Wednesday 21 January 2009

A Faulty Chromosome's Chicago-Centric Childhood (in mixtape form)

A friend send me your very nice "things i fell in love with" post about my album and -- even though I have been periodically working on a mix for you, it kept getting bumped lower and lower on my 'things-to-do list.' But today I managed to somehow pull it together and finish. It's sort of strange, but you had said something about wondering what I listened to, so wonder no more:

Hi. My name is Eric and "a faulty chromosome" is what I named the band that I make all the music for (on account of people always asking me if I was retarded).
When I say that I am in a band, people often ask a variation of this question:
"What kind of music do you play / what are your influences?"
Personally, I always seem to struggle with this answer, as I like to be thorough with my explanations because -- if I don't do this -- I'm merely presenting a rushed response so as not to inconvenience the question-asker. But many people are quickly bored (most don't like being subjected to long-winded stories nearly as much as I do) and just want as easily digestible and obvious of a reply as possible, and then move on. Like:
Lazy reply: "It sounds like New Order mixed with My Bloody Valentine?
Even lazier question-asker: "Oh, I've heard of those bands. Got it. What's for dinner?"
But you see, if someone can accurately and precisely explain what my songs sound like by merely listing a few well-known bands, then I feel as though I am a failure, and am making redundant and mediocre music, and should not keep wasting mine (and everyone else's) time. If every second of every song doesn't somehow express something uniquely specific to me and who I am and what I am trying to convey (at the very least, to me, as well as whoever might feel brave enough to take the time to really study it), then I suck.
So I present to you, a compacted chronological view of my musical memories from 1980-1999; a time spent living in the exact same bedroom in the most dilapidated house in my specific suburban neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois USA (though I do not know how well it will translate, as others I have played it for seem confused or unaffected by songs that resonate so strongly for me, but here it is anyway, it all it's lo-fi cassette-quality crappiness!).
Harry Caray (feat. 35,000 cubs fans) - Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

I was 4 when I went to my first baseball game and I still remember getting goosebumps in the 7th inning singing along with that many people. It's also one of the rare times in life where you can make eye contact with absolutely anyone near you and they will smile and not look at the ground (granted, most of them are drunk, but still, it's a wonderful and fairly rare thing in America).
Sun Ra and the Nu-sounds - Chicago USA. Driving in the car with my mother essentially guaranteed that you -- the passenger -- would be subjected to some of the most shameful attempts at "music" ever imaginable: Contemporary Christian Rock. Nearly alll other music was of the devil. But somehow, I managed to convince her to let me listen to jazz.

The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew
-- The Super Bowl Shuffle.

This was the first record I ever bought (at Kmart, I believe?). I was five years old. I would flail around in the living room breakdancing/rapping along over and over (and oh, that air-saxophone solo!) every single day for years. When a swear is said, the referee blows a whistle, but my mom would still insist on turning the volume down anyway.
Mr. T - Treat your mother right.

Mr. T was a very big deal in my childhood. He was a local hero, and I still have a picture of me in my A-team pajamas looking very, very terrified as he has his giant hand on my shoulder when my sister and I met him at our local mall. I enjoy songs with a positive message, rather than wallowing in sadness or seething in anger.
Ministry - Everyday Is Halloween.

I first heard this song at a christmas-themed amusement park called "Santa's village" and it (specifically the "oom bop oom bop bop" part) stayed with me for years until i finally found out who it was. They became absolutely huge in middle school, and all the cool, tough kids wore black ministry (or metallica, or slayer) shirts every day (not me, I was not cool, but my 7th grade girlfriend would call me and play Psalm 69 over the phone). I didn't understand why he was from Chicago, dressed like a vampire, and sang like he was British though?
Maniac Mansion theme song for NES.

A large portion of childhood was spent playing nintendo. To think that those songs looping incessantly didn't somehow effect how I listened to music is crazy (note: this was not from chicago, though I certainly played it there).
Big black - Heartbeat.

