Well, here’s an old one. Old enough that I hadn’t heard it for over a decade and over time the memory of the track had morphed it into something quite different in my mind. “The Connection” was an outtake from the recording sessions of Radio Berlin‘s first album, Sibling. The album was recorded in the spring and summer of 1999 with this particular track being saved for a split 7″ with Sweden’s Kid Commando on the then fledgeling Radio One label out Australia, who were responsible for records by Black Cat #13 (pre-Death From Above 1979) and Roland S. Howard‘s vinyl release of Teenage Snuff Film.
After that record was pressed I likely got a number of personal copies of it but then I found myself without a copy, having given them all to friends who had requested them — it was a bit of a hard one to find in the stores back in Canada. There was no MP3 recording of this anywhere and the only reference I had of it for years was a few mixes on a DAT tape for which I wasn’t really bothered to peruse the graveyards and classifieds posts of antiquated equipment where studios would be selling their old, clunky and battered DAT machines in favour of new digital technologies or sought after classic analogue equipment.
In recent years I’ve been more involved with Discogs, at first to correct some incorrect information on old releases but it was also a good place to buy some rare or missing pieces of vinyl. This is where after 10 years I nabbed a copy of that split 7″. Upon first listen after all that time I’m actually surprised at how fast the tempo was, mainly as I don’t think I would be writing a song in that style at that sort of speed these days. I prefer things with more slower-paced stomp nowadays where this is more on a DevoWhip It! sort of tempo. Chris’s bass line when the track kicks in invokes a similar gallop of the bass playing of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris a la “Run To The Hills”… Anyway, here’s the preview and download link for your listening (dis)pleasure.
DOWNLOAD There are some cracks and pops on this track as it was ripped off my newly acquired vinyl copy.
I was trying to find in my vast archives the band overview for this project that would save me having to write a foreword for it. That text is long gone, the last place being on a website for Vancouver’s The Hive Studios which has been long since updated and redone back from the days when I was the web admin for that site. Oh well, I guess that means I can write an overview for this at 10.20pm on a Sunday.
The Measure was a short-lived Vancouver band I was in from around Summer 1997 (don’t remember which month) until around June or July of 1998. I had just turned 19 and had just moved to Vancouver.
The Measure consisted of myself and Dave Paterson on guitars, Matt Camirand on bass guitar, Ian Hodges on drums and Chris Frey on vocals. The style I would say in a nutshell would be post-hardcore. This is a good, fitting and literal description as most of the bands we had played in before were in effect hardcore bands. I was finishing up a stint in a few 90s-style hardcore groups. Chris has played in numerous early 90s Vancouver outfits such as Sludge, Ian in Plains of Abraham, Dave in Ellen James Society from Calgary and Matt, fresh off a move from Ottawa, in the incredible Okara (who I was really into at the time — more on that below) as well as 30 Second Motion Picture (along with members from the popular mid-90s hardcore band Shotmaker — another favourite from the time).
Although I had just moved to Vancouver from the island I had been coming to Vancouver quite frequently over the previous year, having far outgrown the small town I was from. I was collecting a lot of post-hardcore and art-punk type records at the time and one place I would hit up often for this fix was a small little record shop called Washout, tucked away in the back of a skate shop. Chris Frey co-ran this shop and at some point we got chatting about starting up some music. The timing was right as he was already getting things on the move with this “hot new” line-up being the other guys from The Measure. We were name-checking a few things: Rye Coalition, The Monorchid, Fugazi, Jawbox, Talking Heads, Joy Division, Birthday Party, etc.
Coming at the end of an era of myself being somewhat “straight edge” as well as being at the tail-end of an age where I was a somewhat teenage emotional cripple, I remember downing half a bottle of wine before the first practice — likely due to the stress of auditioning for this group of talented folks that I looked up to at the time. The first rehearsal was over a car repair shop or something on W 2nd Ave of Main. I remember the riffs that Dave and Matt coming up with initially being the most “rock” sounding thing I had been involved in. Having spend a couple of years attempting to do some Unwound-sounding post-hardcore stuff, I was bit hesitant of the “rock”. I caved in — mainly as the instrumentation and song-writing sessions after that intimidating first session became fun and interesting. The music was quite rock but also very complex and a bit arty for a straight up rock band. Chris’s lyrics and vocal style were surreal and had a Mark E. Smith or Gang of Four quality which made it even more exciting.
We cut a demo on a Fostex 8-track cassette recorder in the fall of 1997 at our rehearsal studio, Faceplant. Josh Wells and Stephen McBean from another local band called Ex-Dead Teenager we were good friends with, and later went on to form Black Mountain, did the engineering. The recording was quite a muddled affair, mainly as our songs were very busy and the amps at full volume but I think Josh and Steve did a pretty incredible job given the relatively lo-fi equipment the demo was recorded on. We released this on a limited run cassette we sold at shows in Vancouver. Matt did the artwork for this, which if I remember was vaguely inspired by Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. I actually never got a copy of this tape so I don’t even remember what it looks like.
