It's here! 7 years in the making! Finally the new Skin Yard CD "Start at the Top" exists and is available only from this website (my garage sale page) and the C/Z Records website. There are a limited number of copies for sale, so pay attention! This is the final missing piece in our recorded catalog: most of the stuff (singles, rarities, compilation cuts) that never made it onto CD, plus 6 totally unheard tracks to sweeten the deal even more. Today I sent out the following to my whole subscriber list:
Hi gang - this here is a rare bit of Endino-spam rather than a newsletter. The first "new" release by my old band Skin Yard, "Start at the Top", is out NOW. We have only 700 hand-numbered copies for sale, details below. These may never be available in stores.
WHO? Skin Yard was the Seattle band for which I played guitar and co-wrote the music for 7 years, 1985-1992. Ben McMillan (later of Gruntruck) was the singer. Daniel House (later owner of CZ Records) was the bass player for all but our final year. Drummers included Matt Cameron (later Soundgarden, now Pearl Jam), Scott McCullum (later of Gruntruck), Jason Finn (Presidents of the USA) and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Tuatara, etc). All are on this record.
We made 5 albums in our day and influenced a lot of other Seattle bands (you listen and figure out which ones!), but we were too tripped-out and noise-damaged to go for the big sellout... therefore, happily, we're all still alive and sane people today, more or less.
SO WHAT THE HECK IS THIS? This is the long-rumored comp CD of all our rare singles and B-sides, starting off with our ultra-rare Sub Pop single and getting weirder from there. There's also a couple cover tunes (check out "Machine Gun Etiquette") and six other tracks that have never been released, including the ultimate definitive version of "Gentle Collapse" which smokes the one on our third album. NONE OF IT HAS EVER BEEN ON CD BEFORE. I labored mightily for some years over the mixing and mastering of this, and it sounds better than our other five records, since I now have TECHNOLOGY available to me. Some of this will fry your head.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the great lost Skin Yard record, and I think it's a better record than at least two of our "real" albums were. If you like big, big riffs and serious guitar damage, this is for you. No one else ever sounded quite like us, that's for sure.
This band was also my "production laboratory," where I tried stuff I wouldn't risk yet with my other studio clients!
For now it's available online from the CZ Records website (http://www.czrecords.com/) You can see the cover art there; wait for the front page to load, there's a popup window which will appear. I have some to sell too. I will let Daniel take it from here:
At 3:23 PM -0800 11/1/01, Daniel House wrote:
>Hello everyone ~
>I just got off of the phone, and I will have 700 hand-numbered Skin Yard CDs in my grubby little hands later tonight!
>Needless to say, I'm psyched. Jack did a great job with the mastering of these tracks, and Gary Bedell kicked ass with the graphics. The songs sound better now than they did eons ago when they first appeared on vinyl (not that all of the tracks have appeared ANYWHERE before this...).
>If you want one (or two or three) grab your checkbook, and I'll start packaging your personal copy of START AT THE TOP to drop in the mail... Thanks for your support by the way. Feel free to tell your friends -- that is if they even remember the name Skin Yard. It's been a looong time.
>The postpaid price(s):
>$12 inside the U.S.
>$15 for Canada & Mexico
>$17 the rest of the world (Or 20 Euros...--JE)
> ~ Daniel
There ya go. You can buy from Jack's Garage Sale (http://www.endino.com/mangofork.html) right now. Or if you prefer, Daniel's got 'em at the CZ website (http://www.czrecords.com). Usual caveats apply, checks should be in US Dollars, etc etc. Jack sez, go ye now to and buy or die. Anyone who has a verifiable, legitimate need for a review copy, get ahold of either of us.
Thanx for your time.
(P.S. If we sell all these I'm putting out my own damned 2nd Earthworm CD myself in a few months! Stay tuned!)
Sent out Newsletter 6.1 last week, which you can find at the archive page. Speaking of 6.1, the new Netscape 6.1 browser appears to fix major bugs and is vastly improved.
