Sheep Fiends – Looking Back

Album #: 76

Recording Dates: 06/12/2010

Release Date: 2010

Catalog: SF


This one has a perfect album title. A very nostalgic jam finds me revealing my activities during Gerald Ford’s inauguration; followed by rage about my stolen backyard and the totality of my past. Meanwhile the weird atmospheric epic “Eyes Wide Like Saucers” recounts a frightening event in Matt C’s youth. And even then remembrances of twins and “baby’s” vie for your attention. A quite varied and engaged collection of tracks.

Three Track Sampler

Track 03 – The Road (Sheep Fiends) – I was so put off by the State of Illinois forcing me to sell part of my backyard that I made up a song on the spot. And later put together a music video with proof of the injustice. A guy does what he can.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 05 – Still Loving You (Dream Sequence) (Sheep Fiends) – I never really figured out how to play this Scorpions track consistently, so presenting it here in the form of reverb drenched hypnotism seems about right.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 06 – Eyes Wide Like Saucers (Sheep Fiends) – Certainly a highlight of the era. Matt tells a long twisting tale of mystery while the band provides tension through interpretive wind howling, thunder crashing and torrential rain. More suspenseful than the average jam – who or what is in that red pickup truck? Storytelling at its Fiendist.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Sheep Fiends – American Sweetheart

Album #: 75

Recording Dates: 01/23/2010

Release Date: 2010

Catalog: SF


This is a pretty strong jam CD from 2010. We’d grown comfortable with the Rumpus Room studio and felt free to create without stress. Several dirges anchor this heavy record while the topics of outer space isolation, obsessive collecting, the American Dream and nightmares of spiders unfold languidly. And that’s before the remixing starts…

Three Track Sampler

Track 01 – Cowgirl in the Sand (Sheep Fiends) – A completely unrehearsed but surprisingly unique cover of the Neil Young song. I’d been learning it for a week or so and found some solid accompaniment when strumming it out in the vocal booth one day.  [Scratch on Acoustic Guitar & Vocals]

Track 06 – Melancholy (Sheep Fiends) – Ten years later this title holds. A slow gloomy journey into hopelessness? Or maybe that’s just what I get from this nontypical ambient track. It seems the aliens have taken hold by the time we reach the end.  [Scratch on Bass & Guitar]

Track 12 – Very Avant-Garde (Sheep Fiends) – So what happened was when transferring some audio files of us jamming something went very wrong. Clean guitar became shrieking feedback. So I copied the screwed up guitar track and overlaid vocals from other sections over it to make a song. Then I fleshed it out with people talking. What else could I have done?  [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Scratchrock Volume XV

Album #: 74

Recording Dates: 2005-2009

Release Date: 2010

Catalog: SMR31


These 15 tracks come from just seven jams that I attended between 2005 and 2009 – six Sheep Fiends events and one guest appearance with the Poker Night String Band. The most notable musical development that occurred during this period was the evolution of the Rumpus Room from a welcoming jam spot into a full-on multitrack studio. This volume of Scratchrock captures the end of the “tape deck” era through our first multitrack recordings. At times somber; at times preposterous, the addition of several new Sheep Fiends participants packs this collection full of surprises.

Four Track Sampler

Track 03 – The Sea Gull (Sheep Fiends) – An unexpected drum machine swings as slide guitar meets a delay pedal on this ornithological instrumental. You can almost see their reflections on the pavement.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 04 – Uranium (Sheep Fiends) – Back to a more organic sound…and topic. Creepy bass anchors this droner where I celebrate the properties of all natural ingredients, and curse the regulations that get in my way.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Track 06 – Theme From 7 on 15 (Sheep Fiends) – A happy little instrumental for a change. Steady drums allow me to try out a myriad of sounds on my Casio guitar from 1989, while a haunting mandolin plinks inside your mind. Kinda funky; kinda quirky, all Sheep Fiends.  [Scratch on Casio DG-1 Guitar]

Track 08 – Fission Overlord (Sheep Fiends)– Reminds me of the mating call of the nuclear reactor. The Geiger counter chirps out its warnings. The oscillator screams at a constant dBm. Drums and bass lazily provide a low end to the techno-fission reaction. Is the Overlord here?  [Scratch on Bass]

Sheep Fiends – Fission Overlord

Album #: 73

Recording Dates: 2009

Release Date: 2010

Catalog: SF


This album primarily captures a freaky weird Sheep Fiends jam from October 2009. Hillbilly adjacent cover songs mesh with menacing instrumentals. Haunting laughter and oddly wrong pop songs. A strong start for a new decade of Sheep Fiends.

