Abashed/Tonight We Die, Tomorrow We Kill consisted of James Lawrence, James Oswald and Dirk Michener. Abashed formed in East Texas in 1994 and recorded some demos with the guys from the Mid-cities band Audrey for their record label Bottlecap. James L. did most of the singing. Oswald drums and I played bass.
Abashed – Exploitation Is Cool!
“Exploitation is Cool” was featured on the 1994 Green Light Go! compilation alongside Cub, Furry Things, Nothing Painted Blue and many other bands from the emerging lo-fi indie-pop scene. We did several shows at house parties and pasture parties in East Texas. The crowds there were so hyped to see any rock band that they very rapidly brought themselves into a state of uncontrollable frenzy the likes of which I have not seen since. This included the brandishing of guns, destruction of cars, fist fights, furniture destruction, etc.
Abashed – One in favor Three opposed
Each of us lived in separate cities for about 2 years which stalled any kind recording/performing progress to a snail’s pace before settling on Denton to get down to business.
About the time we all settled in Denton we decided to change the name from Abashed to Tonight We Die after a convoluted debate about name-relevance which I probably spearheaded. Long band names were new and exciting and yet to be considered “emo” and this particular name had a nice ring to it. Soon after, it proved to be a difficult name for people to remember (see article below)
Mr. Gattis became our most oft played venue besides house parties.
Condo Orgy (from “Style”)
An interesting juxtaposition started occurring between loose improvs and tight mathrock song constructions. It seemed a bit schizo and unfocused in a sense but I believe it portrayed a sense of versatility that many bands at the time lacked.
We began focusing on “soundtrack” style recordings. It suited us well and we recorded two “soundtrack” tapes to the unscripted films “Perish The Everlaster” and “Style”. Both were mostly instrumental and 75% improv exposing our latent Krautrock influences.
Autoshards One (from “Perish The Everlaster”)
The final straw came after a Good/Bad Art Collective benefit show at Rubber Gloves which went so terribly that it got written up in the Fort Worth Weekly. A bass string broke after maybe 3 songs and none of the 3 other bands would lend me a bass. I began berating the bands and Jenni Rotter began dismembering The Passenger and throwing his limbs at us on stage. Some guy on the side of the stage wanted to fight one of us for an unknown reason and I threw my bass on the floor like a brat. This came after a long series of instrument/amp malfunctions at shows since we couldn’t afford new equipment. I stated that either we get some new equipment or stop playing. None of us got new equipment and that was that.
Bats In My Belfry (live 97)
A semi-new song, I recorded “Street Girl” in the fall of 2010 on 4-track. It is a semi-cover of the Pretty Things song of the same name. I changed the lyrics drastically to sound more vague and less like a song about prostitution.
Here is my version of the lyrics:
Standing in the street
This is a very special unreleased song in honor of Reed Posey’s birthday today. “Testimony” was written and recorded in 2003 inspired by true events which Reed had experienced involving a girl who told him she was “in love with a man, but it’s not who you think.” The tune to this song is so derivative of a Brian Jonestown Massacre song that it did not make the cut for “Sugary Glue…” despite how strange the lyrics.
Cavedweller has only done a handful of shows in the Fort Worth area. There hasn’t been much going on there since the grunge-era clubs closed. The Ridglea Theater is still open I think but I never played there.
Club Nowhere was open for a split-second before having to close it’s doors forever. It was run by one of the owners or co-owners of the famed Madhatters all-ages club that ushered in the likes of Baboon, Brutal Juice, The Toadies, Bedhead, Tripping Daisy, Funland, et al.
I remember this show very well. It was booked by my long-time buddy Chris Shockley and his band at the time Mourn. Mourn was a kind of Tool-esque post-metal band with what seemed like a dozen members. Having many many people in your band often translates to a large turn-out at shows. Their music had absolutely nothing in common with Cavedweller but since everything seemed to be a huge joke to me at the time I didn’t think twice about driving out of town to do a show where the crowd was most likely to not only ignore me but probably shout obscenities and “get off the stage” while I strummed my classical guitar singing songs about sailors. Surprisingly, when it was time for me to play(solo), everyone sat down on the floor and listened intently, and the few people there who were fans made requests for “Too Much Acid”. They sure like their acid in Fort Worth.
Too Much Acid
I made this half-assed flyer obviously from stencils in about 5 minutes. Most flyers at the time weren’t made so much to get people to come to shows as they were just subtle methods of exposure. If one person came to a show because they saw a flyer it was considered a miracle. This was still a poor excuse for a flyer. The club didn’t even have the correct name on it which made things that much less likely anybody would make the drive. I also included my friend Josh’s first business card which gives the impression that Toni and Guy may have something to do with the show, further sabotaging potential club draw. In essence this flyer is an anti-flyer.
Yet another example of lazy flyer-making. There’s almost a sense of resentment about this flyer. I opted out of including directions since Arlington is virtually unnavigable to any non-residents.
