Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm finished ruining Saetia. It didn't take much in my opinion, hardy-har-har. Now I am Annotating Off Minor.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The first show.

Hello again. Looks like I've committed to doing this on a semi-regular basis after all. Problem is, blogging is so incredibly fucking boring. Any other blogger reading this right now, which I assume is everyone reading this, why not just post videos of yourself masturbating on YouTube. Just as self-indulgent and so much easier on the wrists. I'll be just as disinterested either way.

Anyway, back to bands I ripped off in the course of writing material for my ex-ex-ex-band, Saetia.

The first Saetia show was.... sometime in 1997? I think. I'm not good with details. Look i up if you care so fucking much. However, there are some details I do recall. We set out to book the show at ABC No Rio in NYC, which was easy since I was booking most of the shows at ABC at that time. We found a date that had only one band on it already, a band named Bridgewater from Baltimore. I think they were on tour and their demo was pretty ok so they were the first band. Easy peasy lemon squeezey. Billy and I both wanted Cave In to play so they were our first target. At the time, the only record they had out was the split with Piebald, or at least that was the only record I had by them They signed on, so three down, one more slot to fill. Now Greg had this band in mind from State College, PA called Ethel Meserve. I had never heard of them but Greg did the legwork and got them on-board. And so, first Saetia show.

Ethel Meserve

And then shit sorta fell apart. Cave-In calls me up the day of the show. They had just kicked their singer out and were bailing. So, we're left with three bands no one had ever heard of. We played first and it was what to become the usual schtick; flowers, guitar headstocks in faces, multiple head injuries, etc. Bridgewater played next. Their entire set has been erased from memory by several botched stage-dives and binge drinking. Sorry guys. Finally, Ethel Meserve, whom I stress I had never heard before that moment they took the stage (such as it was in the basement of ABC No RIo, goddamn thing was plywood over milk crates...) I was just banking on Greg having fairly decent taste.

Well, my mind was fucking blown. Ethel Meserve was way off the map for me in 1997. I was pretty entrenched in the over-sized pants and headband crowd at the time, so what they were doing was like crazy understated rocket science to me. It came across so cohesive and deliberate despite the fact that they were whipping out some wild time signatures.

For me, it was a huge HUGE turning point in how I would write music for, well, forever. Ethel Meserve was the band that introduced the template, if you will, for how odd time signatures should be done. Not the herky jerky math-metal type shit that sounds like the fucking record is skipping. For me, off time signatures have to feel smooth, they should be intuitive and not draw that much attention to the meter of the song. It should be on repeated listening that the slightly off kilter quality can be identified as due to a time signature like 13/8 or whatever.  A big personal victory in that sense for me was the Off Minor song "Staring Down the Barrel of Limited Options"; the verse is in 13/8, but it just flows and doesn't draw attention to itself as being off-time.

Another element of Ethel Meserve's guitar playing style that I lifted was the use of little pull offs to open strings and slides in the middle of a phrase. It's very characteristic of the way Gerb and Chris (the two guitarists) played and it has continued to be something that I model my playing after, even on the bass.

But that's just my bullshit. Never mind.

Anyway, now for the rip-off.

As I said, after seeing Ethel Meserve the way I set out to write changed dramatically. By that point we had already recorded the demo/7'' material and were setting out to write brand new stuff. The first thing I brought to the table, if memory serves me correctly, would end up becoming An Open Letter.Now the first riff in the songs, the little noodley-noodley dealie, that was created as I struggled to figure out how to play the ending of Waltz of Gibralter. Behold:

Waltz of Gibralter by Ethel Meserve

Skip to about 4:50 if you're inpatient.

And for a side by side by side comparison
An Open Letter by Saetia

Shameless. I am filled with loathing just hearing it. The Saetia stuff, I mean. Ethel Meserve holds up fine. I had the pleasure of seeing Ethel Meserve a number of times and having a handful of conversations with Chris and Gerb. As a point of historical interest to the 0.000004 of you out there who might care, Gerb was also one of the, like, 87 singers for fellow State College powerhouse Puritan's last show. What a spectacle that was.

Anyway, I'm all blogged out. Plenty more to come.

Oh, what the hell, an extra treat for the none of you who read this. A little sneak peak at my new band.

Life Is Wasted On The Living by The Year is One

That's me on he 6 string bass (basically the guitar part) and I'm also the lower Satan voice.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Introduction: How I will ruin my old bands for you.

Hello there.

