MX Skroch – Scratchrock Volume XVI

Album #: 88

Recording Dates: 2010 – 2011

Release Date: 2015

Catalog: SMR 33


I finally got back into doing music regularly, but it primarily took the form of mixing multi-track Sheep Fiend recordings. The Rumpus Room Studio was fully functional and capturing everything. Good fortune shone upon us as Brian M got to know the evocative and personable man dubbed Faiz who has the power to make a guitar hit you like an orchestra. They recorded some jamming in the studio and sent it to me. I laid down some guitar, bass, and keyboard for the project that came to be known at the Rooster Davis Trio.

It was proposed that we take the Sheep Fiends down the road to Pennsylvania where Brian M’s farm resides. Despite no cell phone signal or Internet the band summoned primal instinct and recorded three days of music ultimately known at “Farm Jam”! As surprising as it was getting a group of guys to travel 500 miles to a remote area for an entire holiday weekend of luddite styled whatever, it is shocking still that as of this release there have been five consecutive Farm Jam events – and attendance is as large as it’s ever been.

This volume contains many songs where I recount events and situations from my ongoing existence. Tackling transportation (”The Road”, “Dan Ryan Shithead”), the dangers of childhood (”Through the Ice”) and the dangers of Farm Jam (”Crawlin’ in My Instrument”, “Fing-er Numb-er”); the lyrics tell stories infused with truth – at least as possible as that is with improvisation…

Experimentation is the other major aspect of this release – with “SidSense” taking delay and reverb where they dread to go and “Very Avant-Garde” and “The Fucking Drum Machine” offering remixed & humorized summaries of particular Sheep Fiend gatherings.

Four Track Sampler

Track 04 – Drawing a Blank (Sheep Fiends) – We had a visiting drummer sitting in on this jam and he allowed us to open up a bit more than we usually do. Faiz’s falsetto meshes so well with our funky low end and mandolin melodies. I’m so glad I picked up that bass so that this cool sequence of sounds could be born.  [Scratch on Bass]

Track 06 – Lower the Goat (Rooster Davis Trio) – I went off in my own direction with these raw jam tracks of Brian and Faiz – is this shit like ‘Scratchbop’ or something? Weird horn flavored keys freak out with chromatic disturbance and trebled out guitar solos, but a haunting melody of sorrow threads it all together. [Scratch on overdubbed Guitar & Keyboard]

Track 07 – Space Time Metaphor (Sheep Fiends) – Sometimes you’ve got sit back and realize that the big picture includes not only all of reality; but also its intersection with infinite time. It’s a lot to take in. But still the group must burst out in song to celebrate this enigma with some kinda faux-reggae bounce. Live from the very first Farm Jam.  [Scratch on Vocals & Guitar]

Track 14 – Big Bad Baby (Sheep Fiends) – What do you mean now is not a good time for some rockabilly? Screw it man – here is some sliding shimmering roots music about a failed love like all the rest. “I’m 6’4″ at least in my dreams”. So true. So true.  [Scratch on Guitar]

listen to Scratchrock Volume XVI at Bandcamp here

Various Artists – Letters to April

Album #: 87

Recording Dates: 1991

Release Date: 2014

Catalog: Brandto 03


In 2014, this compilation originally released in 1991 (news to me! I had no idea!) was made available. The opening two tracks are by IMF and from our sessions recording with Steve Albini.

You can find “Letters to April” on Bandcamp here.

Here are the liner notes:

“Letters to April” was a compilation we put together back in 1991 and was the third Brandtosaurus release. There were a handful of reasons for doing it – flesh out the Brandto catalogue, gain a little experience putting albums together, promote Dear Dead Delila a bit – and in all honesty, simply find some cool music to listen to. And it paid off in every respect. We enjoyed every band or artist on the compilation, and even built some years-long contacts out of some of them. And re-kindling not only those recurring contacts but contact with *every single band* on the compilation 20 years later is just icing on the cake.

