Although I haven't had much formal training as a musician, over the years I have enjoying playing, writing, and recording songs in one way or another. The closest thing I have to musical training is my time in fifth grade when I played coronet in the Washington Grade School band back in Peoria. I played a horn that I found in a dumpster. It was beat to hell, but could still play in tune. Later in my high school college years I picked up guitar from my younger brother, Greg, who had been taking lessons. Greg since went on to play in a number of bands including Unit 8, Larry, Alley Oop, and Killington Lost (Nathan from Killington Lost is now the guitarist for Chinup Chinup). I have been in two real bands (Lugomen and, now, Nonagon) and consitantly been hacking away as a solo artist when I had time. More on that later, but first...
My Rock 'n' Roll Roots
As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois my friends, John & Thom, and I decided to from a band sometime during our freshman year. Unfortunately for me this meant learning to play the bass guitar. By the time our sophomore year rolled around I had gotten proficient at playing the bass and we had began recording songs. Thus began the torrid rags to riches story of (Der) Lugomen. We got our name from the evil henchmen in the Japanese TV show Space Giants and added the "Der" in our early days because German words are inherently dark, foreboding, and arty.
Early in our formation we had given up on finding a drummer and settled with an Alesis 16-B drum machine. We released our first cassette "No Rules Barred" mid senior year. The songs teetered between Dead Kennedys punk, industrial, and a Doctor Demento novelty album. As interesting as that combo may sound most of the songs are pretty dumb and hard to listen to now. The songs we liked eventually were reused on our second tape"Honky Lips." This second tape was infinitely better. Mainly because we stopped trying to be too punk and were more interested in sounding like a post-punk Chicago band (ala Jesus Lizard, Big Black, etc.). Lyrically the songs are still pretty funny and musically it was much more focused. We eventually played-out 3 times. Our live shows were the stuff of legend, or so I have been told. Our policy was that we would play anywhere for a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew (Most of which would end up on the crowd).
In '93 we all graduated and went on to our separate grad programs and that was more or less the end of the Lugomen. Since then we reunited once during a spring break and recorded two new songs with a real drummer (little known fact: the real drummer was one J. Hastie, my current band mate in Nonagon) but never got around to adding vocals. John advanced up to pop music with his next band Hot Shot Satellite and Thom has become an American roots music aficionado and herpetology superstar in NYC.
Jazz the Computer
During my grad school years I never linked up with anyone interested in forming a band so I had to settle with just making "basement" tapes in my apartment using my brother's 4-track and eventually adding my computer. I guess the music is just dopey electronica. Silly, but I enjoy making it. My "band" name that I came up with for my dabblings was Martian Law. Martian Law began as a tape of songs that I put together— which was mostly a hodge-podge of guitar stuff, and MIDI computer stuff—and gave away as a bonus when you bought one of my wood engravings. In hindsight, this tape is pretty embarrassing, but it did contain a few numbers that I still can appreciate.
I have always liked to create music on computers. Back in the Apple ][+ days I made quite a few annoying musical ditties with The Music Construction Set and this continued into the Apple ][gs days. My software was never really sophisticated enough until I discovered tracking and mods when I upgraded to Windows 95. After a few years of noodling around I finally had enough material to release a CDs worth of my electronic music, The Exciting Sounds of a Compaq P133. This was followed by the sonically superior Upgrade Downgrade EP. I also contributed a track to the Lumpenwave eighties music tribute CD. I have now converted the CD audio tracks into super high quality MP3's and have made them free for you to download and add to your digital library, just click the covers below for more information and the MP3s:
I've Seen the Future...
...and there are moving sidewalks and lots of shiny clothing. What I am currently working on? I am still into sequencing songs on my computer (the technology keeps getting better but I just keep getting lazier), but most of my musicality is devoted to my current band, Nonagon. Martian Law shall return.