Sunday, July 4, 2010


Ahab was a band that I played in from 1997 until 1999. It consisted of Bill Raymond on guitar and vocals, Tom Siebert on bass, along with myself on drums.
I was introduced to Bill through a friend of my sister. Our first conversation was  over the telephone, in which was talked mostly about Shellac, as I recall. We started to play together about a week later, and rehearsed with a religious zeal for the next two years.
Ahab was a very music-focused band. It seems to me that bands have all kinds of focuses. Sex, drugs, money, scenes. For Ahab, the focus remained firmly on music. At one point we rehearsed three times a week. We would have long talks about Rory Gallagher or James Blood Ulmer or John Coltrane.
Bill called the shots in Ahab. A native of Maine, he has an independent Yankee spirit, along with a real love of nature. He's a very meticulous guy, and one hell of a guitar player. I consider him to be the best guitarist I've ever played with. The tunes posted here were chosen for the most part to show just how ripping Bill can be when he solos. I still marvel at his tone and songwriting. He's also enormously generous. He bailed me out of more than one financial jam. Along with all that, Bill also turned me on to SF Giants baseball. Thanks a million, Mr. Raymond.
Tom Siebert played the shit out of a great old Fender Jazz Bass. Bill and I could jam for an hour, non-stop, and Tom would calmly lay down these great walking bass lines, up and down the neck of his axe, without ever going out of time or key. His playing was so important to the band. Tom was obsessed with Buckethead, and attended/recorded his SF Bay Area shows fanatically. In a previous phase of his life, he'd been a major Deadhead. There is a famous picture of the Dead playing their last run of shows at the Winterland. Smack dab in front of stage right, you will see a red-headed guy clapping and smiling. That's Tom. Tom also had the foresight to record all of our shows, along with select practices. Tom showed me the importance of documenting your stuff. Up to that point, I hadn't really cared too much about doing that. Tom's mid-Western upbringing in Minneapolis gives him a bit of a reserved demeanor. He's a pretty sensitive guy, and this cruel world has often been tough on him. I hope he's doing well these days.
San Francisco was at that time going through the Dot Com boom, an event which changed the city, probably forever. Many of the smaller clubs, in which bands could easily get shows, had begun to shut down. The live music scene started to get really competitive as the pool of clubs began to shrink in the wake of city-wide rising rents. None of us in Ahab were particularly inclined to put in the extra hustle needed to book shows, so subsequently we did not play out that much. All of the practicing began to wear on me, and I left the band in early Spring of 1999. With hindsight, I wish I could have just suggested we take a few months' break. Ahab is the one band I've been in that I regret having left.
 The two tunes featured here were recorded at someone's warehouse/loft on Capp St. in S.F., probably in 1998. We were asked to play the show by a guy named Mark, who played  in a band called Helivator. Also on the bill were Hammerlock and the Solvents, among others.

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