, who murdered it that night
After the show we drank and laughed and partied like we were young again, complete with wacky antics and a trading of stomach punches and face slaps between Dug and Teresa, some ritual, and then the throwing and catching of peanuts in the mouth, while the slow realization that this was it settled in; the long journey, that started with the forming of a hardcore punk band called Dissident Militia in Boise, Idaho in 1983, had ended. Then, sipping whisky in the hotel and telling tales and finally, sleep.
Wayne and Teresa, drummer friends for life!
Group shot of the whole 2023 'jaunt' tour crew. Photo by Lauren Poole
The next morning we had a nice breakfast with our road crew and Pr*sm Bitch and then we all went our separate ways....✋
The last breakfast with the whole crew. ~ Photo taken by our wonderful waitress (on a personal note, it blows me away how much I look like my dad as I get older. RIP)
What a ride. What an honor. Thank you friends and fans for all of your support over the decades!
PS - Why the last shows? I have a disability, a numb left leg and partially numb left arm and hand, and it is getting harder and harder for me to play punk drums. I want to go out while I still sound good! This doesn't mean I am done drumming or playing music! I just can't play fast drums or bass anymore (and that is also partly why the State of Confusion shows were also the last). ~ Wayne
Sunday, July 2, 2023
Memory is a funny thing, and an elusive one. Meaning; I might have some of this wrong, as 1. My memory is not always accurate, like anyone and 2. It is from my perspective only. Any friends who were there, feel free to correct me or add things I have missed. It helps! Also, no gossip on anyone here, it ain't about that. Personal details are on a surface level, and friends, girlfriends and others are re-named to respect their privacy. People in bands generally put their names out there on albums and in interviews anyway, and are not in the habit of staying anonymous, and therefore are named here. That said, anyone who is in the blog that wishes me not to use their name has only to ask.
Seattle Years Disclaimer: As I enter the Seattle years in this music blog, the above disclaimer goes double, because so much happened and there are so many details to cover in this 14 year period; so many shows, so many bands, so many friends and so much change in my life. As a result of this and the fact that the four of us who formed Treepeople found ourselves in the midst of a scene which blew up around us and attracted the eyes of the world just 2 years after our arrival, not to mention the 12 years I played music following that, I am bound to, hell, I will forget something.
This means two things: I will be coming back to entries and adding things to them over the months following publication, and, that the part of the above disclaimer where I ask for help from people in keeping me honest and in remembering things is crucial to them. I thank anyone ahead of time who was there, and, those who weren't there who have access to valid info, for helping me to correct errors in dates or chronology. Yes, I have the Internet, but many bands, scenes and things I will cover did not receive the attention I feel that they deserved and thus I will recall them mostly from memory, or rather, memories; mine and those of friends. Also, friends who were in bands which I do not happen to mention, please don't take it personally, just remind me. I have created a monster in undertaking this blog, one which I am determined to ride until the end!
Lastly, as mentioned, this scene gained national attention, and thus, needless to say and as we all know, many bands/people became famous, became rock stars, were/are admired by millions, etc. and etc...This makes another part of my original disclaimer even more important. This memoir is intended to tell my story, from my perspective. I have no intention of creating a place where people can seek gossip about famous people, nor is it about 'name-dropping'. I write of my impressions of people, bands, and the Seattle scene from the '90s into the early 2000s. I protect those who are my friends fiercely because a symptom of being known is frequent intrusion into their lives beyond a level that I feel is acceptable. Thank you for indulging me this disclaimer. Onward>>>
The romantic relationship ends...
I had recently had a conversation with my partner, an argument that ended up as a conversation, more truthfully, in which she casually commented, not even in any meaningful way, more like how when someone says, "Well, maybe all humanity is doomed!!" or, "Maybe no one is honest," but what she happened to say, inspired by our circular conversation about how we may not actually be suited to each other, was, "Well, maybe people weren't meant to be monogamous."
At this point in my life, as I previously covered, I was a bit overwhelmed with anxiety. To make matters worse, I was managing the café at this point (so I am going a bit back in time here) and at work any given day I would drink coffee in the morning, Coca-Cola through the day and black tea at home at night, all of which, along with other toxins ingested, ramped up my anxiety as bad as if I were doing speed, and distorted all of the other things going through my head about issues at work, issues with bands and the pressures of performing and recording and touring while being alternately exhausted and amped. I was a jangle of nerves and I rarely thought clearly or coherently, but I presented very differently most of the time.
