Friday, November 19, 2010
MY BAD: THE CASSETTE TAPE ERA (2000 to 2001)
SONG: CHRISTMAS ON THE PLANET OF THE APES
It was the new millennium, and like their country, which was changing around them, it was a new beginning for Paul and Mason. That summer, the duo made the decision to change their name to Catscan, because Earwacks was a pretty stupid, awful name. The band still found it difficult to produce anything, however, given the fact that they had no means of recording.
Finally, in October of that same year, with one drum and a small keyboard, the band wrote and performed their first song at the town community center near the bike path, in hopes that passersby might hear their music. Next, they went to Paul's grandma's house and recorded the song along with others they had written in shop class on an old dual cassette deck they found in her basement. This first recording, My Bad, the title itself an apology for the lack of quality both sonically and technically, marks Catscan's very first album. The first copy ever was sold for a half-pack of gum to one of their peers in that very same shop class at Henry David Thoreau Middle School.
For their next album, which was also written and recorded in a single day, Catscan recruited Mason's close friend, Eric Randall, to play guitar and sing back-up. Eric also worked closely with Mason in writing and recording The Joy of the Guitar, which celebrated Catscan's first rock instrument. Paul was mysteriously absent from this session. Catscanime and its follow-up, Nebulicious, were never released for reasons unknown today. Eric unfortunately left the band due to "creative differences" after the Nebulicious session.
Once again a duo, Catscan continued to release marginally higher quality cassette tapes which they sold for actual money; three dollars each.
The Rocket Party, an end-of-the-school-year celebration, was the first of many blunderous, ill-received public performances by the band during their early years. This was due in part to their shoddy equipment and audiences filled with disruptive and unforgiving pre-teens who literally sabotaged the band mid-performance. It seemed that the Gods, like their peers, were against them. Another gig opportunity came when Paul's sister invited them to perform at her high school graduation pool party. This second live outing was better received, perhaps due to the slightly more forgiving and mostly non-disruptive older audience, who were likely pre-occupied with water noodles.
Catscan found guidance in two mentors, Jon Carroll and Richard Sanger. Carroll, an old family friend, donated old recording equipment as well as sage advice which vastly improved the band's sound. Sanger, Paul and Mason's middle school band director, taught them music theory and the importance of discipline in performance. Without a doubt, they were the two most influential adults on the impressionable boys, aside from Mason's supportive parents who gave up their basement for the cause.
The band's sound was maturing exponentially. Each release was better than the last in songwriting, production, and performance. By the time their last cassette, C:/Robo-Stick, was released, Catscan felt it had developed far enough to abandon the already outdated medium of the cassette tape, and move onto compact discs.