FIRST RECORDINGS IN 147 / MEETING MARC (AGAIN)
The three tracks included with this post were all recorded in 1993 in 147. When the recording gear arrived it included basically a few mics, an 8-track desk and a reel to reel 1/4’ tape machine. Absolutely no fancy stuff. I will try later to get Marc to fill in some of this kind of techie detail.
The gear was set up in a room upstairs initially. The setup in the basement came later. In fact I doubt either myself or Marc were even aware that there was actually a basement in 147 at that point. I wasn’t living there yet at this stage. Through the ‘Crush’ club I had gotten to meet, as i’ve described below, quite a few of the bands of the time. As the club thing was going on the other Eamonn was involved in getting together recording gear with an acquaintance of his with the idea of setting up a recording studio in the building. I can’t remember what their intentions were - but I suggested that some of the bands I was coming across and asking to play across the road in Fibbers might be interested in recording demo tapes.
Sometime around then Marc Carolan showed up at one of the gigs. We went back a long way - to childhood in fact - as his family lived up the road from where I was brought up in the countryside outside Dundalk. I hardly knew him at that stage because I had been good friends with his older brother rather than him as a youth. I had picked up my friendship with Joe again since we had re-encountered each other after we graduated from two different colleges. Marc had just been Joe’s kid brother to me - except for one important detail. When they were kids - Joe around 15 years old or so and Marc something like 11 years old - they had gone through a spate of recording what I can only describe as a series of lo-fi albums on basic cassette recorders. ‘The Hot Petunia Corporation’ was their unforgettable moniker. Their family had a lot of musical instruments lying around - and while Joe was the songwriter - Marc at a very early age was great on all the instruments he could get his hands on.
Joe was knocking out these tapes and handing them to me regularly for a period of maybe three months. As far as I know they’re all lost. Joe was quite strongly under the influence of the endless stream of Fall albums which I listened to obsessively between the ages of 16 and 18 when they undertook this kind of stuff.
After myself and Joe went off to college Marc continued to play music and somewhere along the way got himself a 4-track. I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time but sometime after hooking up again with Joe after we had finished college - I noted a 4-track and a drumkit in the Attic where Joe and Marc hung out in their house. Marc could record and did a lot of it according to Joe. I didn’t hear any of this stuff he was recording but remembered these basic facts when I met Marc in ‘Crush’ in 1993.
Again the details are blurry in my mind but I remember telling him about the fact that recording gear had arrived in 147 and asking him if he thought he could record bands like those at the club with it. He said he could, despite the fact that he’d only ever used a 4-track up to that point, and it was completely obvious that he was into doing so. He was very young at this point. I think he was like 17 but will have to check this detail with him.
Between me, him and the other Eamonn we hatched a scheme to see what could be done in terms of recording with the gear that was there. It’s worth remembering that there were very few mics in 147 at this point. Like maybe 4/5. I knew the line-ups of various bands and thought it logical that we get Marc to record Pincher Martin first as they had a drum machine which could plug straight into the desk. Marc could concentrate on instruments and vocals without having to attempt miking up a drumkit. I guess I talked to the band and offered them the opportunity to do some free recording. They must have played at ‘Crush’ at some point before that because I knew them and also knew one of their songs - ‘Amaze’.
The first demo came out really well. I can vaguely remember Marc and Derek from Pincher Martin having fun with unconventionally produced guitar sounds and messing with the drum machine. That’s about all I can remember. I do remember the tape. An image of the cover which we knocked up for it is included below. I listened to an archived version in the last week or so and remembered all of the songs on it very clearly. I found that version, from which I’ve posted two songs, on the DIY Irish Hardcore Punk Archive which is linked to on the related projects page here. I reckon that the demo was mastered onto cassette from the desk as there was no DAT machine in the ad-hoc studio at the time.
After that we decided to continue with a band with a drumkit. It was clear that Marc had done a really good job on the Pincher Martin tape. Not only that but the band had taken to him and there was little fuss during the quite productive session. Wormhole had, of all the bands that had played in ‘Crush’ made the biggest initial impression on me and they were picked as the next guinea pigs. I can’t remember how many songs they recorded with Marc. I have no memory of the session whatsoever tbh. I think it was two songs. One of them was ‘44 Bulldog’ and the other (I think and will have to check) was an instrumental called ‘Collide’. Again the tape sounded really well despite the fact that Marc was operating with very limited equipment.
One very clear memory I do have from the period immediately after the session is myself and the other Eamonn sitting in his room on the top floor of 147 listening to 44 Bulldog over and over. It was simply a great catchy song in which the band sounded relaxed, confident, arty, sardonic and rocking all at the same time. It didn’t sound like a demo. It was a song about a handgun sung from the point of view of a person sitting in a car being shot by said gun. It didn’t sound like a band finding their feet. It was absolutely clear from it that Dave had a real ‘rock’ voice and that Graham was shockingly fluent on lead for someone who was only 15 or 16 at the time.
Wormhole must have given us at least one of the two 4-track demos they had recorded in the year before that (with Johnny) around the time of the session. I can also remember myself and Eamonn listening to a substantial amount of their material and articulating to each other that this was a jewel of a band. We knew as well by then that they were fun to be around. I reckon that the plotting to do something in terms of a record label began pretty much around that point. Again I’m going to have to do some research before I post properly on that.
A remixed version of the ‘44 Bulldog’ that was recorded in that initial session with Marc, with nothing added other than a some intermittent tones from the 8 track desk and a simple synth overdub, was to become the 14th track on Wormhole’s debut album and Dead Elvis’ first release - ‘Chicks Dig Scars’. The album version with those overdubs is also included in this post.