This was Trebor, the first
My first interest in playing music came very early, every time I saw a piano in grade school, or an organ in church.
Like most young people, I was very frustrated that I was rarely allowed to touch these wondrous sources of sound - but when I could, I would, and the experience was magical!
But besides stringing rubber bands around steel bread pans, and occasionally getting my hands on an inexpensive recorder (the woodwind, not the electronics), my interest was not passionate enough to bring me to action until my teen years.
|The audio files on this page are mostly in RealAudio. To hear them "streaming." click the Stream link. If you really, really want to hear this stuff and cannot/will not install RealPlayer on your computer, drop me a line for MP3's or whatever.|
Around the age of fifteen, I found that a young lady-friend of mine had a house with both an organ and a piano! Whenever I could, I would play with these lovely keyboards (and I mean play in the worst sense, having had little music training and no discipline).
And then I found, at the local department store, a cheap (really, really cheap) electric guitar.
Still completely undisciplined, I batted out a few notes, learned all the chords (easier than actually playing the thing), and practiced just a little. The first song I wrote was called "New Wave Hair Style," a foolish song of protest about my ex (the aforementioned lady-friend) turning to punk. Recording songs back then meant playing onto a standard cassette recorder (with or without "Drum Drops," a series of pre-recorded drum backing tracks on vinyl record). Then playing back the recording dubbed to a SECOND cassette deck, while playing a second part. And back again in the other direction, each time adding a track real-time, with the resultant distortions and hiss. This back when you couldn't buy a multi-track recorder for under a thousand dollars. Now you can find them for a little over a hundred!
This method was used through "The Home Tapes," a cassette of mostly bad music, some of which I wrote, some of which my step-brother Robbie Correa (who picked up guitar shortly after I did) wrote, some of which we wrote together, sometimes even with co-workers (at Taco Plaza, my first job, and other places). The piece What A Mistake (You Made Leaving Me) - [Stream] was recorded using this ping-pong method (yes, that's me doing all the vocals).
In the middle of all this, I decided the instrument for me was Bass Guitar. Largely because I didn't have the time nor self-discipline to practice guitar enough to develop satisfactory skills.
By the end of this period (around age 17) Robbie introduced me to Jim McHenry (a schoolmate of his), and Trebor was formed.
"The Home Tapes II" documents the ascent and descent of our music, toward greater skill, and more frivolous and often cynical and nihilistic themes. My solo piece, 3:59 - [Stream] (the drums are not me, that's the pre-recorded backing tracks I mentioned) and the Trebor tune In The City Night - [Stream] (penned primarily by Jim, though I'm singing) were on this tape. (Incidentally, the guitar's high E-string on "3:59" is detuned down one full octave. That explains the extra pick crunch, and the ability to stretch notes like a crazy person. Try it sometime!)
Of course, like all avant-garage bands, Trebor decided to make a "Demo Tape." The studio experience was a disaster in several ways, but did produce the cleanest recordings thus far of Wax Facsimile - [Stream] (another composition with lyrics penned by Jim) and Be Mine - [Stream] (from a guitar idea from Robbie).
Somewhere in there, we bought better instruments (including a four-track tape recorder), had most of them stolen, replaced them a couple times, and actually managed to get hired to play live!
Updated! Trebor at Blondies Bar in 1984.
R. Lawrence Claypool on keyboards.
Maybe the most fun was the live shows - doing warm-up acts, community center gigs, anything we could get. Always a crowd-pleaser was the Robbie Correa inspiration, the odd-metered Weekends And Holidays (Live at The Old Miami) - [Stream]. The boys in the band, and the audience, were amazing tolerant of my awful singing, and we even did my first song, New Wave Hair Style - [Stream]. It helped that we often brought a few of our own fans - friends of the band - so we could count on some applause.
