Friday, February 5, 2010

Dulcet Tones

Up until now, this blog has focused almost exclusively on my work in physical media. But long before I started creating blasphemous tomes, steampunk ray guns and other assorted physical prop designs, I was an artist of an entirely different type. Using the term very loosely, I was a musician.

Recently, I got a side job doing a little voice-over work recording the vocal track for a series of eLearning courses. You know, those really boring powerpoint presentations that your boss makes you watch to better improve your management skills, or whatever? And there's that guy's voice that reads along with you and paraphrases the slides in what has to be the most unnatural overly expressive tone of voice you have ever heard? That's me. (sorry)

I do this job from home. My boss emails me scripts, and I record them and post them to a website for her to download. In doing so, I have had to drag out all my old recording equipment. I used to have a DIY home studio set up in my basement. I have about $10,000 worth of what is now completely obsolete audio gear that I have been collecting since the mid 80's. The studio has been mothballed for the last 15 years, and could (and should) now easily be completely replaced with about $1000 worth of computer equipment, but I won't part with any of it. Digging it out to do these voice-over recordings has brought back some old memories that I thought I would share. (lucky you)

Back in the day (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I used to have a band called Pyrotechnics. There was a revolving roster of studio musicians (friends of mine) who assisted on various recordings, but the core of the band was just me and my best friend at the time, Rich Stevens. Since we were basically a two man band, we each played several instruments. Primarily, Rich played drums while I played guitar and did lead vocals. We each did a little keyboards and bass, and whatever else was needed.

Since it's hard to play more than one instrument at a time, we mostly were a recording band. We only ever played one live show. That was at Malone College, back in 1992. We played the men's dorm commons room, along with two other bands, for a crowd of about two dozen people. Our original material was written for 4-5 instruments, so we mostly played Ramones and Sex Pistols tunes that we thought we could power cord our way through with just a guitar and drum. (the White Stripes, we were not)

We did manage to release two self produced full length cassette tapes. Those were little plastic boxes filled with spools of ribbon-like magnetic tape on which music was recorded, for those of you born after 1990. And we even managed to get played on the radio a couple of times. It was a small show called "Cool Tunes" that played "alternative" music on the local rock station at 1am on Sunday mornings. They had a segment each week that played local bands for a half hour at the end of the show.

Here is a clip from the show. This was our first radio shot. It aired at 2:10am on March 2nd, 1992.

Yes, we really sucked that hard. If you'll remember, I used the term "musician" very loosely. I hardly ever listen to my old recordings anymore. When I do, it makes me cringe. But we had a lot of fun with the band and when I was 16, it was a real hoot hearing myself on the radio, no matter how bad it was.

Sadly, those halcyon days are over. Rich and I parted ways back in 1992, for reasons I still don't understand. I have not spoken to him in 18 years. I hope he is doing well, whatever he is up to these days. I never did amount to much as a musician, songwriter, or audio engineer (I produced both our tapes myself), but I really enjoyed all of those things. I used to have some of the band's recordings up on the internet, years ago (back when was worth a damn). Maybe someday I'll post them again.

UPDATE: Well, it looks like the company where that clip was hosted ( went under about four years ago and I never noticed. Oddly, this post has been my #1 most viewed post by more than double its 2nd place competitor. I'm going to see if I can upload the clip to YouTube so that it is playable again.


  1. You, sir, are among the forerunners of Steampunk. I was listening to your track, and I thought, hey these guys aren't bad for a garage band. Then the song ended and your song came on... But seriously, if you have any spare tapes I could purchase off of you I would be willing to do that, or if you could post them somewhere or email them to me, that would be fantastic. Or if you're on GBridge and could add me... Sorry if three posts in a row makes me a weirdo, I really like your stuff. Cheers mate.

  2. Well, I don't figure I'm anywhere near the forefront, but I'm certainly glad to be in the race.

    Lol, no, that's not us. That's Morrissey. Good song though. I may post some more of our old music when I find the time to convert the tracks to digital media. If you email me your address, I'll see what I can do. No promises.