slime queen.

Eventually, Blenderette finished their work in the studio, and Jeremy handed me a demo tape at a show.

I loved it.

Blenderette were a pure power pop trio.  Jeremy played a huge, hollow-body Rickenbacker guitar and sang lead vocals.  Two other guys played bass and drums, and sang backup (unfortunately I don’t recall either of their names, but they were both nice guys).  None of them looked like musicians.  They were jeans and T-shirt guys with absolutely no attitude or pretense about them.  They had one particularly dumb song called “Gretchen Fetchin the Slime Queen” that, from what Jeremy told me, was titled after a nickname that was given to a little girl in one of his classes when he was a kid.  The lyrics were ridiculous, childish and nonsensical, but the song was full of hooks.

Like I said, no pretense.

I loved them.  It was like taking three completely ordinary, super-nice guys, and giving them this superpower to write catchy bubblegum pop songs, then sitting back and listening to what they came up with.  They weren’t warm and personal, like cuppa joe.  They weren’t slick and powerful, like Footstone.  They didn’t write complex, literate pop, like the Mommyheads, or witty, catchy power pop like Dots Will Echo.  They wrote bubblegum, like “Little Willy” or “Sugar Sugar.”  Listening to Blenderette was like listening to 1975 AM radio – fidelity included – and I loved it.

No sooner did I get the demo and listen to it in the car on the way home from the club that night than I started making plans for releasing a Blenderette CD.  I knew the band would say yes, so I never bothered to even ask.  I figured I’d get the Footstone CD out, promote it for a while, buy a house, put out Dots Will Echo, have a kid, and then release Blenderette after the first of the year.  I was starting to get together some semblance of a release schedule again.  

Ultimately, Blenderette recorded and re-recorded various songs over the next year or two, in various studios.  I have three demo cassettes that they gave me at various times, each poorly-dubbed recordings of better-sounding studio mixes.  None are dated, and none are labeled as to whether they’re rough mixes or final.  All three recordings contain this song, “Behind the Tree,” which was my favorite Blenderette song.

The fidelity isn’t the greatest, but you get the point: excellent hooks throughout the song. Almost like a Velvet Crush song, drawing from 1960s and 70s bubblegum, but with strong roots in indie pop.

Jeremy was a huge Guided by Voices fan. I never really got the band, as I’ve mentioned in the past that the “low-fi” movement of the early 90s really bothered me; fidelity in recorded music is important to me and I’ve always had a tough time tolerating tape hiss, static, 60-cycle hum and generally poor recording. I could listen to Sebadoh’s Bakesale CD all day long but not their “Gimme Indie Rock” single; I could listen to cuppa joe’s recorded works and smile, but struggled to get through more than a couple of minutes of those same songs recorded by doug on his four-track. Doug’s recordings were more personal, and likely presented the songs the way the songwriter initially intended, but the cuppa joe tracks sounded better, and those were the versions I wanted to hear – and release.

But because Jeremy was such a fan of GBV, I tried my best to get into the band.  I picked up a copy of Bee Thousand and listened to it a dozen times, struggling to get what everyone was so crazy about.  I fell in love with the song “Gold Star for Robot Boy,” but it was similar to my infatuation with the Cheap Trick song “He’s A Whore.”  It was a great song, but a song I wanted to hear someone else do.  I wanted to hear cuppa joe, Blenderette, Footstone – anybody – record “Gold Star for Robot Boy,” provided that they recorded it in a proper studio, with an engineer and multiple tracks and decent levels and no background hiss.

Jeremy was one of the most friendly, enthusiastic guys I’d met in any band.  He always greeted you with a smile and a warm handshake, and he always wanted to talk about music.  He didn’t seem interested in the music business; he was a guy who wanted to talk about a great song he heard, an obscure track from some one-hit wonder band from 1973, a show he’d seen, a band he thought would be a good fit on Dromedary.  Occasionally he would start talking to me about a song he was writing, and tell me to listen to it when the band played it – then, afterward, he would ask me whether he thought the guitar solo was right, or whether he should add a bridge.  As if I had a clue.

Just so you know, I have no clue.  I flooded the kitchen with dirty laundry water; I can’t tell you whether or not your song needs a bridge.

