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ride the pine ep 1991

The first down recording, undertaken when the band was about a month old. We had played two shows in East Lansing, and one in our home town of Ypsilanti, MI. The title comes from baseball slang for sitting on the bench. The picture on the cover is Ty Cobb, "the Georgia Peach."

Recording was done on Soren's four track in the Sendra family basement. I was using an Oldsmobile CB microphone for the vocals, my favorite microphone ever, which soon disappeared after a show in Flint.

Chipsong- This song was a collaboration by Chip and myself. He wrote the bass line and I wrote the words. There wasn't really a guitar line, just the same chord strummed over and over. Chip takes a noise bass solo. The words were written about a girl known as Stinkweed, who I was making time with at an El Smasho show in East Lansing. Little did I know that future downmf bass player Brad Widdis was dating the girl at the time. He was off making time with his future bride, Kathy Smash. This song was later re-written and recorded by Veronica Lake as "Daisy Kiss" on a SpinArt compilation.

Track Fire- Written in San Francisco before down was formed. It refers to being stuck underground on the subway train. "I'm the track fire, I'm on your side." The bass part was faked on the guitar because it didn't record well- it came out sounding pretty bad. Also the drums slow down perceptibly after the first verse. It feels like a train slowing down. Sickening.

I Work Alone- Features the "Hawaiian Guy" bells. This is a little plastic Hawaiian-looking head. You press the nose to open the mouth, revealing teeth that can be pressed to create a doorbell-esque tone, with a lot of whirring noise from the motor. This toy replaced the frog piano. The song title refers to my favorite standup comedian come-back line after being heckled... "Hey, buddy- I work alone." This may have the only name check to Alan Funt ever recorded.

Harder to Fine- Originally titled "Harder to Find", which is what the lyrics are, but changed to name-check Larry Fine, the least appreciated Stooge. I wanted to make this song sound like all the generic, overemotional modern rock bands I heard in the mid-eighties. This track may sound the closest to my original conception for how the band should sound.

royal crown ep 1992

A quickly tossed together follow-up to the first single, this sealed the first lineup's fate. We were living in different towns and going in different directions, and whereas the first single sounded like a band tossing off four songs in rapid succession, this is three very different sounding tracks.

Sara Anguish- An ode to the girl who, in high school, took a bottle of aspirin and walked over to my house in the middle of the night to die on my doorstep. The suicide attempt didn't work, and she was left with bad ringing in her ears. Ouch. The recording has two weird features. The first is sample of a guy/gal named Terry, a hermaphrodite whose CB broadcasts used to come over the radio, tv and phone in my apartment in San Francisco. I put it in this song to cover a drum mistake. The second oddity is the false ending, which we improvised during the recording, as our little tribute to the great band Rites of Spring.

Motionless- The only waltz by downmf, and that is a promise. I had April "Whitney" Jackson of Apollo Nine sing this because I sounded like Herman Munster when I tried.

Royal Crown- A solo version, acoustic guitar with casio keyboard and bells adding a Caribbean flavor. This song is often mistaken for a happy love song, which it is really not. It is a forlorn, melancholy reminiscence of trying to find the perfect punk rock girl, and describes the things in her life. "You can wear my royal crown" means two things- it is a euphemism for being "crowned" by being conked on the head, and also has something to do with getting the booby prize- I don't know if you've tried to drink Royal Crown soda lately, but it's pretty bad stuff.

Solid State ep 1993

Years have passed, and the new lineup of down is finally getting it together. We pull one song for a Detroit/Tim Pak recording session and record a new one in Lansing with Jim Diamond. The concept is to make a single that is truly a single, so we use two one minute songs, which makes you play the record over and over to try to enjoy it, if you can. The true break through comes when I am at the Lansing Salvage yard and come across a barrel of old circuit boards, which they sell me for next to nothing.

Solid State- My tribute to the radio. Intro count down stolen from DEVO's song, Social Fools. This was recorded nearly live, and has one of the worst guitar solos you will ever hear. Our pals El Smasho also released this song on a 7", and recorded a Spanish version for a CD that never came out, and they played it so much live that I grew to hate it.

Don't Dig The New Breed- First of my endless song cycle about being old and out of touch with the kids, written at the tender age of 24. More Hawaiian Guy bells on this one.

Toast of the Town 1994

A leap up to Super 8 records, who we hooked up with after Super Pete heard our previous 7" at the distributorship where he hung out. Recorded with Tim Pak in Detroit. We made Pat leave his bass drum at home for the recording. Just to be difficult, I suppose.

I love the cover picture. Brian Widdis did a series of pictures around Lansing, all capturing the Oldsmobile factory smoke stacks fro different places in town. The picture on the back cover is future downmf bassist Janna's parents leaving their wedding ceremony. Her dad has a drink and a smoke going.

Toast of the Town- What happens to you when a few people start to like you band, and you feel like an idiot for liking the attention. Every band has it's day when they are riding the wave of local popularity, then it gets stale and you wonder why no ones at your shows anymore. I wrote this while fooling around with Royal Crown, which was everyone's favorite song for about a day. The end of the song is Pat knocking over his drum set.

Valentine- Another song perceived to be a love song, but it's actually about drunkenness, and the refrain of "Hit it, OK!" is just encouragement to Brian to play harder.

Broken Arrow/ Trickle Down tracks 1995

I bought an old Synsonics drum machine for 20 bucks at Dicker and Deal in Lansing, and we used it as the basis for these two compilation tracks. People think it's programmed, but it was actually played in real time by Pat on the Synsonic's pads- he just has robot-like precision. Both songs were recorded at my house on Magnolia Street.

Trickle Down- An earlier version of this song appears on the Snake River "Spinach" 7", but this is closer to how I had pictured it when I wrote it, more gothic-y. This song doesn't have any guitar on it, and the "solo" is an electric razor buzzing against a bell.

Broken Arrow OK- A later version appears on the "Will failure spoil downmf?" CD. The CD this is one was all songs about Texas, so we added the sound sample from Pee Wee's Big Adventure (my favorite movie.) It's Pee Wee asking the tour guide at the Alamo, "Where's the basement?" and her laughing response, "There's no basement at the Alamo." It's a depressing moment, and totally unrelated to the song, but it does add the Texas element. We added the "OK" to the title to make it seem like the song was about a fictional town called Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. As a joke. HA!

Will Failure Spoil Down MF?

Royal Crown
Pretty Little
Non Com
Things Go Wrong
This Is The Age Of Nostalgia
Broken Arrow
Sinking Ship
I'm Straight

The Law of Diminishing Returns