Open letter to Craig Verity
TASM Lab, Inc.
P.O. Box 425351
New Cambridge, MARS 02142
Mr. Craig Verity
Tuesday May 28, 2042
I can't believe its been 50 years since Overman's last show. We didn't think we would
last this long. At least I didn't think I would.
I hope Angela's doing OK with the new situation. I know I was a wreck when I buried my dad last
As I remember it, we played at the Club Soda for our last show and then had another last show
at a gymnasium to support some hockey player. The real last show was at Soda, where we must have
played just about all 28 songs we had ever wrote or learned. We dug out "Party Favor" and the whole bit.
We were actually at the peak of our performance. "Free Delivery" had creative background vocals, "funny"
and "Naked and Confused" were downright complex. "Swimming D" was right on.
I doubt you remember, but we were starting to learn "Number 28". That's when the last show bit
had to come around. Time to keep on keeping on. Had we known Matt was going to become a
famous political cartoonist, we may have had adjusted our approach.
If I had to pin to things now that changed me as a musician, particularly during Overman, it would have
been the introduction of Thought Industry and playing with Nomeansno. I'll take these in reverse order.
Nomeansno was awesome. I had never seen a band hold my attention like that when seeing them for the
first time. I understood everything that was going on. Everything was purposeful and explicit. The
most obvious parts were the attention they paid to what we would have considered "secondary" attributes
of a song. First, the lyrics were not something to fill up the space or carry the melody. The lyrics
drove the songs. Beginning and endings for Nomeansno were not just departure points for the body of the
song. Instead they were as carefully and purposefully laid out as any other part. This was best evidenced
by the fact that every transition between songs was planned out. Speaking between songs was planned. At the
end they unplugged their amps in synch so that droop of sound went down together. Amazing.
Lessons learned: 1. Lyrics count, make them good. 2. Build continuity between songs. 3. Don't ignore details.
Thought Industry was a similar learning. This was "Songs for Insects" era, when TI was a weird, tight, technical machine. We used to dance waltz style during "Flesh is Weak" because we were loaded and thought it was funny.
You would have been about 74 years old now. Far off from dancing, that's for sure.
We used to laugh at TI's bizarre on stage policies, such as no printed T-shirts, and beer limits. All the same, the shows were amazing. It seemed almost impossible to achieve what they were doing, yet they all had human arms and the same sort of instruments we had. When I finally heard "Song for Insects" it dawned on me what the difference was. TI invested a long, serious, concerted effort into their music.
Lessons learned: 4. Work hard and diligently if good results are desired. 5. Don't expect people to take music seriously if the creators don't themselves.
A third, unsustainable thing I learned from Thought Industry was how to play bass better. I tried to rip off all of Brent's shit.
You'd be happy to know that we are going to have to re-order the Screwtape discs*. That first pressing of a thousand finally ran out. (still plenty of "Thing & Nothing's" left, no one seems to want one.)
Still, all learning aside, Overman was a shit load of fun. I particularly liked the practice schedule: Get drunk, practice for an hour with 40s, go to Upper Crust for dollar pitchers, go to Soda for beer, come home and have a drink.
We often played in places where we didn't seem to fit in. Steve and Allison's
wedding reception. The Four Peace party where the audience were all Michigan metal heads.
What did Overman do? We wore dresses and make-up. Yup. The Overwoman show. We even played at Peppers, where I thought we were going to be beat up for sure. I bought a baseball hat with an American flag on it in hopes that I could pass for a redneck.
The frat house party in Alma with the beach in the basement, where
we were universally hated. The couch house parties where we would beg to play first (later bands would inevitably get busted by the cops). I think we were selling kisses for a dollar that night.
There was the show with Black Spring where we dressed up like barbarians and painted muscles on our skinny chests. If I did that now I'd look like a giant, brown Easter egg.
We drove all the way to Minneapolis to play in a basement for nine people. Luckily FAQ got us that club gig where we got to play for twenty more.
The flyers were all pretty disgusting. Some of them were funny. I don't think I would have the guts to go and post those around town now.
It was hard getting our first show, I remember. We had to throw a party for ourselves on New Year's Eve. There was no heat. No keg. We played the same set twice. People came, though, and I think they had fun. We got our first Soda show the next night. I think a week later we just showed up at Kevin Oberlin's house hoping we could play at their party, which we did. That was fun too, until the guy with gun showed up and started threatening people.
Well, Craig, tonight I'm going to pop in that board mix of that first show of Soda and have a listen. We should have recorded more. I'm going to have a beer too, even though it's illegal now. I wish you were still alive to have one with me and toast the old times.
Here's to you, Mr. Verity. I'll miss you.
* It is possible, however unlikely, that people in the year 2042 won't still be using compact discs. Bear with me.
Get the CD
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