Lushly layered electropoptronic minimal synth darkwave worldmoods... originating in the 80s and grooving into the new millennium
Kelly and I met when I was in my second aimless year of college and he was working as an electronics tech for a major multinational conglomerate that brings good things to life when he wasn't hanging out in his friend's Basement listening to Ultravox, Eno, and dabbling in experimentation with psychedelics. Together with Randy Cheek (Ass Ponies bass player) and Joe Hamm (rumor has it he's drumming with the Indigo Girls) and songwriter/artist David Lakes we formed a band called Get Christy Love. GCL was strong on the local punk scene for a couple years, 1981-1983. We played 60s tunes, really really fast
(think "I Think We're Alone Now" on a couple white crosses) as well as a few really really loud and quite catchy originals. Kelly sang with his particularly intense voice & demeanor; I played Farfisa organ, Arpp Axxe Synthesizer, and my Paia Strings'n'things kit-built keyboard. (The latter two instruments would later form a key part of the PJC sound.) As bands do, Get Christy Love broke up in 1983 and Kelly & I developed PJC, which played locally/regionally in & around Cincinnati, Ohio from 1983-1988.
Perfect Jewish Couple started out by accident. After the breakup of Get Christy Love I had moved from my smalltown youth home of Middletown, OH (home of Armco Steel, now AK Steel) where nothing exciting ever happened except moving away. I transferred to the University of Cincinnati; majored in partying and studied Ancient History and Music Theory & Composition on the side. I began acquiring recording gear in 1983; a friend brought his 4-track over for a weekend of drinking and music making and I got bitten by the recording tech bug. Had to have my own machine, so I bought a Dokorder 7140 (which I still have) . I spent weekends and week nights into the wee hours composing and recording music. Kelly was a frequent visitor, as we continued to hang out a lot even though Get Christy Love was no more. On one visit I had just completed a full composition I wanted to play for him. We lit fresh cigarettes; I rewound and cued the tape and he listened to my new piece.
"Do you have a piece of paper?" he asked me.
I produced something to write on.
I gave him a pen.
Ten minutes later he asked me to play it again and sang his lyrics as the track played.
Thus, THE FALL was born. No editing, no rewrites, no tracks to re-record. I added my violin to complement his vocal and the song was complete. Easiest songwriting process ever. Even the initial tracking was easy; I don't htink I had to play any particular track more than twice to get "The Take."
Next came NUCLEAR BLUES with its similar dark moodiness and multiply submixed keyboard tracks. By this time I was feeling the limitations of a 4-track so dropped $2500 on my dream machine, a used Tascam 80-8 1/2" 8-track machine in great shape. It came with a Tascam 8-channel x 4 x 2 mixer and two reels of previously used 1/2" tape.
Before we knew it we had three songs and a friend's band (Junta, later to become Red Math) had asked us to open for them on a gig...I think it was a party up at Ohio State University. We knew we needed a name...Kelly was driving around with a friend, telling him about us and playing him a tape of our first songs, and the friend made a joke, "Ha,ha,you two are just the Perfect Jewish Couple." (I'm Jewish, Kelly isn't.) I don't really know why he thought of this phrase to describe us, but it was perfect. Perfect Jewish Couple was born.
Chapter Two: The Couple becomes three, then four, then six
So now Kelly & I were gigging. We were invited to open for bands in Cincinnati and Columbus.
What fun & easy gigs. We loaded me, Kel, my violin, and a cassette tape of our prerecorded backing trax into Kelly's Ford Fiesta and headed off to the gig. We now had 3 or 4 tunes, and performed as a duo. The audience saw a tall, intensely good-looking singer with a voice that could fill a room and a petitely voluptuous cherry-redheaded violinist in 50s vintage wear. The audience heard a room full of sound emanating from the PA, accompanied by the Couple onstage. It was fun enough---I know we were having a blast--- but as we began to add songs to our set we decided to have more going on onstage, and I also discovered I really couldn't play violin and sing backups at the same time (I've only met one person since who can do this.)
