- Lash 41 (1995-1997)
- Ailment (1996-1998)
- Heterodyne (1998-2000)
- The Jeta Grove (2001-2003)
- Shortwave Dahlia (2004-2010)
- The Near Reaches (2010-2012)
- Solo work (2012-present)
- The Pneumatic Girls (2013-2014)
- Blindcopy (2020)
SMALL HOUR SONGCRAFT
Ailment came into being during the fall before I left Lash 41, which by that time had become Bleakhouse. I had fallen in love with Sebadoh and The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and there was tumult slowly rising to a boil within that band, so inevitably I saw myself out the door. I wanted to be a frontman and that band had the right person for the role.
Jeff Bourns and I were joined at the hip. I’d spend hours in his upstairs apartment where we’d listen to Bauhaus and The Cure, and furiously write songs (and recorded some of the better ones … wish I knew where those cassettes were now). We’d stay up so late, eventually put on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and giggle maniacally. I’m not even sure the show was that funny.
FOUR STRINGS AND ORGANIZATION
So … I actually don’t remember when or how, but we met up with this smart, good-natured guy named Richard Gobble (pronounced with the long o sound) who could play bass and was really enthusiastic about our ideas, so we got him in the band. We’d go over to his apartment with what little equipment we had and woodshed new ideas, refine old ones, and work up a pretty good assortment of cover songs.
Then we met up with a really enthusiastic lady named Tammie McClure – she went by Tam at the time. Jeff and I met up with her at a McDonalds over near Conway, where we resided. She was venturing into artist management and we ended up working with her, which resulted in shows in neighboring towns and time booked in a recording studio. Blue Chair Studios, helmed by Darian Stribling (of Little Rock band Two Minutes Hate fame) with whom we recorded an EP we would rather dramatically title Passion’s Last Gasp.
KNOTS UNTIED AND WOODEN JAWS
Honestly, the name doesn’t suit the music in hindsight. As early writing-for-a-band goes, the songs were earnest but pretty dramatic and overwrought. Lyrically, that is. I think I was pulling from the slightly cryptic poncy Simon le Bon, the heart-on-sleeve Lou Barlow songs, and definitely Bowie. Mixed results.
As for guitar, Jeff could always pluck really great ideas from the ether … those riffs and leads were and are still fantastic. Wish I had a copy of it.
Richard had a knack for arrangements, and was a good bassist. Pretty damned supportive of the democratic process of this trio too.
By the way, it’s worth noting that our last few ideas were a considerable improvement. I recall one called “Astronaut” that was sort of a slightly more 90s variant of that Bowie “Major Tom” type story. A cassette of demos disappeared around the time of the end of the group. I hate that.
As for the shows. Tam got us in a few and had goodwill built up with these people. They were in strange places and I’m not sure we ever won anybody over, but they were my first experiences as a frontman which allowed me to make a ton of my rookie mistakes very early on!
CRACKS BEGIN TO SHOW
Eventually, things got a little dicey. We had an outdoor show at the University of Central Arkansas and were ignored outright by the majority of the few attendees. I threw the mic off the stage at the end. I was really frustrated. I had not yet learned that being ignored was part of the process. All I could think about was how hard we had been working at it, and how it stung for no one to be noticing it.
Also, I won’t speak for Jeff, but a rift grew between myself and Richard to the point of shouting and palpable tension. I am willing to take credit for most of the trouble – as Jeff and I began to really understand what we envisioned for Ailment, my willingness to listen to and compromise creatively evaporated … to the point that we had Tam fire him. Sorry behavior from me.
Later on I briefly reconnected with Richard. Water under the bridge and all that. He didn’t owe me any forgiveness or grace, but I greatly appreciate it.
At that point, Jeff ended up having new obligations and that was that. I spent three or four months doing very little music, but of course I can’t stay away for long …
- 1998 – Passion’s Last Gasp