Been trying to relax after working on that one record for 13 weeks or so, layin' low, finally catching up on email and website maintenance. Had to shake off the depression caused by the terrorist attacks also; at least I didn't lose anyone in NYC. (Watching our fearless leaders is making me even more depressed... but don't get me started.) Getting a new newsletter ready, full of completely disconnected and unrelated factoids. Meanwhile, read the two entries below (3 Sept and 17 July) to see what would have been my previous newsletter (in case you're wondering why I've been silent).
Site updates: take a look at my new discography page, because now you can see what each record looks like! The "garage sale" is back online,
and I just added 7 new pages to the photo album... finally.Lotsa new stuff.
Finally home now. Just hours ago, finished the Titãs record that I flew down to Brazil for on May 21st (!!). We mixed it in Seattle at Studio X. 16 songs. Mission accomplished. Damned great Titãs record. Now I'm taking some time off come what may. Enough 14-hour days for a while.
The unofficial English-Language Titãs Website is up now at www.endino.com/titas/.
Lot of water under the bridge (read entry below). As if that wasn't enough, my poor Dad passed away last month at age 84, and I had to fly home from Brazil to take care of things and then fly back a week later to continue working on the record. Even though I was calling him almost every day (Mom passed away last year) it still made me pretty sad that I wasn't actually at home when he died. It was sudden and unexpected though, and painless. Just like that. Hope I go like that when my time comes. He was a WWII veteran (Solomon Islands, Tulagi, South Pacific, 1944). After his last major operation (a five-way heart bypass a couple years ago) we always joked that hey, since your statistical life expectancy is what, 70-something, you've definitely gotten your money's worth by now, so these are BONUS years! He always laughed. Each time he narrowly squeaked through a major medical crisis intact, the joke got better as we would both be so relieved. We both knew his time was getting closer though. RIP.
What a messed-up year. But we made a great record, as we had to. Somehow we still managed to finish on schedule, I don't know how. Like I said below, work is the best therapy sometimes.
Available now is the new Zen Guerrilla record "Shadows on the Sun" on Sub Pop, plus Sub Pop has released a Radio Birdman compilation, first time their stuff has been available in the US in 20 years. And speaking of therapy, available soon on Ark 21 Records is the new Therapy? record I worked on last spring, "Shameless", a totally great record too. People gotta hear it. Oh yeah, one of the extra songs we did ("Denim Demon") is on the new Turbonegro tribute album. I even play some guitar on it, not that Therapy? need my help really, but they asked me.
Wellwater Conspiracy, in my absence, has been playing successfully as a three-piece, with Glen Slater covering my bass parts on his keyboards. They just did a little west coast tour, and finished with a Seattle show last friday. Being at work in a studio two blocks from the club, I made it over to see part of their set, and they were on fire, though I wished I was up there playing. I also wished Glen was louder... they need to get him the equivalent of a bass cab to play through if he's going to cover the low end. Who knows if they will ask me to play with them again, they're a pretty unpredictable bunch, which is how they like it. Serves me right for leaving for 4 months, right? I was sort of honored that they didn't manage to actually get another bass player to replace me... on the other hand, perhaps I soured them on bass players completely... depends on how you look at it. Who knows?
OK, I'm in Brazil now. Internet connection speed is too often in the double digits, in BYTES, not KBytes, when you can get through the busy signals. Email can be very laborious, depending on how glacial the local server is feeling. For this reason, there will be no newsletters until I get home, so I'm going to use this space as a substitute.
Titãs, the band I'm working with here, have been together for almost 20 years, and have made over a dozen Brazilian albums in that time, not counting various hits compilations. The name translates as "Titans" in english. Originally they were eight guys, but one left in 1992 right before my first album for them, though he still contributes lyrics sometimes. Currently I'm making my 4th record for the band. More than "clients" at this point, they are my close friends. Like a big family, with the wives, kids and relatives always around... old-world extended family, the likes of which we don't have anymore in the States.
These guys are like a big sit-com, every one with a huge quirky personality, each one famous in Brazil for various side projects, solo albums and extracurricular activities. One writes bestselling crime novels. One produces CD reissues of old classic Brazilian samba and pop records. Another, an amateur sports commentator who also writes recipe books. Another has had his songs recorded by other Brazilian pop artists, songs that didn't fit Titãs' sound. They keep busy, and somehow the balance of seven volatile personalities has kept them vital for 20 years, one of Brazil's biggest and most respected rock/pop bands. I have worked with no one else like them anywhere.
