Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shiverfix: Part II

The Swoon thing was a necessary excursion and it took some time afterward before David and I were playing together again.

Shiverfix in leather, 1997

In 1997, we were reworking old songs, recording demos, and trying to find musicians to fill the lineup. I started playing the guitar full time and we recruited another bassist, Aaron. We recorded with the drum machine. We tried out drummers. There was one who seemed to get what we were doing and we thought it might work out. But then he never came back for his drums. We finally had to call him and threaten to throw them out before he picked them up.

Here's how "Shattered" sounded in 1997:

After some time without progress, Aaron also never came back.

Grace finally came to the newly-dubbed Shiverfix in 1999 in the name of Travis, a loud and loose drummer. He was what we’d looked for for years, quickly learning and improving on the programmed drums, freeing us up to jam, practice harder, and write new songs.

Reworking lyrics in our (unheated) rehearsal space, 1999

As much as David and I wanted to be in control of the music, to direct the sound of the band, neither of us really wanted to sit down and program drums for a new song. With a drummer in tune to what we were after, songs came together, without that programming step. We were able to play through again and again tricky changes, to test out extending or shortening bits, or otherwise change things up.

The rooftop studio

With a live drummer we were determined to lay down some definitive recordings of the songs in the Shiverfix library dating nearly all the way back to its inception. In a rooftop rehearsal space north of Coors Field, brick walls dampened with blankets and quilts, space heaters tripping the breaker, we recorded a set of the old songs under the title The Hardest Trick and another set of new songs called Such is Such and Such.

Here's "Killing Me" from "The Hardest Trick":

From "Such is Such and Such", this is "Miss You Liar":

It was in the late summer of 2001, with another recruited bassist, that Shiverfix finally began to play live. Over ten years since that first disaster of a show, David and I were finally out there, doing our thing, playing Lion’s Lair, Seven South, and even the Iliff Park Saloon. We had songs played on Radio 1190. We did shows with The Lavellas, Sickness, and others.

Shiverfix, live at SevenSouth, 2001

We were not the same people we had been in the early nineties. We were no longer reckless and young. We were adults trying to live adult lives. Our tolerance for late nights was limited. As it was for bandmates with constant excuses.

Sometime the next year, not everyone was making it to rehearsal as planned and Shiverfix stumbled and fell for the last time. We had been getting better, our songwriting maturing. I was bringing in songs I’d written and played acoustically and David layered on heavier guitar, dreamy guitar maybe. We were enjoying what we were doing.

Here's a rehearsal recording as we worked out a new song, "Loaner":

Maybe we never should have stopped. Even if it meant we were on our own again, doing it all ourselves. Maybe we should have kept writing the music we wanted to listen to.

We played together again in a band called Vellocet, with me returning to bass, in 2004-2005. But it wasn’t the same. We wrote well together, but with a different singer, another songwriter, it just wasn’t Shiverfix.

Still, I think about getting the band back together, of working with David on new songs. My mind wanders with thoughts of how we might do this or that, what David would bring to one of my songs, how we would work out a tricky transition. Now that we don’t even have to think about “making it” and the drum machine isn’t an impediment to making good music, maybe it would be worth it to try again.

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