"Do whatever you want, tape is rolling." That's Joel Simches through the headphones way back in June 2003. I remember it being incredibly hot in WMFO's Studio Dee that night. But it didn't matter. After going through a few growing pains the previous year we were really hitting our stride as a band. We had just released the Five Songs
EP to a sold out show at the Lizard Lounge and our ability to blaze through 3-minute powerpop—shoe horning in a whole lot of chaos along the way—was earning us some love. We had turned a corner and our best days as a band were still ahead of us. Those were the salad days, and the performances from that night are particularly bright.
We were a bit of an anomaly live. As we were fond of saying back then, it always seemed we were "too pop for the punk bills, and too punk for the pop bills." And we played r-e-a-l-l-y fast, and were sometimes prone to the "yips." Lots of nervous energy I suppose (among other things). So, playing live was always a bit of an adventure for us, which is what made it so interesting to go back through old DATs and CDs to pull this collection together in honor of the 10th anniversary of our first show—November 1, 2001 at the old Mobius artists space in Fort Point. Wow, ten years.
The collection goes as far back as late 2001—just weeks after that first Mobius show—when Alan and I returned to Hartford (where we had gone to college) to do a couple radio interviews and tape an acoustic performance for our friend Helder Mira's public access TV show. How She Is was just released on our very first EP, and Paint was still a work in progress. The 2003 WMFO recording demonstrates what two more years of 2x a week rehearsals and some 50 shows can do for a band. The performances on Pretend, No View, Holding up a Line, and Cereal Bride are intense and spirited. Joel did a great job mixing this set live on the air; you can really hear the band at work.
Fast forward another couple years to May 2005 and you hear a band that's even more intense, and perhaps a bit more cynical (gone were songs about girls!!). We'd just spent the better part of a year recording the Floods + Fires album and were in the midst of a 10-day span that would see our final 3 performances: an acoustic set on WAAF's Bay State Rock, the release show for Floods + Fires at the Lizard Lounge, and a return to WMFO's Studio Dee. With the exception of Snakes and It's All My Fault, all the songs from the May '05 sets are unreleased tracks that would have been the core of the next Gatsby record. Yards has always been a favorite of mine, and the performances on Poor Juliet (our standard set-opener by that time) and Type and Pipe are pretty bombastic (the guitars on Poor Juliet, the drums and bass on Type and Pipe.. when we were good, we were good
). And of course ending with Coal Miner, as we often did in those days, is an appropriate way to close things out. I love this particular batch of songs, and regret them never seeing the light of day on a proper Gatsby record. These performances, from our very last as a band, will have to do (of course, we're open to lucrative offers...).
So here we are, as we were, flubs and all.
It was a hell of a journey. Thank you for listening.
30 October 2011