Friday, 17 June 2016

I Am Elvis...

The summer of 1995 was off with a huge bang, and it was quite possibly one of the most memorable summers of my life. Wiggaz had been playing lots of live shows, we had a new jam space, new songs, and we had made a lot of new friends. Black Belt Jones were also performing frequently, we were still riding the wave of our second demo we had released earlier in the year, and we too had been making new friends and new connections.

The next event that transpired came out of left field. Wiggaz were set to record a second demo. If I remember correctly it was Frank who acquired a place for us to record through a friend of his. Essentially it was an empty office space that was quite large and located in the Rexdale area. We brought in none other than Steve Donohoe to be our sound engineer, and with him was his trusted 8 track recorder.

The first day of recording was fairly unexciting, as it consisted of the usual primary steps. Getting the drums set up with various microphones in their proper places which was followed by an hour or two of single hits on each drum piece as Steve fine tuned them into the mix. After that long but necessary task, the next step was getting the guitar and bass amps set up, once again setting microphones up and having Greg and Rob strum along until Steve had everything sounding the way he wanted it. We only had a weekend to get this demo complete, and the first day was practically spent on achieving the sound we wanted.

Day two would consist of the guys playing every song while Steve recorded, which generally took a few takes per song as we wanted everything to be perfect with no mistakes. The space we were recording in had an upstairs area, where I spent a lot of time just laying on the floor staring at the ceiling listening to the sweet sounds my band members were pumping out. It got a bit boring at times, but thankfully there was a strip joint within walking distance, which served its purpose well when it came to battling boredom.

After a very long Saturday of recording music, all of the songs were finally done. We had re-recorded new versions of a few songs from the original demo including: Carnivore, Death Metal Mama, Spray Cans, and Toad Loads. We also had quite a few new songs we had written in the past year; These Shoes, Wiggaz, R.C., Seed, and Field Party, which was our newest song complete with lyrics inspired by numerous outdoor parties I had attended over the years including Woodstock 91' and the infamous Barn Bash, both of which have been mentioned in this blog if you are keeping up with things.

When it came time to hit the vocal booth I was pretty hopped up from a days worth of beer drinking and whatever other recreational activities I had been partaking in. After we got a few songs done my throat was getting a bit sore, which in turn was affecting the sound of my vocals. Greg rushed out to the store and quickly returned with a package of extra strong halls, fisherman's friends, and a bottle of Buckley's cough syrup. The trifecta combo worked wonders  and my vocalizer was back in full function. I didn't know it that day, but the Buckley's would become a staple for me in future recordings. Most people can't handle a spoonful of it, but I've developed a taste for it over the years of recording which has enabled me to drink it straight from the bottle as if it was water.

After a sweaty, beer, metal, and stripper fueled weekend, our new demo was now complete. The only thing missing was a title for said demo. It felt like we were toiling with title ideas for weeks, although in reality it was probably only days....perhaps even hours. Nobody seemed to be coming up with any ideas, when from out of left field our drummer Frank proclaimed "I've got the title! I am Elvis, I died for your sins!" We all laughed in hysterics at his suggestion before unanimously deciding it was a keeper.

It was so irrelevant and odd, which is why I feel we liked it so much. I had never been a fan of Elvis by any means, but the thought of myself in an Elvis suit with the devil mask amused my mind to no end. We had now paid for hundreds of tapes to be manufactured and we had been selling them, even though they were absent of a cover and title. Once the title was finally agreed upon, I got into the drawing, cutting and pasting, and arranging of our new cover. A homemade DIY job which was standard in the pre-computer days. I combined images from comic books and my own illustrations to complete the final product. I was quite cheesy, which I felt was very suiting given the nature of our band and our music. 

Now that this order of business was done, we had another to return to,
completing our music video...

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Rumblefish Connection

One crucial step in the evolution of Wiggaz A.D. was acquiring an actual legit jamspot, and we did so through Rumblefish Studios in the Rexdale area. It was pretty exciting to have our own space, as we could now jam whenever we wanted pretty much, with the exception of after hours once the studio was closed.

We had been playing the same handful of original Wiggaz material since 1994, so it was refreshing to now have the means for writing new songs at our own leisure, and write we did. By early summer we had enough new material to start a new demo if we redid a few of the old songs too, with yours truly supplying the vocals this time around.

It was through Rumblefish that we met a few other bands who would essentially be supporting acts in the days to come. The studio was literally a square hallway with doors on both sides of the halls, each door containing a jam space. We met with the owner Dave Carravaggio in his office, which was quite slick and filled with recording equipment. I assumed this would be the next place we recorded, although my assumption would later turn out to be incorrect. Dave seemed like a straight shooter, he was very calm and soft spoken but it was clear he was no pushover.

Rumblefish didn't have much to offer besides a place to practice and a pop machine, but there was a McDonalds within spitting distance if you were hungry. Across the street there was also a strip joint, where we ended up after jams here and there for a relaxing beer or two. 

Asides from the boys in Viciousphere, I didn't really know anyone else in the building. After practice we'd usually head to their room for some smokes and convo... and to watch them jam it out. From what I remember they had the biggest jam space in the building. There was plenty of room for the gear, not to mention enough room for us Wiggaz to pull up some chairs and enjoy the show. The V boys were always chill, friendly, and their generosity extended for miles and miles.

It wasn't long before we made some new friends at "The Fish" through the universal power of music. There was Dirge, a crossover hardcore outfit from the Malton area. They were a straight edge band, but these guys weren't dead serious militants. In fact they were generally a bunch of practical jokers with great attitudes. Their singer Fudd, had one of the biggest voices I had ever heard from a man with such small stature. It was highly impressive.

Next up there was Fence, four young men from the Woodbridge area, all of Italian descent I believe, except their bassist Marshall who was Indian. When I first met them I believe 3/4 of the band were rocking their hair in braids, ala "Korn" who were a "nu metal" band that had recently blown up in the past year. Fence were also on a rap/metal tip, but they delivered their product much differently than us. They were mostly groove oriented, and groove they did. Their songs would get your head bobbing even if you'd never heard them before.

Last but not least, was Fractured. Another crew of young men from the Rexdale area, and they too were somewhat on the same tip as Fence, but they definitely had their own sound and flavour. Their singer Jim was Greek, so naturally him and I hit it off right from the start.

It was a very exciting time, each group frequently dropping in on one another to see what was going on musically. We were each other's biggest fans and supporters, and it was always a treat when any of us got a sneak preview of new material. We all fed off of each other which put us in highly creative states, thus enabling some extra kick ass song writing.

As the weeks passed we met new bands, and new friends through all the different circles in Rumblefish. Any Brampton bands that practiced there were generally people Greg knew from working at musicplex. Through Fence, Dirge, and Fractured, we met more people and more bands including Dr.Liquid. They were on their own page musically with a female vocalist named Rosina, and they definitely had their own unique sound. It wasn't long before Rose set a gig up in Woodbridge for us all to play.

Over the course of the summer we were playing any gigs we could get, usually with the above mentioned bands in the mix. It was a great support system, anytime one of us booked a gig we would make sure to include the others on the bill. In a short course of time we had built a strong family circle that was steamrolling forward with momentum, each scratching the others backs. 

Eventually we ended up looking into recording our demo at Rumblefish, but it just wasn't in our budget unfortunately. We already had to pay a monthly fee for the room, but combined we just didn't have the cash to afford the recording session we needed. Just when it seemed like we weren't going to produce a new demo, an opportunity fell in our laps...