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Scratchrock Volume VI

August 26th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 06

Recording Dates: 1991 – 1992

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR06

ScratchNotes:

I bought crappy used 4-track and immediately began exploring sonic oddity.  The dissolution of Brain Plug had left me with a heap of creative energy, but no outlet.  I played with samples and acoustic guitars, and while the results are less than professional, the sense of freedom provided great fulfillment.

I longed to play with other musicians again, and after the two-hour existence of Buffalo Penis Wing, I tried to find a band.  I saw an ad from a band that claimed to be influenced by Black Sabbath, Naked Raygun, and Big Black among others.  It was IMF.  I joined the band and two weeks later played an 18-song set in front of several thousand people at the Riviera Theater.  The band soon broke up for a short time, but reconvened as The Hidden.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 03 – Hateful (MX Skroch) – Metal. I loved it (still do…) and here is my interpretation circa 1991. [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 08 – Riding (MX Skroch) – Probably one of the most psychedelic songs I’ve ever put to tape. Taking a quick 180 degree turn from the tension of Hateful, Riding is all quiet guitars and melancholic songcraft. [Scratch on Vocals and All Instruments]

Track 14 – Renegade of Funk (IMF) – Expanding towards chaotic noise and away from straightforward punk, Renegade of Funk was one of our favorites to play live. This version was recorded by Steve Albini in his basement studio. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 18 – I’m Your Bug (The Hidden) – Crunchy flanged out punk recorded by Chuck Uchida in April 1992. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 24 – Validation (remix) (MX Skroch) – Another solo experiment that explores the possibilities of distortion and multitrack recording. [Scratch on All Instruments]

Scratchrock Volume V

August 23rd, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 05

Recording Dates: 1990

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR05

ScratchNotes:

The name Brain Plug came into play on July 4th, 1990.  The band was at a huge party with fireworks exploding.  We were talking to a drunk girl who told us, “I always thought Brain Plug would be a great name for a band.”  Minutes later, we paid our tribute.

Like some old cliched tale about the crossroads, Brain Plug’s amazing musical cohesion and personal joy had its price.  Two actually.  First there was the insane choice of Justice L. as vocalist.  Despite bringing competent graffiti-style art to the mix, a compelling front man he was not.  The final blow to Brain Plug was the loss of our rehearsal space.  Before the end, Brain Plug had managed to play just two gigs, at Wrigleyside & Club Dreamerz.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 03 – Fast Song (MX Skroch) – As soon as I acquired a drum machine I went right for simulated double bass drums. This was one of my first experiments. [Scratch on All Instruments]

Track 07 – Theme of the Bellybutton / Societal Rift (Brain Plug) – A blasting dose of energy that highlights many of Brain Plug’s strengths – propulsive rhythms, funky guitar scratching, ripping bass and guitar solos, and (erm) often overly long arrangements. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track  13 – Meathead (Brain Plug) – Slow buildups lead to a barrage of mad drumming. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 14 – The Nile Song (Brain Plug) – Set your delay pedal to 11 and listen to Brain Plug take on this Pink Floyd classic. Vocals by late era frontman Justice. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16 – Biker Gang [remix] (Brain Plug) – A re-imagining of the Bellybutton classic featured back on Scratchrock Vol. III. Thrashing tempos make way for Wah-wah drenched funk riffs. [Scratch on Guitar]

Scratchrock Volume IV

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 04

Recording Dates: 1990

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR04

ScratchNotes:

During the first Brain Plug rehearsal, the band was already tight.  The musical rapport between Joe G., Brian L. and myself had always existed. It was now being realized. In a few hours nearly all of the most progressive Raging Bellybuttons material was mastered, and raw ideas were turning into brand new songs.  A few practices in, Brain Plug would bring in former Raging Bellybuttons crooner Matt J., but a misunderstanding quickly ruined the relationship.  Whether playing in a cushy suburban basement or an impersonal storage garage, Brain Plug would go for two hours straight and still want more.  We had over 30 songs arranged in eight or nine months.  It was a spirited cycle in my evolution as a musician, and it was a lot of fun.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 02  – What’s Your Real Name? (Brain Plug) – A jazzy little instrumental for your dinner party. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – Baby Doll (Brain Plug) – Brain Plug ups the speed on this old Raging Bellybuttons yarn. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 11 – Iron Man (Brain Plug) – Our rendition of the Black Sabbath classic. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16 – I Against I (Brain Plug) – Mix a healthy obsession with the Bad Brains and chronic Mountain Dew addiction and listen to the result. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 19 – Metal Song [8 minute edit] (Brain Plug) – It seems like every band I’ve ever been involved with ends up with at least one giant epic jam that allows the band to stretch out sylistically – for Brain Plug Metal Song is that track. [Scratch on Guitar]

The Raging Bellybuttons in Action

August 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Before we leave this era behind, here are some images I captured from the few video recordings that exist of the Raging Bellybuttons.