There are 2 guitarists, a drummer, a bassist who also sings lead sometimes, and three other lead singers who take turns and sometimes play keyboard, percussion or guitar. All of them contribute to the songwriting, which keeps things interesting because they are still very competitive with each other after all these years... yet there is no band "leader."
This time I came down here three weeks before the recording session for some pre-production in São Paulo, a pleasant luxury. The band had taken a year off and were still demo-ing new songs. This would be their first record of entirely new songs since I recorded "Domingo" for them in 1995; in the interim they had done an "MTV Unplugged" type record, a "hits and rarities" record and an album of covers, among other things. When I got here they had 10 "OK" songs, so I convinced them to write some more and rework the ones they had, because I know what they are capable of. Finally we had 18 really great songs to pick from, possibly the best batch of material we've ever had for a Titãs album. We were all very excited, and ready to get into the studio and make a great record.
Having scheduled over 6 weeks to record at a studio in Rio De Janeiro (a few hours away from São Paulo), we figured our first day (Monday, June 11th) would be spent unloading their truckload of gear into the studio, setting up and getting sounds. There were myself, drummer Charles Gavin and various roadies and assistants; the rest of the band would arrive next day. We actually set up two separate drumkits, with entirely diferent miking schemes: a "hi-fi" kit and a "lo-fi" kit. The hi-fi kit was miked as usual, one or more mic per drum. The lo-fi kit was an experiment; we miked kick and snare, and then put a single U47 one meter over the center of the kit, and included two room mics, pointed at the ceiling as I like to do. (This allows you to get just reflections in the room mics without any of the direct sound of the kit, avoiding any phase problems. Since the sound has to travel out and then back, you can make the room sound twice as big by pointing the room mics away from the kit like this. They must be cardioid for it to work.) With the overhead mic going thru an 1176 compressor, and another mic out in the hallway behind the kit (with the recording room door open partway), the lo-fi kit (a 60's Ludwig made of see-thru plastic) sounded insane and very rock and roll.
Just as were setting up another room full of guitar amps and getting headphones ready for so many guys, came some disturbing news around midnight. Guitarist Marcelo Fromer, who had been planning to arrive the next day, had dissappeared... and friends had just found him in a hospital in São Paulo. Having been found without any ID, he was identified by his tattoos. A flurry of phone calls established that he had been out jogging in his neighborhood that evening and had been hit by a motorcycle, and that his injuries were serious. The motorcyclist fled the scene and was never found. Charles and I tried to put on a brave face, thinking "Marcelo is strong and healthy, he'll get through this. Even if he's fucked up for 6 weeks, we can still overdub him later." We stopped everything, and Tuesday Charles and the rest of the band went to the hospital in São Paulo, leaving me in Rio at the hotel beginning to come down with a serious cold. I stayed by the phone all day, receiving increasingly disturbing news as time went on, all the while feeling sicker and sicker, and more and more worried about Marcelo.
Late Tuesday night I finally got the jolting news that there was "very little hope" for Marcelo because of extremely traumatic head injuries. Wednesday, the doctors (some of the best in Brazil) declared him brain-dead, and his life support was disconnected that afternoon. Marcelo Fromer, age 39, Titãs guitarist, author, and part-time amateur sports commentator, was dead. Charles called and said "Now... we are six." I was physically sick... and sick with grief. He was a friend. What a thing to happen. That night I flew back to São Paulo to be there for the funeral and interment the next day.
The family, like Marcelo, not being particularly religious, decided on a non-religious ceremony at the Cemiterio de Paz in São Paulo. Without going into too much detail, it was one of the worst days of my life. There were friends I hadn't seen since my last trip to Brazil, the guys from Sepultura, other bands and producers and engineers, band family, soccer stars... but what a time to see them again. Everyone was in shock. I got to watch them actually put the coffin in the ground, as the remaining Titãs sang one of their old songs, "Pra Dizer Adeus" (To Say Goodbye), and his girlfriend threw the first handful of dirt on it. Whew. And I could see there were fans, many, many fans... the papers next day said there were 3000 of them around us at the cemetery. At an Argentina-Brazil soccer game that day, 30,000 people had a minute of silence for Marcelo. It's actually pretty hard for me to even write this.
