Bill Roxx’s care package with 100 CDs got here this week. They look wonderful. Buy your signed copy now at our Bandcamp.
If you did buy it, or you’re one of our Astute Preorderers, please hang in there. I need to trek over to Tampa (on the other side of the state) for 100 Robbie signatures and to Miami Lakes (on the other side of the county) for 100 Nina signatures. Then I sign, and then to you. You’ll have it by the end of March for sure.
On the vinyl side, you probably saw that we’re on with Micheal Jeske at Resurrected Vinyl to press a super-limited edition of 100 12″ 45RPM platters. (“45 RPM” means “it will kick your butt at loud volumes”)
Punk rock masterer Sef Idle did the mastering for this one. FYI: One of the songs has a different mix than the CD due to technical issues with the digital mix.
I’m going to print and personally assemble the sleeves by hand and get them signed by Nina and Rob. Should be quite the artifact. Here’s a scale model of the work in progress:
You can preorder yours at our Bandcamp for $10, if you haven’t yet. You have about five months before it goes up to $15.
On the PR side, Nina made a lyric video of her song “Dressed In A Robe” which is on Bill’s YouTube channel:
Curtis Dewar of Dewar PR has been too cool with us. Count us in among the bands that are like pulling teeth to get an interview out of.
As I was figuring the lyrics out, I fired up my Macbook, picked a tempo, fiddled out a synth hook on the keypad, and assembled the drums around it until the structure materialized.
I organized the lyrics and screamed them into the laptop’s built-in mic, with the fuzz effect on, in the midst of my kids creating their usual chaos. Added some BGVs with pitch shifting (actually sung, too)
After all that came the guitars, feeding back through my little rinky dink computer speaker. Some pitch-shifted leads with feedback. Then distorted subsonic bass.
Then the edit and mix. Ultra heavy gating on the vocals, with autotuning on. I hate my voice so much, I’d do anything to obliterate it. Then mastering, and off to Curtis, seconds before after midnight Friday, July 22.
I hated the ’90s. It probably had more to do with me reaching my thirties than anything else. But I hated them.
You see, to me, the whole grunge thing sounded like all the dinosaur rock acts of the ’70s that were given a swift kick in the arse by Britpunk in the late 70s. Then during the 80s, louder and faster was the future. The goal to ever-pursue. Early 80s-hardcore and mid-80s crossover and late-80s grindcore left me most of the musical breadcrumbs I thought necessary. Pretty much.
And even though, while in the Lead, I never bought into glam/hair metal, I did succumb into trying to improve my musicianship (mostly consisting of learning Phrygian mode and palm-muting) as a result of listening to the Metallicas and Slayers and Voivods of the day and playing with Deliverance and Believer and Cynic (and even with the Crucified who had very serious chops for a punk band). So that kind of took over my nervous system along with the aforementioned louder faster etc…
Soooo, when the Lead ended in 1991 we had been demoing some quite epic complex tunes. Rob and Andy were firmly in the power/technical metal zone, I was still trying to test the limits of Rob’s drumming stamina, and Nina… well, if we had managed to actually make that record she’d have been the one leading the Lead into the 1990s. She definitely started to turn things away from the metal/thrash/speed side of things back to her alternative roots.
But I digress. My three songs for that project were ‘Destroy’, ‘Psychic Pain’ (with a writing assist from Andy and Rob) and a painfully-endless 10 minute version of ‘The Human Reich’ with something like five or six fast verses that gave it about six minutes of wall-to-wall thrash/blastbeat. The demos for those three songs ended up one of my solo one-man Frank’s Enemy 1992 demo tapes (Final Absolution), with Rob on drums but with Andy’s guitar erased.
The process of Frank’s Enemy becoming a real band and putting out the first CD took three years. The CD was tainted by my mindset which was still stuck on the metal/muso influences and suffered from me not getting out much in between 1991 and 1993. Not to say I wanted to be a copycat but I was stubbornly in a vacuum of my own making.
So when we unveiled the first CD at Michigan Mosh 94, I immediately felt like fish out of water. The rage at that fest was all these death metal/grind bands that were not very much like Frank’s Enemy.
Funny thing is, a lot of people in those bands were old Lead fans who had written to us. I remembered my correspondences with Billy Frasier of Oblation, whom I was happy to meet again at Michigan Mosh (he’d seen the Lead in Houston in 1990). Luke Renno of Crimson Thorn also professed a Lead influence/inspiration, and his band may have had the most memorable of all the sets in those couple of days.
In the wider scheme of things, Nina had traded letters with a young Steve Rowe during his Lightforce days. His new band Mortification’s Scrolls of the Megilloth was a unanimously-acclaimed classic of the genre in the early 90s. The other standout in those days, Living Sacrifice’s Nonexistent, was fronted by another Lead pen pal, Darren “DJ” Johnson.
And I did have both Scrolls and Nonexistent. Unfortunately, they sounded kind of monotonous to my ears and I couldn’t get into them. I was getting old, what can I tell you?
