the PELL MELL/Steve Fisk/Greg Freeman/etc. thread

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Admittedly I didn't do a search in ILM, but I'm guessing there isn't a Pell Mell thread.. just a hunch. (hope I'm wrong)

Anyway, how many ways do I love this band, let me count the ways.. it would take a very long time though...

But they're one of the few longest running instrumental bands that have changed over time yet have remained compelling every album. And while they may not have had a huge fanbase, those few bands likely formed many well known bands later themselves. (sorry to use that VU cliché, but it is somewhat true.)

They started in Portland in 1980, and released a four song EP called Rhyming Guitars... It wasn't unlike, say, Mission Of Burma, though more poppy and surfy and no vocals.. In a certain way, they were prototypes of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, but more Factory sounding, if that makes sense. there were a lot of post-punkish bands in the Northwest in the early 80s, actually. Seattle Syndrome Vol. 1 is a great sampling of that. Half the bands had William Rieflin on drums. Fartz were Duff McKagan's first band (and they were punk/hardcore). Duff was also in this new punk pop band called the Fastbacks. Also before the Squirrels, there were the Pudz ("Take me... To your... leader leader leader/Take me... To your... Scene Scene Scene"). Anyway, Pell Mell started off in that scene. (I thought I was told Pell Mell opened for Mission Of Burma's only Seattle show back in the day, but I'm not sure that's correct.)

The lineup then was Bill Owen, Jon-Lars Sorensen, Bob Beerman, and Arni May. They played around for a while. One live show of theirs got released semi-recently called (1982) It Was A Live Cassette which was a good sample of what a live show sounded like..

They moved to SF in 1984, sans Jon-Lars and Arni, and along came Steve Fisk (who moved to backed to the Bay Area after going to Evergreen in Oly, WA) and Greg Freeman. I forget what other bands he was in, besides.. well.. THAT band.. the one he played bass in with that guy.. Michael something.. Michael Been? The Call? Anyway, there's a great article in Bananafish magazine about that whole story that's well worth reading...

The four piece recorded songs in 1984 for what was supposed to be their first album called The Bumper Crop for Rough Trade, but it never got released. K records would release parts of the sessions plus some live material on cassette a year later (thanks to Calvin and Steve's friendship). TWO years later in 1987, SST would come along and reissue the cassette, essentially, on vinyl and, later, CD formats.

From around the time Pell Mell started to now, Steve Fisk had been doing a lot of his own solo work... either in Olympia early on, or in the Bay Area now.. involving tape loops. He'd unsurprisingly hook up with the band Negativland, and contribute sounds to their most popular album Escape From Noise in 1986/1987 as well. Also Fisk would release his first solo album on SST called 448 Deathless Days (inspired by seeing an anti-drunk-driving billboard sign) which featured guests from Mark Lanegan to Mark Pickerel to Mark Hosler. This was also one of the first solo albums in the underground to make heavy use of the Optigan.

Also, K would later issue on CD a culled selection of tracks from Fisk's tape loop tapes on K between 1980 to 1987 on a comp called Over And Thru The Night, which featured some of the most disingenuously sad sounds ever, from Track 1. "BOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO *sounds of sad violins* *SNUFFLEUFFLEUFFLEUFFLEUFFLE* I WISH I WERE DEEEEE-AAAA-EEEDD *SOOOOOOOB*"... a sample from a cartoon that was repeated a few times, but still manages to put butterflies in my stomach to this day.

After that, Steve would move back to Washington, and he'd record an EP for a three piece rock band from Aberdeen that would be their debut EP -- called Blew.

1990 saw the reissue and remixing (by Fisk) of the band's first ever EP Rhyming Guitars on SST, with new art and a new version/remix by Fisk of "New Saigon" called "Week Of Corn" which featured a sample of a guy singing "Jimmy Crackcorn".

At this point, the band entered a new phase.. especially with respect to HOW the songs were written. See, Bob Beerman moved to Philly. Steve Fisk was back in Washington state, this time in Ellensburg (where he met up with the Screaming Trees), Greg remained in San Francisco, and Bill Owen moved to New Haven, CT, and the band also hired on David Spalding (who I'm guessing was also from CT, though I could be wrong.) But the band wrote songs by mailing each other tapes, where each would overdub their parts to formulate the ideas. The band became semi-lengendary for this form of songwriting.
(Although, they would record it together when the time came.)