The Measure continued on into 1998. Chris and I, along with Josh Wells, started another band based on our mutual interest in 70s/80s post-punk and synthesizer driven new wave called Radio Berlin that would carry on for seven years. Matt eventually joined the freshly signed to Sub Pop band Black Halos a little while later. These other commitments eventually were the demise of the group in July of 1998. At that point we had another 4-5 newer tracks which were never recorded. There’s also some video, somewhere, on a video cassette of two live shows we did but I really have no idea where those are now (Update: they’re in a basement in Vancouver according to Chris).
Over the years we all went our different ways and many different bands as well: Radio Berlin, Black Mountain, Blood Meridian, The Book Of Lists, and so on.
Anyway, without further rambling introductions from myself, here’s the full nine-song demo in its entirety for those who might be interested!
TRACKLISTING 01. Little Heartattack
03. Company of Corpses
04. The Night Of The Long Knives
05. Your Father’s Picture
06. The Little Things You Do
07. The Horse You Rode In On
08. This Song Is Called War
09. Davy Jones
The Measure live at The Brickyard in late 1997/early 1998. Photos by Lori Kiessling.
For further listening you can check out another project Matt was in prior to The Measure called Okara. This was the one LP they put out, Months Like Years, on the Spectra Sonic Sound label in 1996. Some excellent playing on this if you’re interested in prog-influenced post-hardcore:
gonnagetsued: Okara – Months Like Yearshttp://gonnagetsued.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/okara-months-like-years.htmlDoing that Shotmaker post has put me back in Ottawa mode. Pulled out everything that ever came out on Great American Steak Religion and Spectra Sonic Sound, two great labels who,…
Back in the days when I relied on my trusty old vinyl record player, chunky tape decks and absolutely unreliable CD player to provide music it was an absolute distraction to continually have to change up the music as I was doing other things like working, cooking, doing some sketchy DIY work or in the middle of unimportant conversations. Where’s the DJ? The record is now over! Seven inches were even more of a distraction as within five minutes of choosing the record and placing it on the turntable you’re having to flip the thing and then in another five minutes you’re having to choose another record.
The irony of the situation is that I love these formats and when you’re focused on the sole intention of listening to music it’s a fantastic experience but when you’re working it’s cumbersome. Moving into the naughties mp3 players flooded in and provided a playback format that was suitable to listening to music while doing other things. Heck, you could even have the software DJ the music for you in a mode called “Shuffle” where by some software algorhythm (sic) songs are chosen for you. Often interesting and sometimes embarassing, the “shuffle” mode could go on for hours choosing tracks from your collection of mp3s.
Recently I was rolling out the shuffle mode when doing some work and a track called “Towers Above You” came on. It was an outtake that was never used from the last Radio Berlin full length, Glass (2003). At the time I remember actively voicing not putting this track on the record; I think mainly because I wasn’t so into my vocal delivery. Listening to it now had seven years of distance from it and it’s a nice synth-y post-punk dance track and pretty good for a rough mix. There’s some sort of meandering epic bridge and I seem to remember the main lead line at the beginning a musical nod to the Death In June track “Last Farewell”.
Cueing from that I listened to another outtake called “The Nation” from the previous album called The Selection Drone (2001). This was a track mainly penned by our then drummer, Josh Wells. Again I think this one faced resistance from me due to not being sure about the vocal performance. This one was a rough mix as well and listening to it now has some cool chord progressions and subtle time signature changes.
I’m posting these tracks here for some people and friends that I know that might be interested in hearing these as they’ve been buried in my digital archives for years. Here’s links to these tracks with information here.
“Towers Above You”
Outtake from GLASS (2003)
P.S. : If anyone out there has a digitized version of the track “The Connection” released on a split 7″ with Kid Commando back in 1999/2000 let me know as I haven’t heard that track since it was released and I remember it being a decent track…
Well, here’s a little mini-series that I’ve started in this little corner of online space for both of you that might be interested. Stashed away on the dustier parts of the several hard drives that I own lay dorment older musical excursions that never made it public. As I was moving items from shelf to shelf I became re-acquainted with the first Primes“s/t” album. This was the first phase of the group in it’s more trashy, distorted, electro-punk phase. Upon listening to the record again only recently a lot of the tracks aren’t as lo-fi as I had them as memorized in my head, especially in today’s musical climate where more and more lo-fi and unorthodox recording techniques are becoming more of the norm, especially as far as electronic music is concerned.
Front and back of the un-released split 12"
During the recording and writing of that particular record, Primes took a stab at doing a cover — one of the few recorded covers that I ever did in a band (actually, I can’t think of any other recorded covers that I have done come to think of it). We did an incredibly trashed out and squelchy version of Nitzer Ebb‘s “Let Your Body Learn” with Miss X taking up vocal duties. This was to be on a split 12″ record with another Vancouver synth/electro/punk group at the time called Bakelite. This was recorded along with an album A-side and was ready to go to press. We even had a brief mention on the official Nitzer Ebb site about this particular release coming out. Due to some issues that I don’t remember that arose with the record label, this never actually made it to press and therefore was never actually released. But you know, someone out there might appreciate this more frazzled, haywire version on Nitzer Ebb‘s classic track. So yes, they might. Here it is for download and perusal:
PRIMES “Let Your Body Learn”(2004)
P.S. > The artwork that adorns this post is some of the only remnants of artwork that I have from that point in time.