Three Track Sampler

Track 04 – Dread Reaper (Sheep Fiends) – Sounds like noise fusion… maybe? A duet of foul intention is conjured from nothing as Faiz and I twist knobs and scrape metal.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 06A Different Set of Rules (Sheep Fiends) – An EXPERIMENT blending ambient discussion with random music bits. We were all so passionate at the time, yet I don’t remember what about attribution I was so upset about in the first place. But what you really need to do is make a song out of it. Make a make a song out of it. [Scratch on Bass and Vocals]

Track 08 – Nevermind Now (Sheep Fiends) – About as garage as rock can sound when improvised in a basement.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Raging Bellybuttons – Basement Hymns (1987-1990)

Album #: 72

Recording Dates: 1987-1990

Release Date: 2009

Catalog: SMR30


Raging Bellybuttons were three long-haired guys who became friends at Libertyville High School. Each of us eager to push ourselves musically we plugged into a huge PA in Ken’s basement and recorded what raged out. The warmth of the wood paneling contrasted with the sarcastic bent of the lyrics, and we wrote songs almost as quickly as we played them.

While the guitar, bass, and drum duties were clearly identified the task of vocals was a bit of a wild card. Joe and I both stepped up and did the best we could. It’s certainly enthusiastic. Songs veered from punk to metal to funky to reggae to 12-bar-blues – we didn’t master any of these genres but visited as many as we could.

This collection features remastered versions of practice tapes, audio and images from VHS tapes and the odd experiment as well. All the Raging Bellybuttons standards are present – You’ve got Fight of the Bellybutton, Rubber Lover, Biker Gang…even New Bass Strings!

After rocking until 6pm three days a week for a few years the Bellybuttons ceased to rage. But this collection never does.






__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Five Track Sampler

Disc 01 – Track 04 – Theme of the Bellybutton – Flight of the Bellybutton (Raging Bellybuttons) – What respectable young band does NOT write their own theme song? An intro of sorts really for the blunt proclamations of Flight of the Bellybutton. You. Can’t. Hide.  [Scratch on Guitar & Backing Vocals]

Disc 01 – Track 06 – Speak of the Bellybutton 1 (Raging Bellybuttons) – Here I let you inside the minds of a young band in development. It’s not always pretty. Since we were serious about recording everything that went into a post-school day rehearsal, we can now listen in.  [Scratch on Talking]

Disc 01 – Track 08 – Soundgarden Song (Raging Bellybuttons) – No, not a cover of a Soundgarden song. A song that reminded us of Soundgarden. This extended freakout jam often lasted 10 minutes, and I showed no mercy to my effects pedals as I force out every shriek, scrape, and swoosh hidden there. There were no set lyrics, so I improvised vocals each time we launched into this. This version of the song brings together some of my favorite performances in one warped eleven minute package.  [Scratch on Vocals & Guitar]

Disc 02 – Track 02 – Societal Rift (Raging Bellybuttons) – Finally we hear the funky side of Raging Bellybuttons! Yes, it is possible to turn a distortion pedal “off”. We bring the boogie in our own special way but still get in one of my crazy ass guitar solos as well as a ripping bass solo.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 02 – Track 18 – Chronic Halitosis (Raging Bellybuttons) – About as straight metal as the Bellybuttons got. It’s still a powerful riff, even if 32 years later we still don’t have those lyrics.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Sheep Fiends – Do it All Again

Album #: 71

Recording Dates: 06/28/2008

Release Date: 2008

Catalog: SF


This album catches a fascinating and dark jam from 2008. Fairly experimental groupings and genresploitation keep you guessing; while the ambiance is sparked by Faiz’s army of pedals dedicated to the cause. With our next release we begin the multi-track evolution of the Rumpus Room. And things would never be the same…because we never do the same thing twice…


Two Track Sampler

Track 01 – Ever Ever Still (The Sheep Fiends) – Certainly a bold choice for album opener. Is this really even a song? Or a meditative drone pierced by shrieks of discontent?  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 11Wench’s Lake (The Sheep Fiends) – Lead mandolin sheds tears as tales of my mid-teenage years are quietly revealed.  [Scratch on Vocals, Acoustic Guitar & Giggle Stick]

Sheep Fiends – Leftovers, Vol. 4

Album #: 70

Recording Dates: 8/10/1999

Release Date: 2008

Catalog: SF


Another entry in Brian’s series of musical unearthings. His cassette extraction execution. I only play on one track from 1999 here, and the recording is a bit rough to post here.