The first album to come from this form of song writing was Flow, their first original album for SST. Some say this is their best. I may very well agree. It's an absolutely gorgeous album from start to finish. The guitar layers, rhythm section, and bells, whistles, and samples had a great resonance. If you liked New Order's Brotherhood but also Neu!, and you hated vocals, this record was for you. This lush "indie" sound predated a lot of what would follow in the mid 90s.

Also noteworthy.. Fisk and Owen would release a 7" on K records under the name Duck Hunt. One of the tracks may have invented Jungle. There were two songs based on the same set of samples.. from a record about a story of a family going on vacation, but the father insisting that the dog should NOT come along. One version was more ambient and was included on the International Hip Swing comp. Sadly, the other side, was far more ahead of its time, and featured a lot of fractured, spastic beats, and signaled what was to lie ahead for Steve Fisk's later electronic work. And yes, this did sound very much like Jungle, but in 1991! (I included it on my 1991 CDRGO, for those of you who have it.)

Also, Steve was honing his skills as being a producer, most notably on Treepeople's Guilt Embarrassment Regret from that year. He did a lot of sound experimentation on the second side.. especially with the drum sounds.

Pell Mell were ready to record their next record with SST, but -- well, if you remember 1991 -- that was the year the label was not only starting to financially fall apart, but they had a minor lawsuit involving the management of a band with the letter U and the Number 2, and that bunch of floptops from the Bay Area called Negativland. Essentially, SST just couldn't provide what the band wanted for recording budgets, so they moved on and somehow landed a deal with Geffen. How they did it? Who knows!

Not so fast.. somewhere in the middle here, Fisk has a chance to help out his friends Calvin Johnson and Dug Martsch in the latter two's new outlet The Halo Benders. Fisk is probably most famous for providing the "BOOING" sound in "Don't Touch My Bikini".

More seriously, Fisk produces the dark dubby backing music for a spoken word album by former artist/prisoner Steven Jesse Bernstein.. who would pass away shortly before/after the release of Prison. Bernstein's also notable for opening for Big Black's last ever show with spoken word material. He was heckled by an audience member yelling "Where's the music?!", and Bernstein replied "This IS music... asshole!"

Also noteworthy was the formation in 1992 of the band Pigeonhed, and their debut album, which was basically Fisk and Brad/Satchel singer Shawn Smith. Very hard to describe, and for an aggressively indie crowd, even harder to swallow, given Smith's very non-college-radio friendly soulful voice. But it featured Fisk's breakbeat handiwork that he honed with Duck Hunt and with the Steven Jesse Bernstein album, as well as his solo album.

So, Interstate rolled along in 1995. Same lineup, minus Owen. This time, I think Bob Beerman moved to Cambridge, MA, Steve moved to Seattle to start a studio, David Spalding moved to Boston, and Greg remained in San Francisco.. again! (Well, to be fair, Freeman was also known for having recorded almost the entire discography for the mighty ex-Iowa City/ex-Davis/SF group Thinking Fellers Union Local 282... among many other SF bands, so he had it going on.) Interstate was a very aptly named album.. it was perfect road trip music.. minus the extra layer of guitars, the sound was deeper but more sparse... but they still had that hypnotic Neu!-esque groove that the previous record had.

This time, the band decided to tour for the first time in MANY years... probably aided by their deal with Geffen. (Sadly, I tried very hard to go to their L.A. show at the Troubadour for that tour, but no one I knew in Orange County knew the band and hence would give me a ride :( ). I would love to hear reports of Pell Mell's live show from this tour.

Well, for whatever reason, I guess the band and Geffen parted ways very quickly, and along came Matador records. I'm guessing Gerard Cosloy had been a fan of the band for many years, and now had a chance to help out one of his favorite bands. In 1996, Pell Mell contributed the song "Swoon" to the Brain Candy soundtrack, for the Kids In The Hall movie of the same name.

