Sunday, June 27, 2010
Castro's Viagra would eventually become another song, Pounding Tin. The reason that it is instrumental here is that Robin forgot one of her pedals at her apartment, and had to run back over there to retrieve it. The fidelity sucks, but I love the fact that I pulled off a little drum solo in 10/4. Dan Laks's cool deadpan in the intro is a fine illustration of his characteristic sex-mad sarcasm.
Immediate Sky was never recorded after this occasion, and was dropped from the repertoire later in the year.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The songs featured here were recording in mid-1996, at Lennon Studios on Dore Alley in San Francisco. This lineup of the group featured Jeff Alves on bass, as Hans had decided not to be involved in what was essentially a reunion try. The group as configured played two shows, at The Edge in Palo Alto and at the corner of 6th St. and Taylor in San Francisco.
As mentioned in a previous post, Justin died on 10/19/96 in San Francisco. Jeff has resumed his painterly ambitions. I've seen his paintings posted on the web, and they are great. I'm not sure where Hans is.
I wish these tunes could have been recorded at a proper studio. I love the simplicity of them. Justin wanted a stripped and slowed down set of tunes to work with. He seemed to be going for maximum emotional impact, by way of sheer simplicity in presentation.
As we worked on the tunes, he got sober, then fell off of the wagon. The last time I saw him, upstairs at the Paradise Lounge, he told me "I'll be alright" as he headed downstairs an onto the street. I thought he was heading back to his home base of Antioch, but I guess he and Jeff had other plans for the evening. Justin died later that night, inside of our lock-out rehearsal room at Lennon Studios.
I still miss Justin a lot. I wish he could have worked out his problems and lived longer.
The Lithium Milkshake tracks are copyright 1996, Lithium Milkshake. I'm not sure who owns them.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I joined Colin Frangos in Ovipositor in July, 2003. We spent the next four or five months working on songs Colin had written and trying to find a new bass player. Ovipositor's first bass player had moved to another state, just before I'd come on board, in order to pursue post graduate work of some sort.
Matt Carter answered our craigslist post right in the nick of time. We were getting a bit disheartened after several bad bass player auditions. He jammed with us one time, and both Colin and me knew we'd found our guy.
Now that we'd found a bass player, we could start working of songs that Colin had been developing, along with booking shows. I was particularly excited about the prospect of playing shows with a Rock band again.
Colin booked our first show through his pal Nate, who drummed in Nasturtiums, along with the first configuration of Ovipositor. The Stork Club on a Wednesday night in February is pretty much a guaranteed bust in terms of money or attendance, but I couldn't have cared less about any of that. I was happy to be playing out again. I was also happy to be doing so in the company of two very cool people, people that had enthusiasm for just making music. It felt great to be rocking out just for the hell of it, with no expectations except for the sheer joy of the process.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
This video was filmed by Pacific Noise, an on-line 'zine. Taping was in late 2006 or early 2007. Laurin Askew was the bass player for Ovipositor at the time. He left the group in June 2007, as he had to move back to his home state of Virginia. His mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and he dutifully went home to be near her for her last years. Laurin, you're a mensch. Watch as we stumble through a brief interview, then dig on my featured vocal tune, We're Hermits (lyrics inspired by Lester Bangs).
Monday, June 14, 2010
Birdsaw's critics accused us of "playing Rock Star", but we handled every aspect of the band ourselves: booking, CD production, artwork, etc. We never thought about having a manager. Pity the person who would attempt to manage any of us, anyway. This independent stance made us have to play off the beaten path a lot. In L.A. music scene terms, Fais Do Do is REALLY off the beaten path.
The bass drum head was hand painted by Ilan Laks. He's a pretty successful artist in Portland, these days.
A few more of the last demo tunes here:
The chorus of the first tune was the chorus from a song that I'd written for the band on a really cheap Fender Jaguar. They only liked that part, so I had to be happy with having it cloned on to a riff by someone else. Robin's lyric "Can't wake up/ can't run/out of my skin/can't give it away" pretty much summed up how I felt about the fate of Birdsaw, and my own personal situation, at the time of these recordings.
I guess most people who pursue creative endeavours suffer for it, so at least I know that I wasn't alone.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The characteristic sound of the band was the LOUD alto of singer Robin Coomer. I always admired her singing, along with her abstract approach to lyrics. These factors may have been a bit of a hindrance to the band. It seemed like people found her voice daunting, especially in the live setting. I'm not sure that her subjective lyrical style gave people much to "relate" to either.
Often overlooked was guitarist Dan Laks. I grew to love his much-considered tone, along with his melodic style and heels-over-ass soloing, especially live. His style in Birdsaw was the aloof one favored by older players like Ritchie Blackmore or Paul Kossoff. I always appreciated that. I grew very fond of Dan. I hope he's well.
Bassist Tom Jordan was all bedrock playing. He was not flashy, but his parts served the tunes, and his finger-picked style was low and warm. He's also a really funny guy, his humor honed by living an abstemious life in a decadent society. Tom plays bass in a great band out of San Jose called Rivals.
The tracks featured here were recorded at our Hudson St., SF, rehearsal studio in early 2003. We recorded these, and others, at a proper studio later that year, but the band imploded that June, symbolically smashed apart during Dan's post-set destruction of his beloved black Stratocaster at the Hotel Utah. As I watched him maniacally savage his axe, I realized that all of the pressure we'd put on ourselves for the previous five years was finally taking it's toll, and opted out.
Don't expect a reunion show, but I will post a ton of other stuff in the future. I loved that band.
The picture below was taken at Oakland, CA's beloved Stork Club, ca. 2002.