The band came to a decision pretty quickly. We would wait a week and re-start the sessions. Guitarist Tony Bellotto and I would handle some of Marcelo's guitar parts, and there were other people we would call to help. Their thought was, if we don't continue now, we may stop for good, or just go crazy. "We have to do it." And we all knew Marcelo would have been the first one to say, come on guys, get over it! Do it! Go! Vamos! That was the kind of guy he was, a positive force. We had to make this record for him.
I've had unforeseen production difficulties... but never like this, friends.
Four weeks later, having been through a horrible, tenacious cold, Marcelo's funeral, then severe bronchitis, and finally a secondary bacterial sinus infection which sent me to a doctor last week for some serious antibiotics, I can say the sessions have been going amazingly well. There have been rough moments (Marcelo on the TV, his face in all the glossy magazines and newpapers, photos from the funeral) but we have dealt with it by working very, very hard. There's a feeling that we are making a very special record... and that we MUST do so. A friend of theirs who is a much better guitarist than me is playing the harder Marcelo parts. (This takes the pressure off, believe me.) A steady stream of old friends have been stopping by the studio to offer support and sympathy. I'm going to make the best damn Titãs record if it kills me.
Epilogue: Marcelo had directed that his organs be donated if anything ever happened to him. This is not common in Brazil, and made him a national hero. Two days later, the papers had front-page photos of a smiling Marcelo, and next to him a photo of an old gentleman in a hospital bed giving a thumbs-up... because he had just recieved Marcelo's heart. Unlike in the US no one here sees any reason to keep this stuff a secret. Other very, very thankful people were portrayed who had recieved the "miracles" of his liver, kidneys, corneas. I found this amazing and pretty touching, and even consoling. Generous in life... generous in death. "Rhythms of Life" said one paper; "A Life to Save Lives" said another headline. You get the idea. What a guy.
So this is how I am spending my summer (winter here) in Brazil. Please don't write to me right now because getting email here is very, very laborious, and even uploading this to my site is a pain. I don't even know what the hell is happening back in Seattle right now. Thanks for reading, and my next "official" newsletter will probably be in September.
P.S. I have decided to host Titas's first official English-language website, and am working on it right now, translating the portuguese. Check it out at www.endino.com/titas.
P.P.S. Since I was going to be working in Brazil for 3 months, just as their new album was being released, Wellwater Conspiracy obviously had to find a new bass player, which I regret, but I gotta work, that's just how it is. I don't know who they got yet, but I think they are planning a U.S. west coast tour about now.
The Wellwater Conspiracy shows in NYC were killer. We opened for Guided By Voices, and I met Robert Pollard, who was quite nice to me. Then we played at Maxwell's in Hoboken, which is the same little rock bar it was when Skin Yard played it in the 80's. We all had a great time... I think there are some photos at http://www.nowinvisibly.com.
There is also some streaming live video at Digital Club Network (www.dcn.com) though I haven't been able to get it to work on my rig.
Unfortunately WWC will have to find another bassist for the summer, because in a few hours I am getting on a plane to Brazil, where I will spend some weeks producing a new Titãs album. For this reason I will not be answering all my email... I may not even be able to get email on any regular basis. So save your orders and questions for the time being, you'll just clog up my server for no purpose.
Wanted to get another newsletter out before I left, but it didn't happen. Oh well. (The Supagroup recordings came out killer, by the way.)
My wife Dawn's local rock magazine, Backfire, celebrated its 50th issue the other day with a show at the Crocodile Cafe featuring Zeke, Hog Molly (Tad's band) and Cherry Bomb (a Runaways tribute.) Massive rock action took place, as one would expect.
CHECK THIS SPACE to see when I will be back in town. This trip is a bit open-ended...