And along came, and now STILL remains their last album to date, Star City, released on Matador in 1997. No lineup changes this time. Although, I think Greg had moved to Rodeo, CA.. and David Spalding moved to NYC. Star City could very well be their best album.. while they had been exploring the same territory as many Thrill Jockey bands well before the whole "post-rock" sound became a big deal, the band relished in very moody, calm, more loungey arrangements, but still managed to keep track after track laced with great hooks and grooves, and never tried to get too "jazzy", per se. (Not saying "jazzy" is a bad thing. I'm just trying to say that Pell Mell did not sound like Tortoise, or vice versa... you can decide if that's a good, bad, or just OK thing)

Not much has happened with Pell Mell since. An outtake from Interstate surfaced on a split 7" with the band Acme Rocket Quartet in 1998. And that (1982) It Was A Live Cassette got a CD issue. Also, Fisk was very busy recording a lot of bands like the Wedding Present (twice!) and the Geraldine Fibbers.

However, Pigeonhead released their second and third releases around this time as well.

Steve Fisk, in 1999, did release his best solo album to date, 999 Levels Of Undo on Sub Pop -- which could have been Sub Pop's first purely electronic release ever..(I think.. I'd have to go back and make sure.) Very spastic, stuttering, jittery sample driven breakbeats, with cameos featuring Kim Thayil... and artwork done for each of the nine songs on the album.. an interpretation of that painting of the chicken crawling out of the skull, each done by a different artists, one of which was Peter Bagge of Hate comics fame.

I think Fisk and Bob Beerman are now in a duo called Cut-Out, that had released an album two years ago.. I haven't heard it unfortunately. Also, Fisk has worked with Seattle singer-songwriter Heather Duby for her debut album.

Anyway, this is where you fill in, elaborate, criticize, call me a dork for providing misinformation, etc.

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 08:07 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Here's what Steve Huey says in allmusic.com.. besides being a year off in a couple of cases, this fills in some information that's otherwise missing from the above:

...

PELL MELL (biography in allmusic) by Steve Huey

Pell Mell was a tremendous rarity: an instrumental combo who landed a major-label deal in the wake of the alternative rock explosion touched off by Nirvana. Its most prominent members were better known as producers, and with their highly sporadic recording schedule, it took them nearly a decade of existence to issue a widely distributed album. Their music could be seen on some levels as a forerunner of post-rock, sharing its eclecticism and fusion of acoustics and electronics, but shying away from its more self-conscious avant-gardisms and free-form qualities. Instead, contrary to their name, Pell Mell was melodic and usually tightly structured, much like the instrumentals of the early rock & roll era. In fact, those instrumentals — especially surf guitar and its formative influences, like Link Wray and Duane Eddy — were a palpable influence on the group. However, not wanting to be pigeonholed as mere revivalists, they switched up their attack with touches of funk, punk, Krautrock, dub, and vintage ambient, among other sources, which resulted in an atmospheric, effects-laden sound that was certainly aided by its creators' production prowess.

Pell Mell was originally formed in 1980 in Portland, OR, and spent the next four years playing around the Northwest. During that time, several members came and went, with founding drummer Bob Beerman anchoring the band. In 1982, they issued their debut EP, Rhyming Guitars, on the small Indoor label, as well as a self-released, cassette-only live album, It Was a Live Cassette, which they recorded as a trio.

Keyboardist/effects man Steve Fisk — who would eventually become the most successful outside producer in the band — joined in 1983, and the following year, the band decided to relocate to San Francisco. Their lineup solidified to include Beerman, Fisk, bassist/guitarist Greg Freeman (who left his main gig with the Call in 1984), and guitarist Bill Owen. Owen was, in turn, later replaced by guitarist David Spalding, the onetime guitar tech for the Call. Another cassette-only release, For Years We Stood Clearly as One Thing, appeared on the then-fledgling K Records in 1985. In between, Fisk issued the first of several solo cassettes, a stream of which would continue into the '90s.

Pell Mell came to somewhat wider national attention via their association with the groundbreaking SST label, which issued the first widely available Pell Mell album, The Bumper Crop, in 1988. It consisted of recordings from the first half of the '80s, and while the song selection overlapped with For Years, the versions on Bumper Crop were generally shorter and more concise. By this time, Fisk was working as a producer for groups like Screaming Trees (also on SST), Beat Happening, and Soundgarden; he soon went on to helm several tracks on Nirvana's Blew EP. Freeman was also beginning to branch out as a producer and engineer, initially with Bay Area eccentrics Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and singer/songwriter Barbara Manning, and later with Royal Trux.