I first heard this from my friend's older brother (I think it was 4th grade?). I remember seeing a picture of Steve Albini and thinking how weird it was for a nerdy looking guy to sound so dark and angry (it's probably worth noting here that -- by this time -- I'd begun to hide cassettes I dubbed from friends and the public library underneath the Michael Jordan posters on the ceiling in my bedroom).
DJ Funk - Fine Ass Pussy.
A different friend's older brother would PUMP this in his brand new Mustang (which he wrapped around a tree with me in the back seat one night when he was showing off speeding in the snow). I loved the beats and the simplicity of it all, but it made me sort of uncomfortable to think about this thing called "pussy" though.

Wesley Willis - Rock 'n Roll McDonalds.
A 300 lb. schizophrenic guy who almost always would ask for you to headbutt him when you made eye contact with him at a show (I did it once. I was little. It was scary). There was something horribly amazing about how awful it all was. About how he could sing/speak whatever he wanted over a pre-programmed casio beat and it was still beautiful (also, I have fond memories of going to birthday parties at Rock and Roll McDonalds when I was young). I also began to run gameboy headphones in the sleeve of my jacket in order to listen to music all day during school.
Smoking Popes - Let's hear it for love.
After getting my junior high heart broken, it was nice to hear that nerdy guys from the suburbs weren't afraid to sing about how stupid love was in a sincere way. It was around here that I began to write lyrics to melodies I would hum in my head instead of paying attention in history class.
Screeching weasel - Hey suburbia!
Once I started high school, I began to hang out with the punk kids (though I was never fully accepted because I didn't want to wear a leather jacket or dye my hair or smoke or swear or be mad and hate everything). But it became very real that I too could start a band when I saw that their first album had a drawing of the 711 blocks away from my house. Not New York. Not La. Not London. Prospect Heights. I bought a guitar. My mother cried because she thought I would begin to worship satan. I tried to learn it right-handed, but I couldn't get it to work. I thought I'd never learn.
The eclectics - Bitch.
At this point, friends began getting their driver's licences, and -- even though I was afraid I was going to get beat up in a mosh pit -- I began to go to shows pretty much every weekend: in people's basements, at bowling alleys, and anywhere with some sort of electrical outlet. Ska was fun because you could dance and flop around and you didn't need any skill, but very limited in that -- for a genre based on supposed unity -- there sure were an awful lot of fights.
Cap'n Jazz - Forget Who We Are.

By this time, I had joined a punk band and then gotten kicked out because the lyrics I wrote were too depressing (that band would subsequently/embarrassingly turn into pretty-boy emo band afterwards). Cap'n Jazz were a band of average-looking kids from down the street in the suburbs that made me feel slightly less crazy for attempting to make noisy and confusing music with really well-written lyrics about trying to understand life and not pandering to what was currently safe and popular.
Wolfie - (title unknown?).
Although I could easily scream in a punk band, I can barely sing (I have no range to speak of, and my projection skills are far better suited for movie theatres! awful joke. sorry), so the idea of making pop songs seemed unlikely. But twee gave me the gift of not having to worry about that, and focus on the joy of singing songs no matter how off-key I was.
Lake Of Dracula - Plague Of Frogs.
Finding no wave was a musical miracle for me, as finding a proper way to make my guitar sound as confused and frustrated as I felt had always been a bit difficult for me, but there it was, all jaggedy and squelchy (also, it helped that I finally figured out that I was much better playing left-handed guitar, so I began to write my own songs).
Magas - Pocket Racers.
Feeling absolutely hopeless that I'd ever be able to put together a proper band, I decided to purchase the cheapest drum machine I could find (mind you, this was 1998, and laptops were still far away from being the portable studios that they are today). At the very least, I could have concerts for myself in my bedroom, right?
(And then my parents divorced and sold our house, so I packed up my car and waved goodbye to the windy city)

Download A Faulty Chromosome's super sweet "Chicago-Centric Childhood (in mixtape form)"

Thanks Eric, it was well worth the wait.


Ephemeral said...

I picked up your CD at SXSW. It is amazing. The mixtape at the end confused me until I stumbled upon this page thanks the might of the intarweb. Thank you for this. You are awesome. I wish I had your lyrics. (I'm fail at picking them out of even the most obvious pop songs it's ridiculous)

cletus_buckley said...

im just a fan and the band made this mix for my blog, so thank them
As for lyrics, if you got the same version of "As an ex-anorexic's..." album, all the lovely lyrics are printed on the inlay sleeve.