Albums by Thinking Plague while I was a member.

Mike Johnson and I met in 1978 and almost immediately began working on what was to become Thinking Plague music. I wanted to call our little project Pleasant Pestilence but Mike came up with Thinking Plague which I thought wasn't as funny, but c'est la vie. While I was a member, Mike and I arranged the music together, I engineered everything, played many instruments and was, as Mike has described elsewhere, a "filter" for his ideas. We have a great chemistry working together. Though I officially dropped out of the group in 1994, I was largely responsible for Etude for Organism (later ungrammatically retitled by someone in French for some reason) and was part of the group who did Weird Wind which was actually meant to be a new band but we only recorded that one piece. Both appear on the 1998 In Extremis album. I also mixed In Extremis, Upon Both Your Houses, and Decline and Fall. I occasionally appear with the group onstage drumming as Beardog. Now...on to the albums!
...a Thinking Plague 1984 Endemic Music

Recorded between 1982-1983 at The Packing House Studio in Denver Colorado. Mike Johnson and I played most of the instruments, Harry Fleischman plays a home-made organ, Sharon Bradford sings lead, a cameo appearance from Mark Fuller on one song, and all of us do background vocals. The 8-track studio had very minimal equipment which many would consider a limitation, but I love that simple crudeness (still do) and throughout the album you can hear the way we used the different rooms in the studio: some large spaces for distant, reverberant sound, others very close-up and dry.

Recording finished, we borrowed money from one of Mike's relatives and pressed 500 vinyl copies. We couldn't afford to have album sleeves printed, so I drew some bugs on a piece of cardboard and cut crude stencils from them. Whenever I had a few dollars to spare I'd buy a packet of ten blank album sleeves from our pals at Wax Trax records, a few cans of spray paint, and over a period of two years I personally spray-painted two or three hundred album sleeves, each one different. Starting out quite simple - a single color background and black bug, as I worked I learned to blend the colors and get all kinds of neat effects so the later ones ended up very colorful and textured. (The only image I can find on the internet is the rather plain one shown here.)

To make a long story short, once we had the LPs I sent one to Recommended Records hoping for distribution and they took 200 copies straight away. Mike and I could hardly believe it: finally we would be heard outside of Denver and soon were contacted by listeners around the world who enjoyed the album.

I Do Not Live:


Moonsongs 1987 Dead Man's Curve

Recorded in 1984-85 and released as an LP in 1987. The Packing House studio no longer existed, so we made this album at another small studio in Denver. As usual Mike on guitars, me on bass, drums and a bit of this and that, Susanne Lewis on vocals, Eric Moon on keyboards, Mark Fuller drumming, and on the percussion-heavy title track, drummer Mark McCoin also joins in. Apart from the song Etude For Combo, recorded live in our rehearsal room with no studio production, the main body of this album has a 1985-ish quality to my ears, influenced by the pop music production of the times (although in our no-budget style of course!) For instance we started using primitive samplers, and the studio's Linn drum machine along with the real drums. These were still exotic new toys for us at the time, which I very quickly lost interest in. Adding to that mid-80's vibe, Eric Moon was using the equally new Yamaha DX7 keyboard, although he got the strangest sounds I ever heard one of those make! Shortly after the LP was pressed, the label who released it disappeared...most copies of the album disappearing along with them of course.


Etude for Combo:

In This Life 1989 ReR Megacorp

Our third album, recorded in the late 1980's, released by ReR in 1989; the label's first CD only release. After our no-budget attempt to make a contemporary-sounding album, we got back to something more crude and natural. Mostly recorded in our rehearsal room on a Fostex 1/4" 8-track reel-to-reel with a couple of cheap borrorwed microphones and a few stomp-box worries about paying for studio time so I could mess about as much as I wanted and get the best from our very basic equipment...the kind of setup I love!

Right from the start we had a strong direction for this album and everyone involved contributed much and there was a fantastic chemistry and excitement. We had a real band to make an album with: Mike on guitar, me on drums (I also play some bass and violin), Susanne Lewis singing as well as writing lyrics, Lawrence Haugseth on keyboards and clarinet, Maria Moran on bass and guitar. Somewhere along the way, Lawrence became unreliable and finally vanished alltogether, so we found keyboardist Shane Hotle, and Mark Harris joined on woodwinds. On the song Organism, Mark Fuller contributes otherwordly percussion and Fred Frith plays guitar on the opening section.

This is the last Thinking Plague album on which I was fully involved as a band member and producer/engineer, and overall I still think it's a fine album.

Note: There are two "bonus tracks"...understand that this was back in the days when we never imagined our earlier, obscure albums would be re-released, so we included Possessed from our first album, and Moonsongs from the second. However the version of Moonsongs is not the same mix which appeared on the original vinyl album: Mike and I went back to the multitrack tape, re-recorded a few instruments and remixed it, though afterwards we felt it wasn't really necessary and preferred the original, which does appear on the Early Plague Years album below.



Early Plague Years 2000 Cuneiform Records
The first two albums remastered from the original tapes (they actually still existed!) and released on CD. The sound is much better than it was on the original "economy" vinyl pressings. To fit both albums on one CD it was necessary to shorten it by a couple of minutes, which was easy to do - I removed a few repeats of the extended percussion sections of Moonsongs and a few bars from the long, dron-ey ending of Warheads. We felt those bits should have been shorter anyway, so I was happy to oblige!