With its members having split to live in different cities, Pell Mell didn't reconvene until the early '90s; by that time, SST had reissued Rhyming Guitars. 1992's Flow was actually the first album on which David Spalding was a fully integrated member of the group, and it was also their tightest effort to date.

Microsoft licensed one of its tracks for use in a television commercial, which helped bring the band to the attention of Geffen Records. Signing to the label's DGC imprint, Pell Mell completed its hugely unlikely major-label debut, Interstate, in 1995. In the meantime, Fisk had begun playing with two actively recording side projects, Pigeonhed and the Northwest indie all-star band the Halo Benders (which also featured Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson and Built to Spill's Doug Martsch). He was also producing new artists like Unwound, Some Velvet Sidewalk, the Geraldine Fibbers, and Boss Hog, among others.

Writing some of the songs together by mail, Pell Mell completed a follow-up to Interstate in 1997, but DGC — somewhat predictably — dropped them not long before its scheduled release date. Matador stepped in to issue the album, called Star City, which was produced and engineered by cult favorite Tchad Blake.

Pell Mell subsequently went their separate ways. Fisk and Freeman both continued their blooming careers behind the boards, while Spalding went on to play with the reunited Love Tractor. Fisk and Beerman later reunited in the more electronic-oriented Cut-Out, which issued its first album in 2003.

...

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 09:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

woah, I might be too drunk and knackered to appreciate what all you just wrote, donut. But as a guy who tends to get bummed out that more obscure type artists never really get much respect I've gotta say you rule for starting this thread! I actually just picked up a used copy of Interstate on hlaf.com just last month! This album totally rules. Seriously, there is no reason anybody that's into 90s style rock should foresake this album. It's great and it's totally available really cheap! Everyone buy a copy!

Also fo course Freeman did Twin Infinitives and Lovelyville which are two of my favorite albums of all time but that's neither here nor there

Stormy Davis (diamond), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 09:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

that's the nice thing about Pell Mell.. you can now pretty much find anything they did in the dollar used bins.. at least in the U.S.:

And I forgot that Greg Freeman had recorded Royal Trux....

To correct one sentence up there myself:

"And while they may not have had a huge fanbase, those few bands likely formed many well known bands later themselves. (sorry to use that VU cliché, but it is somewhat true.)"

"bands" meant to be "fans"... sorry.

...

I also do want to touch on Pigeonhed a bit more, and why I think they were about 5-10 years ahead of their time... but later. I have to get to work soon. (Also, I think Pigeonhed were clearly the first electronic band to get a Sub Pop release, now that I think about it.)

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 16:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Greg Freeman was also a member of the SF Seals and the Glands of External Secretion.

His former studio (Lowdown) was located right smack dab in the middle of centerfield in what is now known as SBC Park (formerly Pac Bell Park), home of the San Francisco Giants.

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 16:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

does he still live here? he produced a ton of local bands in the 90's. My favorite freeman production is probably In Orbit by the Snowmen.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 16:55 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Freeman is one of the best producers/engineers ever.

jack cole (jackcole), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 17:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

and also an underrated musician.

jack cole (jackcole), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 17:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The Call, though -- what a fucking terrible wank of a group. Greg Freeman should be happy they got his name wrong in the AllMusic entry cuz that's like embarrassing. Also see the Idiot, the band he was in with Seymour Glass. Also, Virginia Dare, for which he played bass, etc.

jack cole (jackcole), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 17:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

that said, i always forget that Pell Mell was from Portland, which I shouldnt since Portland has produced so little in regards to great bands or musicians.

jack cole (jackcole), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 17:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Very nice to read the history of the band, thanks Donut. I believe the album I was familiar with was Flow. Also I don't think it has yet been mentioned here that Wedding Present covered a Pell Mell song -"Signal" on the Volume 5 compilation.

Bimble... (Bimble...), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 17:44 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It seems Michael Been's ego helped Freeman (ex Call bassist) and Spalding (ex Call soundtech guy) bond and helped propagate greatness in the Pell Mell camp.. sorry the two had to suffer for it, beforehand. I remember, from that Bananafish article, Greg was apparently seen as "the devil" in Been's eyes.. so during a live show in Canada, I guess the audience just wasn't enthusiastic or responding, so Michael walked over to Greg, STEPPED ON HIM (because you see, Greg was The Devil, so Michael had to stomp on The Devil to make things better.. did we mention Been's vision for The Call was for it to be Christian rock?), then walked back to the mic and screamed "ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF, CANADAAAAAAAAAA?!!!"

