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Jack Endino Newsletter 5.3, Nov 2000


Well, lotsa water under the bridge as they say. What about this US presidential race? Talk about Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee. A pair of bigger idiots I've rarely seen. Do you want the egg-head, or the bone-head? Is this the best that our political system can produce, a couple of big-government corporate yes-men? They disgust me. Faugh.

What REALLY would have been interesting, would be a debate between Ralph Nader (Green) and Harry Browne (Libertarian). (Buchanan is of no consequence.) You hear more noise about Nader, but the Libertarians have more candidates in local races than any other third party by a long shot, and they gain slowly but steadily each year. Both major parties keep stealing their ideas. Pay attention.

Bumper sticker I saw: "Read my lips -- no new Texans." Hah!

I'm gonna stick my neck out here and say that I just finished what may be one of the best rock and roll records of my entire career, the new Black Halos album, tentatively titled "The Violent Years." Tracked it at Mushroom Studios in Vancouver BC, mixed at Hanzsek Audio in Seattle. It's got slamming songs, big guitar, huge singalong choruses, more hooks than a damned tacklebox, and I even like the sound of it, which is pretty huge. It should be out in spring sometime.

Work on the next Zen Guerrilla record has begun also. They're breaking things up into a few days here, a few days there, depending on when they're in Seattle during their incessant tours. Also here with me recently was an unsigned band from Switzerland, Lunazone, who were thrilled to be here in what seemed to them like Rock City, USA; I guess things are pretty slow in Basel by comparison.

Tad has finally found a label, KoolArrow, to release the stuff we recorded this summer for his new band Hog Molly. The record should be out in Feb or March hopefully. We still have 5 more songs to mix (out of 17 that were recorded) before we ship it off.

The final Gits retrospective CD, "Seafish Louisville," is out on Broken Rekids right now. I only got to record one song for the Gits while Mia was alive ("Spear and Magic Helmet") so it was great to get a chance to remix a bunch of their early, uncompiled singles and odds'n'ends, plus we were given access to the complete multitrack digital live tapes recorded by the people who made the Hype! documentary, so we mixed down about 2/3 of that live show too. The tapes were recorded very well and the live stuff completely, totally kicks ass, performance-wise and sonically too: trust me when I say this. This may be the best Gits record; it's the best-sounding one, at least. Now people will understand.

Here's a strange story: back in '96, I went to Sydney, Australia to make a record for a band called Bluebottle Kiss who were unlike any other band I'd recorded. They're a guitar band, but I don't know what the heck their influences are; it ain't punk, and it ain't exactly "rock and roll" but I just liked 'em, and I wanted to go to Australia too (check out the Taronga Zoo if you're ever in Sydney). It was their first full-length record for Sony Australia, and it was too long and had no radio song or anything even close (I pointed this out but no one seemed unduly concerned), but things were all lovey-dovey with their A+R man of course, who figured he could give the band time to develop. We made a really artful, ambitious album which got great reviews but failed to sell. Of course, Sony dropped 'em after that, but unlike most such bands they decided NOT to immediately break up. They still had music in 'em, and wanted a US record deal as well as another Australian one. I must have sent out a dozen copies of the record we did, "Fear of Girls," to people I know in North America, and got only one response which was from a small Canadian label with no money. (This is why I refuse to shop people's tapes: I know that the people I give 'em to are just like me, inundated with music they have no time to listen to. If you have trouble understanding this, read my FAQ.)

Four years later, and BBK (as I call 'em) had a couple Oz indy records under their belt. Somehow they were heard by a gentleman from a California-based web-music company called SpinRecords.com, and he was able to get corporate money to fly BBK over to the States, give 'em a van and turn 'em loose for a few months. Then SpinRecords, who were going to issue the last BBK album here, ran into financial trouble like so many of the dot-bomb companies. By then, BBK was already here, so they spent the summer totally broke, sleeping in their van, touring around the west coast, and playing crappy gigs without any US record to promote, but still enjoying themselves as first-time US tourists at least. When I heard they would be in Seattle for a couple of totally useless gigs, there was no hesitation; I said hey, let's record a couple songs. Since they had almost NO money and NO record label or management and were stranded thousands of miles from home, I, as their oldest (and until recently, ONLY) US fan, gave 'em a pretty good deal. (Not my usual deal, duh! No I do not make records for 600 bucks anymore either!) I had the pleasure of recording two songs for 'em.

The happy ending is that they did meet a guy with a small Portland-based indy label who wants to release their last record here in the States, possibly with the songs I did added on. They also met a couple of the Posies guys here at their Seattle gig who are reportedly now fans! Ken and Jon are producers themselves and are good people to know.

The epilogue is that now SpinRecords.com is supposedly being investigated by the feds for some kind of financial irregularities. Gotta love that dot-com stock frenzy!

I previously mentioned the book, "Confessions of a Record Producer" by Moses Avalon, one of my favorite books about the music biz. Moses (a pseudonym) now has a great website, http://www.mosesavalon.com which you should examine. Especially interesting is his online Royalty Calculator; you can run some numbers and see that Albini and Courtney were not exaggerating. Tell him I sent ya.