No Track Sampler



MX Skroch – Ugly Music for Pretty Girls

Album #: 69

Recording Dates: 1994-1997

Release Date: 2008

Catalog: SMR29


Here is the final release from the “InSkroMental”, “Loophole”, and “Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” trilogy. This collection was created when I decided to digitally remaster & EQ some of my best original material to optimize fidelity.

“Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” is a collection of songs written, performed, recorded and produced by MX Skroch at home during the mid-1990s. This is primarily a song-based rock album which occasionally also ventures toward the unknown.

Lyrical inspiration provided by my friends, my actual ladies, my “wish they were my ladies”, introspection, depression, excess, and my general impression of existence.




















Five Track Sampler

Track 02 – Monday on the Train Tracks (MX Skroch) – Back before the Internet we did things like walk down the railroad tracks to keep ourselves occupied. This song is kind of about that – but more about yearning. It’s got samples, acoustic bits, crunching riffs, wacky keyboards, and of course my sketchy crooning. A decent representation of the album as a whole.  [Scratch on Vocals, Samples, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Machine]

Track 03 – Crusade (MX Skroch)  – Sort of a country-tinged ballad about coming undone. A meditation on motivation and devastation – also one of the slowest songs I ever mixed down to a Maxell cassette.  [Scratch on Vocals, Electric Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Machine]

Track 05 – Average (MX Skroch) – Passing judgement on my fellow 20-somethings…I guess some things never change with me. Kind of a singer songwriter track for the disaffected set. Fairly unique here is the lack of electric guitar; but don’t worry – the keyboard picks up the slack.  [Scratch on Vocals, Samples, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Pad]

Track 13 – Extra Drunk (MX Skroch) – A heavy rager after all that contemplation. This song describes a typical Saturday night in West Chicago as I experienced it while delivering pizza in the early 1990s. Cars with subwoofers so huge their bumpers dragged on the ground raised the flags of their mother countries high. And drank beer. Lots of beer. It was quite a scene.  [Scratch on Vocals, Electric Guitar, Bass, and Drum Machine]

Track 14 – Settle for Me (MX Skroch) – A good example of why I don’t promote myself as a singer – still I think this track tells a nice story. I enjoy that the bass holds down the melody and that the chorus sticks in my brain like tar.  [Scratch on Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, and Drum Machine]

The Hidden – Chicago’s Thickest Band in the World

Album #: 68

Recording Dates: 1992 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR28


This is a compilation that captures other works of the Hidden beyond “Stop. I’m bleeding.”, “Brave New Failure” and the two comps listed below. Unreleased songs recorded in rehearsal or in concert; five bonus tracks recorded for the “Brave New Failure” album; sonic anthropology of life on the road via “Ladies Night with the Hidden” and “The Turdcutter Files”, and the title track of our very first release.

The album art contains many flyers from our days on the road, as well as homebrew marketing materials and video stills of honest moments.



Four Track Sampler

Track 03 – Are You My Daddy? (The Hidden) – I guess you could consider this the early 90’s version of a meme. We had a tendency to ask this question over and over…and I don’t recall why.  [Scratch on Daddy]

Track 15Bone of Contention (The Hidden) – This menacing track is the most experimental thing the band released – and was the title track of our debut tape. Since I’m a balanced individual I recorded multiple news reports when the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer were revealed. Zack and I used cassette tapes to dub the sample track of these tapes with recordings of movie clips and commercials. Then just add some droning moaning madness and you’ve got “Bone of Contention”.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16The Cleavage Enhancing Wonder Bra (The Hidden) – A really rough recording from our leaning basement. This was the final track the band came up with before going their separate ways, and features a number of slow building sections. The addition of Brian M. on guitar made us that much thicker. This sample track ends with a clip of Erik hawking the band and recounting our history on Y108.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 17Gnawing at the Stump (The Hidden) – This short outtake from the “Brave New Failure” sessions gets its point across with no delay. Sing along now! “I cut my feet, they’re bleeding…“.  [Scratch on Guitar]

The Hidden – Covered With Blood and Touring

Album #: 67

Recording Dates: 1993 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR27


The Hidden played live for a bit under two years. Our first appearance with Brian M. was at the infamous Czar Bar in January 1993. The band largely culminated with a three week tour in late 1994 that took us to Texas and New Mexico and back through Colorado. This collection features live renditions of eighteen original songs plus covers of Pink Floyd and Pat Benatar. A lot of these recordings originate from our VHS recordings from these tours. Yes kids, our VHS recordings. Despite this limitation many energetic rock occurrences erupt with reckless abandon throughout.




Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – In the Flesh (The Hidden) – Why not start a heavy rock show with this opening track from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”? It even works at the Czar Bar despite the always occupied pool table providing real-time ambiance.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 04Salamander (The Hidden) – Dynamics is the name of the game as our protagonist questions his mammality. Live from Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club in Kansas City, MO. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 15B.O.F. (The Hidden) – While latter era Hidden often delved into longer more progressive tracks, this stormer shows we could still blast out a fast track as needed. Perhaps not appropriate for modern sensibilities.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 17The Specialist (The Hidden) – Ten different parts in three and a half minutes? Damn right! It’s the Specialist! [Scratch on Guitar & Backing Vocals]

40 Gallons – The McLennon, Peterson, Skroch, and Webb Collection

Album #: 66

Recording Dates: 1991 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR26


After finally finishing up the Hidden’s “Brave New Failure” twenty-two years after its initial recording, I got the urge to re-evaluate our piles of recordings to finish filling out our legacy of non-success. First up was the initial era when I played with Paul, Zack and Erik as IMF and then for a while as the Hidden. This crew actually saw more recording studios than the later group – including time spent with Steve Albini and Chuck Uchida in Chicago. This collection includes live shows, radio performances and studio demo recordings.















Four Track Sampler

Track 10 – I’m Dead (The Hidden) – Acoustic guitars? Why not! The Hidden’s understanding of punk rock was indeed wide ranging.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 12How I Feel (The Hidden) – This one minute blast is the most frantic thing the band played live. A ruckus really. A beautiful beautiful ruckus.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 15I’m Your Bug (live on WZRD) (The Hidden) – In July 1992 the Hidden played a spirited live set in the Chicago studios of WZRD. It was a strange setup and I feel like maybe we were in different rooms? My poor memory aside, we delivered a rousing and thumping performance.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16On the Mountainside (live on WZRD) (The Hidden) – This twisted love song gets a strange pulsing intro before blasting into its pre-emo big rock attitude.  [Scratch on Guitar]

MX Skroch – Loophole

Album #: 65

Recording Dates: 1992-2000

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR25


Here is the middle release from the “InSkroMental”, “Loophole”, and “Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” trilogy. This collection was created when I decided to digitally remaster & EQ some of my best original material to optimize fidelity.

“Loophole” is primarily focused on experimentation. This is the only album of the three to include other musicians, mostly on one-off performances or looped multi-track creations.

From the 90-second whimsy of “Soundo Effecto” to the brutal cacophony of the 17-minute “Intended Sexual Assault”; “Loophole” throws something completely different and unexpected at you every few minutes. Soundscapes, industrial music, loop built tracks, recordings of pizza delivery interactions…it’s all that and more!

Four samplings from this album can be accessed below. Enjoy!

P.S. You can click the cover image for a larger version.




















Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – Tingle (MX Skroch) – A spooky cloud moves in from the distance. Your skin begins to crawl. Something is bubbling within. Suddenly it bursts out!  [Scratch on Sequencer]

Track 03 – Sitting Duck (MX Skroch with Suneel V.)  – Piano rock turns into crushing heaviness before bridging into a dance bit that turns into satellite signals reaching out for spiritual assistance when suddenly your messages get a response and a plea as sad orchestral music begins to take shape… Also featuring a rather unique vocal performance as I elucidate the context of modern life.  [Scratch on Bass, Vocals, Drum Beats, Galactus & Space Phone]

Track 08 – Cotton Candy (MX Skroch) – A drum driven, mostly sample based slap across the face. I’d recently taken a liking to obtaining collections of samples to play with. Where they came from wasn’t important – sometimes they came from CDs I bought; boom box recordings of the TV in my living room, or a small pocket tape recorder I kept handy for those special occasions.  [Scratch on Guitar, Drum Beats & Samples]

Track 13 – We Used to Wear Toughskins (MX Skroch) – This time it’s personal as I share recordings of pizza deliveries; answering machine messages from the Chophouse and our landlord trying to throw us out, and commentary about Jeffrey Dahmer. Oh, and I guess I made recordings of my neighbor’s kids in the mid-1980s so I fit that in as well; and some movie samples from 1961. So something for all ages I suppose!  [Scratch on Recorded Pizza Delivery, Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Keyboard, Drum Beats & Samples]