The title and the cover? Well, i’ve always been a bit of an explorer, and one day while taking a van-load of trash to the landfill while at work with Karl (the ‘Fifth Delila’), we spied an old abandoned house down an overgrown driveway a quarter-mile off the back road. Naturally we turned in and took to rummaging through the place. And there on the floor was this nifty little booklet with “Letters to April” on the cover, which was filled with what were obviously letters from a bunch of schoolkids to a classmate who had moved away. While it was certainly the worse for wear, it was in darned fine shape considering the letters were dated January 1969. I snagged it, and still have it to this day. The album cover is the actual cover to that booklet, now quite fragile but preserved in a plastic magazine sleeve (i wanted to make the cover properly rectangle, but BC automatically squares covers off, so i trimmed away ‘from: your classmates’ off the bottom of the image to maximize potential). And due to advances in technology, it looks considerably better here than the multi-shrunk black and goldenrod image on the original cassette. I’d love to find this “April” and give it to her, but the 22-year-old booklet has now more-than-doubled to 45, and alas, i don’t even have a last name to go on…


Original cassette released 15 October, 1991 

No Track Sampler

Just go listen to it at Bandcamp if you like!

Sheep Fiends – Ziggarnaut Paradox

Album #: 86

Recording Dates: 2010 – 2014

Release Date: 2014

Catalog: SF


This is our final CD recorded at Brian’s amazing Rumpus Room studio. There is a certain sadness to the songs as we end a major era. While largely recorded in 2014 this also features some real bangers from recent years that hadn’t yet been revealed – “Project RATATAT” (2010), “Dan Ryan Shithead” (2011), “Gawdzilla (2012) and the “Ghost Train” (2013) are all particularly unique performances and productions. We would soon take root at Cafe Royd, but never forget my friends. Never forget.

Three Track Sampler

Track 01 – Ziggarnaut Paranormalisisis (Sheep Fiends) – Give a man a meat cleaver and what did you think might happen? I guess we have to trust someone with the slicers now don’t we? But the regret really stings when the chopping gets more personal.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 02 – Dan Ryan Shithead (Sheep Fiends) – This was a project that came out wonderfully. I was in the vocal booth at the Rumpus Room and Brian C. was beating on the drums. Other people may have been playing. As I sang in the booth while listening through headphones I recorded the video on my phone. We neglected to officially record this jam but my phone video had my singing plus Brian’s dampened drums coming through the walls. I took this audio and recorded guitars to build more of a song, and then incorporated traffic samples so that we can all relate with one another.  [Scratch on Vocals, Two Guitars, and Sampler]

Track 12 – On My Way (There) (Sheep Fiends) – Sometimes the journey is all we have left. What is “(there)” when we reach the end anyway? A mid-paced cruncher for your imagination.  [Scratch on Vocals & Tambourine]

Sheep Fiends – Gathering the Ghosts

Album #: 85

Recording Dates: 2013

Release Date: 2014

Catalog: SF


This album captures a rather successful reunion with Sheep Fiends powerhouse Dave Ladd after several years of absence. One of our spookier releases for sure as paranoia and horror dominate the lyrical content while some creepy instrumentals tie it all together like rusty chains on a long forgotten sunken vessel.

Three Track Sampler

Track 01 – Like a Phantom (Sheep Fiends) – Smooth and breezy we suddenly get jazz-tinged, if only for a few minutes. Brian comes up with a sort of love song that’s kind of laid back but also a bit twisted. As it should be.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 02 – The Weakest Selector (Sheep Fiends) – Just because there are no six string guitars on this track doesn’t mean we can’t go heavy and eerie and epic. The NSA may or may not be a dating app but either way it’s clear that they are watching me watching you. Wake up man!  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 12 – To the Bottom of the Sea (Sheep Fiends) – This song starts off feeling like it was pulled from the soundtrack of some forgotten beach party movie from 1966. But soon enough the suffocating reality of a deep sea expedition reveals itself. Can you handle the pressure?  [Scratch on Bass]

Sheep Fiends – Farm Jam III

Album #: 84

Recording Dates: Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Release Date: 2014

Catalog: SF


Ah yes, the COLD Farm Jam! The drummer was able to drum with gloves, and the big headphones protected our ears (from the cold at least). Fingers however were forced to fight back against the tyranny of a late Spring cold snap. No doubt beer helped the singer find his inner warmth.

