Fall 2003 - Spring 2004
The fall of 2003 found the ingredients of Vomit Sauce back in the beer filled cauldron known as Minneapolis, ready for some stirring (did I really just write that?) I was working my first post college job at Ecolab in downtown St. Paul paying freight bills. Alex was back in town, living with Lindsay in a rented house off of east Lake Street on 34th Avenue. Sadly, I was still living with my parents at the time, so I was relegated to making the commute up to Minneapolis several times a week to maintain my so called social life.
To be honest, this was a very confusing time for me. I had never worked in a corporate setting before, let alone what could only be described as a cubicle farm. I watched "Office Space" a couple of days before I started my job, thinking that there was no way office life could be so horrible. I was wrong. I would have to call the 9 months I worked there quite possibly the worst part of my entire life (that includes middle school!). I was the only 20-something male in my department; pretty much everyone else was a middle-aged woman. There was only a few other men on my half of the floor, and two of them were the managers. Headphones at this place were essential. If you made the mistake of removing them, you were assaulted by the sound of 500 fat fingers typing away furiously at "quiet-key" keyboards, punctuated by the occasional "Freights Payable, how can I help you?". Don't get me wrong, Ecolab has the reputation for being a great company to work for; I just think I chose the wrong department.
During this time, I reverted into my nerd-shell. I somehow wound up with a horrible short-cropped hair cut, khakis, and glasses. I was embarrassed to leave the house every morning. I hated how I looked, and hated even more that I didn't seem to fit in with the other people around me. I had given up everything that used to keep me sane, namely my old job at the bookstore, and the few friends I had contact with there. On the other hand, I was still playing in Sigcell with Peter after work and on the weekends.
To be honest, the rest of this story is kind of a blur. Its hard to remember where and when exactly a lot of this stuff happened. All I know for sure was that it took place from the fall of 2003 to early 2004. With Alex back in town, all the talk of how awesome Vomit Sauce had used to be got Alex back in the mood to write and record songs like the old days. At the same time, my old buddy Aaron moved back from Mankato to the Twin Cities. To put this in perspective, I have a tendency to form a new sense of self depending on whom I'm predominantly hanging out with. My lifestyle hanging out and playing with Peter was totally different from how I acted around Alex and Aaron. Throw in the corporate job, and living with the parents, and you have a nice recipe for disaster. I didn't know what hat to throw in what ring.
That winter, Alex and I got together to record two new songs he had written, and I couldn't believe how much fun it was. It felt so much more natural to just relax and record, and have a good time with it than the seriousness of playing with Sigcell. Then one evening, I decided to hang out with Aaron for awhile, and let him watch one of our band practices. I showed up very late to practice with Aaron, and Peter just told us to go home. I was surprised by Peter's hugely negative reaction, but on further reflection I realized that my lack of focus in any one direction had resulted in a noticeable apathy towards what Peter considered the most important thing in his life. After our last gig at Big V's, I was out of Sigcell, marking the second time that I had been kicked out of a band. In this case, I think I subconsciously didn't want to be in Sigcell anymore, but being a typically passive-aggressive Minnesotan, I just sat around until someone else took action for me. Anyway, Sigcell is actually still around. Peter finally got his album out about a year ago, so kudos to him on that. Their web site can be found here.
The 34th Ave Session:
Anyway, more on those two songs I mentioned above, "Man Made of Bones", and "Minneapolis", both recorded at Alex and Lindsay's place off of Lake Street. One weekend I packed up the old blue Tascam 4-track (it was actually Aaron's, the V-Sauce one broke down mysteriously). Using the same old crap we had used before, we recorded Alex's new songs in the ol' fashioned V-Sauce way, just Alex and a guitar played live. As obvious as it should have been, I finally figured out not to aim the microphone right at the sound-hole, and we were able to achieve much better results than in the old days.
Song Profile: "Man Made of Bones"
Alex: Words n' music, Guitar, Vocals
Andy: The first song recorded after the hiatus. Alex had actually recorded a demo of this song on his own before I came over with the four-track. The demo actually sounded pretty good, even though he was using a cheap Radio Shack microphone. This song is classic Alex, although a little more serious than usual.
Unhook me, its time to get up
Because I'm done with all this creature stuff
Organs blood, brains and skin
Getting out of this body I'm in
Because sometimes I'm just not fine
Walking around without a spine
And nothing in me fits quite right
So I only come out at night...
Cause' I'm a man,
Made of bones,
Just a man,
Made of bones,
Just a man,
Made of bones,
I'm a man,
Made of bones,
And you'll never see me outside
Cause' I'd rather stay in and hide
A mirror is the cruelest joke
When you don't look like common folk
Cause' you're a man,
Made of bones,
Made of bones
Just a man,
Made of bones
You're a man,
Made of bones
So I'll go on livin' my own way
The face that's afraid to say
When a man is just a man,
With a monster on his hand
Song Profile: "Minneapolis"
Alex and Andy: Words
Alex: Music, vocals, guitar
Andy: The second song we recorded that day. Alex wrote it about moving back to Minneapolis from his year in New York. I can't remember for sure, but I think he either wrote the whole thing during the session, or at least had an idea down before I came over. I helped write the last verse with the hot dog and ketchup in my socks part. I still don't know what it means for sure, but "hot-doggin rhymed" with "flog my dolphin". Anyway, because Alex had just written it, it literally took 12 takes until he was able to make it all the way through the song. For some strange reason, I just kept rolling the tape during the whole thing, resulting in what I think captures how we used to work better than anything else (its funny as hell too. Listen for the conversation we have about CCR around the second or third take).
