Tag Archive for 'high school band series'

Twisted Fish – Upstairs EP

My Mother is from Boston. Newton, Mass more specifically. Needless to say she always had her way with words. And my friends always picked up on it. If not were picking on her. She could dish it back, too, as most of my friends were actually terrified of her. But simply put, r’s became ah’s. And vise versa. Typical Boston accent going on here.

So the band was over one time practicing or something. And I think we were eating pizza and drinking cold beverages in the kitchen and decided it was time to design a flyer for the latest upcoming show. We took our cups and started walking up the stairs to the computer room. “UPSTAAAAY-YAZ?” my Mother spewed. That basically translated to “Upstairs!” That was my Mother saying, “No way in hell are those liquids going to the 2nd floor, bitch.”

And thus we had the name for our first EP.

I don’t really remember much about the recording process, other than it was recorded in my parent’s basement on John’s Tascam Portastudio 424 4-track with a bunch of Shure SM57s. There was a folding table on it’s side for “isolation” on the drums. That worked wonderfully, I am sure. I know the copyright (yes, it’s registered) is dated November 1993. I had been playing drums for about 2 years. Full kit for a year. I think Jordan was on the same time table for guitar. John had no lessons and appeared to have been playing this good since birth.

Twisted Fish
Upstairs

Jordan Hirsch – vocals, guitar
John Argentiero – lead guitar, bass
Matt – drums (I had double t’s then)

All music arranged by Twisted Fish
Mixed by Matt

Note: the opinions expressed after Butterfly are not necessarily those of Twisted Fish. (Yes, we really wrote that in the liner notes).

1. Four

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I don’t really know much about this song. In my head it was really only about the delay on the voice and the panning on the counting at the end. But that was the engineer in me. If I recall correctly the song was about a guy John and Jordan knew in high school that was a total tool. Sorry about the warble in the beginning. It’s on the master. Nothing I can do about it. What I do remember was actually listening to the bass in this song. And finding a spot for it in the mix. I think I did a pretty good job for my first “official” mixing gig. PS. John’s Lenny Kravitz solo ripoff still cracks me up.

2. Shattered

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The guitars are out of tune. I know. It still kills me. That was one of the first things I learned in this business. TUNE YOUR FUCKING GUITARS, JERKO. John is in the left channel. Jordan in the right. And John’s solos are pretty much centered (same track as vocals – so you’ll notice on pretty much all the high school recordings there is rarely a lead or solo over a vocal – simply because we didn’t ever have the tracks to do it.). Jordan wrote Shattered about an ex-girlfriend while we were all in the band, Undertow. I am not sure if he was intentionally overly dramatic or he actually was “shattered”. No one will ever know. Except for the fact that her name was Abagail. Can I say that? This was sorta our “hit.” The fade that comes back at the end was a nod to our then heroes in Soundgarden and the fact that I hated fades. I still do. It’s a complete cop-out.

3. Butterfly

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13 minutes of heartbreak. Not the tightest song ever put on tape. But it was definitely the song that helped me start thinking outside the box as far as engineering goes. Jordan’s vocals did shine in many sections. The first guitar that comes in was picked up from the mic(s) on the drums. There was also a guitar (in the ceter) that was recorded entirely backwards. I was mainly feedback and guitar noises. It drove my Mother nutty getting that to tape. I think this song was primarily recorded with Mat and Jordan very late at night one weekend. John came in a week later and overdubbed the solos. All in one take. There is no bass. And I think Jordan actually broke skin and bled after 13 minutes of rhythm guitars (right channel) – This was also my first attempt at writing lyrics. I probably should have spent more time working on my chops as a drummer. I also think this song, structurally, was based loosely on Starla by the Smashing Pumpkins.

4. 5½ Minutes of Silence

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Our ode to John Lennon. And perhaps my first intro to avant music. I still use “this is the word of the lord” when I am checking mics in a studio. So it’s Jordan on vocals. John on guitar and Mat controlling the delay on the vocals and playing this drum pad trigger feedback contraption thing I built.