Further proof people actually read these things: my article on "yarling" last time seems to have struck a nerve. Plenty of people thanked me for giving them a word to describe the offending vocal style. Some Creed fans and record company people were less amused however. Today in my mailbox was a mass-mailed package from BMG Distribution. How did they get my address? Inside was a copy of the new Creed single, "With Awms Wahd O-pawn." It was a limited edition single with 3 versions of the song: a "strings" version, an "acoustic" version, and a "rock" version. It says prominently that 3 dollars from the sale of this LIMITED-EDITION single (that was sent to me, and who knows how many others on the promo list, for FREE) will go to a charitable foundation set up by singer Scott Stapp to aid "children and families" called... get this... the "Arms Wide Open Foundation." (http://www.witharmswideopen.org, currently no info on the site.) The full-color flyer enclosed with the single says "Help for Children. Hope for Families." He creates and names a charitable foundation after the song that is being promoted as his current single! He seems to have the promotional knack of a televangelist. On the other hand, at least he's not putting all his money up his nose like so many other rock stars; you gotta give him that. Some of the band's music and songs are actually reasonably OK anthemic post-Zep riff-rock... the lyrics are good for the style of music he's doing, and are better than another "baby, baby" thing (think of fellow yarler David Coverdale)... but I still don't have to like his singing style. He may be the second goddamned coming but I'm afraid he still yarls.

The math puzzles me here. It says "Three dollars from the sale of this single will be donated by CREED to the Arms Wide Open Foundation." Not by the record company, by Creed. With a normal, full-length album, the most a band usually makes in royalties is about a buck fifty per copy, maybe two bucks if they're Aerosmith or something. The rest of it goes to the record company. With a single, which usually sells for much less, the band is lucky to make 20 cents, and even the record company doesn't make much. This single does not look like it was cheap to make, and it's admittedly a "limited edition," so where's the 3 dollars coming from? Apparently Creed got the record company to forgo all of THEIR profits. I'll be curious to see if any of that record company money ever reaches Stapp's Foundation, no matter his good intentions. Bets?

Let me get serious here. Another reason this guy is starting to bug me is that he's accumulating and playing with personal power in a big, clumsy way. Combine the "famous rock star" archetype, which carries a lot of power in our culture, with hints of the "religious/messiah" archetype, and you are playing a very, very dangerous game. Power tempts and corrupts, and no one is immune. I wish Scott Stapp luck, but if the game he is playing turns around and bites him, it will bite him big time.

For what it's worth, it was pointed out to me that some earlier yarlers included Burton Cummings of the Guess Who (picture the ending of "Share The Land") and David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears. OK, I'll buy that. Someone else suggested Al Green, but I'm sorry, you don't say NOTHIN' about Al Green.


Here in Seattle, the longest-running local music/pop culture magazine, the Rocket, seems to have just closed its doors. It was an important part of the local music scene, that's for sure, and my wife Dawn wrote for them on and off since the early 80s. Her frustration with their spotty coverage of local music in the late 80's led her to start her own Backlash magazine in 1987, which was the first magazine anywhere to write about Nirvana, plus lots of other bands that later, er... well, y'all know what happened next. It was a labor of love, not money, which was why she folded it in early 1991 just when things were starting to get really idiotic around here; the last issue had a cover story about Nirvana where they talked about new drummer Dave, and about signing their record deal with Geffen. The 34 issues of Backlash read like historical documents now, and are a pretty good larf to boot. (Back issues are available at my "garage sale" website, http://www.endino.com/mangofork.html) So I gotta put in a plug for Dawn's new 'zine, Backfire, a quarterly which is up to it's 7th issue. Right when the mainstream media pronounced rock "dead" a couple years ago, things started happenin' again around here, and Dawn sensed that the time was right again for an unapologetic rock mag. It's not exclusively local anymore but the accent is definitely on rock music (with no concessions to any fictitious notions of critical "hipness"), and the response has been enthusiastic. Its available free in the Seattle/Portland area at clubs and record stores; a mail subscription will cost you 10 bucks for 4 issues (payable to "Backfire"). (The first 8 issues can be had for 20 bucks if you wait a couple months for the December issue to exist.) No website as yet, but the snail mail address is Backfire, PO Box 77311, Seattle, WA 98177-0311. If you order anything from my Garage Sale, I'll throw in a sample issue.


Curious about Seattle-area Recording Studios? Wanna know where Soundgarden has recorded, or which studio has PZM microphones, or who's got a Leslie? I'm thrashing together a searchable, online database of local recording studios. Since I've worked in essentially ALL of 'em, I figured I was uniquely qualified to do this. Check out the beta version at <http://www.endino.com/studioweb/>.


I think I mentioned that I'm playing bass for Wellwater Conspiracy, with John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) on gtr and Matt Cameron (ex-Soundgarden) on drums/vocals. We also have a parallel project called Brotherhood of the Electric, which has Ben Shepherd (SG) on vocals and Dan Peters (Mudhoney) on drums. Since Matt has been on the road with PJ, Brotherhood worked up a set of mostly weird sixties psych-rock covers and a couple Wellwater tunes, and our debut gig was opening for Nebula a couple months ago. We slayed people; there are pictures at www.stonerrock.com, and also at the Unofficial Ben Shepherd website (look it up, easy to find) and I have some better ones (by Vince Gipson, http://www.rockphotographer.com) that I will post when I have time to scan 'em. Coming up: Brotherhood will impersonate Wellwater Conspiracy for the 4th Terrastock, in Seattle on Nov. 3rd thru 5th. (info: http://www.terrascope.org)

It gets weirder yet. APPARENTLY (I'll believe it when I'm standing on the stage) Wellwater Conspiracy is opening the Nov 6th Pearl Jam/Chili Peppers show in Seattle, because Ed's a fan! I've played some big gigs but, er, never this big. It'll be just our luck that we'll end up playing with the house lights on or something. Oh well, Monkeywrench, Fastbax, Murder City Devils and Zeke have gotten to do it, now it's our turn.


A reminder: if you change your e-address, send me the new one, and don't forget to mention the old one so I can delete it! Thanx to all the subscribers who did so last time. It saves a lot of stuff bouncing uselessly around the already-clogged net...

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