Filtering by Tag: thrash metal

Drop Kick Jesus' "Depress the Heart" turns 16

Sixteen years ago this month my second band, DROP KICK JESUS, released our second album, “Depress The Heart.” It was recorded with Grammy Award Winning Producer, Neil Kernon, in Haverhill, MA and then mixed in Tornillo, TX. We moved into both studios during the recording and it was one of the best times in my musical career. I was in a weird place during the writing of this album. I was very angry at a lot of things: myself, religion, the state of the world… and I think of the 6 albums I have been the lyricist for throughout my life, this album is the #1 album that shows that much anger and frustration through my lyrics toward things I couldn’t control. This is also the last album I wrote where the lyrics weren’t cryptic or in story form. The 4 albums I wrote after this (the Grave Machine album, the 2 Transpose albums, and the latest Yellow #1 album) all were conceptual and thematic. “Depress The Heart” was the last album where I was writing individual songs and the words I chose were very specific about what I was angry about. No reading between the lines. The album is harsh, aggressive, in-your-face, and even after 16 years it still sounds current and relative. I’m glad I was the front man for a band and an album that seems to have stood the test of time. Too bad this was our last album before we broke up. I think if there wasn’t so much in-band fighting after we got off tour for this album, we could have written a 3rd and even better album.

Yellow #1's 'Bottle of Rain" turns 19.

My very first band that recorded and released an album, Yellow #1, gave the world our debut album, "Bottle of Rain," 19 years ago this month.

I was in a thrash metal band called Vertical Smile for about a year (we only played 1 show and recorded a 2-song demo cassette) and was way more into industrial and avant-garde music than thrash at the time. I was the drummer of Vertical Smile, and really just wanted to be a singer, front man, and write quirky electronic music with a drum machine and synthesizer with bits of real instruments thrown in here and there accompanied by angst driven lyrics and vocals. So, I quit Vertical Smile after our one and only show, and bought about $2,000 worth of gear.

I didn't have a name yet for the band, or even people in the band, and I was at a Maids of Gravity show in Boston, telling the singer Ed Ruscha about the nameless band, and we were playing pool, and he hit the yellow #1 billiard ball into a pocket, stood, and said, "How about Yellow #1?" My first real band was named.

I started writing songs in my bedroom on an acoustic guitar and a drum machine (a Roland DR-5), while furiously writing lyrics. I wanted the music of the band to sound like a cross between Nine Inch Nails and Mr. Bungle, with lyrics inspired by Korn and Quicksand.

Over the course of almost a year, I wrote 14 songs for the album, playing every instrument myself except for the guitars on "A Summer Dream." That was written and played by guitarist for the band Enuresis Burn, Matthew Diglio.

Yellow #1 was offered our first show in 1996: the Middle East downstairs in Cambridge, MA opening for Turkish Delight; probably my favorite local band at the time. We were only getting a 10 minute slot. But here was the real problem: I didn't have a band! Yellow #1 was 100% me for the past year, writing and playing every instrument in my bedroom.

So, I put together the first live incarnation of Yellow #1: Christine Kelley (keyboards), Mark Sieczkowski (drums), and Dave Ouellette (known as Dogboy in my novel, "Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts," on percussion). I played guitar and sang. My brother Paul was our first roadie.

After the show, I moved the band into a rehearsal space so we could practice like a real band, learning all 14 songs I had written for the album. Mark was also the singer of a local band called Tension, and couldn't commit to drums, so after the first show, he left the band and I recruited Dann Paciulan for drums, additional guitar, and additional keyboards. Dann became my multi-instrumentalist on stage. This lineup of Yellow #1 would continue throughout the next year.

After a handful of shows, I felt the songs were ready to be recorded for the album. We recorded the album over the course of 4 months at Zigmo Studio, produced by Dan Tarlow. Dave and Christine wound up writing their own lyrics to 2 of the songs on the album, and everyone had vocal duties. Other guest vocalists included my mother, my step-sister Lauren Sullivan, and the singer of Enuresis Burn (on the song that their guitarist plays guitar on), Mike Viccione. Because of how long it took to record the album, the studio was an open invite. We had friends and family in and out during the entire process.

The artwork was designed by Sean Carmichael (who also designed the front cover of my second novel, "Welcome to Parkview) and "Bottle of Rain" was released in April, 1997. It received some interesting reviews in some national and local music magazines, and the song "Broken Eyes" was played on Boston radio station, WAAF.

Christine Kelley and Dann Paciulan left the band at the same time, being replaced by Jason Paul, who took over all the keyboard & synthesizer duties. We opted to eliminate live drums from the shows, so Yellow #1's new lineup was Dave Ouellette, Jason Paul, and myself.

Then, we were asked to open for Godsmack. Dann was going to be in the area that weekend, so he returned to the band, just for that one show, which allowed us to add live drums back into the set.

Eventually Jason Paul left the band in 1998 and Yellow #1 was just myself and Dave Oullette. We stopped playing shows and focused on recording 3 new songs for compilations that I had been asked to be on as Yellow #1:

1) A Christmas compilation called, "A Drive-By Christmas," which I submitted a song titled, "Dirt Blue Star's Third Christmas." I recruited bass player Eric Park (who I would later be in the bands Drop Kick Jesus and The Grave Machine with) and Eric wrote and played keyboards and harmonica on the song, and I sang and played keyboards, and Dave sang as well on the track.

2) A Faith No More tribute CD called "Tribute of the Year," which I submitted our cover of "As the Worm Turns." This incarnation of Yellow #1 on this recording was myself, Dave Ouellette, and Jenny Applebaum who played electric guitar. (This would be the final thing Dave ever did with Yellow #1, he left the band shortly after recording this song; and the only thing Jenny ever did as a member of Yellow #1.)

3) We were asked to record an instrumental piece for a compilation, and I wrote and recorded a song called "Peaceful Night." This incarnation of Yellow #1 was just myself and a sequencer.

The band officially went into hiatus after we recorded "Peaceful Night."

So the 14 songs that are on " Bottle of Rain," and these 3 non-album tracks, to me makes up the first phase of Yellow #1. Now, here I am 19 years later, and ready to release Yellow #1's second album this year, with a whole new cast of characters behind me. Hopefully this ride will be just as much fun as the first ride, 19 years ago.

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