College was an interesting thing for me. Many highs and many lows. None the less, and no less at the University of Hartford. In the end I was only there for one year. I thought at the time, for the best. The school was pretty divided. There were frat people, normal people and art people. I tended to hang out with the art people in a fog of pot smoke. I still keep in touch with many of these people. And many of them hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps like war buddies. We all went through something. Maybe at different times and places, but we were all there.
At my time in Hartford I had a few majors, one girlfriend and one band. I think I was only successful in the later. We were originally called Landon. Based on this one guy we knew who was obsessed (rightly so) with J. Mascis. I still can’t remember how I actually met Landon – he was always just my friend. Gabe wrote all the songs, played guitar and sang. Nick Theodrakis (I love saying his name) originally played bass. Eventually Landon would be the bassist and the band name would change to Four Eyed Ferries due to contractual agreements with our new bassist. Jeff Barsky (now of Insect Factory fame) played live with us. He liked Radiohead before it was utterly too cool for school. I had a lot of respect for his guitar playing. What really attracted me to this band was the few covers we did, conscious or not. We did Sweet Jane from time to time live. And we rocked it.
We were only a band for a semester and a half. But we recorded a 45 minute demo on a 4-track in a matter of a few weekends. I also have about 60 minutes of demos. It was a nice arsenal of recordings. All the recordings were hit live to 4-track in the basement (in reality if was a rehearsal ballet studio – with mirrors on all walls and 7 foot ceilings!) of the freshman art dorms. However, we had to walk like a mile to get to this place. I felt like we were in a fallout shelter when we were walking down there. There were many overdubs made, most notably the vocals and subsequent guitars and percussion.
I have many fond memories of recording, playing and listening to these songs. I thought one of these days Gabe would become a rock star. He’s still a rock star in my head.
I do recommend starting with track #4 below. And coming back to 1-3 later.
Four Eyed Ferries
Gabe Beeler sang and played guitar
Matt played drums & percussion
Landon Wong just played bass
Produced, engineered & mixed by Gabe and MattRecorded on a Tascam Porta 03 MKII 4-Track Recorder
Recorded in lovely Hartford, CT in Spring 1996 @ RCA Studios
Additional Production & Post Production done @ B-Complex, 4th Floor (that was code for Gabe’s dorm room)
Mixed at Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT
1. All These Days
You’ll quickly notice that many of these songs were influence by the softLOUDsoft theory of music. In this song I never really had a feel for the verses and I never felt my drums worked in this song. It’s a rock song, however. Nothing more nothing less. One thing I remember is Gabe liked to use like 6 mics on his tiny guitar cabinet.
2. Puzzle Piece
Listen to that reverb. That was this seriously gigantor Lexicon reverb. It was probably a $10,000 piece of gear Gabe somehow was able to let us use in a post production studio for a few hours at the Hartt School. This song didn’t really ever do anything for me. You can hear all the Cure we were listening to here. I think Disintegration and Mixed Up and early Dino Jr was our soundtrack. And clearly some Pumpkins. Maybe Nine Inch Nails. I remember Gabe had this box that did electronic music and Gabe had all this NIN sounding stuff. We almost ended up being a band like that. I guess it was just too complicated and rock was a quicker destination.
3. Push Too Deep
I love the end part where Gabe gets funky. This was always a live favorite of mine. I wish that bell of the ride wasn’t so loud. But that’s what you get with a 21″ rock ride. What the fuck was I thinking?!
It’s not that I don’t like the first three songs, but I feel like the record really gets going here. Song-wise and playing wise. I remember hitting those 16th notes and thinking, “Wow, I’ve never done this [because I ain’t no disco drummer] & it doesn’t sound cheesy!” This song would later be reworked in a future other college band. This is definitely one of my favorite Landon basslines. He ripped that shit up more than he ever knew.
5. Mind Over Matter
This song was one I typically skipped, but it feels like it’s the one that simple needed to grow on me. I really don’t remember much about this song. Gabe gets some insane guitar action at the end of this song.
6. Under My Bed
If Gabe ever wrote a hit, this was it. I love this song. Hands down. I still do. His playing is great. The bassline is great and it’s a beat I can live with until I die. And check out that mad drum roll in to the first chorus @ 0:46! I do vividly remember recording this track. I think I was late to the session because I was partying and it was way late and I wasn’t hitting the cut, for obvious reasons. But somehow it got to tape. Of course not with out my crazy tempo changes. You can usually tell I was partying that night when I start slowing down. Check out that guitar solo. And I think this song was the first song we decided to hit up percussion. You’ll notice it during the beginning of the guitar solo. I was on shakers and coffee beans and Gabe had some shakers and percussion. I remember recording this on a Sunday afternoon with the sun shining in his dorm. It was a religious experience doing these overdub, at least for me. I learned more about music in those overdub sessions than anywhere else in life.
If there was a second single, this would be it. I totally stole this beat from a Poster Children song called “Where We Live.” Check it. It’s worth it. This was also the first and only song Gabe doubled his vocals to on this record. I wish he did it more, but I guess it didn’t work for his ears. “She used to be my friend…”
8. Free Poverty
This was always a crowd pleaser. Not sure why, but it was and it rocked. Man, did I really like half time during verses or what?! And Gabe with his chorus effect on the vocals.
9. Don’t Belong
This song (and the next) were from the last session in recording this demo. I didn’t have my own kit there, so we used whatever was down there. I was on this wild METAL kit. There were two bass drums. I only used one. But I think there were like 7 tom toms. And I tried using them all. I felt like an octopus on this kit. My arms and legs were all sprawled out. You’ll also notice there’s some crazy shit going on with the ride cymbal. In post-production we added a tap-delay. If you listen carefully you can hear the snare delay too as we couldn’t totally isolate the cymbals. I vaguely remember we rushed the recording of this and my drums in the chorus weren’t consistent at all. I was just all over the place. It sticks out like a sore thumb to me, but I doubt anyone would ever notice. I love the distorted guitar Gabe overdubbed over the picked notes. Totally a sleeper song. At 2:09 check out the killer fill. I owe that to the dude who put this massive kit together! Stellar. One other thing: I don’t think it would be possible to record this any hotter. My god the levels must have been through the roof.
10. The Waiting
This would be another song that would show up later in life with Gabe. Like Don’t Belong, this song was also rushed in it’s recording process. After listening now to it, it’s not so bad or as rushed as I remember. The changes are a little rough, but I think it translates well. Check out the 2nd verse, I simply forgot to come in and hit some downbeats. Since the song wasn’t really written, I guess no one noticed.
Live at the Hawk’s Nest – Winter 1995
We basically were playing late night at a campus restaurant. You can hear the video games in the background. I don’t think Landon knew the chords before that night. Gabe taught it to him on stage, in between songs. Classic. I was playing on a borrowed practice kit with a bunch of cymbals that had been intentionally run over by a car. They were mutilated, but it was such a great night. Jeff Barksy can be heard on these songs. His back was to the audience the whole night. Pure rock & roll.
PS. This might be my incredible recall, but it was many years later when I realized we spelled our band name incorrectly. This is the prime example of how much studying went on at Hartford.