My name is Dr. Henry James Behar MD. You can call me Jamie. I used to play guitar in a band called Saetia from 1997 to 1999. I wrote the bulk of the music for guitar and bass for that band. And now I'm going to systematically ruin all of it for all of you interested parties.

Well, not really.

The reason why I'm doing this blog is to indulge myself and the handful of you out there who would be interested in the nitty gritty nuts and bolts behind the scenes world according to me of Saetia. And also sometimes Off Minor, since I played guitar, sang, wrote ~ 99%  of the music for guitar and bass and ultimately was the driving force in our implosion back in 2008. What can I say, maybe I'm an egomaniac. Regardless, I do think there is an interesting story to be told and maybe a handful of people are interested.

Oh, and I'll be posting music too.

So let's begin. Prepare your bladder for imminent release....


Much to my chagrin, the kids love Venus and Bacchus. Oh how that song has tormented me for the past, jesus, 14 years?!?!?! Every now and then, when I'd be playing in Off Minor and invariably in a foul mood, as I am wont to be, some clown teetering on the edge of adolescence in the back of the shitty room in some shitty town in the middle of this shitty country would yell in the closest approximation I have ever heard of the voice of the squeaky voiced teen on The Simpsons:

"Venus and Bacchus!" (NB: Often Bacchus, pronounced Bah-kus, would be pronounced Batch-Us by aforementioned clown. Nails on a fucking chalkboard...)

So now, I will get my revenge.

I wrote the music for Venus and Bacchus as what would become the second song Saetia ever wrote before we actually even started. To be fair, the bridge was written by our bassist Alex Madara (RIP), if my memory serves me correctly. But I digress, I wrote it while I was still playing in a band called Coercion. However, by "wrote" I mean, well, plagiarized. I created that riff while attempting to figure out a song called East Bunk Hill by a band called Anasarca.

Now, a little history: So Saetia began when Billy Werner, a fellow student at NYU, and I became well acquainted through our involvement in hardcore in and around New York City back in the mid-90's. I was playing in a frankly HORRIBLE sXe band called Coercion. Billy approached me, I swear I remember it like it was yesterday, at the WNYU hardcore radio show Crucial Chaos, which my friends Dave and Rachel were DJing at the time, and said "Hey, lets do a band." We had, I believe, three practices with three different wonky line-ups before solidifying something. The first line-up was  hell-bent on playing metallic hardcore a la Converge or Overcast. The problem being none of the musicians involved, myself including, were remotely talented enough to do so. The second line-up was hell-bent on playing AWFUL sXe hardcore a la Cornerstone or Halfmast. This line-up featured Billy, myself, Alex on bass and our good friend Meg on drums. We wrote one song and it was a wretched endeavor to say the least. After that practice, Alex and I were walking back to my parents house with Meg and talking about soda or board games or whatever sXe kids talked about back then. At one point I said, "What I'd REALLY want to do, musically; Anasarca" Alex exploded. It turned out that he knew all the guys in Anasarca from high school. So this bizarre coincidence ended up, in a way, being the catalyst that directed us towards playing the style of music we would ultimately become infamous for playing. The third and final line-up was the aforementioned group, minus Meg, with another NYU student named Greg Drudy who we thought could play drums but we weren't sure and Billy's old friend Adam Marino playing guitar. We chose the named Saetia as a misspelling and mispronunciation of the title of a Miles Davis song from Sketches of Spain.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. In attempting to learn how to play East Bunk Hill, I came up with the plastic made in China version that you might know as Venus And Bacchus. You want proof? Listen to the the first 2 seconds of the each song back to back. It's unmistakable because it was deliberate. Thank goodness most hardcore kids continue to be so completely tone deaf that they never notice.

I had the enormous privilege of booking a show for Anasarca with my old band Coercion at ABC No Rio back in 1996. They were truly incredible, unbelievable musicianship, incredible showmanship. They served as the Platonic form for emotional hardcore for every band I did that tried to do that kind of shit. As I listen to the Anasarca 7'' right now, it still gives me moosebumps. If you haven't heard this before, you need to get a respectable fucking haircut.   

Alright, so I hope you all enjoyed that. Or that it horrified you into a coma. I'll be back next week to further stroke my ego and do more damage. In the meantime, to further both those causes, I should mention that I am currently in two bands. 

The first is called Olde Ghost and it features current old turds and former members of Yum Yum Tree, Books Lie, Your Adversary, Excite Bike, Guilt Trip and yours truly. Other link. And one for Band Camp. 

The second is called The Year Is One. I'll have more information regarding that project as it becomes available.