Saturday, November 1, 2003

The History of Hard Taco

Dear Friends,

   Does anybody know who makes CD liner notes? I want to bring something to their attention. When I buy a CD I want the content of the liner notes to be limited to: 1. Lyrics and 2. Weird gorked out pictures of nothing in particular with defocused song titles stenciled over them chaotically.
   I DO NOT want: 1) A long list of silly promotional thank you's, such as "Ozzy would like to thank Dean Markley Guitar Strings" and 2) Tedious retrospectives about the band. I don't care about which band member joined the band when and how many doughnuts they always seemed to have on the  tour bus. ("I can't give you exact numbers, but it was a lot!").  
   I realize, however, that not everyone shares my views. Therefore, I have prepared this issue of the Hard Taco Digest for the amateur rock historians out there who don't find autobiographical masturbation as offensive as I do. For the rest of you, feel free to skip to the last paragraph.

   The first incarnation of Hard Taco was the environmentalist rock band Savannah, formed in the summer of 1992. We all had eco-centric pseudonyms. I was Logbert and the other founding members were Skybert and Willow. We released one LP, "Love Thy Planet (Like Yourself)" which featured the singles, "The War For Ecopendence" and "If This Bark Could Cry." We broke up after about two years under less than ideal terms. Skybert felt that glass containers should be rinsed before being placed in the recycling bin, while Willow felt that rinsing them was a waste of water. Next thing we knew, Skybert had left us to join The Rock and Roll City Rockers, who later changed their name to Spoon Phed. We put out one Savannah album without him ("Godspeed Johnny Appleseed') but it didn't really take with the fans. Willow broke off to form the Urban-folk Chamber Pop band Orpheus Morpheum. They eventually changed their name to Morpheus Orpheum, and changed their style to Riot Grrrl Surf Revivalist. 
    I spent a few months touring with the San Antonio-based band Thrombosis before we were commissioned to work on the music for the 1996 Winter Olympics. The rest of the band was keen to pick up that torch and run with it, as it were, but I refused to be a part of it. I have always felt that the Olympics are the cruelest, ugliest head of the international corporate hydra. To be fair, they did end up writing a pretty catchy jingle for the 500 meter slalom. In the Spring of '97, we reunited briefly, changed our name to Chain Slaw and put out a controversial live album, "Mister Fantasy." This album was hailed as one of the most influential Blendist Noise Pop Cowpunk recordings of the decade, although personally I think it fell more into the category of East Coast Neo-emo Proto-ambient. Unfortunately, Sam Goody refused to sell "Mister Fantasy" because of the song, "Bet You Can't Murder Your Own Children." It still ticks me off... The people who were boycotting that album never even listened to it. Jerry Falwell was quoted as saying that the song "promoted gambling," and his entourage of loud-mouthed conservative sticks-in-the-mud bullied the distributors into jumping on the boycott bandwagon. Anyway, without the Sam Goody market, we basically folded outright.    
    Secretly, I was relieved that Chain Slaw broke up, because I had spent the previous two years wanting to get back to doing eco-rock. I hooked up with the former members of The Recyclone and formed a  band called The Dian Fossey's. We spent most of our time gigging around Colorado, although we never made it into the studio. We were the headliners at the Green Party convention in '97 and several rallies against timber corporation fraud. We raised almost $4000 for gorilla awareness, I think, but I could tell it wasn't going to turn into a full time gig. 
   I spent a brief stint in the band Vracht! with Kaat and Raf DeMonikle. They were a brother/sister team from Antwerp, and were already Belgium's hottest names in Grindcore Electro-goth. We put out an album of dance songs for sleepover parties, called "Pajama Jams" on their Demeulemeester Label. We were two gigs into our North American tour when Kaat suddently left us for the New Traditionalist Christian Psychobilly band, Jubilation Now. I'll always have fond memories of the DeMonikle twins, but after all these years, I still never found out which one was the brother and which one was the sister. 
  It was about this time I got a call from some ad execs at Chrysler. At first, they wanted some kind of radio spot, but by time we hung up, I had talked them into funding my side project, "Classic Cars! The Musical" It was an upbeat fun-for-all-ages stage show that opened at the State Theater in Detroit in December of 1999.  The cast wore roller skates and dressed up as classic cars, bragging (in song!) about how they had "Four on the floor" and "Pressure Plates a-Burning." The show featured Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops as the '45 Studebaker. Classic Cars was the sleeper success story of Detroit musical theater that winter. It was during preproduction for the show that I met my future wife, Lauren. She had also been cast as a '45 Studebaker (We were only able to secure the rights to impersonate one car, so we had lots of people playing '45 Studebakers.) Once I heard her sing the high harmony in "Posi-Traction Chrome Runner" I knew I would never love another. The show may have lasted longer, but we hadn't taken the appropriate safety measures to insure against the Y2K bug. When the millenium rolled around two weeks later, everything went positively haywire. 
   After the show closed, I recruited Lauren as a vocalist on what would eventually be the first Hard Taco album, "Eight Songs About Five Things." It was really a Kraut Rock Go-Go Fusion Crossover album, but it developed a bit of a cult following in the Indie Urban Cowboy Swamp-Bop circles. 
  A few months after 8SA5T hit the stores, Lauren and I were at the farmer's market, and we saw a great Peruvian PanFlute band called Alpacataquar ("Alpaca Attacker"). I was scouting for some new talent, so I invited the band to Perkins for a slice of pie. Next thing I knew, I had recruited 17 new members for Hard Taco: Jon, Jeff, Thellea, Ty, Russell, Darin, Adam, Aaron, Josh, Marsha, other Zach, David, Tom, Nicole, Dan, Sandy, and Siobhan. Nine albums and TONS of doughnuts later, there have been remarkably few personnel changes. It's been a great ride, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you who helped us along the way, and I think you know who you are. (I'm looking your way, D'Addario guitar strings!)

  If you're in the mood for a sentimental drinking song about lost love and self-pity, the November HT song, "Tonight the Rafters Roar,"  may be just the medicine you need. However, if you are wheezing and short of breath, I would consider albuterol first. You can try the song as second line therapy if the albuterol doesn't work. 

With Warmest Regards,