Drop Kick Jesus' "Splatterguts" turns 20!
My second band, Drop Kick Jesus, released our debut album, Splatterguts, 20 years ago this week. I was still playing shows and writing with my first band, Yellow #1, but I knew Yellow #1 was going on hiatus around this time, since Drop Kick Jesus was taking off like a freight train that couldn't be stopped.
This album is the only album, of the 7 total albums I have released with all my bands cumulatively, where I am NOT the singer. When Drop Kick Jesus started in 1997, I was the last to join the band (partly due to my obligation to Yellow #1), and they already had a singer. I joined the band as the keyboard player, and it was definitely a different experience for me, not only writing an album where I didn't have to write any lyrics or sing any vocals, but also live. Not having a microphone for the first time and being stuck behind a stationary instrument was an adjustment. However, it proved just as fun and fulfilling.
We recorded this album with Ken Cmar, who had also recorded and produced Staind, Scissorfight, Sam Black Church, Tree, and Godsmack; a lot of the heavy hitters at that time. We got lumped into the whole "Boston Hardcore" scene, but we were a lot more metal than those guys. We were also the only hardcore band with keyboards and horror movie samples, which made a lot of people like us more but also turned away some of the purists in the local hardcore scene. But when we had released the album, we had carved our own niche, and for the next 5 years, we were pretty much unstoppable.
Being in the studio and recording an album where I had zero vocal duties was also an alien experience for me. All I had to do was track my keyboard parts and I was done. I didn't have to worry about overlays, overdubs, double tracking, effects, or the mix.
I think the album still stands the test of time, and I am very proud of it and have the same love for it (even if it is the only album in my personal discography where I am not the singer) as I do with all the other albums I wrote.
After completing the touring cycle for the album, we parted ways with the singer, and I was moved from keyboards to vocals. We started writing what would be our second album, Depress the Heart, but I had to do something I had never done before: learn all the lyrics on Splatterguts so we could play them live. I was now singing someone else's lyrics on stage, which I had also never done before. Thankfully, we started incorporating the new songs we were writing into our live shows, so the Splatterguts songs became less and less in our set list. Splatterguts has 12 songs, and I think we only continued playing about 4 of them live after we finished writing the second album. But in the beginning, when I took over on vocals, we were playing almost the entire album at every show; me singing the old singer's lyrics and singing in his vocal style. Thankfully, I was allowed to "be myself" on the second album, since I was now the band's singer and lyricist.
I don't think there will ever be another album like Splatterguts for me again -- an album where I am not the singer. But damn, it's still a great album!