|December 11, 2008 | Found Sounds, Philosophy
I was looking through a box of old, old stuff the other day and I found this tape, which has somehow stuck to me since the days of hardcore punk, skateboarding, my first band, and getting into whatever busted-ass car we could scrounge to go play in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan with other kids like us – that was 24 years ago. Yow.
These guys were from Grand Rapids, Michigan .. I don’t remember where we met, but I know we played with them a couple of times, in Muskegon, maybe in Grand Rapids, maybe Kalamazoo. You can’t skate in the snow, so we probably just goofed, drank cokes, experimented with smoking ( I remember that they smoked merits, it’s really odd what details your brain keeps ). A little later, when we were all starting to grow our hair out and perhaps listening to more Prince and MC5 than hardcore, some of them would come down to Chicago to hang out.
The kid in the photo at the top with his checkerboard Vans Hightop sticking out was Chris Ide. He was the guitar player. He was a little ahead of the game, the first person I ever personally saw drink an espresso ( we gave him a hard time for that one, a dollar seemed like a lot of money for a thimbleful of coffee at the time ). He later became a gifted poet, a protege of Allen Ginsberg, and died of a heroin overdose in 1994.
That was when I was riding the White Zombie juggernaut, rocketing toward … you know, you hearing ” More Human Than Human ” on the radio every 4 minutes for a year or three, and I didn’t know about any of this until many years later. It makes me feel old and sad.
These kids ( they were 16 or 17, I think ) made a basement 4-track cassette tape — and props to them, my own teen hardcore band was never able to achieve anything usable that way — and they bounced the results down to another cassette. Then, probably, after driving around for hours playing the tape over and over on a totally magnetized car tape player that hadn’t ever been cleaned and was full of Merit ash, set about making copies. A dual dubbing deck was still something of a fancy item then, so I’m imagining they hooked together 2 tape decks, or boomboxes, or maybe even Walkmans ( I used to do it all the time ) . Listen to this : sure, it’s a primitive sound, but ultimately it’s amazing that it’s a sound at all, given the journey of this music to you – from the master cassette to this tape which I played the shit out of ( remember, kids, there wasn’t anything else to do back then, salvation came in the form of a 7″ record, or a letter written on the back of a punk flyer, or getting your first ” real ” guitar ) that then sat in a succession of wet basements and hot attics for 24 years. And you can actually hear all the instruments.
I’ll tell you what else – after transferring this, I woke up the next day with ” Prodigal Son ” stuck in my head, and it wouldn’t get out of there. Seems like back before you could just press the ” start ” button, teenagers wrote ……. real songs. And here they are.
1. ” Prodigal Son ”
2. ” Self Reliance ”
3. ” Close Call ”
4. ” Love Or Lust ”
5. ” Olé ”
6. ” Hiding Place ”
7. ” Ways Of The World ”