Zombies was a club that lasted for a millisecond in the theme-park-strip-club mecca that is Arlington, Texas. My previously mentioned buddy Chris also booked this show for me. He was a good friend to take such a risk booking Cavedweller at these kinds of places. This particular club was exceptionally strange. The stage was in a separate room which was practically as big as the stage. Also the stage was about 5 feet high. I seem to remember playing very well even though nobody was there but the 4 or 5 people who came with me. The band that played after Cavedweller was a true bar-band who had a catchy song about St. Paulie Girl that none of us could seem to shake even years after the show. This was the only time I played in Arlington.
“The Brakeman” is a song that Cavedweller frequently played live for a few years. This version is a demo I recorded with the Tascam Porta II in the garage at Blythewood during the winter of 2005. It didn’t make the cut for the “Gloria” album because it was a bit too rock-n-rollish and very JAMC-derivative but it sounded great played with the full band. After a while more of our live songs began to sound like this. Unfortunately we never recorded a version with the whole band. I have a version I recorded with T.W. Bond at Bundyhill Studios for a compilation but I never heard the final mix and I assume the compilation never got released.
The lyrics in this song are along the lines of how I imagine things would be if it was 103 degrees outside all the time and football season was year-round.
Canal Song W/Photo
Canal Song is from the 2000 CD “Schoolboys Charm”. The title of the CD is taken from an American Analog Set song of the same name. The title to me now seems rather Twee. I’m not even sure what it was meant to imply besides the fact that I listened to American Analog Set. Possibly the result of being in college too long.
I took a series of photographs of my studio on Locust St. in Denton with a Polaroid camera. There are several bands I had seen do this, including Steely Dan and Love Child.
Schoolboys Charm was the first album I recorded on 4-track. I had been resistant simply because that is the way I am. Also I felt like my dual tape deck live-dubbing situation sounded less muddy regardless of it’s tracking limitations. I had Chef digitally transfer all the tapes to Wavs and the technology back then was lacking so the result was quite hissy.
Canal Song W/Photo is one of my many Syd Barrett derivatives. Obtuse lyrics involving a loose narrative about nothing in particular attempting to evoke some sort of ethereal what-not. The Radio Shack reverb unit I frequently used made everything have more of a karaoke delay than an actual reverberation. I liked it because I knew very few people used it and after a while it became recognizable as a style. Canal song is one of the better songs on the CD which seems now to me to be heavily affected with British folk-rock tropes.
I recently recorded a cover of Gene Defcon’s “Liz” on Garageband. I’ve been mostly using Garageband since I got it last November and have found that one of the only ways to get a non-garageband sounding recording is to add a lot of reverb and fuzz to everything. Many contemporary bands are doing this and you will notice it right away if you pay attention to underground music(blog-rock). So many bands are doing this, in fact, that it becomes easy to tell who is using Garageband by the kind of fuzz and reverb they use in recordings. I find it to be alright. It will probably go down in history as a golden era for home-computer recordings. The new lo-fi golden era.
I was listening to Gene Defcon’s “Come Party With Me 2000″ and while I was listening to “Liz”, a song I had heard many many times, I noticed how crazy the drums were. I tried to imagine what they would sound like if they were just the drums were just played straight and with real drums, not a drum machine. I picked up on how the phrase “I don’t mind” had been used in a similar way as The Jesus And Mary Chain frequently uses the phrase (think “Snakedriver”). I ultimately imagined it as a JAMC-esque reverb drenched wash of fuzz and melody. Although this is not the typical style in which i record songs, I thought this was a rather successful attempt to emulate a sound that is so popular with young bands now days.
This is the cover of the 7″ for “Liz” on Lookout! Records released in May of 2000
Recorded in 2008, “Sparks” is another song that I wrote with Pat Healy written alongside “Physical Phenomenon” the same day we drank too much Sparks Orange Flavored Malt Beverage. As the counter-point to “Physical Phenomenon”, this song more embodies the “relaxing exhilaration” involved with the beverage of the same name as the song. I used my de-tuned Maverick steel string to achieve the droning. The clacking noise is from my GE handheld cassette recorder which has stopped working after 15 years of constant use. At the end of the recording there is a car peeling out in the distance.
“Black Light Black Heat” from 2001 CD “The Oldest Arm”. Not many people have asked me about this song even though the title, the content and the actual “style” may seem a bit disparate. In fact there is an interesting story that encompasses every bit of this song. My buddy Reed told me that during the Velvet Underground’s recording session for the song “White Light White Heat”, Lou Reed insisted they make some tracks of the entire band slapping their thighs keeping time with the song so as to create a kind of subway-train clacking effect. So as a reductionist gesture I wrote a song with no instrumentation save for four-tracks of thigh-slappings and two vocal tracks. The lyrics, which are seemingly often misunderstood are as follows:
Everybody’s slappin’ their knees”
and that’s all of the lyrics. a few people have told me that they thought I was singing “ooooohhh weeeee” which seems fine but is not correct. Not to gloat so extremely in my esotericisms but I imagine that only myself, Reed and the couple of people we have both told about this are the only people who would otherwise have a clue what is going on with this song. I only say this because “The Oldest Arm” has sold the most copies of any cavedweller release and I feel that people who purchase the CD should, to some degree be informed about the history of the Velvet Underground.
Black Light Black Heat