The band eventually fell apart when Jim realized none of us were getting much better, and we weren't really going anywhere. He rather rudely refused to show up for a gig we'd already booked. Well after his departure, friend-of-a-friend-of-the-band Dave Heverley became our drummer, e.g. Fast Like Me (Later Version) - [Stream] from this era - and we even had a keyboard player for a while - but these were short lived incarnations indeed.
|Trebor 1984 Style:
Rob, Robert, Larry, Jim...
Another high school friend of mine (though this takes us to a couple years after high school), Keith Baker, wanted to be a singer and song-writer, and we got together and recorded a few tracks, including My Tape Deck - [Stream], (Keith singing, me on all instruments) sometimes calling ourselves Airborne Breakfast.
We even joined up with a guitarist and drummer he knew (I'll have to look up their names!). Keith wrote lyrics even stranger (if possible) than Trebor, including the psychotic Mutant Scissor Baby - [Stream] (no, that's not me on guitar, though I played the drums, and added a bass track later).
Well, it couldn't get much lower than that, and it didn't - Airborne Breakfast was my last "band."
That didn't stop me from noodling around in my mid-twenties with my four-track recorder. "The Home Tapes III" was aborted after one song, a remake of "(Na na hey hey) Kiss Him Goodbye" so bad I refuse to put it here.
But "IV" was a little better, as I really stopped taking everything so seriously, and just practiced for fun.
FMOMD - [Stream] was
written for my mother on Mother's Day (hence the title).
IV - [Stream] was one of those keyboard exercises, a C/F# kind of exercise in key shifts. Spooky.
I'd Like To Keep This Simple - [Stream] was written as a guideline for the romantic relationship I was in at the time. Incidentally, we failed to keep it simple. The relationship failed, too. Ah well.
And "Blank" (which should have been called "The Home Tapes V" but wasn't because the tape I used had already been marked "Blank" so I'd know it was available), though mostly instrumentals, and a few re-visits, was even more fun for me.
Instrumental - [Stream]
was one of those exercises. Remember the un-simple relationship I mentioned?
That's the one.
Instrumental 1 - [Stream] practice with a break in 9 time.
Ah Oh Oh Oh Oh - [Stream] recorded entirely (vocals too) from a Casio SK-1 keyboard. If you ever had one, you know what that means - a child's-style keyboard with an 8-bit sampler built-in. Way too much fun.
Reason On Your Side - [Stream] A song for which I never came up with lyrics (which didn't stop me from singing it). This must have been right about the time I started seriously studying Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism.
Instrumental (Chords & Keys) - [Stream] Another exercise.
Instrumental (Mike Cruz Tune) - [Stream] A development of a simple keyboard idea a co-worker of mine had.
Dance Dance Dance - [Stream] originally a Trebor composition, a bit of a joke on dance music.
Last, but not least (well, maybe least), the first thing I threw together years later, when I finally bought a music studio program for my laptop computer, was the aptly named, Grunge (Version 2) - [Stream].
I'd like to put up more pictures and files, but since it took me too long to get this page together, I can't promise when I'll update it. Hope you had fun. Or learned something. Kids, don't let this happen to you!
|Postscripts! - A recent (summer 2003) RCN track: Kramer: MP3. RealAudio. WMA||OK, here's an odd one: Step Up (submitted to songfight, October 2003): MP3. RealAudio. WMA.||Bass: mp3.real.wma
More from the first-ever performance (Trebor at Roeper High School).
Like all of the live shots of this page, they're bleached out by flash
bulbs - yes, there were stage lights, so things did look a lot better
than these photos suggest!
The Roeper gig was great fun, even if not well-attended or particularly
well-received! (As mentioned, we did have the advantage of bringing
our own friends!) May be the only show in history where the cover songs
included several songs by Rush, as well as The Motels "Only The Lovely" and
The Eagles "I Can't Tell You Why" featuring guest Marci Jacko on vocals.
With the addition of R. Lawrence Claypool to the band, I got to (had to?) stop
playing keyboards! A 1984 gig at Blondies' Bar, Seven Mile Road, Detroit, MI.
Trebor, 1984 Style - Rob, Robert, Larry, Jim