So when I heard my partner say that maybe people weren't meant to be monogamous, my fucked up brain translated it as, "Oh, she is saying it is ok for me to sleep with other people." Oh, Wayne, you self-deceiving fool. This was of course not what she was saying, but, I ended up having a short affair while she was working hard on a degree and living an hour and a half away. This was after she had been there for me through all the long rehearsal hours, touring, recording and playing shows. Then I ended the affair and told my partner about it, wracked with guilt. I had never done this, it had always been done to me and she would never have done it to me. In retrospect, as I covered last entry, I wanted out of the relationship but didn't have the guts to just end it. As an older (hopefully wiser) person, I see the obvious; this was a terrible, cowardly way out.
We tried to mend it, couples therapy, you name it, but it was not to be. While we did become friends and hang out some more after we broke up (and it was actually nice as there were no stakes hanging over things, no strings and all that jazz) we drifted apart and didn't remain friends. This was one of the biggest fuck ups in my life and I would never do it again, but I will regret forever that it was at her expense which I learned this lesson. After we broke up I moved into a tiny, charming apartment in the Wallingford neighborhood and started a new chapter in my life.
Life gets even busier, and, working for the CIA
Within a matter of a couple years, my life as a musician got very busy. I was suddenly (or it felt like it was suddenly) playing in 3 bands: Violent Green, Faintly Macabre, and the Halo Benders. The latter didn't take up as much time as the other two bands, as we all lived in different places, so we got together whenever all of our schedules allowed, which was once or twice a year, but when we did get together, it was a flurry of activity, and my rehearsal and performance schedules became challenging to manage. But I was loving it, despite some added stress.
To pay the bills I was working at the caterer, as mentioned, and around 1996 I got a job working for Seven Gables Theaters (and Holden Payne was my boss at one of them) a chain of cool art-house theaters. I worked concessions at various locations, and eventually cleaned some of the theaters late at night.
After working at the caterer for a while, I got an idea to ask them if they would pay me to clean their office and kitchen weekly, starting it as a side gig to make extra money. This would lead to a cleaning business which I named Clean It All office cleaning (I didn't plan it but the abbreviation was 'CIA', thus the section title above...got your attention, didn't it?) that I would eventually make a living on. I acquired more and more accounts, starting with an office furniture sales company next door to the caterer, and for a short time I cleaned an architect's office in the same building.
Then I got the idea to pitch to cleaning recording studios I had recorded at, since I knew the people who owned them, and I knew what not to touch in a studio. I added Avast! Recording and Jon and Stu's (formerly Reciprocal) and eventually post production studios (that record commercial advertisements) as cleaning accounts. I specifically cleaned offices & studios only, I avoided cleaning houses because I didn't like the idea of going into people's personal space and lives. By the end of my time having this cleaning business in the late '90s, I had 9 accounts total, all of which I cleaned myself (with help from my partner sometimes - a different partner, of course, who will enter in the tale soon, but not in detail as she is very private - and a very brief stint with a few employees).
I was/am very proud of this business, and of the fact that I expanded it to soon be able to live on it and be my own boss. I am grateful to the caterer I worked for and the surrounding businesses adjacent to them for helping me get my start, and to the studios who helped me as well. It was a huge shift in perspective in my life, to one in which I realized that I wasn't totally dependent on some restaurant or company for my livelihood, and that if I put my head into it, I could be my own boss.
Of course, in this particular line of work, my body didn't always agree that it was a good way to make a living, and ultimately this aspect of it was also the death of it, but I am getting a bit ahead of myself (as I do). It would take a couple years yet to develop this business and gain more accounts. At this point in life, my only cleaning accounts were the caterer I worked for and the office furniture business next door. Doing deliveries for the caterer was still my main source of income for a time (and I should add that doing deliveries in the Seattle/Puget Sound area using only a printed Thomas Guide, as even MapQuest didn't exist then, and certainly not smart phones, in a city that had tons of lakes and nonsensical street layouts and was in a huge spurt of growth and change in the mid '90s...was stressful) but by the time I was working for the theater, I stopped working at the caterer doing deliveries; they became my cleaning client only. Music was still costing more than it took in, at least in terms of sheer monetary measure. But in terms of a life goal fulfilled, I was thriving.
