"1st Demo Tape"
When we went into the studio to record these tracks, the band had been together for only a few months. I scraped up three hundred dollars to finance the session, as I was hoping the tape would solidify a record deal, a management contract or, hey, maybe both. When manager Scott Cameron heard the tape, he played it for Stan Kenton, the great jazz master. After Kenton listened to the tape for the first time, he told Scott that I was a genius and recommended that he manage me. Besides the obvious overwhelming nature of such a compliment, Kenton’s comment may have helped to change the outcome of my life. I always wanted to thank Stan Kenton for the compliment, but he died before I had the chance.
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick had a copy of this tape, and he and his group really liked it. To me it was cool how Cheap Trick use to play the little 5-note riff to “Executive Exhibitionist” from this tape in their live shows back then.
I use to tell the band to be able to approach music from 2 opposite extremes - to play note by note what the composer had written as in European Classical music, then to switch and literally play anything that emerged in the moment in the great tradition of jazz, pushing that envelope into atonality, polytonality, and at-random free-form expression. The music to “Executive Exhibitionist” and “Knuckle Sandwich” on this tape really exemplifies those two musical extremes.
Once I was represented by Scott Cameron, he submitted these tapes to several record companies to try and draw interest to us. Guess what? It did the exact opposite. No one wanted to touch these recordings with a ten-foot pole; therefore they got lost in the shuffle, and somehow buried in Larry Mysliwiec closet of all places. Listening to these tracks now, a couple of the pieces still sound beyond the extremes of what the commercial market could accept today.
I re-recorded “Executive” on the never released 2nd LP sessions from November of‘ 82, and “Maybe One Time” was cut again for the 1st LP. “They Give You Bad Feelings” was eventually followed up by a sequel, “Bad Feelings Have Died,” on the released 2nd Skafish LP “Conversation.”
was trying to exorcize the demons of the persecution and attacks I
experienced non-stop since childhood from the other kids in school and in
my neighborhood. Writing
about it seemed better than suicide or murder.
They Give You Bad Feelings: Musically I wanted to do some Little Richard style piano runs, as a tribute of sorts. Lyrically, I wanted to shout out to everyone and let them know, “If you need comfort and a place to go where you won’t be put down, c’mon over to my house. I’ll let you in.”
Maybe One Time: This version was a bit slower and sounds less polished than the 1st LP version, and Larry Mysliwiec also thought it was more soulful than the debut album cut. I’m not sure if he’s right or not.
Executive Exhibitionist: This use to be the opening number in all of our early shows. I’d usually have some old lady gardening shorts and a girls tube top on, and put this very traditional businessman’s overcoat on over these delightfully atrocious threads. During two different improv sections in the middle, the band would just play at each other in a very disorienting, clashing way. It sounded like Sun Ra meets “Surfin’ Bird.” During the instrumental breaks, I’d be flashing, mooning, gyrating, and I just loved it so. Every time audience members freaked out on this piece live, it reinforced my belief that, hmmm, maybe we’ve got potential!