In the player: "The Awesome Machine", Track 07 out of 11 Tracks from the LP
Some people heralded this as a post-punk masterpiece and some got sick of the net-hype and disregarded it. It created a bit of a stir as it was released after we broke up and it was the last thing we did creatively as a band. The record itself is replete with label juggling and limbo that lasted a few years. At the time when we were recording it in 1999, Sub Pop was interested and we were making negotiations of leaving Tooth & Nail Records which was turning a Christian Rock slant again after a brief period of being a "secular" label. Upon breaking up that December, Sub Pop pulled out and we lost our opening slot with At The Drive-In that was to happen in March 2000. Soon after a label funded by an oil-tycoon replete with a large video budget and tour support to entice us to get back together signed us. We sent the masters to the label as well as the artwork in 2000 and then suddenly they went under as it was a venture that was losing money and the moneyman behind the label had to shut down all businesses he had in the red and sell oil land to cover a lawsuit from the 80s. The lawsuit stemmed from him being a promoter that booked a Butthole Surfers concert in Texas and a kid jumping off the stage and breaking his neck becoming paralyzed for life. The family sued despite signs being up in the club that said "no stagediving". Nevertheless, almost 20 years later it all goes through. That left the record in limbo once again and later our friend Tony Weinbender who played in a band called Swank which we played with a few times singed us to the label he was working at, Fueled By Ramen. The record came out 2 years later with much fanfare and surprise to a new audience that was too young to have seen us when we were active and who embraced our newer melodic, complex and aggressive sound that had our old fans deserting. In the years up to this I would log on to Napster and leak out a few tracks to people who had Frodus in their libraries in order to keep interest afloat.
The record to me is a recorded therapy session. The year 1999 ravaged both Jason and I as his girlfriend at the time got a fatal cancer the same week that my father had a stroke. We were communicating terribly at this point to and the frustrations at being a struggling band in a scene that was so concerned with genre and fitting a mold at that it didn't leave much open-mindedness for musical exploration. Ahh.. how times change. The songs very much capture what I was thinking at the time but approached more vaguely in order to also leave the words to personal interpretation of the listener:
"Red Bull Of Jaurez" - The opener that lets loose on the frustrations of tour and vans breaking down .
"The Earth Isn't Humming" - A song about neo-conservative zealots/politicians and their doomsday prophecies which won't occur as they believe but moreso will reveal an unraveling of themselves. It also is a song of feeling alienated in society and finding solace in music.
"There Will Be No More Sum" - About the sickness of humanity and how backwards we still are with our wars and such despite us living in the so-called "modern era".
"The Awesome Machine" - A song about science being used for war/confining populations/thought.
"6/99" - About losing loved ones and struggling with keeping hope.
"Title Track" - An instrumental resolve and attempt of a glimmer of hope... a new beginning/era perhaps.
I leave the other songs to be commented by Nathan Burke who sang on them. The recording session was challenging and Brian McTernan worked hard to have us perform the best we ever had up to that point in our lives. He would have us do vocal warmups every day and coach us as we tracked meticulously. The sessions were filled with us trying new ideas, tension, excitement and tears. In some ways I hope to never make a record like this again as it was very trying emotionally (mostly because of the dark cloud above us) but on the other hand it was necessary for us to let these feelings out so we could retain some foundation in order to rebuild friendships. I can listen to parts of this record but never all the way through because of the times it reminds me of. I do remember all I listened to at the time were four cassettes in my car:
I find it amusing to listen back to parts where I can really hear myself playing a lead similar to something Billy Duffy would do from The Cult or an obtuse wirey guitar line that David Sylvian or Rob Dean would have played. What really sets apart my guitar playing on "Weapons" is that prior to this I had a philosophy of trying to fill up as much space as possible in order to create a frantic atmosphere for the aggressive songs. Additionally, I would bring lots of parts and ideas to practice that I worked on from home. With this album I tried to write almost nothing at home and to purely come up with everything improvisationally and go with my first instinct, focusing on the present creative moments and intuitively building parts. This record changed the way I approach music and many of the things I learned while creating it I still apply to my compositions this very day. I also believe an abandonment of caring of what anyone would think including past fans, the scene, the music-biz. etc... when creating this helped us individually as musicians to acheive what we ultimately wanted to at that point in time. It is very much an extremely personal and cathartic record.
Addendum: The band Thrice covered "The Earth Isn't Humming" on their 2008 album "The Alchemy Index III & IV" and I am very excited to hear the final version. I secretly had a rough mix of a demo that Nathan wasn't supposed to give me since 2006. I was good and shared it with nobody.
Frodus, Shinjuku 1999: Photo by Shigeo Kikuchi