Drew the Producer and Sample Master
Another development at this time was that Drew Quinlan, the drummer in Violent Green, had expanded his interest in creating beats on samplers to also include being involved in the Seattle hip hop community. There was a great hip hop group called Born 2 Create (AKA B2C - a name I have always been fond of, as it also described me) with whom he began to work. Drew would hold court in his small room, often when I came by he would be in session with 3 or 4 young Black hip hop artists, laying a bed of beats for them to rap over. I still have tapes of B2C and it all still sounds pretty cool, though a little crude production-wise, as Drew was just starting out as an amateur producer. Were he still among the living, he would laugh at me calling him that; "Producer?" he would say, "I'm just laying beats, dude," and then laugh that stoner laugh and flash that handsome, easy-going smile (god I miss that guy).
Drew also worked on his own stuff (often under the name Stereo Taxi) a lot of which was really cool, and on which I would occasionally collaborate with him, adding odd poetry or improvisational spoken word or bass or guitar. Ajax (of Last Gasp, LISAP Opera, Crisis Rebirth and other bands) or any musician or non-musician who happened to be hanging out would also join in and add some insane stuff over the beats. It was always an open, inviting artistic lab, and everyone who knew Drew loved him and was happy to contribute to whatever he had going on. These sessions are among my fondest musical memories.
Sometimes he would add instrumentation, and as raw or out of tune as it could be at times, it still sounded unique, and very him. He spent countless hours working on all kinds of stuff, and over time he became a master of sampling things and building beats, taking a huge tip from the warbly, uneven sounds of the Wu Tang Clan (who had by this time established a non-traditional, original method of sampling beats and music) and of course from the sampling art created by our musical mentor and producer, Steve Fisk, who became an important 'partner in crime' on the later, more sample based approach, which quickly became a key part of Violent Green's songwriting as Jenny was also experimenting with sampling, often of her own voice or guitar parts from various recordings; unused studio cut ups, four track recordings and home recordings (Drew crafted some of his beats from similar cloth), which became a staple of the process in the studio and made what we did with beats and samples quite unique.
The work continues...
First Faintly Macabre' demo tape (note there was no song called 'The Drawing', this was a typo; the song is called The Drowning
Faintly Macabre' was still plugging away during this time. The pace of this band suited all of the members, as we were all busy with other projects, Kellie Payne, the singer songwriter, played drums in a band called Wedgewood Bombers (Wedgewood was a neighborhood in Seattle where she lived in a house with various other musicians) a band she did with her husband, the aforementioned artist Holden Payne, with whom I would also form a short-lived project that never made it to tape or the stage called Wayne Payne, which consisted of me on drums and him on vocals, but this was a little later than the period of which I am writing here.
Kellie had also played guitar and sang in the NW band of note Bell Jar, a member of which, Paulie Johnson, would later join another Seattle band of note, 764 Hero, fronted by John Atkins (who also formed Hush Harbor), and other bands.
Bell Jar 7 inch record
The truth is, as I have mentioned, Kellie was/is one of those musicians who can deftly play any instrument well, and she ended up being, over time, before she moved to Austin, Texas in 1999 for a short period, in 18 different bands, often 3 at a time. Adam Grendon, bass player for Faintly Macabre' also as mentioned, played in the awesome Seattle band The Kent 3, which was very active at this time. So Faintly Macabre' played when we could, which was surprisingly often, mostly small bar shows, and we managed to record a demo tape and a 7 inch record (with Holden Payne's art adorning the cover) at Electric Eel, the studio that the bass player of the great band The Purdins ran.
Also, The Halo Benders began work on our second record, Don't Tell Me Now at Calvin Johnson's house, more on that later. The amazing thing was that all of the music projects I was involved in remained compartmentalized, each with its own influences, members and associated scenes, with some overlap of course, as was the case with all 'alternative' scenes in Seattle and the greater Northwest at the time. I was able to live comfortably in all of these musical worlds, and traverse easily between them.
The Seattle music scene grows some peach fuzz...
