As I hit the big 30 here, let me thank you for your indulgence, to the extent that you’ve actually been reading/listening. I’m marking this round number with another whole album, this time the debut full album by The MayTricks from 1992, cleverly entitled The MayTricks. As this was really the first full-length album I worked on, it definitely has a special place with me, as weird and lo-fi and inconsistent as it is.
This was compiled in late 1992 with recordings recorded over the previous year and a half or so, all after the previous spring 1991 demo. During this time, we lost our keyboardist and never got a replacement, replaced the lead guitarist, gained a rhythm guitarist then replaced him one and a half times (this oddity is not worth explaining). This collection includes the best recordings we’d made to that point, with 8 out of the 16 tunes being essentially solo recordings by me or Steve (and in one case our guitarist Geoff), with in a some cases one other band member playing on it.
So a couple of these songs, notably “Slipped Into Words” and “All Too Familiar” have me playing all of the instruments, including very basic drums. “Green Song” is one where I reclaimed the keyboard from my Backdrop days (well, not the same keyboard, but the same model purchased a few years later) and programmed it over a few months. Another production number, “The Ballad of Taxi Max,” was a simple song penned and sung by our fall 1991-spring 1992 rhythm guitarist Matt Diaz that I took and arranged in foul and crazy ways with marching and TV noises and crazy percussion and tin whistle. “Love Song #1” was recorded directly after a bad break-up and is embarrassingly naked, maybe one of the only things I’ve recorded that has been known to make grown men weep (if they have a pathetic spirit!). “Waygo” is one of my favorite songs that I’ve written, with me on all instruments except drums, and I like the goofy home-spun background vocals that I had my best friend and my sister sing with me. “I Die Desire” was my signature tune on acoustic guitar, and the very carefully overdubbed arrangement was a breakthrough for us, with our old keyboardist Josh come back to reprise his parts and new lead guitarist Geoff adding some crazy wah-way licks that we figured out together, on-the-spot, measure by measure (through the miracle of punching in, where you just record a bit at a time).
Steve Petrinko the other main songwriter is on the whole better represented by our second album, but he too was exploring mutli-layered solo goodness, with “Happy Songs” and “Oceans,” and his circus-like “I’ll Make More,” which was more of a group effort, is zany and great. “Dance,” another tune reprising Josh, is maybe too over the top for most listeners (though I like it a lot now), and “The Devil’s Candy” has some great, viscous instrumentals to it, but the lyrics (written when he was 17 or so) were garbage, so I rewrote them (I left the last chorus intact; that’s what the whole thing used to sound like), making them much much worse, frankly, so that’s a mixed blessing.
Maybe the best song on the album is a truly group effort: For “Drake’s Song,” our summer 1992-summer 1993 rhythm guitarist Brian Drake just brought in an acoustic guitar chord progression, and the whole band make up parts over it, with me getting to add the lyrics and melody.
On the flip side, the most polarizing track is “I Am the Author,” by our extremely nimble, artistic lead guitarist Geoff Esty. When Geoff joined the band in the summer of ’93, it redefined our sound: he could play very very fast, and usually used a very pointy (i.e. treble-heavy) tone and preferred jazz chords and blistering, out-of-key solos. He was older than the rest of us by maybe 6 years, and out of the 20-something songs we gave him on a cassette before he joined, he said he liked “4 or 5 of them,” so we were a little confused why we wanted to play with us, but he gave us some credibility in both the talent and artsy weirdness departments. Still, we had a periodic battle with him re. the exact direction of the band, as we didn’t really have the patience to practice up real prog rock songs, much as I was a fan of that, and he liked to sing his own songs, which… well… you can listen for yourself. He recorded an album of jazz instrumental guitar during out time with him and been in some trippy groups in various genres since then.