High School Recordings: The 25-Year Anniversary
Around the time of my 17th birthday (1986), I'd saved up enough money grilling hamburgers to buy my first E-lectric guitar. It was a beaut: a Black-and-White Zebra-Striped Strat copy, $100 new. Already had my casio keyboard with built-in drum machine that I'd earned waiting tables at the old folks' home the year before, so I was all ready to go. After a couple weeks of teaching myself some chords I started recording.
These recordings span Summer '86 to Summer '87, at which time I graduated high school and left for the army to put life on creative hold for two years. I used the aforementioned casio keyboard and guitar to begin with, then acquired a casio sk-1 and programmable Boss Dr. Rhythm drum machine, and borrowed a friend's casio cz-101 synth (retail price: $500) much of the time.
Not all of these are original melodies. Some are bits I lifted from my punk rock records, or sometimes jingles from TV commercials and saturday morning cartoons (many years of classical piano training helped my sense of perfect pitch). To do multitrack songs, I would record the first part (usually drum machine and bass) through a wired condenser mic onto my Montgomery Ward one-piece Hi-FI (cassette, radio, phonograph AND 8-track tape), then transfer that tape over to my little portable cassette recorder, which had a speaker of about 2" diameter. I'd set that up next to my guitar amp, put the mic in front of them, hit 'record' on the Hi-Fi with the mixdown cassette in it, then hit 'play' on the portable and play along to the backing track. So the sound is total dogshit. But it's ten songs clocking in at a merciful 12 minutes, and I think it's pretty funny. They're all instrumentals. I omitted the ones in which I'm singing in a hormone-addled imitation of Lux Interior, Joey Ramone or John Lydon. I know we're all friends, but I'm not willing to put that part of myself out there yet. Maybe some other time.