To this day, some friends of mine in Portland and I scream, to break any quiet point in a conversation:

"ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF, CANADAAAAAAAAAAAAA???!!!"

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

the only Pell Mell I have is Interstate but I have full respect for those Fisk solo albums / cassettes.

milton parker (Jon L), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

So anyway.. Pigeonhed!

Actually, college radio slept on Pigeonhed bigtime. Then again, the timing couldn't have been worse. It was 1992/1993. Who had just come along and "changed everything"? Right, them Stockton CA boys. So, anything that was attempting success in the college radio realm that had a white guy singing, in any way/shape/form, more "soulfully" than then-gritty Greg Dulli was seen as The Plague, Michael McDonald, or Eddie Vedder (in the middle of the biggest peak of Pearl Jam backlash at the time).. choose the more potent poison. College radio DJs generally poo-pooed any male rock vocalist that didn't sound like a) Steve Malkmus or b) Page Hamilton.

That said, I admit sleeping on Pigeonhed (for completely different reasons.. there was only so much I could afford to explore, and they just happened to be something "I'll get to later" and never did) as well, so THIS is where you, the Pigeonhed fan, come in and give mass praise to the goodness of Steve Fisk and/or Shawn Smith, and convince me to get their entire catalog (well, their three albums/EPs)

(Ned?)

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Interstate is good.. and you can find it anywhere for no more than 99 cents. (I actually have two yellow vinyl copies of the album.. I'm a bit of a fan that way.).

However, the albums that bookend it, Flow and Star City, respectively, are absolutely amazing.. Each of the main three albums are different, but are all great to absolute fucking classic.

donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Virgina Dare, was totally excellent as well... the Nuf Sed debut especially. (Sorry do get all side project-y).

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 20:35 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Out of curiosity has anyone here heard of an instrumental band from So. California called September? Pell Mell make me think of them a bit. Sorry not trying to derail...

Bimble... (Bimble...), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 21:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

no, but people might like Checksum, which is Greg and Jeff Palmer (who was the bassist for a thousand SF bands and now lives in So. Cal making music for commericals and movies and shit)

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 22:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I have three copies of Interstate. I ordered two albums, Pell Mell and someone else from CDNOW, and they sent me two copies of Interstate. When I complained about not getting that forgotten second album, they sent me the correct album with another copy of Interstate thrown in.

So if anyone can't find a copy for ninety-nine cents, I'd be happy to work out a trade!

Pleasant Plains /// (Pleasant Plains ///), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 22:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Was some Pell Mell track used as background for dj announcements etc. on wprb a few years back? I don't have any of the albums to check but the name sounds really, really familiar.

soultr0n, Wednesday, 30 March 2005 00:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

does anyone have these albums up on slsk or the hub? because I used to have interstate and don't anymore but wanted to take a listen again because of this thread.

kyle (akmonday), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 00:48 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i think that 'the curtain hits the cast' is my overall favorite low album, which was recorded by fisk and john goodmanson at john & stu's place (stuart hallerman, of avast recording, another evergreen student) - which was previously called (i think) reciprocal. it's on leary ave near the fred meyer. i don't know what is going on there now - last i knocked on the door, they had sold it and phil ek was working there, but that was a couple of years ago.

personally i don't care all that much for fisk's sampley projects like the SJB record or pigeonhead. they are too loopy but i guess that figures, seeing when they were made, and probably on an ensoniq or some such.

i feel kind of bad saying it but i still consider shawn smith's best work to be the first satchel record

ronny longjohns (ronny longjohns), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 01:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

it's on leary ave near the fred meyer.

Haha, I go to that Fred Meyer twice a week. To know that many albums I adore are made there is really giving me a head rush right now.

donut debonair (donut), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 08:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am so thrilled to find this thread!

I don't have much to add except to echo the Pell Mell love - I've played "Interstate", "Flow" and "Star City" hundreds of times. And to tell you that I heard a track from "Interstate" used as incidential music on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" episode. It's the one entitled "George K." with the buff personal trainer with the body of Hercules, and the face of a Golden Retriever. (Not the best combo...) I think he's chopping up rosemary or something while the music plays.