~ by Al on August 10, 2009.

10 Responses to “slime queen.”

  1. I’ve discovered over the years that when it comes to my ability to do household projects, I should have listened to Eddie Van Halen. No shit.

    When interviewers asked him how he figured out how to make his own guitars, he would talk about all the great guitars he destroyed while trying to make something that worked.

    Same goes for home improvement and doing stuff around the house. You have to fuck some things up royally in order to figure out what you’re supposed to do. I went from “utterly shitty” at drywall work to “somewhat passable” by repairing the damage my fraternity brothers did to the walls in my frat house. I learned how to install a toilet start to finish by fucking it up in my house in Wading River, fucking it up in my studio apartment and then fucking it up not so badly in my first place in Holtsville. Now I can actually do it without fucking it up. The definition of “contractor” is “someone who has fucked it up worse at some point during his career than you’ll ever fuck it up.”

    I guess you can say the same thing about recording. Tapes I made when I was 16 are laughable. These days, GarageBand makes me even more laughable, but I have an idea of what I’m doing now. 😉

  2. That sounds great – I can endure the hiss.

    And just to be clear, this is Julian Koster, (eventually) of Neutral Milk Hotel, correct? (sorry to break the continuity and bring in the future… even though it’s also the past)

  3. Steve:

    Blenderette was Jeremy Scott, not Julian. Julian was playing in Chocolate USA at the time, and he and I spoke briefly a few times about doing a Chocolate USA seven-inch. At one point we had agreed that we would do SOMETHING, but it never progressed past that stage. Neutral Milk Hotel happened later, I think, and for his sake, I’m glad we never wound up doing a seven-inch. 🙂

    Jeremy went on to play in a band called the Reigning Sound, that put out a couple of great records. He also played in another band called Maximum Jack, who will come up later in the story – Maximum Jack was another great and short-lived power pop band.

    -Al

  4. Okay Al, thanks for clarifying – that’s what I thought. I think NMH started in ’96. I love In The Aeroplane Over the Sea – that album took the longest of any album to grow on me, but now it has its teeth sunk in deep.

    I remember hearing some Chocolate USA back then (you probably sent us a single or a cassette or something) but I don’t have anything anymore. Maybe you’ll post some of their stuff in the future.

  5. In a lot of ways, Chocolate USA were a similar band to cuppa joe. Very similar sound, and I heard more than one person compare cuppa joe to Chocolate USA in those days. I think Chocolate USA was probably a little more experimental in their sound, but cuppa joe’s music was a bit more personal. Very good band, though. They were signed to another label (Bar/None), and since I’m really only posting things that came out on Dromedary or demos we received, I’m not likely to put any Chocolate USA stuff on this blog, though.

  6. So I remember hearing, re: the comparisons. I’ll have to hunt them down and find their stuff. If I heard anything by them, it was well over fifteen years ago. I need a Chocolate USA refresher course.

  7. Wow, talk about a trip down memory lane.
    I am honored to be a part of your story, I have read multiple entries over the past 24 hours.
    For the, um, record, without being able to listed to the recording, I would wager that the other players are Jason Beard on drums, and Mark Leone on bass.
    Jason was in MJ also.
    And while I’m remembering stuff, “Gretchen” is a reference to a nickname out of The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.
    Write on!

  8. P.S. Al, please do yourself a favor and try that GBV record again. It’s still great.

  9. I own plenty of GBV records at this point; I find them to be brilliant in spots, dismal in others. The proper studio is the key for me; it makes great songs phenomenal. The four track, to me, makes great songs unlistenable, mostly. I know, I’m a Philistine. I’m nearly 40 now; I’ve accepted it.

  10. […] Blenderette eventually broke up.  Jeremy, their singer and guitarist, formed a band called Maximum Jack, a power pop band that was even better than Blenderette.  Eventually, Maximum Jack broke up and Jeremy moved south and joined The Reigning Sound, a fantastic band with a number of records out on various indie labels.  Today, Jeremy plays in Harlan T. Bobo a band called the Burning Sands and, a true musicologist, does a great radio show on WEVL in Memphis. […]

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