5. Kill Fred

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Recorded with a radio shack tape recorder live in the basement. Jordan on vocals. John on guitar. Mat on drums. I am not sure what the deal with this song was. I always attributed (or rationaled) it to how silly ska music was. I take back what I said about Shattered. This was clearly the hit. Hands down. I can still hear it on the radio, even with the “penis” and “licking my neighbor’s dog” lyrics.

6. Todernuw

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There was a lot of resentment that came from being in Undertow, the band we were all in prior to Twisted Fish, sans the singer. This was our “Fuck You” to that time in our lives. Man, we were pretty fucking out there for a High School band immersed at the height of the grunge era.

The Jesse Hofbauer Experience

I am not sure specifically when this is from. Based on how it’s recorded, I think it’s sometime in 1994. I am on drums. John is on the left guitar and overdubbed acoustic. Jesse is on the other guitar in the right. I am not even sure of how this came about. Jesse was a friend of a friend. And one day showed up in my basement and John was nearby and it just happened. No rehearsals. Just live to 4-track. I love the sound of it. Definitely a transition in the way I approached recording.

This was the first 4-track recording I remember doing with a submix for the drums. I had a Ramsa live mixer I borrowed from Justin from time to time. It was about this time when “one mic” wouldn’t cut it for me. There were at least three mics. One on the bass drum. One on the snare/hi-hats and one in front of the kit. There was also this digital delay that I borrowed from John that you can clearly hear on the vocal and on the drums when Jesse isn’t singing.

There isn’t too much known about these songs. I will recount what I can. John might remember more than I do.

TV Man

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I loved the soft-LOUD-soft stuff of the 90s. I still do. I think John overdubbed acoustic guitar for the choruses and the 2nd verse. with that ADA preamp with a chorus effect. I never liked the way it was recorded. It’s too mid-bassy and overbearing. I still think this song has serious potential.

Hey Angel

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This was allegedly a Sonic Youth B-Side. I’ve never heard of it. I am thinking Jesse was just feeling self-conscious. Regardless it’s a neat little two guitars/drums song that meanders a while at the end with some choice Warrant-esque guitar solos. John had no shame, and that was what always turned me on to his playing.

Wish (edit)

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I am not sure why I am even including this. It’s more for context of what was going on at that time. Thankfully the tape ran out.

Jesse, if you are out there, get in touch with me. Word.

Twisted Fish – Live at Manny’s 1994

Since I uploaded that high school project with Jordan, it made me think about another band I was in with Jordan in high school. This band was actually the best band in the world. Seriously. We had the formula for success and world domination. Great looks. Awesome rocktastics. Killer licks. Wonderful bulges in our jeans. Somehow things fell apart when we left for bigger things, a la higher education.

Regardless of the lack of success, the times we had were priceless. The music isn’t bad for the time and some of it I still really enjoy.

Today, I have remastered and uploaded a live show from the project I was in with Jordan and John. We were called Twisted Fish. We came from a band called Undertow which had a different singer/guitarist while John played a blue bass that wasn’t ever properly grounded. Twisted Fish was me on drums, Jordan on vocals and guitar. John played lead guitar and did harmony vox. And our bassists were abundant. I think Dave Karpf was the first. Then we played with Lauren Rostek for a few times. It was then when Annie came in to save the day. She played bass a few times with us live. Perhaps too few. She also ripped it up on the cello for a bunch of shows. I consider her time with us as Twisted Fish v2. The golden years were more with Dave on bass. Sadly he wasn’t the greatest bassist, but who ever is and the times with Annie were more fun for me. However, Dave made up for it in his hair styles. Which in the case of bass, is just as good.

So this show is live. From Manny’s in Rockville, MD Very early spring of 1994. I think it was very cold that day and/or it snowed. The venue was more a metal club and it was a day show. I think there were about 15-20 people there. Perhaps including us and the engineers and bar tenders. There was another band called IRE which was Jesse Bartz’s band. They kinda rocked my ass. Totally amazing shit. I only remember there being a few people there beacuse when we were originally “mastering” the DAT we added echo for the applause to make it appear larger. Again, we ruled. Hardcore.