But then something magical happened in 1994: Living Sacrifice’s Inhabit and Mortification’s Blood World came out. I was immediately smitten with both of those records. Songs were generally shorter and catchier. There was a real hardcore influence (fast 80s and slower 90s kind) on Blood World. The guitar tone on Inhabit made me salivate.
By late ’94 I was downtuning my guitar and making Marc downtune his bass. I started getting to work on the songs that would comprise Neoblasphemies. There’s nothing more I can say it this point about the process of making the record in ’95-’96 that I didn’t already, back in the day, say here, here, here, and here.
I said all this to say that Neoblasphemies was our way of catching up with the 90s as well as “out-90s-ing” the other 90s bands after all the metal anachronisms of the first CD. The songs are still complexities, but most of them do their business in a couple of minutes and leave you for dead. Lyrically, I stopped writing dissertations and went for the heart with brevity and economy (and the judgmentalisms of the first CD were traded in for all-out introspection and angst as the Christian discovers he really is not of this world).
Most crucially, we went for sonic extremes when we made this record. Besides the downtuning and Luke Renno/Cookie Monster vocals, I shamelessly tried to copy Inhabit’s guitar sound. And Marc and I had these DOD stomp boxes like the Buzz Box and the Meat Box and we added them onto just about everything above and beyond guitars and basses. As a humorous aside, that Meat Box would end up breaking Marc’s speaker cones on tour.
Speaking of Marc, he became confident and in full flower as either an insane emo screamer or a Louis Johnson on crystal meth (or both at once).
And Alex drummed faster than ever and provided his fiancee’s vocal skills for the opener and I goaded him into attempting a guitar solo for good measure.
And we thought we did a pretty good job of getting it all onto the DAT. We then edited and ordered the songs at our friend Blake Osborne’s studio in Lakeland and then did mastering proper with the legendary Mike Fuller of Fullersound in Criteria.
All we wanted out of the mastering was to be as loud as other people’s CDs. But we didn’t achieve it.
Thank goodness for today’s technology, though. Those waveforms don’t lie. I know darn well this remaster is as loud as we wanted it to be in 1996.
Above and beyond that, though, the brutal parts are more brutal (listen to the opening riffs on “Cauldron” and “Cannibalized”) and the softer parts enjoy a unprecedented clarity.
Marc’s production touches on the vocals for “Hanging on a Tree” and especially the out-of-left-field closing funker “Stephen Hawking walked Away” shine like never before.
Some of the transitions between songs were designed to knock your butt to the floor. Now it’s a real possibility. Just listen to the end of “Uncalled For” going into “Torturer” to see what I mean. I mean, it was insane enough in ’96 already.
But enough, let’s let the REYmastered Neoblasphemies roar for itself:
Since last time we posted, Nina’s youngest daughter Daniella made it to Hawaii with Youth With A Mission on July 9 for discipleship training.
Next step is Nepal, with an outreach team:
Hello Everyone! I’m going to be living in Nepal for the next few months. My outreach team and I are going to be working with orphanages, women in the red light district, homeless ministries, and helping with relief work. Thank you to everyone who has help me come this far, I’m so grateful for you! I still have a little further to go. I am needing about $2500 more if you feel led to support me it would be a huge blessing!
If you feel led, you can go fund Daniella right here.
I recently made friends on social media with Curtis Dewar, who’s a music marketing pro focused on metal bands. He found me because he was a Burn This Record fan back in the day.
He puts out free compilations on Bandcamp and offered me a spot on his latest one. I chose to remix and remaster Frank’s Enemy’s 2011 thrasher take on Anonymous, called @anonymous. I took it down from Soundcloud and renamed it @nonymous for the occasion.
Back in 1994 Frank’s Enemy went into Capstone Studios to record our first CD.
I personally had very high hopes for it, the first full-length studio project I’d been involved in since the Lead’s Burn This Record five years earlier. The songs I’d written for it were the most complex that I’d ever come up with. They were varied in styles and epic in lengths. Each lyric was a dissertation of alienation from Clinton’s America, from a time when my views were the most reactionary, attacking everything from Satan to Spike Lee to secular humanism. A babe in the woods I was. But I cried loud. Shouted, screamed, growled, spat, barked and babbled full bore as if from the top of Mount Sinai in a whirlwind. And sometimes I even sang for real.
In Marc Golob we had a goofy ponytailed funkalicious slapper suffering from Fleafestation who also fell off stages in a Cat in the Hat hat.
In Alex A we had a guy willing and able to speed up the blastbeats on demand (and I demanded plenty), cut into the sludge, play on the beat, play off the beat and even without a beat and make things up on the spot and still keep time all the while.
And — nevermind the grunge-fueled musical dumbing-down of the era — I had developed my guitar chops enough to actually play my convoluted riffs semi-competently (yep, had to woodshed to be able to play my own songs) and solo like a 33 1/3 RPM record played at 78 RPM to boot.
You can understand that I thought we couldn’t miss. I thought we would slay.