Despite the layering we had a very productive weekend and produced a solid double CD of material. Five singers bare their souls and a significant number of whacked out instrumentals also burst forth. Critical topics are addressed including driving to the farm; playing frisbee, and that place we get ice cream. We can change the world, man!

Five Track Sampler

Disc 01, Track 02 – Smelling Gary Tonight (Sheep Fiends) – Sure it sounds wrong. But it should! This is a full-on blistering ode to the odor.  [Scratch on Vocals and Guitar]

Disc 01, Track 03 – Sleeping With the Cicadas (Sheep Fiends– This one is a creepy synth driven instrumental. You are awakening from your seventeen year slumber, get on down. But bring a coat.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 01, Track 07 – Down in the Crypt (Sheep Fiends) – A song about the afterlife that really doesn’t do much to promote the afterlife. But if the love hasn’t died have you truly been lost?  [Scratch on Vocals]

Disc 01, Track 11 – Forging Frozen Fingers (Sheep Fiends) – Just a lot of guitar playing really. It was very cold out as we set up on Friday night, and we captured this while setting up the sound system.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 02, Track 07  Walking ‘Round Cabrini Green (Sheep Fiends) – Such a great riff to come out of thin air. Matt recounts a hard day’s walking while we play some kind of jazz rock upbeat reggae thing until the crunching takes over.  [Scratch on Guitar]

MX Skroch & Redneck Exorcist – Live 1995

Album #: 83

Recording Dates: 1995

Release Date: 2013

Catalog: SMR32


We got together just a few times in late 1995 – drinking, jamming, and recording. Some of this is MX Skroch accompanying Redneck originals. Some of this is just pure improvisation. In early 1996 I joined Redneck onstage at the Double Door in Chicago to play “Space Invaders” and a few others. No one recorded that. But hey, there’s two photos from the show!

Three Track Sampler

Track 01 – Space Invaders (MX Skroch & Redneck Exorcist) – A freaking noise rock epic for your soused soul. A loose framework of a song that allows for some intense delay pedal battles, and philosophizin’ about the end of humanity.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 04 – Ram Tough (MX Skroch & Redneck Exorcist) – A dark psychological evaluation of the less fortunate (and proud). Does inbreeding always lead to higher Dodge sales? I take the form of protagonist and make it all up as I tell you what’s what.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 11 – I’ll Seize You (MX Skroch & Redneck Exorcist) – I believe this is just some improv from Redneck’s practice spot. A bit of melodic inspiration rears its head as Cary’s menacing threats keep you on edge.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Sheep Fiends – Slow Down the Future

Album #: 82

Recording Dates: 1999

Release Date: 2013

Catalog: SF


Brian Cameron lent me seven tapes recorded between 5/4/1999 and 8/15/1999. Brian moved to San Francisco right around this time, and these tapes never really got much attention. From these tapes I edited, produced and named ten brand new Sheep Fiends tracks, as well as recapturing alternate versions of “The Intrusive Cabbie” and “Waves” which had been released before. Mr. Cameron handled production duties on “Valley of Dark”. I also produced a kind of spoken word track from the sole 1998 tape that I had been provided. This mostly instrumental collection captures a fairly aggressive version of the band as we approached the 21st Century.

