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Live at the Way Out Club, 2​/​25​/​98

by Geeks with Guns

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Want 03:36
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I Ain't Home 03:19
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about

A deep dive into the brain hive of the archive brings us Brian Andrew Marek's short-lived, prog-leaning, pre-Rocket Park band, playing the Way Out Club (at its original Cherokee Street address) in 1998. Includes a bonus 54 minutes of rough rehearsal recordings from February 11th of that year. All previously unreleased!

BaM's recollections, circa 2000:

During the demise of Popcorn in late 1997, Brian Andrew Marek pondered two possible options for his next project - join the Highway Matrons (Andrew Alleman had recently left the band) or form a progressive rock band. Although Brian sat in on a number of Matrons gigs on Farfisa organ (and a couple on bass), no offer to join the group was forthcoming, and he decided to pursue the later path. Marek worked with Civil Tones guitarist Robin Allen on incidental music for the Way Out Christmas Pageant during December and vowed to start working on the new concept in January.

Brian jammed with guitarist Zannie (later of Death Row Bodine) and cellist Mitsu Saito, but neither seemed very interested in his music or his vision for the band. Old friend Richard Claverie was more receptive, and signed on to play a variety of wind instruments (alto and tenor saxophones, flute, recorder, pennywhistle), percussion, and backing vocals. While discussions about the band were underway, Richard met a drummer named Greg Lambing at a party, and longtime Marek cohort Tim Bess expressed his interest to contribute fretless bass guitar. Brian also posted "musicians wanted" ads in a number of local music stores and one of the respondents was keyboard virtuoso Jim Goeddel.

Marek gathered these musicians (along with a guitarist whose name has been forgotten) together in his basement, gave them some rudimentary chord sheets, and accompanied them with acoustic guitar, additional keyboards, and lead vocals. The results were breathtaking to everyone present - the level of musicianship in the room (aside from the aforementioned guitarist) was so high that the songs sounded incredibly tight and professional on the first run-through! To replace the slightly overwhelmed and bewildered guitarist, Brian once again looked to his past and called on Robert Hanlon. Robert's superior guitar skills and prog-rock leanings made him an ideal choice.

At first the band played only Marek's songs, but several members expressed the wish to collectively author some compositions, and some heavy jamming resulted in two new group tunes, "Looking At Her Lookalike" and "Let Me Down" (which featured lyrics leftover from a Fuzz Sculpture song). Both featured extended improvisation passages and shifts in time signature championed by the band's hardcore prog-rockers, Robert Hanlon and Jim Goeddel.

Many names were suggested and discarded for the group, including Brian's suggestion Flowers of Evil (taken from the title of a Mountain album and a line from a negative review of the Velvet Underground). Tim Bess finally came up with the popular favorite, Geeks With Guns, after a phrase he'd read on somebody's web page. Everybody got a good laugh out of the name and appreciated its twin connotations of intelligence and aggression which seemed appropriate to the band's music. Brian quickly created the unforgettable logo of the bespectacled nerd and his Tarantino-esque handgun and modeled the lettering off the box from an old early '80's home video game system!

Geeks With Guns played their first gig at the Way Out Club on Wednesday, February 25th, supporting the Highway Matrons. A tape made of this performance reveals that the sound was skewed too heavily in favor of keyboards, that Greg Lambing's drums were lost amidst the massed instrumentation, that Robert Hanlon's guitar tone was too trebly to make its presence known, and that Richard Claverie was having a difficult time soloing over the changes. Despite these shortcomings, the band had a unique sound and received a warm reception from the crowd.

Barely a month old, the group was already experiencing some heavy internal tension. The diversity of the players' backgrounds meant different agendas, opinions, and priorities. Hanlon and Goeddel leaned towards hardcore prog-rock, extended suites, and a focus on collectively authored material; Claverie preferred jazz; Marek wanted to continue with his prog-inspired (but essentially pop) songwriting; Lambing wanted to do something heavier and more "rock"; Bess wanted to inject more of a disco/funk influence into the mix. As a result of these tensions, Greg Lambing was the first to bail, stating that the next gig would be his last with the band.

That "next gig" was at Soho Cyber Café on Saturday, March 7th. The internal strife was becoming apparent even on stage at this point, but this actually improved the music - it was darked, more improvisational, a desparate tug of war between hostile forces. Much of the material was concocted on the spot and based around simple droning riffs, including a pseudo-raga passage, a chord progression that later became "One More Sunrise", and even the main riff of a Black Sabbath song!

With one more show approaching and no new prospects for a drummer, Brian Andrew Marek ended up manning the sticks himself while still attempting to provide lead vocals. The resulting performance (St. Patrick's Day 1998 at the Way Out Club) was little short of a disaster thanks to two factors - Tim Bess unaccountably failed to show up for the gig, forcing Jim Goeddel to fill out the sound with some keyboard bass, and Marek got a little too drunk for his own good. To say that the band "got through" the gig is an understatement; it'd be more appropriate to say that they survived it!

Nobody had to resign at this point; it was pretty much understood amongst everybody that they'd had quite enough. Brian and Richard worked together informally for a while, waiting for something to happen. In the end, though, a phone call from former Popcorn drummer Eric Moore led to Marek and Moore forming what would eventually become Rocket Park.

Geeks With Guns gigs

2/25/98
The Way Out Club
with the Highway Matrons
BaM - acoustic guitar, keyboards and lead vocals
Richard Claverie - saxophones, recorders and backing vocals
Jim Goeddel - keyboards and backing vocals
Robert Hanlon - lead guitar and backing vocals
Tim Bess - fretless bass guitar
Greg Lambing - drums

3/7/98
Soho Cyber Café
same lineup as 2/25/98

3/17/98
The Way Out Club
BaM - drums and lead vocals
Richard Claverie - saxophones, recorders and backing vocals
Jim Goeddel - keyboards, keyboard bass and backing vocals
Robert Hanlon - lead guitar and backing vocals

credits

released February 25, 1998

Brian Andrew Marek - lead vocals, keyboards, & acoustic guitar
Tim Bess - fretless bass guitar
Richard Claverie - sax, recorder, & percussion
Jim Goeddel - keyboards
Robert Hanlon - lead guitar & harmony vocals
Greg Lambing - drums

Rubberstamp Records RSR-125

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Rubberstamp Records St Louis, Missouri

Rubberstamp Records is a DIY indie record label based in the Saint Louis, MO area and helmed by local music scene veteran Brian Andrew Marek.

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