Joe

Joe

Scratch

Scratch

Ken

Ken

Scratch and Joe

Scratch and Joe

Matt, Scratch, and Joe

Matt, Scratch, and Joe

Scratchrock Volume III

August 16th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 03

Recording Dates: 1989

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR03

ScratchNotes:

In-between intermittent spurts of the Raging Bellybuttons, Brian P. and I hooked up for a project featuring electronic drums and guitar.  Plans were made to segue James Taylor’s “Sunny Skies” into Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, but it never happened.  We considered calling ourselves Hugs and Kisses.

Meanwhile, the Bellybuttons took a major commercial step in tapping Matt J. (the No-Name Band’s breakdancer) as frontman.  Sadly, this grouping lasted less than 10 rehearsals, and the Bellybuttons disbanded in mid-1990.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 01 – Song #1 Extended (MX Skroch & Brian P.) – It just wouldn’t be right to exit the 80’s without hearing from an electronic drum set. Brian supplies the slamming beats down in my basement. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 03 – Preaching Peace Princess (The Raging Bellybuttons) – Despite the mis-crediting on the artwork, short-time crooner Matt J. relays this tale of idealism and sorrow. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 06 – Luv Monkey Tactics (The Raging Bellybuttons) – Habba-da-bo-dad. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 10 – Biker Gang (The Raging Bellybuttons) – The only thing we have to fear…is Biker Gangs themselves! [Scratch on Vocals and Guitar]

Track 11 – Jam with Brian #1 (MX Skroch & Brian P.) – Leaving you with a mellow groove. [Scratch on Guitar]

Scratchrock Volume II

August 16th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 02

Recording Dates: 1988 – 1989

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR02

ScratchNotes:

The Raging Bellybuttons find their voice (well, Scratch and Joe do while Kenny wears a T-shirt on his head).  Bad fashion and lousy but enthusiastic renditions of songs by the Doors, Blondie, and Slayer.  “Soundgarden Song” wasn’t a cover, just an eleven minute two chord tribute.  “Raging Rap” and “Everything is Kinda Bizarre” also wallowed in improvisational vocal extravagance.

I shaved half my head, graduated from high school with honors and moved up to community college.  On the final night of the dreadful decade known as the 80’s, the Raging Bellybuttons played their only live performance, reading from lyric sheets while performing at Kenfest.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 04 – Rubber Lover (The Raging Bellybuttons) – Just teenagers, the Bellybuttons show impressive insight into the nature of true love. [Scratch on Vocals and Guitar]

Track 09 – “Save my Life!” (The Raging Bellybuttons) – The king of pop. [Scratch on Startled Reaction]

Track 13 – Cancer (MX Skroch & Joe G.) – Another outtake by Joe and I that thrives on riffing prowess. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 15 – Funky Dunky (The Raging Bellybuttons) – Dancing shoes are mandatory. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 20 – Everything is Kinda Bizarre (The Raging Bellybuttons) – Taking notice of the 1980’s culture that surrounded us all. And somehow the 80’s seem even more bizarre in retrospect… [Scratch on Vocals and Guitar]

Scratchrock Volume I

August 16th, 2009 Comments off

Album #: 01

Recording Dates: 1986 – 1987

Release Date: 1999

Catalog: SMR01

ScratchNotes:

Libertyville High School has spawned a number of splendid guitar players. While Tom Morello and Adam Jones were off perfecting their tones, the No-Name Band was rocking the field house with one rehearsal (in a church) under their belt. Feedback and breakdancing. Battle of the Bands was canceled the next year.

The Raging Bellybuttons got together on August 27, 1987 and proceeded to write their first six songs in a basement characterized by wood paneling and overhead fluorescent lighting.

In addition to music, other activities for these years included such adventures as running away to Los Angeles, being caught by the police, and being locked in a foster home for two days. I was later arrested as a transient in Milwaukee after drinking a bit too much at a Slayer concert.

These were the years of figuring out all three chords, living in the basement, and prowling the streets in a ’79 Monte Carlo when not selling pizza.

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Five Track Sampler

Track 01 – Guitarboard #1 (MX Skroch & Brian P.) – Exploring the teenage wasteland in Brian’s parents’ condo with an acoustic guitar, a Casio, and a delay pedal. [Scratch on Casio and Delay Pedal]

Track 03 – Fat Albert (The No-Name Band) – About as polished as this band could get! [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – That Blues Thing (MX Skroch & Joe G.) – Occasionally 2/3 of the Raging Bellybuttons would get together to jam – and sometimes a little jam is what you got. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 22 – Pots and Pans (MX Skroch & Joe G.) – A fully developed track that should have been a Bellybutton standard – but wasn’t. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 42 – Weh-oh Jah Mama (The Raging Bellybuttons) – The smell of the mosh pit unfolds into the glorious Jamaican sun. [Scratch on Vocals and Guitar]

ScratchManRecordings (SMR)

August 15th, 2009 Comments off

In recent years I’ve tried to find a coherent way of categorizing my discography. This has led to the creation of a virtual record label called ScratchManRecordings (SMR). Each CD that Mrs. Scratch and I have self-released has been given a catalog number detailing the order in which these music collections were completed.

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