Recently spent some time in New Orleans recording an excellent rock and roll band called Supagroup. We will mix it here at Hanzsek Audio in a couple weeks. I expect it will slay. Next week, I fly to NYC for two gigs with Wellwater Conspiracy: one on May 4th at Irving Plaza with GBV, one on May 5th at Maxwell's in Hoboken, with some bands I don't remember. We are second out of three, both nights. At the end of May I fly to Brazil to commence work on the next album for Titas, the 4th record I will have produced for them! This will take me all of June and July, so please don't expect me to answer any emails during that time, because my internet conections from Brazil will be highly erratic. Got me? I'm outta here for a few months.
Last month, finished mixing the new Gas Huffer album, which I think is their best effort in years. They will shop it and see who wants to put it out. Tad's Hog Molly album "Kung Fu Cocktail Grip" is out on Koolarrow Records, Billy Gould's label. New Zen Guerrilla album is mastered but won't be out until fall, probably same schedule as the new Therapy? album, which will be entitled "Shameless" I think. The new Fartz record that we recorded in , er, one day, will be released by Alternative Tentacles in June. Tim Kerr (prod) and I (engr) finished a record for a Seattle band called the Gloryholes, featuring Doug White, who used to sing for Sinister Six. There's probably more but it's all a blur...
Last night Mudhoney played here at Graceland as the conclusion of their "comeback" tour, never mind that they never really quite broke up (see May entry, below). Tickets sold out the day before, so I had to cry and whine to Mark Arm to get me in, despite the fact that this has gotten me in trouble before (anyone recall a certain Supersuckers CD?). Therapy, cleverly, had already bought tickets so we all went down together and Mudhoney kicked their asses, and mine. "That was fooking brilliant," they enthused afterwards. (And my posterior is getting pretty sore by now.) It was an absolutely raging Mudhoney show, one of the best I've seen them play, and was a virtual "greatest hits"... and I didn't realize how strong a show this would amount to. Lukin was in excellent form, contributing strong backing vocals as well as his usual between-song penetrating insights. Mark got some great swirling feedback sounds out of his guitar. Dan and Steve were as iconic as ever. Please, don't anyone ask me to remember their set list; it was a really long show, which ended with a great psychedelic, noisy version of "Beneath the Valley of the Underdog." The encore was a chaotic "Grace" and utterly maniacal "Hate the Police," after which an obviously thrashed Arm stated the obvious to the audience, "I believe the word is 'Finished'..."
Opening were the Catheters, one of Seattle's up-and-coming bands, doing that Stooges/Dead Boys punk thing, and Alta May, a new band with ex-Fluid drummer Garrett Shavlik.
Previous night? We all went to see the Murder City Devils play. Haven't seen them in a year, and guess what? They, too, kicked that body part to which I have referred repeatedly of late. An excellent show, and some new songs were played. I suspect plans are afoot for their next album...
New Nebula and Black Halos albums should be out soon, and the new Wellwater Conspiracy album will be out in March on TVT.
Listen, Therapy? are kicking my ass. No one here in the states knows how good they are except all the bands I know who've played with them over in Europe. Even Mark Lanegan said they kicked his ass, and his ass is not easily kicked. This after Zen Guerrilla and Hog Molly just finished kicking my ass into the new millenium... gee, guess I discovered a new word here...(?)
Survived the holidays. Played two more Wellwater Conspiracy gigs, finished a new Zen Guerrilla album, started a new Gas Huffer album, and Therapy? are arriving tomorrow to record a new record with me at Bob Lang's studio. Their demos are killer. Tad's new band Hog Molly will soon have a release on Koolarrow Records (Billy Gould's label); it was just sequenced and mastered. The new Black Halos record will be called "The Violent Years;" promo copies are out now. Mudhoney are doing a west coast tour, with Matt Lukin back on bass on a temporary basis. Did a short session with Al Milman. Gruntruck have been gigging again to good reviews.
My Online Recording Studio Search Engine is up and running, see my front page for the link. In a few days it will be accessible as recordingstudiosearch.com. I've been hacking away at this thing for six months now, and it's gratifying to see it finally out of beta and getting very positive responses from the studio owners who've seen it. The intent here is to provide a virtual online "yellow pages" of local recording studios... and it's searchable by keyword and various other criteria. Check it and see!
Been listening intently to the new Sunny Day Real Estate album. Thought I was losing my mind, but Kurt Bloch agreed strongly with me that it is an amazing record. I was not one of the many who were fans of the band's first two records, but the new one finally did what records are supposed to do: sucked me in and made me listen over and over. It's killin' me. (Well, that's my opinion anyway; your mileage may vary.)
