By Kat Bein
By Shea Serrano
By S. Pajot
By Terrence McCoy
By Falyn Freyman
By Shea Serrano
By Jacob Katel
By Michael E. Miller
Ferrari believes the album received attention in those faraway countries thanks to several distribution deals. "Our distributors would buy like 50 or something, and who knows where they would send them," he says. "Caroline Records are international. They bought a lot of CDs from us."
Ferrari credits the interest in Notes to its original packaging concept, conceived by the folks at Space Cadette. The CD came sealed in a bubblewrap bag, with a sheet of corrugated cardboard decorated with stamps and laser-copied images folded over it three times. It closed with a Velcro patch and a line of twine. The artwork included a pressed flower, a swatch of blue burlap, four photocopied notes written by Rippe in the voice of a fictitious patient in different stages of mental breakdown, and eight cards illustrated with visual interpretations of each song, created by local artists.
"That CD would have never gotten to some of the places that it went without that packaging," Ferrari declares. "The distributors treated it like a novelty thing. It's not like they bought hundreds of them, and we wouldn't have been able to give them hundreds of them, anyway. But it worked out good for us."
The band is looking into re-releasing the album in a more standard package. For now the members are mostly concerned with fine-tuning this new sound they've discovered in order to do it justice on record.
Swivel Stick has already tried recording two follow-up albums. The most recent effort was scrapped because the current members, and sax player Marcus Ware, were unhappy with their performance. In addition parts of the sessions recorded onto a hard disk were lost.
The band had previously recorded a followup in 1996, laying down four tracks. Only one featured vocals and no track was less than ten minutes long. Although these songs were hastily recorded, and the band has no plans to release them, Ferrari says he considers the sessions a turning point in the band's sound, pointing to "Innocence Divine" as the key track. The song's soft, gradual intro forced the musicians to approach their instruments in a different way, one that relied more on jazz than hardcore. "After we wrote that song, everything that came after that was different," Ferrari recalls.
The sound was still abrasive, but the approach was far more diffuse. Rhythms were never fixed and the players allowed the songs to pour forth in an improvised style, borrowing heavily from bebop. The songwriting process is also collaborative. A tune might start with an idea from Ferrari, but all members of the band build on the idea and contribute to its final form.
Ferrari was so excited about the possibilities of this new sound that he convinced the group to forget about vocals. "I could give three fucks about having a singer," Ferrari asserts. "To me, you're holding back the music to have someone sing on top of it. You can't take it too 'out there' with someone singing. Once you take the singing out, we can fit anywhere."
Rippe's view on no longer providing vocals? "I guess the point was to do something different. We just decided to keep it instrumental. We might change our minds again, but for right now we're keeping it instrumental."
He and his bandmates do hope to use a set of lyrics written by Rippe, perhaps within the band's next CD booklet. "In the compromise we came up with I might reinterpret the songs into a story and release that with the disc. That way it's not all lost," Rippe explains.
Ferrari says he and his bandmates have plenty of material for a second record. "The name of it is going to be In Remembrance of Things Past," he notes. "It's probably going to be a double CD. We have like eight songs, and the shortest one is ten minutes long. And we have one that's like a half-hour long. We just keep perfecting it.
"I'm not in a hurry to put it out, though, because I think we've reached a point where we have our own sound, which is timeless. I know what we can sound like when we play that shit right. Why waste it now, when we've spent so much time perfecting these songs? I don't see it as music that in five years from now people will be saying, 'We're sick of this already.' Hopefully," he adds, with a laugh.
Swivel Stick performs Friday, February 5, at Borders Book Shop & Cafe, 9205 S Dixie Hwy; 305-665-8800. The music begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is free.