Frodus "Conglomerate International"
Label: Tooth & Nail (1998)
Buy: [cd] [itunes]

In the player: "The Misaligned Men Of Flomaton", Track 02 out of 13 Tracks from the LP

Making this record was a dream come true. I finally felt like we had the right mechanism behind us to get our music out there - after doing a month tour playing these songs out we hit the studio wtih Jonathan Kreinik (who also recorded countless Frodus 7"s and later The Cassettes) at the production helm to create our sci-fi/dystopian concept album. He was a great choice with his varied background in punk rock, synth music and all around wide musically historal palette. We tracked everything to 2" tape and had 4 guitars on every song through different amplifiers. The studio, Sterling Sound, had an old 70s API console that sounded stellar and the Engineer, Bruce Kane, had crazy stories working as Rick James' personal sound-engineer in the 70s. We tracked the drums in the warehouse back-area which also we used to creating scraping sounds on the sound collage piece "Transmissions Of An Unknown Origin" which was mixed by Bruce alone with the control room lights off. I am pretty sure green substances were smoked during the tracking and mixing by our two soundmen.

This was also the vocal debut for our then new bassist, Nathan Burke. I remember he never screamed on a record before as he was accustomed to 4AD quiet and introspective vocals. I think he quickly got his raspy signature scream out there and did a great job at it after he was yelled at by producer Kreinik that he was "wasting our time". That got Nate ticked off and he went in nailed his vocals down in 1 take.

This was an extremely fun record to make in retrospect, morale was high, creativity was high. We wrote the whole record at late night rehearsals at the record store we all worked at, Record Convergence, in Fairfax, VA. Every song we wrote with an image from an imaginary movie in mind. Often times our rehearsal conversations included "lets make this song be the part where the men with chrome faces are chasing the protagonist over a hill after they park their black van". We were all on the same page and I think we created a focused futurist punk record.

It is little known we aped the intro to the Queensryche song "Operation: Mindcrime" for the intro to our album which to me was an homage to my first concert ever in 1990 and one of my first favorite bands of all times. The album art was all photographs which surprised people as they assumed it was early photoshop trickery which it was not. They were purchased from Uniphoto where our friend Vance Lessard worked and that also provided New Order with the photographs for their album "Republic". I remember also being asked by Tooth & Nail, which was focusing on being a "secular" as well as a "christian rock" label at the time, if we wanted our album distributed in Christian bookstores. I thought "sure why not" and found it to be ironic that a disc which said "mind control disc" would be in such stores as an interesting parallel to the more doom & gloom Christian propaganda that I was exposed to in my early/mid high-school years. Films such as a "A Theif In The Night" and ultra-conservative types which told me to stop listening to secular music and listen to the "safer" alternative. I found their narrow view of reality and compounding mass-mentality to be insular and really in the end very intolerant and negative. I thought that our inclusion in such stores would be an interesting artistic statement especially in a time where I witnessed the mixture of spirituality and commercialism to be a bit manipulative. Consequently, being raised Romanian-Orthodox culturally caused me to look at Chrisitian symbolism in a more respected and sacred light and the Capitalist-Christianity that was being spread in America at this time really went against every grain of my intuition and self. Also for the record as far as every band on Tooth & Nail that claimed to not be a Christian band they all for my knowledge succumbed to the playing The Cornerstone fesival which is a huge commercial festival of "Christian" commerce which I feel accentuates more of a mob mentality rather than being inclusive to all faiths/cultures. I made it a point to never play it as I found the whole idea very unsettling to me and not very humble. Merchandising the word "Jesus" in a Nike swoosh I consider just as much a disrespectful use of a religious/cultural symbol/entity as outright nihilistic vandalism. I can sum up my foray in brushing against Neo-Con-Capitalist-Christian culture to strengthening my spiritual journey towards Spiritual-Agnostic-Humanism with the following quote from a magazine interview that I did which Rob Virgin reminded me of:

"The egotism that there is one right religion and other religions are wrong is where man has failed to interpret the spiritual writings correctly, by focusing on differences and trusting that the oral and written traditions were recorded without bias."

For the record I did find that Tooth & Nail Records ran their business honestly and without moral prodding or probing. I respected and believed their efforts of "branching out" enough to sign a contract. Later when we realized we weren't the perfect match with what we wanted to do as a band, we broke ties amicably and on their part they were fittingly very giving and understanding.

Also included on the album was a new recording of our live fave "Explosions" which is an obscure Devo track from the "Oh No, It's Devo!" album. On our 1998 tour we went to Mutato Muzika, home of Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo and gave him a CD which he kindly had us sign. He gave us a tour of his studio and gave us some of his solo CDs. I remember him being pleasantly surprised that we covered a lesser known track. I was very happy about our meeting.

The vinyl was pressed on black vinyl and blue-swirl which made some collector types very excited. The building on the cover is the Hypobank building in Munich, Germany. It still stands today. I once even saw the LP in a vinyl-only techno store in Berlin nicely placed with other techno vinyl... for me that was a graphic design win... if that store didnt' close down it's probably still there. The CDs also originally came with the lyrics printed in the form of a folded contract as an extra insert laying on the disc which I thought was clever. Control is always automatic.


Sweden 1998 (by Pat Graham)
Frodus: Sweden 1998 (by Pat Graham)