Where does DWAB begin? How long will DWAB exist? Why is there DWAB? What is DWAB?
Questions concerning DWAB can often lead nowhere. DWAB started as a test. It was a test of my ability to create music more or less on my own, in a largely improvised manner. When DWAB first started committing sounds to tape, I was just beginning to get into the punk/hardcore scene in Santa Barbara. Lots of cool stuff was going on at the time. A lot of people were getting together and creating some really good music, and I thought, why not me?
I was in junior high-7th grade to be exact. I used to carry around a cheap micro-cassette recorder from RadioShack and have my friends read my stories and poems onto it. Then I would take the tape home and create these strange pieces with it, filled with rewound, repeated passages. A few of my friends thought this was kind of cool, so one day we decided to get together and make some noise. It wasn't always the same group of friends, but we always got together at my house. Somehow we had managed to get our hands on a guitar and a keyboard, and we had an old laundry bucket that we used for drums. One of the friends made a home-made mixer, and we bought the cheapest microphone from RadioShack and thus began the terrifying sounds of "Distortion." Even now, when I happen to remember where I hid my "Distortion" tape, I am tempted to throw it away for fear of what might happen if someone else heard it.
Despite this, "Distortion" did lead to some rewarding outcomes. In as much as we were a totally dysfunctional group (not to mention that we were at the age when your best friends can easily become your worst enemies), we broke up. I got to keep the mixer and the mike, and by that point, I was also in temporary possession of a bass. Also, one of my uncles had given my older brother, Kiran, an old acoustic guitar. All of this, combined with my consumption of Danish butter cookies and other cookies that were packaged in tin cans, led to a fairly comprehensive collection of noise-makers. And, so, the noisemaking began.
It all started innocently enough on a boring Saturday afternoon. My younger brother, Shirvan, had written this masterpiece about why he hated war. I asked him if he wanted to record with me. He said sure. I said, well, I'll play the bass while you read your story-and read it loud. And that's what we did. Then we added some banging and crashing from the tin cans, took piles of pennies and threw them at the can, took sticks and hit the cans, stuck the microphone inside the acoustic guitar and made loud yelling noises.... We didn't know what the hell we were doing, but it was fun, and we were damn proud of the song in the end.
And that is how DWAB started.
From that point on, DWAB became my primary musical outlet. It basically gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I often played with other people, but there was never a commitment. I would just be hanging out with friends and, if the desire arose, we would record a song together. A lot of it was noise. One minute bursts of random energy. But as time went on, I started to fine tune the noise a little, and add more structure to the songs. In a sense, I also started to actually write songs, mostly on the bass. Bring Sam Bennett into the picture, and we have the transition-or rather-expansion of DWAB into "Rotten Metropolis #2" and then subsequently, Jeberrekeñelle. I say "expansion" because throughout all of this, DWAB continued, as it still does today.
After Jeberrekeñelle broke up, I decided to further refine my DWAB songs. I had gotten a drum machine, which made it a lot easier for me to keep my songs from wandering off into these random directions. There was still a clear element of improvisation, because usually only one or two tracks were "set" and the rest was a mess of layered improvisation. But this suited me at the time-not to mention that it helped hide my uncertain vocal tracks.... The end result of this addition of the drum machine was the DWAB recordings heard on "Preliminary" and "Summer Entertainment."
But this was not the only end result. Folk Songs-or more precisely-Jeberrekeñelle Folk Songs, was also born out of these DWAB recordings. Sam had heard some of my 4-track recordings of the songs I was working on, and he was interested in playing drums on some of them. We recruited Dan Silver as the guitar player, and rocked Santa Barbara for a few short months. Sam left a little while later, Folk Songs disbanded, and DWAB continued on its journey.
The next major step in DWAB history would probably have to occur while working on "One Final Episode In Our Attempts At Persistence." While in the past, DWAB recordings featured many friends helping out "here and there," One Final Episode attempted to build on the idea of a "band" version of DWAB. I only got as far as to getting a drummer, and that position was filled by the fantastic David Hanna. One Final Episode was recorded in small pieces. Usually David and I only worked on two songs at a time, recorded them, then forgot about them.
While it was great having a regular drummer to work on with all of my songs, there still was a certain element missing with the One Final Episode sessions. Not being in a regular performing band was leading me towards actually writing more "songs" and using them with DWAB. I had switched roles from primarily a bass player, to playing almost exclusively with the acoustic guitar. To me, the next logical step was "The John Lyons Sessions." These recordings were a collection of (initially instrumental) acoustic songs. Some of the songs made their way onto the vinyl version of One Final Episode, but when converting them to CD's I decided to keep them separate.
In a sense, "The John Lyons Sessions" satiated my need for structured songs, and after some time "Sherman's Unfiltered Music" was released. Sherman's also marked a new milestone for DWAB since it was the first CD I had done that was almost entirely instrumental. This proved to be the future (or so it seems at least-who knows???) direction for DWAB.
DWAB continues recording still (though, unfortunately, a lot less frequently). I presume I will continue recording unless something physically happens to prevent me from doing so.
Click on a CD to go to the download page or to find out more about it.
There is also a DWAB vs. Folk Songs CD, "Evolution," that serves to illustrate the transformation of a song with the passing of time....
All the DWAB cassettes appear in various "configurations" with different song selections and different covers. They were very much "hand made" and as I recorded new songs, they were often amended to the existing cassettes. Cassettes are no longer available, but Josh Snyder has some of the earliest copies of DWAB cassettes ever made....
DWAB was also heard on the "Loquacity Records" compilation, "TOCMOS."
This is the print version of: