1980s

by 1980 i was building (or had built) my little four track studio in diane's garage and was living at 303 s. elm. i did the first group of stuff over there, but then later split with her and lived in various rental houses until about 1990 when gina and i bought a big house in mahoment (next page).

Toys
(lyrics)
Tom Green played the drums, I just used the room sound of that studio for the backwards "reverb" on the toms. Dody sang it-- I think I was listening to Pat Benatar or something. It's got one of my fave guitar solos I've played, very Boston-eque, nice tone from my homebuilt Marshall, with me standing right in the little isolation booth with the cabinet to get the little bit of feedback. Two guys from Apaloosa that Dody knew came over to sing the backups, I forget their names.

Give That Girl a Chance
(lyrics)
This was my first tune ever working with Keith Harden. Rick Cummings played the drums, Keith played guitar, and I played bass. I think I was going for a kinda Boz Scaggs thing on this or something. Diane sang background vocals on the choruses. It's a particularly grainy sounding thing, so I suspect I may have gone an extra bounce to get all the tracks in there at Cram-It-On-A-Four-Track studios.

Can't Have It Both Ways
(lyrics)
I think my influence at the time was the Rolling Stones "Shattered" tune. Keith Harden sang it, Rick Cummings played drums, and I slightly sped up the track during mixing, something I tended to do back then to try to make the track sound more alive and exciting.

Diane
(lyrics)
I tune written for my first wife, Keith Harden sang it. I had a little Korg patchable synth at the time and I used that a fair amount. The amazing thing on this tune is that the drum track was played by me, then I cut little loops of tape and ran them over and over dubbing to another tape. Then I edited chunks of the other tape until I had the right length for each seciton of the song. The reverb was my home-built plate reverb made out of a 4x8' sheet of steel in a 2x4" frame with car speaker drivers driving the plate via expoxied model rocket tubing. The returns were from some piezo guitar pickups, all sitting in the basement at Elm street, with wires running out to my studio. Man, I worked my butt of at this stuff back then!

Tricia
(lyrics)
More heavy use of the little Korg synth, and likely my first drum track using a modified Drumatix. I had carved up a Drumatix and added separate outputs for the snare and toms. This is a tune I wrote back in high school. I still remember how Ed Fliege and I talked about this cute girl named Tricia who was kinda shy and quiet and therefore hard to talk to, but we both sure thought she was swell. Keith Harden sang this, and you can really here my home made plate reverb banging away on this one.

Read Between the Lines
(lyrics)
Kinda a cool song but for the stiff Drumatix drum track. Here I was beginning to sync a synth up to the drum machine in some primitive pulse triggered sorta way. Guitar tones were via an EH Little Muff fuzz run directly into my old LT Sound noise reduction unit, using the expander path to yield the high rolloff and noise reduction.
Re-make (sorta)
I pulled the tracks back from 4 track and loaded into SONAR. I used EZ-Drummer and threw on some quick acoustic and fretless. You can head artifacts from Cram-It-On-A-Four-Track engineering and that vocals have lots of pre-baked effects on them. That's how I rolled back then because I didn't own many effects and to use 'em several times I would "print" them.

Emperor's New Clothes
(lyrics)
I'm really getting electronic sounding here, probably the Drumatix triggering a Juno 60 synth borrowed from C.V. Lloydes where I worked. Keith sang it. This was during a period when Adrian Belew was renting rehearsal space from CV in the same building as the music store, so I had a little Adrian influence going on. Keith Harden played the Adrian-esque guitar solo.

Put Out the Fire
(lyrics)
Superb tune written by Erin Isaac. She'd written this swell tune and I did up this electronic production of it with her singing.

Adrienne
(lyrics)
Keith Harden wrote and performed everyting on this tune. I totally didn't get it at the time, he brought in an acoustic 12 string, a big ol' Gretch hollow body guitar, harmonica, and just put down this beautiful tune, but because I was so electronicked out at the time I didn't appreciate this tune at all. But it stands the test of time so much better than most that stuff I was working on.

Surface Tension
(lyrics)
Influence on this was Thomas Dolby. I was fancying myself quite the electronic music dude, and I tried singing one myself. Not too bad except on the choruses which are lame-o-rific. I remember having John Kellogg from Combo Audio, the hot local band at the time, come over to lay a guitar solo, but then I didn't keep it for some reason.

