Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reflections on WORDS: GTBC 25

25th Anniversary EP, released today at bandcamp.com
26 years ago a guy named Matt and I began writing songs in my parents' attic. We were both still in our teens, barely out of high school. The two of us had met several years prior at N.E. Junior High School in our hometown of Northeast Minneapolis. Our first "collaboration", in our senior year, was a mix tape to be played at what I think was our senior prom. What stands out for me from that event is discovering our mutual love of 60's music. I particularly remember listening to The Monkees' "She Hangs Out" and the excitement I felt knowing that someone (besides my bestie Kim and myself) dug this music.

When Matt and I began writing our own songs we knew early on that we had something special. In retrospect the first half dozen songs (give or take) were real clunkers, even though we thought they were great at the time. We hit our stride though, and soon decided to make a serious attempt at committing the songs to tape. We commenced recording in late '86 at Matt's brother's house on Lake Minnetonka, where Matt rehearsed with his other band, The Hiptones (now known as Northeast's own beloved Popbang!).

Both Matt and I were budding multi-instrumentalists, but I remember us needing to decide how we would divvy up bass & drums.  For some reason this felt important. I wanted to play drums (I've since developed into quite a 3rd rate drummer), but Matt was (and still is) clearly better behind the skins. It made sense - Matt was more athletic and physically adept than myself, and liking a good challenge he took to the drums very quickly.  I strapped on the bass and thought "OK, so I get to be McCartney then. Oooh! - I get to make up melodies on the bass!".  We welcomed musical challenges; There were no limits.

The "O" in the original WORDS logo was a yin-yang symbol, which represented our musical union. As individuals Matt and I were quite different, yet we were brought together by our mutual love of music, particularly The Beatles. As we worked we quickly developed a language of our own. It's tough to explain, because sometimes our communication was nonverbal; we just understood each other and were absolutely dedicated to our creative process of making original music.
Promotional banner for new GTBC 25 EP
This week is the 25th anniversary of the original mix of our first collection of songs, Got To Be Cool. By the time we initially released the album (on cassette) in the summer of '87 we were already at work on our second album.  Last fall I listened to those old songs for the first time in well over a decade, and it was a surprisingly emotional experience, like traveling back in time.  I proceeded to remaster some alternate mixes that I'd found and uploaded them to a new bandcamp site I'd created. Then, over the holidays Matt and I created a new song, "Tumble", seemingly out of nowhere.  All of a sudden WORDS were collaborating again.

WORDS' new single, 4/17/2012
Next week WORDS are releasing another new digital single, "Calling Alameda" (shown, right), that feels every bit as exciting as our first recordings did 25 years ago.  As adults with busy lives we're needing to find a new working groove in order to coordinate the recording process, but seeing as we both like a challenge I think we'll make it happen.  So once again WORDS are Matt & Jeff, plus our old friends Kim and Bob (who joined the band along the way as we started doing live shows). As a quartet WORDS creates original music and people listen to it.  I believe that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet to be a part of this creative unit. It may sound dramatic, but I truly love this band. We kick ass.

Thank you for reading (and listening!).

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