While trying to think about a topic to blog about, I thought it would be fun to listen to each song from our first album, "13 Halloweens" and write down all the thoughts and memories that would come to me. As a way to kill time on our drive to our Las Vegas, I also played the CD for Bobby and Davey to see what they remembered as well. So hit play on your CD player and join us as we go back to the future where it all began!
When you hear "13 Halloweens," you probably think that’s exactly how we wanted it to sound -- dual rectifier guitars, triggered drums, massive wall of vocals, etc., but in actuality, we just showed up and the project took off on its own. The studio had better equipment than we did so we just used what we had access to. We had an idea of what we wanted but we didn't know how to achieve it or how to properly explain it. Having said all that, I love how our first full length album eventually turned out and it was mostly due to the engineer, Aaron Cary. We just showed up and he turned the knobs. I know when we went into the studio we wanted a more raw sound like the early Misfits recordings but I remember Aaron explaining that they got that sound 'cause that’s all they could afford. I also think Aaron didn’t want to put his name on a crappy sounding recording! Either way, he did a great job capturing "the sound of Calabrese" at that time period. On a side note, I feel our album "Dayglo Necros" is closer to our original vision as to what we wanted our sound to be.
We never took any photos during our time recording "13 Halloweens," or if we did we don’t know where they are. I do remember there used to be some weirdo crackheads who lived next door and they would wander over sniffing around. They were constantly fixing their cars and since Aaron was a gear head he’d talk to them about how to fix their shit. Since the studio was all digital we were able to record and mix the album over many weekends since Davey was still in school and Bobby and I were working. I also remember we held a contest to name the CD, and while we were sitting in the studio we read all the title submissions. The best title by far was the one we went with -- "13 Halloweens" by our first fan, Nil Failstorm. He came to our very first show at the Modified Arts after seeing a flyer we left somewhere. He was the only person at the show that wasn't a friend or immediate family. He was literally our first fan!
After 13 Halloweens came out we won some local punk awards. It was like we received instant acceptance from the cool kids, something I never felt before with any other band I was in.
|Best Album from the Ska Punk Awards, I believe.|
|The infamous battle of the bands!|
|Davey and his buddy made a poster for the show. I still have that poster hanging in my garage!|
|No wonder Davey wanted to show off at school.|
|Davey trying out his wife beater and sweat band combo.|
|The random YMCA show.|
I have to admit I thought I’d remember a lot more about these songs especially stuff that has happened at shows but after many years of playing these songs all the shows start to melt together like a gooey pizza topping -- delicious but hard to pick apart.
1. Zombie I - When this song first came out, girls would ask what the line, “But the pressure was too much, and the girl she gave it up” meant. What also comes to mind was playing in a basement on Halloween with our friends and when we would play the opening sample people would scream.
Davey remembered that we brought in a big old box TV and a VCR to capture the movie sample clips. We plugged the VCR directly into the board and Aaron hit record on the studio console.
2. Resurrection - Now listening to the bass intro sounds it sounds so weak I think we just plugged it direct into the board but at the time it sounded great. The guitars were played through a dual rectifier giving the album a “metal” sound and we really layered the vocals for the chorus (we really liked that).
3. Death of Me - Reminds me that we took out some business size ads in Rue Morgue and local music magazines, which seemed to help get the word out about the band. Our super fan, Kristen Symons, was the first to get some of the lyrics from this song tattooed. I was blown away that she did that!
5. Midnight Spookshow - Still one of the fan favorites! So many great times playing this song live. I like how Bobby and I help sing the end of each other lines in the verse. The album was mastered in New Zealand at Edgewood Studios and I thought that was cool because Peter Jackson is from New Zealand and he made "Bad Taste" and "Dead Alive" (my favorite splatter comedies!).
6. Backseat of My Hearse - One of my favorite surf riffs. People at shows always scream out the lines “like a horror movie on a Friday night” and “why do you act like everybody.” I remember that the mastering had a hard time getting the album to sound good he kept adding too much high end and mids. We mastered it as least 3 or 4 times 'til we got it right.
|Outside of Jugheads, one of the few bars that would let Davey play since he was so young!|
10. Blood In my Eyes - Gotta love the tambourine at the start. I thought this was a pretty “rock 'n' roll” song. It’s so simple and catchy I can’t believe I wrote the main riff on a broken mini ukulele guitar.
|Bobby mastering the deathrock look.|
11. Every Day's a Funeral - All I can say is that the sample we used at the start of the song is a classic fit.
12. Crizila - We recorded Aaron’s muscle car in the front of the studio trying to get the sound of tires squealing. It was on gravel and the wheels shot a rock into the studio's window breaking it. He quickly parked his car, put a piece of cardboard in front of the window to hide the broken glass and we never talked about it again. Especially not to Jimmy Z the owner! In the end, we just used a combination of car sounds found on the internet and a sound effect from a movie instead.
13. Phantasmagoria – We thought this song would be the “big hit” off the record but it didn’t take off quite like we expected. In one of the first reviews of the album they mentioned my controversial line, “through the Ouija board you said you were family, so I slit my writs to follow you” – we were shocking!
|One of our first promo photos.|