The DowdyDiva, Wednesday, 30 March 2005 11:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

did anyone else notice the use of 'nothing lies still long' on the 'previously, on six feet under...' bit at the start of the show occasionally?

dugstar, Wednesday, 30 March 2005 11:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
OK, apparently the ORIGINAL Pell Mell lineup recently did a reunion show in Portland.

WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY SAY ANYTHING GOD FUCKING DAMMIT????

donut e- (donut), Thursday, 30 June 2005 18:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Pell Mell's Flow ruled my fuggin life for years. Gotta pull that one out... it's been a while. Thanks for manifesting this thread.

I also may be one of 17 people who have any love for Fisk's 999 Levels of Undo,

trollerhonix, Thursday, 30 June 2005 23:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

So I heard Love Tractor for the first time playing as in-between music at the Sub Pop festival this past weekend. Very Pell Mell/Shadowy Men, but perhaps predating both?

Anyway, listening to early Pell Mell, and every time I do, I feel they were the best band ever.

Goddamn do I uberbullshit above. Sorry guys.

Mackro Mackro, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 19:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

How dare you talk about things.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 19:29 (nine years ago) Permalink

i never realized greg freeman had been in the Call, and further, never realized that BRMC is fronted by Michael Been's son, and that Michael Been is their sound engineer.

akm, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 20:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

I was obsessed with these truckers just before I discovered IDM. Eeeek.

In those heady days trading recordings like they did was fucking revolutionary

Fer Ark, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 20:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

Did they have something to do with Volcano Suns, or am i dreaming again?

Fer Ark, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 20:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

there's likely a Mission Of Burma friendship/connection that connects the two groups somehow. Also Beerman, Owen, and Spalding had lived in New England, if not currently.

Mackro Mackro, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 20:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

Pell Mell and Volcano Suns both put out an album called Bumper Crop in 1987!

mizzell, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 20:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

i pulled out an old mix tape yesterday... the pell mell track shines. yaya. colliding universes.

msp, Thursday, 17 July 2008 04:23 (nine years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

We opened for Pell Mell in... well, a LONG time ago, around the time of Rhyming Guitars. Fucking tore the roof off (them, not us). Anyway, that's how Steve met Bill & Bob, although the initial contact came either through Pavitt's networking for Sub Pop mag, or me and Steve doing ad sales for OP. At that point there was a bustling scene in P-land with The Rats (Fred Cole et al), the awesome Neo-Boys (who put out records on Greg Sage's Trap Records), and of course The Wipers. We played @ a collectively run hall, who's name escapes me.

Other trivia: Ray Farrell was Pell Mell's manager before, or during, the time he was @ DGC, which is how they came to have records released on a major. Steve emailed me last night that he and Bob are working on new Cut-Out material.

BTW Bob Beerman was one of my pantheon of underrated rock drummers with Tim Mooney (Toiling Midgets et al), Bill Rieflin (Blackouts, Ministry), and Mac McNeilly (who, yeah, is not underrated on this forum).

factcheckr, Friday, 6 February 2009 16:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

wau! Which band were you in, factcheckr, if you wish to give it away?

I forgot to mention that Fisk still does cool one-off performances around Seattle and the PacNW. Late in 2008, he helped debut an electronic music based clubhouse where he improvised electronic music to a silent film called The Hands Of Orlac. Fisk was using modular synths and regular synths all making this deeply early-Throbbing-Gristle growl and buzz. Like there was doubt, but the man can still dish out eery, bowel-churning music like no one's bizniz.

System Jr. (Mackro Mackro), Friday, 6 February 2009 17:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

I only know the Interstate album but man, do I like that one.

It is not enough to love mankind – you must be able to stand (Michael White), Friday, 6 February 2009 17:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

"Thank God for those people back in the 1980s."

cee-oh-tee-tee, Friday, 6 February 2009 17:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

(blush) Tiny Holes (Fisk, Steve Peters, Paul Tyson, Bruce Pavitt) & John Foster's Pop Philosophers (same minus Pavitt, plus Foster), and a bunch of lesser lights. Also Gary Wilson's NW touring band (2 gigs only) w/Peters and Fisk and maybe Tyson. I think the gig in Portland with Pell Mell was a Pop Philosophers set. Tiny Holes has a track on the LAFMS Lightbulb Emergency cassette.