Fluffy She's My Kitty
(lyrics)
My step-daughter Jess sang this along with her friend Molly. Gosh, I think they were like 7 or 8 years old. It was so fun having them out in my little studio, looking all serious, singing about Jessica's kitty. This has been one of my most "popular" tunes I've ever done, putting all my supposedly serious music to shame. For a while, Bear, C.V. Lloyd's sound guy, carried this on tour with the Sammy Hagar tour sound system and would play it at sound checks before a show. I even had some record company guy call me about it. Steve Galetti (Diane's brother) played the drums.

Letting Go
(lyrics)
Steve Galetti played drums on this, a very fine track for a beginning drummer. Keith Harden sang it. One of my better lyrics of the era, I think I was resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't going to be a Big Time Musician and was trying to separate myself from doing music. I may have also been trying to kick the Erin habit, not quite sure. Anyhow, I'm sure it was all very cathartic and all.

Do The Modulation
I went back to the U or I and among my main engineering courses took a music theory class. We were studying modulation, binary form, and cadences. I suspect there was a writing assignment to demonstrate some grasp of same. I did this little bit of silliness. I apparently had also acquired a sound effects LP because there are lots of funny noises on the track. Yes, LPs of sound effects was how we rolled back in 1980.

Wound
(lyrics)
Although I'd set aside music to some extent, I kept coming back to it. This was a one shot little ditty, looking up Dan Gherna again. Tom Green drums, Bill Millikin came over and did the sax break. Hanging out with old friends again, baby, nostalic at the age of 26.

Dan's thoughts: I recall Teri Silver stopped by the studio when I did the vocals. Had a 'thing' for her at the time.. You had me strap on the 1 pickup Epiphone that only had 4 or 5 strings in order to get a 'live' vocal feel. Your vocals were great. Aw, shucks, thanks Dan. Yours were too!

My Hands Are Tied
(lyrics)
Here I got my two favorite vocalists together, Dan Gherna and Keith Harden, and had 'em try to do a tune together. I'd borred a Linn drum machine from Creative Audio, kinda a nice groove. I believe I played this old Hondo bass I'd bought for Diane, along with this one pickup Epiphone guitar with no finish. Nothing but the best instruments for me.

Second Prize
(lyrics)
Me trying to sing again. Not sure what I was listening to that influenced this one. Sounds kinda like Foreigner or something. This used the Drumatix driving some drum modules that I'd designed along the lines of the Simmons drum modules (remember that brief fad?) Andy Baylor stopped by and contributed the lead break.

Dayglo Winnebago
At this point I was living in a little house on Fair street in Champaign that I was renting with Gina. I was using one of the bedrooms as a tiny little studio. I actually wrote this music back in high school (minus the intro lick which I later repurposed for "Lucky Night") but here I use it for the supposed theme song for Dan and my high concept band, The Happy Campers.

Blow Dryer
(lyrics)
One of three main Happy Campers tunes we wrote. This is all Dan's morbid sense of humor, a cute little ditty about killing your unfaithful girlfriend/wife by dropping a drow dryer in the bathtub. The sound effects on the end were accomplished by actually dropping something into the bathtub there on Fair street, touching a finger to the end of a guitar cord to get the buzzing sound, and then Gina did the scream. Rich on sax, Alesis drum machine, done on the Fostex R8 borrowed from Keith Harden.

Dan reflects: The Camper tunes were not spontaneous like the early stuff but fun to do. I still cringe when I hear 'Cubs Songs', the dog left the room when I played it tonight. I *loved* playing 3 piece with you and Harmon. Did you save any of the basement sessions or live Campers tapes.

It's So Big
(lyrics)
Little pop tune of a guy basically singing in thinly veiled double entendre about the size of his thingy. Rich Hogan on sax again.

Faxing All My Love to You
(lyrics)
A Happy Campers original that we actually managed to perform live. I think I used to try to sing it live. That's never a good thing.

No More Cubs Songs
Dan and I were hanging out watching the last game of the playoffs. This was probably their 1989 season I'd guess. I think we were done with the Happy Campers at this point. But after the Cubs lost that day, Dan was seized by inspiration (or beer) and we ran upstairs and wrote and recorded this entertaining little ditty. Dan called up a friend at WLRW, we ran the tape out to 'em and they dubbed it. They gave it pretty heavy airplay for the next couple days. It was my one and only recorded performance on sax using an instrument I'd rented that summer to try to learn.

What's in a Name
(lyrics)
Keith Harden and I hadn't gotten together in quite a while, but he came over to Fair street to sing and play guitar on this one. I was amazed at the time with this new trend that folks would actually buy clothing that was no more than a walking advertisement for the clothing company that made it, e.g. Guess. Now we just take it for granted.

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