PART IV: New Horizons
After departing Cheer-Accident I worked for a time with Tim Stevens and Vito Greco of Table in a project comprised of Table classics, a few new tunes and a healthy dose of improvisation. Augmented by Chad Organ of The Flying Luttenbachers, the quartet parted ways in the mid-nineties.
In 1995, at the invite of Scot Ashley, I joined Joe and Renee Zanona’s Libertines (not to be confused with the ‘known’ band of the same name) along with Off Broadway drummer Kenny Harck. The band dissolved after one sparsely attended gig during a freak off-season snow storm.
About this same time, with lots of free studio time and a more than generous supply of chips and salsa, I had embarked on my first post-Cheer solo project. Combining unused ideas culled from previous bands as well as fresh material, Pox was intended to be a lean, quickly produced release with live aspirations. In the end it achieved none of these goals, utilizing dozens of overdubs, endless delays and no live band in sight. The resultant album, “Fin” was eventually completed in 1998.
The CD was further hampered by over-compression and an under-whelming pressing – yet it succeeded in developing a blueprint for what was to come and reconnected me with two very important collaborators, Jim Widlowski and Thymme Jones.
Playing most of the non-percussive parts myself, I enlisted the vocal skills of Doug Ackman (who also provided additional lyrics and melody) along with drummers Brad Schlueter and Jim Widlowski. Nearing completion, I had recruited Thymme for some additional vocals and creative input and soon found my ‘solo’ project resembling more of a post-Cheer collaboration seemingly picking up from where we had left it 6 years earlier.
I vowed the next release would not take the nearly 4 years it had taken to produce “Fin” and in the end it didn’t. It took 10. Initially intended to be released as two EP’s in full color gatefold sleeves, the project developed a life of its own, sometimes rushing ahead at a blistering pace – sometimes laying dormant for years at a time.
Ironically, one of the first tracks completed was one of the least probable – the opening “Hamfist” which features 5uu’s Dave Kerman on drums and percussives. Ironic since Dave lived in Colorado at the time with me here in Illinois. A crude ‘file swap’ ensued sending bulky ADAT tapes through the US Postal service – and establishing a system of file sharing that would culminate in a few clicks of a mouse a decade later. A new age of recording and collaboration had begun!
One of the primary differences on “Borgnine” – as it was soon to be known – was handing over the majority of the guitar playing duties to Scot Ashley who had only played a few leads on “Fin”. This enabled us to work extensively on the sounds themselves and (theoretically) freed me up to push ahead with the overall production. (Did I mention the 10 year part?) There was also little doubt that the second album was in large part a joint effort between Thymme and myself – Thymme now contributing drums, keys, trumpet and other parts as well as vocals and composition. (Other notable contributions by Cheer-Accident alumni include vocalist Laura Boton – and trombonist Mike Hagedorn and Doug Abram on baritone sax completing the unlikely but highly-effective brass section on “Wrong”.) Borgnine made its long anticipated debut in fall of 2010.
Later that year Jim and I recorded “Have Yourself A Secular Christmas” – a 30-second homage to crass commercialization that was featured on WXRT’s annual Local Anesthetic Christmas show. Other XRT holiday segments followed each year and may be accessed from the home page.
2011 marked the official commencement of sessions for “So Sorry About North America” – the third release under the name Pox. Songs in various stages of completion at the time of this writing (spring of 2015) include “Axiom Of Lies”, “Subcontinental”, “Matters Not”, “My Anesthesia”, “Kurosawa Rain”, “Transistor”, “The Forest Inside The Forest”, “God/Child”, “You Can’t Save A Suicide”, “Ashes” (formerly “Kolkata”), “Eva”, “The Void Inside The Void” and the tentatively titled “An Abundance Of Caution”. The work is conceptual in nature. Participating thus far are Thymme Jones, Jim Widlowski, Doug Ackman and Scot Ashley. A release date is as yet unknown.
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