Three Track Sampler

Track 03 – Follow the Signs (Sheep Fiends) – Space jazz with a Latin flair? Whatever it is… it is funky and heavy and pulsing with purpose. An analog journey into your inner meaning. A fantastic find from our lost 1999 tapes.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – Time Tunnel (Sheep Fiends) – Hip-hop drums join the swirling auditory event. Scratched grooves and sickened guitars yearning for help eventually find their riff.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 11 – Slow Down the Future (Sheep Fiends) – Time itself follows no regular schedule as forward thinkers look backward. We grind and scream for answers, but only the explosions of creation await. With resignation we regress back to the starting line.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Sheep Fiends – Farm Jam II

Album #: 81

Recording Dates: Memorial Day Weekend, 2012

Release Date: 2013

Catalog: SF


Back for a second, more steamy Farm Jam! This time Faiz doesn’t make the journey but both Mark and Aaron take their first trip. It’s hot and kind of miserable, but the garage is filled with riffs as it was destined to be.

Aaron takes over noise guitar duties this year and adds more keys, while Mark’s mandolin adds distinctive texture to the tracks. The spooky Casio digital guitar I got in the 90’s makes a suspenseful surprise appearance.

Five Track Sampler

Disc 01, Track 07 – SuperDuperDragonFly (Sheep Fiends) – A song about the journey East. A few liberties with the truth perhaps, but all in the service of promoting caution.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Disc 01, Track 08 – The Hell With Church (Sheep Fiends) – A vicious instrumental recorded early on Sunday. Mark’s infectious bassline inspires all sorts of accompanying infernal guitar madness.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 01, Track 12 – The Haunted Garage (Sheep Fiends) – It’s a very small house and not a very large garage either. But the spirits that never leave seem not bothered by the lack of spacious living. The spookier side of the Sheep Fiends.  [Scratch on Casio DG-1]

Disc 02, Track 04 – Bicentennial Paprika (Sheep Fiends) – Sometimes you’ve got to let the Chef speak his mind. Is his mind on the kitchen? Damn straight! Problems abound with a crunchy rock taste and a stale nostalgia. A standout track one part each trippy, heavy and passionate. [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 02, Track 07 – In the Middle (Sheep Fiends) – Clearly a commentary on something or other having to do with the human condition. But why such lurching glurpy music? Oatmeal pie double mint chocolate chip surprise, indeed! [Scratch on Vocals]

Sheep Fiends – The Seventeenths

Album #:

Recording Dates: 2011-2012

Release Date: 2012

Catalog: SF


Recorded at two jams exactly six months apart on the 17ths, this CD overall has a heavier, darker sound. Perhaps it’s just more dense. You get five different vocalists across fourteen total tracks. Sample tracks from three singers are featured below, as well as an appearance of my all-too-rare bass playing. This is open concept, freeform Sheep Fiends for the new decade.

Three Track Sampler

Track 04 – The Grim Reaper is the Grave Digger (Sheep Fiends) – A meditation on the role of death in one’s outlook for the future. Commercialism at its worst. But it’s a pretty, slow groovy jam that dissolves into the gloom.  [Scratch on Vocals & Clapping]

Track 05 – Rock & Roll Land (Sheep Fiends) – Nothing slow about this pounding rocker. Brian runs Reason and Aaron modulates infinity while I slide in some lead melody as Brian M. builds upon his sermon. You should come on by – it’s all up to you.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – SidSense (Sheep Fiends) – Yea there’s some heavy Butthole Surfers influence right here. Delay keeps sending you back but the bass locks you in again. Have you met the ancient peoples? They are calling out to you.  [Scratch on Bass]

Rooster Davis Trio – The Rooster Davis Trio

Album #:

Recording Dates: 2011

Release Date: 2011

Catalog: Bandcamp release


The Rooster Davis Trio accidentally came together over the course of 2011. Faiz moved into Brian’s building and soon learned about the Sheep Fiends that lurked in the basement. The two of them recorded some jams and began doing a bit of overdubbing. I was then given free reign to add whatever obtuse sounds needed to be added.

The Rooster Davis Trio also played live as a three piece just a few times. Some really unique tracks came out of this ultimately short-lived project. Or is this just year ten of the hiatus?