I packed a truck and I left New York
to move to Minneapolis
When I got here I couldn't find a job,
so I lived in a cardboard box.
So my dog ran away, my best friend died
How I love this midwest town,
Where the rivers are clean and the winters aren't bad
Why did I ever leave New York....
For a town, called, Minneapolis!
I also call it Minnecrapolis!
So give me a Premo or give me death
Sittin' here on Lake Street
Things have been bad but they can get worse,
I don't want to get hit by a bus
So I'll put ketchup in my socks,
Cause' I'm hot doggin,
Its not New York but its damn close,
I still flog my dolphin...
here in Minneapolis
I said Minnecrapolis!
I also said chakkamakkalappachakkachappalappalapolis!
Vomit Sauce Live!: Dubs Open Mic Night, January 2004.
Our first recording session in two years got both Alex and I excited about doing Vomit Sauce again. We started talking about how we should finally do a live show, as I had had some experience gigging while he had been gone. Alex started looking around for open mic nights, and we were able to find one at Dub's bar in dinkytown (which was closed and remodeled into the "Blarney" recently). We played two open mic nights there. The first one didn't go so bad, with Alex singing and playing harmonica, and me playing electric guitar. The second open mic, on the other hand, did not go so well. We got there early to make sure we got a good slot in the line up. However, we neglected to pay attention because of a combination of beer, darts, and pool, relegating us to a super late slot in the line up. We ended up having to wait through some seriously long acts, that actually played nearly hour long sets. Dubs kind of had a shitty insider culture around their open mic nights. They would let you play (hence the "open" moniker), but in reality, it was really a showcase for a few local folk/hippie acts that happened to all know each other and took the thing way too seriously. By the time we went on we were pretty hammered , and my new electric acoustic guitar wouldn't stay in tune. It was a train wreck, plain and simple. A videotape exists of the show, but is apparently so painful to watch we will probably never release it.
Video captures of our last live show at Dubs in Dinkytown, with evidence of my (Andy) regression into nerd hell (that's me on the left).
Things kind of went from bad to worse at the start of the year 2004. Alex ended up moving out of his girlfriend's place and into an apartment with Creepy Pete in the Como neighborhood just north of the U of M campus. The whole story is pretty messy, so I'll let Alex give you the 411 on that whole mess (if he wants to). At the end of March, I moved into an apartment building a few houses down the block from them, and the stage was set for the emergence of a new digital Vomit Sauce. To the Extreme!
We had one last song to record on the old 4-track before we switched to all digital recording though....
Song Profile: Big Lizard in my Back Yard (Dead Milkmen Cover)
Song/Music: The Dead Milkmen
Alex: Vocals/Electric Rhythm Guitar
Andy: Acoustic Rhythm/Lead surf guitar and noise
Andy: The last song we tired to seriously record on the four track was actually our first serious cover. We recorded this one in the living room of Alex's new apartment, where he had just moved in with Creepy Pete and John (who has not been introduced yet, I'll keep his anonymity for now, as he is still very active in the local music scene. One clue, he usually has blue hair).
Although we had a lot of fun learning and recording this song, our equipment started to drive us nuts. We hadn't tried recording anything really complex with electric guitars in years, this coupled with the fact that we were using just one crappy low-end dynamic mic and a four track. We were years behind at this point in recording technology. Alex's vocals ended up impossibly muddy (he probably sang to close to the microphone) and my built in sound card on my computer had a weird noise gate that was screwing up my attempts at mixing the stupid thing down. It was our experience recording this cover that prompted me to throw out the 4-track (not literally) for an all digital recording set-up a few weeks later.
Complaints aside, I got to use my cheap tube amp for Vomit Sauce for the first time. The amp was a heavily modified Gibson GA-15RVT from the mid 60's I had found for 150 bucks at a music-go-round in St. Paul. It was cheap because the former owner had tried to make the thing look like a Fender by spray-painting it black, adding a Fender grill, knobs, and speaker, and adding a master volume in place of an on/off switch. Still, the thing had amazing surf reverb and hell of a lot of character. I don't play it as much now, but it ended up lending itself to quite a few V-Sauce songs in 2004/2005. I also tried to use my Z-Vex Fuzz Factory for the noise on the end of the song. Although the pedal is pretty sweet, it has proven difficult to use for recording so far, and hasn't quite been able to recoup the investment I made in buying it. Perhaps it will become more useful in a live setting sometime in the future.
The MP3 linked here is a totally new mix I completed in early February 2007. Although still pretty crappy, I was able to un-mud Alex's vocals a bit, and get rid of most of the clipping, making it a little more listenable. Enjoy if you can!
All content © 2007 Vomit Sauce