John was the editor/publisher of OP magazine for those who remember and did some tracks w/Fisk on the Life Elsewhere EP that has Fisk's immortal version of "Woodstock". Anyone who was at the Fugazi gig @ the IPU fest in Oly got treated to a rare (and probably most recent) performance of the man.

I still do some stuff with Fisk. Search for "WOW!".

factcheckr, Friday, 6 February 2009 21:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

loved rhyming guitars and the K cassettes back in the day. subsequent pell mells on SST & DGC (WTF) less so, but they're still pretty good. 448 deathless days has some excellent, memorable stuff, especially the ultra-creepy bits and this vacuum (w/ the screaming trees). it's been ages, but i also remember digging diamond club, johnny smoke, break on thru (the hit) and chakiri bushi. then again, it was never a favorite record - a bit too much experimental filler.

he was kinda the go2 guy for ambitious NW production in the early grunge days. he recorded soundgarden's 2nd EP, fopp, and did a total overhaul of the title track for its "dub mix". also did a version of the batman theme with girl trouble that resulted in a b-side "alfred house mix" that remains one of my favorite novelty rock songs of evar.

PLUS three-mile pilot's another desert another sea, which is mind-blowingly great in the production department. year of no light? hell yes.

lost interest after the 80s, cuz my tastes had turned against dryly cerebral experimental electronics and towards caterwauling gutter garbage. dug a few pigeonhed tracks, but didn't like the heather duby record he did a while back.

dagmar at full power (contenderizer), Friday, 6 February 2009 23:26 (nine years ago) Permalink

I only know the Interstate album but man, do I like that one.

^^^this

I think the only reason I heard it was because I was a Matador stan in the mid-90s; had no idea about their history until seeing this thread.

Bianca Jagger (jaymc), Friday, 6 February 2009 23:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

I don't underrate Bill Rieflin! Although I hear what yer sayin'. SWANS, dammit!

sleeve, Friday, 6 February 2009 23:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

My name is spelled Jon-Lars Sorenson.

I did indeed move to the Bay area with the band, and played & recorded for about a year. We all lived in a house in El Cerrito.

The highlight for me was playing at the Anti Club in Hollywood, with the Minutemen, et al. That was the night that the flood hit Hollywood, and we walked through knee-high water to get to the club. Didn't matter to the crowd, it was a packed house.

The recordings made in SF ended up on "the bumper crop" album, along with songs recorded after I left.

Cheers,
Jon-Lars SorensOn

Jon-Lars Sorenson, Tuesday, 29 December 2009 00:56 (eight years ago) Permalink

Heya sir, glad you could swing by.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 29 December 2009 01:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

been jamming The Bumper Crop lately, so good. This band needs a box set! Or something!

tylerw, Thursday, 30 June 2011 17:36 (six years ago) Permalink

^ tell me about it. or a deluxe Flow.

nerve_pylon, Thursday, 30 June 2011 18:29 (six years ago) Permalink

yesss! paging dan selzer.

tylerw, Thursday, 30 June 2011 21:19 (six years ago) Permalink

the big huge problem is that the rights to the pre-Interstate lps remain w/ a certain 'legendary' record label.

nerve_pylon, Thursday, 30 June 2011 22:28 (six years ago) Permalink

...and the fact that i don't think there'd be much interest.

nerve_pylon, Thursday, 30 June 2011 22:30 (six years ago) Permalink

sst, yeah? such a bummer that so much of that music seems to be in a black hole. did people like dino jr or sonic youth have to sue to get their stuff back so that other labels could reissue them? i think that's what bob mould implies whenever the idea of reissuing husker du comes up.

tylerw, Thursday, 30 June 2011 22:35 (six years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

great interview w/ all the members here: http://www.furious.com/perfect/pellmell.html
and hey! https://pellmell.bandcamp.com/

tylerw, Monday, 5 February 2018 23:03 (one week ago) Permalink

I have vague favorable memories of the group from the early 80s. Just read a sometime Pitchfork contributor on Facebook calling them one of the greatest groups. Maybe I should listen again

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 04:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Surprised the article didn’t mention Love Tractor, they seem relevant in discussing instrumental college rock of the 80s.

dan selzer, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 13:11 (one week ago) Permalink


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