Well... last night, Wellwater Conspiracy opened for Pearl Jam at Seattle's Key Arena. I, uh, don't get to do this every day. I was playing bass, Matt Cameron drummed, John McBain played guitar, and Glen Slater from the Walkabouts played keys (lots of out-there synth, Hammond and Mellotron patches). Matt sang three songs, we did a couple instros, then Eddie V. came up and sang two songs with us, and finally Ben Shepherd sang two songs with us. It looks like it will be the last PJ show for a long while, everyone seemed like they were ready for some time off, but PJ played a great show and we did OK ourselves. Everyone was totally cool with us including security and crew; I've rarely seen the staff at one of these big events so good-natured.
3 nights before this, WWC's alter-ego, Brotherhood Of The Electric, played a set right after Monkeywrench at the Showbox in Seattle as part of the Terrastock 4 Festival. We were billed as Wellwater Conspiracy however, and played 5 WWC tunes in the set, and since it included myself, John McBain, and Ben Shepherd on all the vocals (except one I sang), it was sort of the Matt-less version of WWC, with Dan Peters quite capably filling in on drums as he did at our Aug 31st show with Nebula.
So, a weekend of rock. Phew. Now, back to the studio with me... gotta finish the Hog Molly record this coming weekend.
(Later: Vote, hell. Fat lot of good it did us. Hail to the Thief! Hello, New Feudalism!)
Just sent out Newsletter 5.3, full of all kinds of fluff and nonsense.
In the past couple months I have worked with the Black Halos, Lunazone (from Switzerland), Hog Molly (Tad's band), and Bluebottle Kiss (from Sydney... read the newsletter for the strange story), among others. This weekend I have a gig each with Brotherhood of the Electric and Wellwater Conspiracy...
Just sent out Newsletter 5.2, not as ranty as the last, including the BACKFIRE article about "Yarling." Recently tracked some new Zen Guerrilla stuff, also Garland Buckeye, the Fartz, Sid Law, Undisputed Heavyweight Champions, and probably other stuff from bands you've never heard of, plus some of my own stuff.
It would appear that after all this time I'm in a band again, or perhaps two. Wellwater Conspiracy is a long-running band featuring Matt Cameron (Soundgarden and ex-Skin Yard drummer, currently moonlighting with PJ) on drums/vocals, and John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet and Hater) as well as whoever else is in the room at the time. They needed a bassist and I passed the audition as it were... But since Matt is on tour with PJ right now, and we were offered a show with Nebula (next Thursday, the 31st), we came up with a related project called Brotherhood of the Electric, with mostly different songs, Dan Peters on the drums, and Ben Sheperd on vocals; I play bass and sing some backup. I would describe our performance role model as "Live at Leeds"-era Who.
Just sent out Newsletter 5.1, full of quality ranting and foaming at the mouth about various arcane, technical subjects such as "songs." This evening I will get my first glimpse of the new Experience Music Project (http://www.emplive.com) when it hosts a sneak preview advance party for those of us who contributed. My old 8-track machine will be there behind a glass case, I kid you not.
Added a bunch more stuff to my discography; did a new newsletter back in March, but just archived it to the site today; that's how busy I've been. Saw the Melvins play here with Leif Garrett; that was pretty wierd. Working with Tad's new band Hog Molly, engineered some new Mudhoney recordings on which Wayne Kramer (MC5) produced and played bass (!), more Hot Rod Lunatics, Bottle of Smoke, and also a solo album for Titãs bassist Nando Reis, recorded here in Seattle, on which I got Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Tuatara) to drum and percuss. See Newsletter 5.0 for more info.
Made it! Phew. Back to work. Nose to the grindstone, etc. Working recently with Black Halos, Zen Guerrilla, Load Levellers, Hot Rod Lunatics, demos for Crush Groove, and who knows what else is coming up in the new year. Plus, I just added a ton of new stuff to this site: lotsa photos, the Mexican Guitar Amp gallery,
some sound files, misc tweaks galore. Hopefully the next time I add stuff it won't be another year from now.