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.

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