By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Fuck everything you know. Now imagine those four words sung plaintively like a wishful prayer, not a harsh declarative. Add a little acoustic strum behind them, making the nihilistic verbiage -- fuck everything you know -- still gentler. Fuck all that's gone before, all you've ever heard and seen, everything you believe. Jack Logan and his musical cohorts (he calls them his "enablers") are about to prove that there's a lie to this music business, this rock and roll, this salvation.
With those opening lyrics, which evolve into a song about life cycles, a song as far from punk as you can get and still use the F-word, Logan warms the oven for those about to be served the epiphany on a four-track, home-studio platter.
Until the beginning of this summer, Jack Logan was one of the best-kept secrets in the history of rock and roll. He is the personification of what people mean when they say something is "the shit." He is -- to some music writers at least -- the new Dylan, the new Springsteen, the new reason to believe. And for once the music lives up to the hype.
Jack Logan, 35, lives in Winder, Georgia, a small, rural town about an hour outside Atlanta, near Athens, where he moved in 1984 after attending art school in Illinois. He worked at Kmart for several years before landing a job about seven years ago fixing electric motors. He wakes up early, leaving his old A-frame each day at around 8:00 a.m. to get to his job in Atlanta. "A good day," he says, "is when I get two swimming pool pumps to fix, and no deliveries to make. A bad day is twenty swimming pool pumps and a bunch of deliveries."
Often, when he finishes work, he gets together at home with his chief enabler, multi-instrumentalist Kelly Keneipp, and others, such as the members of the Dashboard Saviors, and they write songs. They record these songs -- lyrics and perhaps a melody line provided by Logan, the music invented by the others -- in what they call an "assembly line" procedure. Add a little of this and move on. The next day, throw in some of that and move on. Quickly, whole songs come into being. Great songs.
And all this has been going on for eight or nine years. "The one constant thing is recording," says Keneipp, who also works with Logan during the day. "And motors, for now. We've been doing this forever. Well, since we figured out to use two boom boxes together, to throw one to the other. We've made a little headway in the gear, but basically it's the same idea."
In a whole different context. A year ago, an indie record company owner finally discovered the Sacred Secret of Winder. And now the idea is that the entire world can hang out in Logan's living room.
The album is called Bulk, a just-released two-CD, 42-song package. If you've ever thought that rock music contains one shred of human value, you must find, obtain, and hear Bulk. The story behind this most startling and compelling debut album is pretty cool, too.
A little more than a year ago, Peter Jesperson, owner of Minneapolis-based Medium Cool Records, began hearing rumblings from Len Hoffman -- the manager of Dashboard Saviors, whose Todd McBride knew Logan from their Kmart days together -- and a guitarist named Peter Buck, for whom Logan had once drawn a couple of comic books. Jesperson, one of three partners who founded the Twin/Tone label sixteen years ago, the guy who discovered, signed, and managed the Replacements, created Medium Cool as his own imprint. "He knew who I was 'cause he signed the Dashboard Saviors, and I had worked with Todd at Kmart," recalls Logan. "We'd done this so long, and we had put out a couple of little tapes. People weren't beating down our doors. And we didn't figure there was much to it."
But Jesperson persisted in his efforts to elicit a demo tape, repeatedly pleading for recorded originals. "I figured, what the hell," Logan continues. "We decided to send him something to at least get his comments about it. Then he said, 'You guys should think about making a record.' We were pretty excited about that. The music business part was just, I don't know [he laughs]."
The first package Jesperson received contained three 90-minute cassettes, each of them packed with songs. Jesperson returned to Athens several times, collecting from Logan about 100 recorded songs per visit, and eventually signed Logan and Keneipp to a contract. After he had some 600 tunes, Jesperson began gleaning from them the 42 that appear on Bulk.
Then word began to leak out. Billboard editor Timothy White took a pre-release listen and devoted a column to Logan, noting his songs are written with "offhand proficiency...revealing the dangers and distortions of a myopic spirituality." That's good, apparently.
Plenty of other music writers were also hearing the news out of Winder. Tom Moon wrote a big feature for the Philadelphia Inquirer and submitted another piece to Musician. The Atlanta Journal provided lengthy coverage. At one point, while visiting the offices of Rolling Stone, Jesperson ran into Stone music editor David Fricke. "He asks me, 'Hey, got any of that Logan I heard about?'" recalls Jesperson. "I said, 'Nothing I can leave you, but I can play you some stuff.' Fricke says, 'I have time now.' I played four songs, figuring that would hold him. He demands more. I played everything I had with me, like a dozen tunes, and Fricke is banging on his desk, screaming how he wants to write about it." And then there's David Sprague, whose condescending (yet positive) review of Bulk appeared in Request. "Everybody loves a savant..." is how Sprague begins his glowing (in its own snotty way) critique.