Three Track Sampler

Track 01 – Distant Bells (Rooster Davis Trio) – One of my favorite recordings I’ve been a part of over the past decade. Both gripping and haunting this track bursts into violence when you least expect it. The tension is maintained as it warps between one idea and the next. Live guitar & drums by Faiz & Brian; overdubbed bass by Brian, and my overdubbed bass and guitar as a final step. [Scratch on Bass & Guitar (overdubs)]

Track 03 – Droplets in a Downpour (Rooster Davis Trio) – Kind of a crazed guitar battle – in opposing directions. A live jam where we set our effects pedals free, man.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 05 – Ohioasis (Rooster Davis Trio) – The Hen is pecking at you now. If you were not handcuffed in the Ohio wasteland perhaps you could find relief. But the Ohioasis is just an illusion.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Sheep Fiends – Farm Jam

Album #:

Recording Dates: Memorial Day Weekend, 2011

Release Date: 2012

Catalog: SF


This two CD set captures the original Farm Jam experiment which by all accounts was a resounding success. Hell you can even watch “Farm Jam -The Movie” if you are so inclined!

Brian M. floated a crazy idea about a bunch of us driving eight hours to spend three days on a farm in Pennsylvania with no internet or cell service. But there would be a garage in which to set up amps, plenty of tasty food and all the late night noise we wanted to make. The very first Farm Jam had five Sheep Fiends in attendance as well as one of Brian’s friends and is captured here. Five sample tracks are available below the artwork.

The Farm Jam concept really took off and kept happening every Summer for nine years. Farm Jam X was on the schedule but was postponed by the spread of COVID-19. Next year friends…next year.

Five Track Sampler

Disc 01, Track 03 – First Time (Sheep Fiends) – We set up all the gear for the first time in the garage at the Farm, and this dark funky jam was pretty much the initial soundcheck. And I proceed to begin a tradition of songs about the arduous journey Eastward. And yes, I also launch my first volley at America’s worst state – Ohio.  [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Disc 01, Track 13 – The Promises Will Tuck You In (Sheep Fiends) – Chimes ring inside your dreams, but “don’t be scared and don’t be alarmed now”. We are here for reassurance. It’s a somewhat beautiful epic journey that morphs into a power ballad.  [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Disc 02, Track 01 – Fing-er Numb-er (Sheep Fiends) – An inspired angularity propels this bouncy number. There’s only one true numb-er as far as I’m concerned.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Disc 02, Track 07 – Long Hikes and Heavy Breathing (Sheep Fiends) – Some kind of Chicago aggro-rock with a shrieking jungle bursting from the keyboard. Just another hot, hot day down on the farm.  [Scratch on Bass]

Disc 02, Track 15 – The End of the Farm Jam (Sheep Fiends) – Complimenting our opening track; this is the final music recorded at the inaugural Farm Jam. A crazed southern rock boogie vibrates the room and I share my recollections of our antics as I officially announce the End of the Farm Jam. [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Sheep Fiends – Numerolostrology

Album #:

Recording Dates: 9/11/2010

Release Date: 2011

Catalog: SF


This CD captures what happened one Sunday on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 somewhere in Chicago. Faiz continues bringing compelling audio confusion to the party and we ended up playing with a fellow from Brazil who came by as well. It’s quite a varied collection of improvisation considering the same nine guys came up with all this in a three hour period.

Three Track Sampler

Track 03 – They Say (Sheep Fiends) – A slow lurching groove with guitar that sounds like a dying spaceship sets the tone while I croon a vaguely political tale about how only my side has the best ideas.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 10 – The Fucking Drum Machine (Sheep Fiends) – Listening through the raw tapes trying to find useful material can be drudgery. But sometimes you notice several comments about the prevalence of a drum machine…and you get an idea. This track grabs many such moments that happen on the side, and layers over said drum machine to bring the listener INTO the emotion.  [Scratch on Vocals ]

Track 06 – Slingin’ the Beans (Sheep Fiends) – Here’s a mellow little two man improvisation with Matt providing exposition on the status of his gut and what should go into it…right now. Matt strums the acoustic and I do some lead accompaniment in an attempt to bring flavor to life.  [Scratch on Guitar]