Enter our friend Beth. She sang backups with us for several months as well as played a bit of percussion. This was around the time of our 7" EP release,Menage a Trois, the disc with The Fall and Step Back on it (1985.) For that session we invited in a couple other friends too: Marc Chenault on percussion and Robert Beatty on sax. We loved having more musicians involved both in the studio and onstage. Gave me a welcome change from recording the trax (mostly drum machine and layers of keyboards) in my own studio, shut in the headphones with my 8-track 1/2" tape machine for days at a time. We liked the addition of more people live but Beth moved on to sing Top 40 covers. Exit Beth.
Enter Jane Haeckl a statuesque blonde Alto. Also enter Steve Hayes (my future ex-husband, AKA Husband #1), a multi-percussionist with a great drum collection. Now we were 4: Kelly, Shari, Steve & Jane. Our stage shows were certainly more exciting---a lot more stuff to look at on stage---also more gear to load in & out marking the end of the grab-the-cassette-&-violin-&-go period of low-maintenance gigging. Our local following grew in this format, and we played out often (at this time there were only two or 3 alternative clubs in existence in Cincinnati, so "often" means a couple times a month, not every night.) In a recording session in early 1986, we decided to add guitar. Enter dear friend Liz Martin (now departed), a rocking guitar & bass player. We recorded a few tunes together and added her to our live roster. Enter Jeannie Phillips, a friend of Kelly's with a golden Soprano. She sang on a couple of recordings, and lo & behold, we were now up to a group of 6 people performing live, still using our backing trax on cassette to provide the bulk of the music and adding vocals, violin, percussion, and guitar live. It was big fun. The only way to surpass 6 people playing to a cassette tape was to get rid of the backing trax and GO TOTALLY LIVE.
COMING SOON...the rest of the story.
A Little More Band History
9: This Millennium
let’s come up to the here & now.
fill in the stuff in the middle later.
very late 90s I began receiving emails from fans in France and Germany asking
seemed to come out of the blue.
all, Kelly and I had released our EP in 1985, we’d gone on to separate lives
and other musical projects, fond memories of the scene at the Metro and glad
that many of our friends remained healthy & artistically involved.
music, specifically the song, “The Fall” had made it around the world among
lovers of a particular genre, the synth-heavy Minimal Synth (it never really
had a name Back in the Day---I think we vaguely thought of it as New Wave but
really didn’t try to label ourselves or the bands around us.)
first while, I couldn’t locate Kelly to tell him what was up. I finally tracked
him down in St. Augustine, FL which was great, gave me a place to stay with a
beach nearby, just a Delta-weekend-special-fare hop away.
thought, what the hey, let’s share the rest of our music with the world.
embarked on an interesting technological journey.
we had recorded everything in my purely analog studio. Started out with a
Dokorder 7140 sound-on-sound ¼” 4-track with essentially no mixer, moved on to
a Tascam 80-8, ½” 8-track with a matching 8 x 4 x 1 channel Tascam board. The
Dokorder system recorded the original tracks for The Fall and Nuclear Blues.
All the other tunes were originally recorded on the Tascam 8-track system.
lots of outboard gear, including a vintage Roland Space Echo.
being 2005, I decided it was time to join the digital production world.
step in making the new record was to find all the original 8-track tapes. Most
songs had originally had as many as 20 tracks recorded, including vocals and
see the point in releasing old master of the songs, so I transferred all the
songs to digital hard drive. Group Effort Studios in Cold Spring,
KY---specifically, Bill Gwynne, were really helpful in this process.
all the tapes had to be baked at a very low temperature for 8 hours or so to
revive the high end of the sound spectrum on the magnetic tape.
they baked & cooled, we transferred them into Digital Performer, preserving
the individual tracking.
hundred dollars later, all the tunes were transferred and I realized that I would
spend just as much in someone else’s studio mixing for re-release, I might as
well just go ahead, cough up the bucks and update my own studio.
result is I now have a rockin' digital studio, and it’s been wonderful fun to dive
into the intricacies of the Digital Performer program.
treat to have another chance to shape the music that I originally wrote 20 years
ago, now able to utilize modern tools. And the results, I must say are truly
been great fun producing this record, and most of all reuniting again with my
fabulous songwriting partner, Kelly Hale.