While all this was going on, the Seattle music scene was entering a sort of adolescent phase of development. Nirvana had for sure put the town on the map for music in the early '90s, but they had benefited from everything before them that I have written of in the Seattle portion of this blog; the mid '70s punk scene (and some of the '60s rock bands before that, like The Sonics) that predated the Sex Pistols debut, the Punk, art rock and hardcore scenes that grew out of that, and the pre-Grunge (for lack of a better term) bands like Green River, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, U-Men, our old friend Tad Doyle of Tad & H-Hour, and we of course can't forget the mighty Melvins. Kurt Cobain did give kudos to all of the above. But what came after he left the stage of life was the scene I found myself in, one influenced by all of these bands and scenes as well, but also by new kinds of indie rock that were emerging which mixed genres in more sophisticated ways than their predecessors (for instance, I was in Violent Green, a band that mixed Punk, folk, jazz, goth, rock, and trip hop).
Despite all that, record labels were still hungry for 'the next Nirvana.' So there were lots of label reps still lurking (an MCA Records rep even sniffed at Violent Green for a minute, but then they were fired and that was the end of that) and lots of small indie labels were starting up. Sub Pop remained the game in town to shoot for in terms of the height of Seattle success, but the potential for bands getting on bigger labels was also very real then.
It was in this environment in 1994 that Chris Takino would help guide Doug Martsch in getting Built to Spill signed with Warner Brothers. Sub Pop began to branch out in terms of the styles of bands they signed. Chris Takino's Up Records was a big reason for the branching out, I feel. He had shown Sub Pop by example that they were overlooking some great bands that were right under their noses (let's face it, two of those bands were Treepeople and Built to Spill! however they also graciously distributed Treepeople records - credit where it's due, and, many years later, Built to Spill is now on Sub Pop!). Of course, Sub Pop (along with his previous employer, SST Records) had provided a template for Chris to start a label with, and, Sub Pop had also helped Takino get the label up and running (for a short period in the beginning, Up Records even had offices in the same building as Sub Pop, the Terminal Sales Building) and in their own way they supported this filling of the void that Takino and Up provided.
Up Records gave a home to bands and artists that didn't fit the 'Grunge' label, like Modest Mouse, Combustible Edison, Hush Harbor, 764 Hero, Satisfact, Mike Johnson, Rick Sabo, our crazy little brother band Caustic Resin, the wonderful band Juned, and so many more, including of course the very first Up band, our weird trio Violent Green, which couldn't seem to attract the attention of anyone except other musicians, who loved us. Everyone else was scratching their heads. We never would have gotten a record deal with any other label, of this I am certain. Thank you forever, Chris (wherever in the cosmos you may be).
Professional, semi-professional, or just having fun; Choose your adventure!
My attitude toward playing music at this point, or at least my expectation of what I wanted to get out of it, was shaped by my previous experience with Treepeople; I just wanted to play music I loved, and if I could make even part of my living at it, I was happy.
Violent Green and Up Record's first 7 inch release
Violent Green would never provide even that (tough Halo Benders would soon) but I was fine with it. And I believe, in retrospect, that Jenny and Drew felt differently. I feel like they wanted some of that pie offered by the sniffing labels. And truthfully, they should have gotten it, but I just don't think they recognized their own naiveté about the music business, despite their immense talent. This is no dis to them; it's more of a dis to the music biz. And the truth is, most of the Seattle scene was filled with bands who fit that bill. We were all young and just wanted to be heard. We weren't business savvy folks, and most musicians aren't.
Every artist wants a piece of, if not fame, then at least making a living for all the hard work, time, sacrifice and money they give to the muse. But the people with the money, especially at that time, want a sure thing, and if you ain't that, then all the money they front you (including in the form of your own records) has to be paid back, and suddenly you are just indentured servants (the fate of so many signed bands I knew then). They seek talent by basing what they desire on recent successes and miss what is right in front of them (as I have more than once mentioned, some truths bear repeating) because their motivation is not about serving art; It is all about serving Capitalist Gods.
I was just having breakfast with an old friend and his family recently in Portland, one of the guitarists from the amazing Seattle band Imij (a band who will be entering my tale soon) Chris Omowale, and he mentioned how in the old days, we were broke but creating all the time; art, music - we gave everything to it, and despite our self-imposed poverty, we were mostly happy. Happy because we were focusing all of our energy on our creative impulses, and to doing it our way, even if it wasn't serving up food for the Capitalist Gods (this was very much Imij's story). And who wants to be eaten and shit out, anyway?
Wayne Ray "Rhino" Flower II, 7/2/23