Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ochre - Demo

Label: self released
Year: 1995

Had a good friend (not really past tense, he's still a good friend [if you can believe that]) who moved from Atlanta to Isla Vista to continue school in 1994, where he quickly fell in with the local hardcore scene. Mostly centered around Kent McClard and his Ebullition Records and newly formed Heartattack fanzine, and conceivably still mourning the loss of the town's greatest cultural export (not including burritos); Downcast.
Not exactly how, but my buddy ended up roommates with Rob Fracisco. Rob had just formed a band with some guys who were alumni of other area bands (nothing unusual here) with the intent of stirring up a local scene that was maybe, possibly, crawling up it's own ass in the dark days of screamo, paper bag 7" covers, and dialers. He wanted to play something super aggressive that would send a jolt of energy through the crowds of stick-straight, folded arm show-goers of the era. He wanted to "bring it back", as it were. To mosh, man.
So, Rob rounds up Jeff Capra on guitar (of Embassy, Manumission, and a future member of  Uphill Battle, Broken Needle, Blasting Concept, A Sometimes Promise, and Staring Back), Mike Locke on second guitar (also from Embassy, later of Incurable Complaint), Brian Tamborello on drums (again, from Embassy, and also later of Incurable Complaint, but also from Strictly Ballroom, Transitional, Pyschic Ills, and some brief work with Boredoms and Dntel [his brother's{?} band]), and Cabe (last name withheld) of (you guessed it, Embassy) on bass to record a clutch of tunes Jeff Capra had been working up on the side of Embassy.
Together this crew put together eight songs of power violence hardcore that slashed and sludged their way across 14 minutes of start/stop attack in the grand tradition of Neanderthal, No Comment, and Eyehategod. Blistering speed tempered with crusty swamp gas stomp. West Coast fucking power violence man. And this demo was birthed into the world with little to no fanfare (maybe Monkeybite fanzine reviewed it), but luckily I had an insider source who turned me on to the band.

So then fast forward another year (or so) and this same friend resurrects his nascent record label (Phyte) and puts out an Ochre 7". How that record didn't wind up a minor classic of the time, I'll never understand. It's seriously crucial. Tough as nails.

So then fast forward another year (or so) and this same friend floats the idea of living together for a summer in Isla Vista at the same time I'm looking around for an internship, and California seems like a pretty good spot. And it was (assuming it still is) a good spot, and a great summer. More beach volleyball than I care to admit to, but had a blast, traveled around California doing dumb shit, saw some good music, met some great folks, "worked" at Heartattack (which is law for those who own an Econochrist 12" and are within 50 nautical miles of Goleta, CA), and helped to craft one of the most beautiful pick-up soccer scoring combinations of my pick-up soccer career (Mike Phyte and I worked every Sunday morning to perfect our cross to diving header...and the day we connected....phew...I truly was the Beautiful Game that day. I think Steve Aoki might have been playing goalie...just to make the story even better). Point being, it was a fun time in Isla Vista.

But one of the real highlights was discovering that Ochre had left three songs unfinished from their prior recording session, unmixed and with no vocals. You see, the band did what most self-respecting bands do, they released a great record and then split. It's the honorable thing to do. In the case of Ochre, most of the band went on to other bands (also, what you do), but the singer Rob Fracisco just dipped out back to Orange County where we was from and (without really knowing the story) left a slight (ever so slight) bad taste in a few folk's mouths (not mine...mine is minty fresh). So, the idea was kicked around to Jeff Capra to maybe finish those songs with new vocals, because there was another mutual friend, Jeff (different Jeff), who was starting up his new band (Left For Dead), and had talked to Mike about doing a 7", but they really only had enough recorded for one side of a 7", and these three unfinished Ochre songs would maybe fill up one side of a 7"...and you see where this is going, right?! Jeff Capra was in, Left For Dead was in, so now all we had to do was write some lyrics, and bark like a couple of mongoloids for an hour or so, and voila, Mike and I are the "new singers of Ochre". At least for one afternoon. On those three songs.

And that's the story, that nobody every asked for, of how babies are made.

P.S. - Rob was better at singing for Ochre.


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