In 1998 I was invited to participate in the Good/Bad Art Collective’s annual Rock Lottery curated by Chris Weber and held at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Denton, Texas. The idea was that at 8:00am the 6 or 7 drummers chosen would then choose 4 other random band-mates names out of a cowboy hat and the 5 of them had to write 3 songs that day before their live performance at 10 that night. Only one cover song per set. I was chosen to be in a band with Nathan Pulley(Cigar, Breadbox, Flood) Glen Reynolds(Chomsky, Liquid 3), Clark Voegler(Toadies, Funland), and Craig Welch(The Banes, Brutal Juice). We decided upon the name Choad Blast And The Chapstick Factory. Possibly the best band name I have ever been a part of. I don’t have any recordings of this but I know that some exist. We “wrote” two songs that seemed like somewhat bland alternative rock and did one cover of a Baboon song we figured the crowd would enjoy. I had been sick with the flu the previous week and was out of it most of the day and the other dudes in the band drank a lot before the show. It went rough but it was mostly for kicks anyway.
Chris Weber still curates Rock Lottery’s yearly now in different cities. This past year’s was in Brooklyn and previous year in Seattle. The one before that was back in Denton for the first time in a while. My brother was in one in 2004. They always sell-out to capacity and are always great no matter what kind of shenanigans go down. Shenanigan always go down.
League Of Gentlemen USA was a quasi-concept band formed by James Lawrence, Preston Dukes, Dirk Michener and Zack Kelly during the Fall of 1997. The concept herein was initially to make recordings using only keyboards, which was semi-mind-blowing at this period of time in Denton since the only other band who made a similar attempt was Mission Giant, then later Telethon and R.C Poof. We were taking a que from fellow label mates Prima Donnas but instead of being lyrically based we chose to be totally instrumental. We were all adept musicians and the decision to be an instrumental keyboard band came about rather organically. After a few sessions we decided to throw in some samples from movies and a few conventional instruments to break things up a bit.
The name was chosen from a list of films out of one of those old massive books that listed film names. It was some kind of British spy movie from the 50′s and it sounded new-wavish enough for us.
We finished our cassette in the spring of 1998 and soon after we were told there existed another band called “League of Gentlemen” formed in 1980 by Robert Fripp. Most people said that we were better and if a band takes another band’s name and they are a better band then it is ok. It was still kind of embarrassing that none of us, all Robert Fripp fans, knew about his short-lived band from the 80′s.
I was still nervous about it and decided to stick “USA” on the end so as to have that differentiation. I don’t think the “USA” actually got attached until Business Deal updated their order forms years after we stopped playing. That same year we also found out there was a British comedy group who went by “The League of Gentlemen” which further made us want to remove ourselves from the name.
We only did a few shows that year. Mostly house parties and record store shows in Denton. It was very difficult for us to work out the sound set-up at shows. We needed a lot of amps and the volume got out of control quickly because there were never any monitors. The most notable thing from a LOGUSA show that I can remember was when Bobcat accidentally caught his shirt on fire from a candle. It wasn’t a spectacle but it stands out to me.
Now We Arise
LOGUSA’s sound varied as wildly as keyboard music could get but we generally gravitated toward moodier, cinematic soundscapes. The sample in “Now We Arise” is Vincent Price laughing at the end of “Thriller”. The samples added some cohesion to the mostly improvised keyboard “jams”. I don’t think we ever actually rehearsed any songs.
Our second cassette, titled “Welcome to Texas Instruments” was more of a random collection of leftovers and a session that Preston and I recorded by ourselves one night. We made an attempt at emulating the songs of video games. Little did we know hundreds of other bands worldwide were also experimenting with this same idea. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. The name “League Of Gentlemen” was left off the cover of “Welcome To Texas Instruments” because it was such a haphazard affair.
The Oregon Trail
One of the best songs on “Welcome to Texas Instruments” is a heavier number I titled “Road Blaster”, an instrumental song that Preston did by himself which I recorded on my hand-held GE Cassette recorder. I heard him playing this song in the other room and ran in just in time to record most of it. He was playing the guitar and keyboard and drum machine at the same time.
I recently googled my name and this review of Cavedweller’s 2006 album “The Best Version Of Gloria…” popped up. I guess I haven’t googled my name in a while because this review is 11 months old. Thank you Anonymous Author from The Deli Magazine for the flattering review.
“Operating on the mellow fringe of Austin’s always healthy psychedelic scene, Cavedweller has quietly put together some of the most fascinating work in town, including our newest choice for CD of the month: The Best Version of Gloria Ever There Was. This isn’t a new album; it’s just one we feel deserves digging back up, because it never received anywhere close to its due.
Cavedweller, aka Dirk Michener, kicks the album off in typically understated style with “A Horse and A Man,” a creaky, timeless song that showcases his weatherbeaten voice. There’s plenty going on in this voice: cracks and rumbles that hint at wisdom, but also just the slightest sense of amusement, and occasionally, behind the resignation, a little bit of swagger. That swagger comes the front more on songs like “Augusta, Ga.” and the immediately appealing and memorable “Black Black Magic”, where he filters Marc Bolan through Tom Waits. But even on the more mournful numbers the various never-quite-meshing emotions evident in his voice raise his music far above ordinary.
Literalists may struggle with the fact that there is no version of Gloria included on the album…we’ll take votes on what he means by that.
There is, of course, a dreamy, druggy feel to the whole thing (his myspace page, under influences: “most of the time”), and a lo-fi recording style that would fit right in the Nuggets compilation, all of which lead to the psychedelic designation. But that label tends to sell short the songwriting…these are just excellent songs, songs you could cover in any number of ways and come up with gold. It’s all off-kilter and the lyrics are surreal, but that’s also true of probably the best music of the last forty years.”
6/2010 The Deli Magazine