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

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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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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:


donut debonair (donut), Tuesday, 29 March 2005 18:42 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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)


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

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


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

How dare you talk about things.

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

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

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

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


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 (ten years ago) Permalink

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

sleeve, Friday, 6 February 2009 23:40 (ten 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.

Jon-Lars SorensOn

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

Heya sir, glad you could swing by.

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

^ tell me about it. or a deluxe Flow.

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

yesss! paging dan selzer.

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

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

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

six years pass...

great interview w/ all the members here:
and hey!

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

one year passes...

extremely happening Pell Mell live show from 1995 over yonder:

tylerw, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 16:47 (two months ago) Permalink

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