Dear Crazy Doctor / 26 September 2003

I have an ever-evolving imaginary band that I sometimes think about and invent songs and personalities and album covers for. This started back when I was 10 or 11. Their first incarnation was called Battleship, which was kind of Styx-ish. Their album covers were standard early-80s fare: high-concept, faux-surreal photography. The defining statement was the epic two-parter Broken Drumsticks Vol. I and Vol. II. Their logo was a stylized battleship with crossed drumsticks behind it, sort of like a skull and crossbones.

Later, they became The Splatters, which grew out of the songs I was making on a 512k Mac with this program called Studio Session. For a while the idea was their album covers just took covers by The Platters but then added a kind of MacPaint-spraypainted S on there.

Somewhere in high school they evolved into The Ralphs. They are extremely well-received by both critics and discerning music fans. Their live shows are “incendiary.” Their debut album is so flawless I don’t like to spend too much time thinking about it. Album titles over the years have included: Catechism, Rufus King, Linoleum, and the ambitious double-LP The Pinpoint Fireglobe. The live album typically consists of drastically different versions of album cuts. One album was recorded live in concert then messed with in the studio. There has been no greatest-hits collection. Their sound tends to change depending on what kind of music I’m into at the time. Sometimes very heavy, sometimes erring on the side of twee. Sometimes certain band members have to do a side project to accommodate the music I have in mind, and in those cases they often go by the name Orifex.

There have always been four male band members (guitar, guitar, bass, drums) except for the Battleship lineup which had a bald and mysterious synthesizer player (I didn’t know what a synthesizer looked like back then but assumed it was a huge, super-complicated black machine that took up an entire wall). (Battleship also had no bass player, since I didn’t really know that was necessary, so the lead singer focused on “hand claps.”) All of them can play other instruments. E.g., the bass player (who also does backing vocals) can bring out the cello when needed, the rhythm guitarist (also the lead singer) can deal with piano, organ, accordion, that sort of thing. I don’t worry about lyrics too much. They do a lot of covers. Also a lot of interviews where they talk about the ideas and recording techniques behind their albums.

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Next / Newburyport Mass

Joshua Green Allen

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