Les Dérailleurs 2003

Frank Sinistra, Rainy Stanford, and me playing as Atomica at Flywheel in 2005.

Les Dérailleurs have a new EP called 2003. Here is a pre-release version on SoundCloud, followed by the cover art by Luke Cavagnac, and the story of how this recording from 2003 is just being released now (and why it’s being released as Les Dérailleurs). It was released on the streaming services August 1 2022 (release party in Kingston Friday August 5th 3-5 Black Dog patio, Northampton TBA).

EP cover art by Luke Cavagnac

The Story

In 2003 I had been in Northampton Massachusetts for a few years, and was really enjoying the music scene (Thurston Moore playing at a bowling alley!) but hadn’t been able to make any connections with people to play with. I decided I would make some demo recordings to try to make some progress on that.

I had just discovered one-time Buzzcock Howard Devoto’s band Magazine, and loved the way the synths sounded, so I bought a Linn guitar pedal. It’s all over the recordings. I was also aiming for a generally disco punk thing like Gang of Four. I used the drum machine in my Casio keytar for rhythm tracks to play along with that were mostly muted in the final mixes, except a bit in Work this Thing, and one from my Linn pedal that survived in Under There.

My friend and high school bandmate Grant Ethier agreed to add real drum tracks, so I packed up my Apple G3 and Korg mixing board/A-D converter and took them up to Kingston Ontario and set them up in his basement. I told him I was hoping for a sort of disco feel, and we listened to Bohannon, another obsession of mine at the time. He nailed the recordings really quickly, and I left that same day with stereo mixes of the drums (he’s a great sound engineer as well as a great drummer). Funnily, the bass drum head in the picture above is a hand me down from Grant, with the cover image from the Thirteen Engines Perpetual Motion Machine record (gone now, but I still have the Radio Shack disco ball).

Me and Grant in my parents’ basement, about 1981

I don’t know if I wound up giving the recordings to any prospective musical partners. I met Frank Sinistra, the Atomica bass player in the picture above, around that time. He and I are still playing music together – including two of the songs in these recordings – 20 years later in Les Dérailleurs. I recently listened to them while working on some new recordings (hopefully to be released by the end of the summer), and enjoyed them, so asked Mark Miller to master them. I knew he would get what we were trying to do – I think he did a great job.