Saturday, July 10, 2010

Milton Garrison Interview. Part II: The Vexed Years

I posted in February a Milton Garrison interview, from which you’ve learned about his other musical project like In Vitro Pope, Altered, The Drills and Yeast. One of the things that you don’t know is that the interview has a second part about Vexed and the band’s demo, about which, apparently, not many people know.

You’ll also see in the interview bellow a mention of the Student Nurse band, about which I can’t help on saying a few words. Student Nurse was part of the Seattle Syndrome generation of bands, that ruled Seattle almost a decade before the whole grunge explosion. The band formed in the late 70s and disbanded at some point around 1983. They left behind, as far as I know, two 7’’s and a fabulous four song Ep, As seen on TV.

Now, back to Vexed…Sadly the demo won’t be posted now but Milton Garrison promised us he will be back with the songs and we’ll post a link with them in the comment section. So…do check in often!!!

1. We know about your projects before Vexed (from the previous posts), I know Alfred Butler played in Death of Marat along with Daniel House…What about the rest of the crew?
Vexed was always a work in progress until David Lapp recorded with us. I'm not aware of bands he played in before Vexed. But after Vexed he managed to play professionally in San Francisco with a reggae/dub band.

Billy Warner, who left Vexed in 1984, played in a band called Baba Yaga. Joe Newton played and recorded with us during 1985. He went on to play with Gas Huffer. Jason Fin played with us during 1988 and he went on to Love Battery and Presidents of the United States of America.

Eric Muhs played lead guitar with us during 1984. He was known at that time for Seattle band Student Nurse and he continues to put out recordings as well as doing public performances.

2. Tell me a little bit about the band’s contribution to the first Pyrrhic Victory Compilation? That was the band’s debut, right?
Daniel House was one of the main players in getting Pyrrhic Victory compilation happening. The sessions we did for the recordings including “Six Foot Hole,” were recorded at John's Place.

3. What did you think of the local scene when you first formed? Any band you can recall as a major influence from the Seattle area?
I loved the early 80s Seattle alternative music scene! It was so spread out with all the different sounds. The biggest influence on the band, from Seattle, was Blackouts. We loved the minimalist rhythms with mesmerizing atonal riffing. It's been one of the high points of the last decade to see K Records release a Blackouts retrospective. But it would be misleading to say Blackouts were the only Seattle band to have profound influence. Student Nurse and the Beakers were two others that I loved. I liked hardcore punk. Bands like Rally Go, Little Bears From Bankok and the Beakers were all bands I saw and was influenced by.

4. Here’s a question I always seem to find interesting: Who came up with the band’s name and why?
We had the usual problem with coming up a name. We all made suggestions. I remember looking in the dictionary for cool names. And the word vexed really resonated with me. The word suggested the state of mind I was going through. Life can be annoying as can art and politics. It nailed may reaction to the Reagan/Bush years. Annoyances can trigger anger. I suggested Vexed and it turned out to be the one we all hated the least.

5. What are your best and worst memories from that time?
My best memories involve when shows were amazing. When all the aspects worked and we pulled it off. My worst memories involve the only time we didn't finish a show. I should have canceled after our drummer was mugged trying to call us.

6. Lyrically, what did Vexed express?
Vexed rarely told stories like many song writers do. Most of our song lyrics dwelt in the area of frustration and anger. The emotion helped us deal with topics like government and religious sanctioned bigotry and the general social problems of the 80s. Rather than writing a lyric saying how bad capitalism was we wrote about the emotion.

7. In your opinion, what was your best show?
Our best show happened in 1992. We opened for Artis the Spoon Man and Sad Happy at the Backstage in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle.

8. Why did you split up in 1990, and what determined the band to reunite two years later?
Vexed, to put it kindly, was by 1988 over and out. There was never a moment where we said, “We're not playing anymore”. It just happened. The same could be said of our next public stint 1992-1994. I say public because Alfred and I made contributions to projects while the band was on Hiatus.

9. Regarding this demo, when and where was it recorded?
The final demo was recorded in Jack Endino's basement in the late 1993. We managed to sound like a Seattle band without trying.

10. What was the reason that these songs remained unreleased?
Vexed was always Daniel House's love child. Without Daniel house we wouldn't have anything released and this interview wouldn’t be happening. Because Alfred and I haven’t really looked at remixing a multi track tape that seems to be missing. I have a copy somewhere of the rough mixes. Usually a band goes back to “mix” a final. This never happened with this demo.

11. Why did the band break up after Cathexis was released?
By the time Cathexis came out we were on auto pilot. Taking shows as they came; not really expending energy trying to get the band out there. In my opinion we became complacent. We'd always prided ourselves on sounding different. By that time one of our friends, Dawn Anderson, said in not so many words that our “advantage” was gone. It wasn't this revelation that did us in. It was a lack of interest on my part to do it anymore. I was burned out.

12. Any idea what are the other guys doing now?
I continue to perform publicly when I'm asked. I continue to write and record. And I often jam and record with friends.
David Lapp continues to play as far as I know in a dub reggae band in the CA bay area. I don't believe Alfred Buttler or Buzz Crocker play music.

...Meanwhile you can download Vexed releases from here.