So, basic tracks went OK. Overdubbing went OK. Every part was in its place. Mixing was a little stressful, as it usually is with me. Some power struggles between bass and guitar levels.
And yeah, the final mix was a minor disappointment. Seemed muffled. But it was finished. We lived with it. We let it go a little. Got it pressed, sold it at shows. Life went on. But the more we played out and the more new songs we added to the set, the worse that CD seemed to sound to us. We moved on. We left it behind. We had our career, we downtuned, etc.
In the end, that first CD seemed rather quaint. An anachronism for the ’90s. But also a bit of a rarity sought after by some collectors in recent years, which wasn’t bad.
Finally, the physical CDs all got sold. And I hate being out of print, no matter how questionable the content quality is.
The story of my REYmastering auto-education is best left for another post. It was a ten-year process with lots of trial and error (mostly error) and a little bit of intermittent study.
I was almost confident enough to remaster the CD three years ago and actually did but only thought half the tracks were acceptable after I was done. I did post one of them on Soundcloud but that was it.
Since then, I think it wasn’t so much my skills or my ears but my brains that needed an adjustment. A couple of months ago I did a little more studying, picked up a few more tips on how to work with Audacity, adjusted my expectations and jumped back into it.
It was a revelation. Once I had all the tracks acceptable and I listened to them back-to-back it was like listening to what I was hoping to hear after we finished mixing it back in 1994, for the first time! It was like removing cotton from the ears after 21 years.
No need to rehash. Here’s what I told my mailing list a couple of weeks back:
“I’ve started remastering Frank’s Enemy’s catalog, and you need to know that I remaster the way I play guitar solos. Lots of volume and not much subtlety…
I just finished with the first CD and it’s like listening to the blasted thing for the first time every time now.
Maybe you bought the CD sometime in the last 21 years. You still haven’t heard it.
I know I hadn’t, until I listened all the remastered tracks back-to-back. Which I’ve done scores of times in the last weeks and which I mostly never do with my own stuff.
All those epic songs — swooping through metal, thrash, hardcore, funk, punk, grind, sludge, death, noise-jazz with twisted riffs and 78 RPM guitar solos — finally sound the way they were SUPPOSED to sound back in 1994.”
But listen for yourself, though. Listen for yourself:
Daniella is Nina’s “baby” girl, and she’s raising funds to go to Youth With A Mission’s school in Hawaii and then to Southeast Asia. Want to help? Here’s her vision.
Hello, friends, family, friends of friends, and friends of family. My name is Daniella Llopis, and I want to journey out into the nations. I just graduated highschool and I hope to be a part of the July YWAM DTS (discipleship training school) in Kona, Hawaii. A DTS is a 6 month program where the first three months takes place in Kona, Hawaii where I will learn how to minister and be a true missionary, the next three months I will go out into the nations, specifically Southeast Asia, and there I will have the opportunity to improve the lives of and love the people of that area. YWAM (youth with a mission) is a non profit organization that unites people young to old in the common purpose of Knowing God and making God known. For the first part of this adventure I am needing to raise $4,000. If you feel in your heart that you would love to help me, you can donate here. Even the smallest amount will have an impact and I can’t thank you enough for helping me to fulfill this dream that God has put in my heart! Thank you, God bless you!!!!
We grabbed the four live tracks from our now-defunct MySpace and added a few interesting snippets from contemporaneous rehearsal sessions. My track-by-track notes:
“Can’t You Just Turn It Down?”– yep, this is what it was like trying to play punk rock with Christian lyrics in 1984-85.
Death Of A Gunfighter — Visitors cover! December 1984! At the infamous Flynns Ocean 71 club in Miami Beach. It was a dive back then (although legend has it that Sinatra played there in its heyday). Now that location looks like this:
Nina Writes “Take Him Home” — the very moment the muse struck Nina in mid-rehearsal. And then I mindlessly say “let’s do Area Three One Twoooo”.
Throwaway — In July 1985, while the uncool heathen masses of planet Earth were watching Live Aid on TV, our performance at Sync Studios, our rehearsal digs, was videotaped with two cameras and broadcast all over Sync Studios. Extra comedy moment at the end when Rob’s kick drum pedal breaks for the second time. “No, I’m lying, it’s OK.” Sync was located just north of what is now trendy Midtown Miami.
Julio Presents “Better Off” — the first time those chords hit the ears of Nina and Robbie
Get Out Of My Face — The Nina classic, from the soundboard, from when we opened for DRI in May 1986 at the Cameo Theater in Miami Beach. There’s a tape of the whole set but we fell victim to the soundman sabotaging our sound. All the sabotaging was clear to hear on the tape. Yep, that’s what it was like playing hardcore punk with Christian lyrics in 1986. The Cameo today is some sort of club…
Robbie and Julio Rehearse “He Won’t Take A Joke” — Seems like an early one. We used my Portastudio with electric drums & Rat distortion directly plugged in. One mike to capture vocals and cymbals.
Tunnel Vision — Audience recording of our moment of attainment, finally making it to Cornerstone in 1987. “MOSH!”