mlsamuelson.com

One Fantastic Bind

OFB Recordings

I've joked before, not really thinking about myself, that Java developers are engineers, while PHP developers are indie rockers who had to get jobs.

In my case that's actually a somewhat apt characterization. All through high school I'd striven to organize a band, and had participated in various projects, some that even performed*, but none that satisfied.

In my first year at Boise State University ('94-'95), my brother (Rick Samuelson) and I met up with Steve Fisk (not to be confused with the indie producer), and became a three piece. Steve played drums, striking them hard and tunefully. My brother played bass guitar - and is still one of my favorite bassists for his easy, melodically, weaving style. I was on guitar and wrote the majority of the original riffs and structures that wouldn't have been worth much without the responses and answers that Rick and Steve brought. And both Rick and I contributed voice.

guitar I built in high school
My guitar. (ViewAnnotated version).

After too many embarrassing attempts to come up with a band name (we'd agree on what we thought was a great name only to discover, for instance, that some third tier metal band in Minnesota already held the moniker) we finally settled on One Fantastic Bind - a phrase Rick picked up from an episode of the Twilight Zone. Continuing the tradition of embarrassment, however, this name would often be printed by promoters as "One Fantastic Band."

We practiced 2-3 times a week, played about five or so shows during the course of the year we were together - at the Crazy Horse, Neurolux, and in a garage on a farm in Nampa. We were high energy and prone to minor mishaps (Rick accidentally swallowed a guitar pick that stuck in his throat at the beginning of a show, but the show went on; I tore half my index finger nail off strumming with perhaps overmuch gusto, but blood and all the show went on; and Steve went through at least one set of sticks every show, and the songs went on).

We wrote eleven or so songs, put out a 7" record with the recording assistance of John Pool from Stuntman, and then Rick and I started to have divergent tastes, something in the chemistry between us changed, and we couldn't see a way forward - we were moving past angst in incompatible ways. And I also realized the band stuff was causing me more stress than it warranted, and I decided to take a break, get some perspective.

For another year or so I continued to make "sound sculptures" - not songs really, in my bedroom on a four-track recorder (no GarageBand in those days) but eventually realized the music in my mind and my ability to perform weren't in league with each other, and I moved on to an interest in video and film.

Recently my family held a garage sale and I uncovered many of my old CDs from high school and college in a corner of our storage, including a copy of "Archive" a collection of One Fantastic Bind songs I put together on a CD as a Christmas present for Rick and Steve a year or so after we broke up.

one fantastic bind record

The songs were recorded on a Sanyo boombox from the mid-80's. The boombox had two condenser microphones placed about 18"s apart - and thus an over-emphasized stereo sound with the bright high-end only condenser microphones can deliver. The only flaw I hear in these live, practice-space recordings is when there's a lot of cymbal. Then, things quiver a bit. But overall, the quality of the recordings are amazingly clear, and fit our aesthetic - one where the sound of a stop button was part of the story as much as the limitations of a photocopier and the tape holding a photo down in liner notes was part of the 7" art. Authenticity, and not hiding the limitations was the point.

* One of those early projects occurred in senior year when a friend offered up his garage during spring break. His mother was a teacher at our school. Another friend sneaked an announcement into the Friday morning school intercom queue which had already been vetted by the assistant principal. It was not discovered, and thus our show announcement was read over the intercom to the entire high school.

Some ad hoc, others long-standing bands performed in that garage to about twenty people from school to uneven results. My friend Ben and I put together a band wherein I was guitar, him bass, and driving us, a drum machine which we couldn't hear because we didn't have a monitor. Additionally my amp wasn't grounded so when my lips touched the microphone I'd get a shock. Still, we played.

A few other friends' bands played much finer sets, a neighbor complained, a patrol car drove by to tell us to quiet down.

When I went home later that day (we lived a mile away), my mom said, "Do you know what was going on at the fairgrounds today? Your father and I heard music."

Note: This post was inspired in part by the work of the good folks at Boise Community Radio, specifically the Hard Math program hosted by Jason Sievers. Doing good stuff. Check them out.

2 comments

Marya wrote 8 years 43 weeks ago
mlsamuelson wrote 8 years 43 weeks ago

Oh my gosh, Marya. I never

Oh my gosh, Marya. I never knew.

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