So here we go:

Twisted Fish
Live at Manny’s 1994

Jordan Hirsch – vocals, guitar
John Argentiero – lead guitar, backup vox
Dave Karpf – bass
Mat – drums

1. We’re All Liars

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I think this was one of the last songs we all wrote together before John left for college in the fall of ’94. One must notice the incredible sounds of solid state magic that can be heard from not just Jordan’s guitar but John’s as well. It’s incredibly metal. Not like Metallica or whatever, but like actual physical metal. Like steel. It’s amazing there was actually wood in their guitars. But I would never have replaced it for a million dollars. I can’t remember much about this song other than I think Jordan mumbled a lot of the words. Also, this is the longest song of the night tracking in at just under 5 minutes. Just after the 3 minute mark is a stellar John solo. There are some hints of Warrant sounding solos. Much of which one gots to love.

2. Shattered

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If we were to have a single, this would have been it. I was a left over from the days of Undertow. You know, typically breakup song. Except this was for real. For real. I always was pissed with the singer of Undertow, because this was Jordan’s one song he got to sing in that band and the singer would always fuck around and roll his eyes during this song. It was very disrespectful. But I guess that’s what you get when you are 15. I can’t remember if this song was about Kelly or not. 2:20: “Was she an evil girl” – I love how Jordan takes on an english accent. “We were as one but so was she” – It was such a classic line for 1994. Wasn’t it?

3. Run Run

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Like it’s indroduced by Jordan. This was a cover of a band from Brazil, called Second Come. Jordan’s good friend Eduardo was from there and always brought back cool music when he’d visit. I always thought we covered it better than they performed it. Is that cocky? I think people actually danced during this song. The breakdown at 2:26 was always fun. I always liked what John did there. Also note the stellar Neil Peart ride ripoffs. What was I thinking?!

4. Tristessa

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“An old Smashing Pumpkins tune…” – Well it was only 3 years old. But I guess for people that thought Siamese Dream was their first record as it was their first record on a major, well, it might be old for them. The lyrics were copied in our basement one day. We had no clue what he was saying. In fact I wrote to the fan club at that time period to confirm and heard back from Laura Ann and said there were no lyrics. Great. I am not sure if they ever officially came out, but I saw some lyrics for them somewhere online recently and we were so off-base for a bunch of lines. You can hardly tell though live. We also eventually started covering Starla with Annie on cello which I think turned out better. It was awesome. Also, take note of the ending. I fluff it like no bodies business. I rushed the song so incredibly hard that I couldn’t pull off the triplets. Good times. As bad as I remember my time being, it’s not too bad at this show.

5. Four

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Ah, masturbation songs that have no meaning. They were awesome. I think the best part about this song was computing the delay time on our demo for the echo in Jordan’s voice at the end. The live version came out ok. “Playing Manny’s makes we wanna pee…” I thought that was so punk rock. I guess it sorta is. Go Jordan! I don’t know how the rest of the guys felt, but my playing is all over the place. 2:03 – see what I mean about John and Warrant? 2:06 – Nice Lenny Kravitz lift. 2:13 – Why did I stop playing?

6. Tails

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If you ever played Sonic The Hedgehog on Sega Genesis, you’d understand. I always thought Jordan’s lungs and/or innards were going to project out of his mouth when he sang this song. You know, like projectile vomit.

7. Firewood

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Did anyone else hear Julie Bindeman say, “Go John, Go Mat, Go Dave, Go Jordan” at the intro? Looking back on this song I hear a lot of Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. Bands I never really got in to, but it sounds obvious Jordan and John were in to them. I think the lick in this song was used in a NOT song. 0:38 – John’s guitar was mad moody! 1:59 – Stellar drum break and smooth transition to swung time. I hated swinging and I still do. Unless it’s in jazz or hiphop. Did anyone mention how awesome John is on guitar? And Jordan said Eduardo co-wrote this song.

8. Kill Fred

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Next to Shattered, this joke of a song was pretty successful. Our take on that silly music they called Ska. At least I remember it that way. Maybe it was how I wanted to remember it. At 0:46 John really gets out of wack. I always wondered what he was thinking about there. Perhaps Molly’s boobs? And nice mention of “plastic spoon” – I am not sure of the significance of it, but I know it meant something. Jordan? John?

So what did we learn from this show? We learned that if you ever want to remember the titles of the songs years from the performance, tell your singer to announce all the songs prior. Genius. John, Jordan? Would love your takes on this performance.