Edsel’s “The Everlasting Belt Co.” will be digitally reissued by Comedy Minus One on September 19, 2011. In celebration of this event we’ve asked the members of Edsel to provide you with more information on this release, from the history of its recording to stories behind some of these specific songs. For tales of “Detroit Folly,” click here.
“The Everlasting Belt Co.“ was made at an interesting time for us. We were far from the same band that recorded “Strange Loop“ (1992) a year earlier. We had a new bass player, a second guitarist and a musical curiosity that had grown considerably from our Gang of Four/Killing Joke/Wire origins.
I remember listening to early singles by Pale Saints, Swervedriver and, of course, My Bloody Valentine, trying to figure out how to incorporate their ideas into a framework that was still quite rooted in the DC hardcore we had grown up with. Bands like Th' Faith Healers and Moonshake were intriguing, too. Their use of rhythm and fractured melodies really appealed, taking ideas from Can and Public Image, but making them feel fresh. Our favorite late night driving record on tour was Laughing Stock by Talk Talk — its sparseness and dramatic landscape was something we aspired to. There was also Spiritualized's Lazer Guided Melodies, which, if we knew how, we probably would have just replicated with a few Fugazi guitar octaves tossed in to offset the spacey drone.
But that wasn't really us. We prized the earnestness of the DC aesthetic we’d grown up with and the undeniable American bluntness of how groups like Mission of Burma and Television put the art in their riffs. At the time there were other folks around who were leaning more heavily on the British imports and it all seemed either too precious or too much of a put-on. We wanted to have our own voice.
My favorite description of Edsel came from Marcy Mays, the singer in Scrawl. We played a show with them and Eggs at a loft in Baltimore and, when we'd finished, she pointed at my crumbling phaser pedal and said we sounded like a punk Pink Floyd. I liked that because it suggested our ambitions while acknowledging our limitations.
There was also the time at a matinee in Louisville with Rodan, Pitchblende and Brainiac, when a young girl in the audience yelled out, “You practice too much!” It was an ironic statement given the musicianship of the other bands playing that day and in that town in general, but one that pretty well summarized our relationship with the underground scene at the time. Too slick for the punks and too punk for suits.
The recording of “The Everlasting Belt Co.“ was done piecemeal. We had gone in for a session or two with Don Zientara at Inner Ear, one of which produced the original version of Penaluna, which was our side of the Jawbox/Edsel split 7". Later we camped out at WGNS, spending sunny days in a dark and murky basement with Geoff Turner. Don was the enthusiastic coach, Geoff our snarky older teammate. Any sonic inquisitiveness was encouraged, endured and extracted.
We were taken with strange guitar sounds ("Buckle") and found percussion instruments ("Checkering"). We tried to make my clarinet sound like a sample ("Narrow") and used a computer WGNS had in their attic to splice together two different mixes of a song ("The Good Celeste") at a time when computers had very little to do with making records. We also brought in cassette tapes from our practice space ("Horn & Feather"). It was an anything-goes experience, very much in the spirit of our contemporaries in Polvo and Pitchblende, but with more of a pop sensibility.
Joe Lambert's (Animal Collective, The National, Versus) remastering of this album helps tremendously. It brings together the disparate recording environments and actually provides low end for the first time, which makes for a much better overall listening experience. Sixty minutes may still be more than most people want to hear in the age of single-song downloading, but it's been 18 years since “The Everlasting Belt Co.“ was released and just about as many since it was actively in print, so the fact that it's available again is a good place to start.
Photo credit: Jim Saah
NOTE: After this album, Nick Pellicciotto went on to play drums with members of Girls Against Boys in New Wet Kojak. Later he was a live soundman for Sleater-Kinney and Fugazi. He is currently a technical writer for Avid.
Steve Raskin put out a 7” on Sub Pop under the name Piper Cub, a group he briefly had with members of Velocity Girl, Tsunami and Chisel. Now he spends his time DJing, producing and doing remixes with the collectives Thunderball, Fort Knox Five and Liftoff.
After moving to NYC, Geoff Sanoff switched to the other side of the studio control booth. He has worked with everyone from Secret Machines and Nada Surf to Lloyd Cole, Keith Urban and Michael Stipe. He even received a Grammy for his contribution to Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special. When he’s not in the studio, he occasionally plays bass in Paramount Styles, the latest musical outlet for Girls Against Boys’ Scott McCloud.
Sohrab Habibion has been involved in music on and off since Edsel. He helped No Wave icon Arto Lindsay make two albums, contributed sound treatments to a record by French singer Alain Bashung and recorded Debbie Harry for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. These days he composes soundtracks with Michael Hampton for The Treasury Dept. and plays guitar and sings for Obits, a band from Brooklyn, NY with two LPs on Sub Pop Records.
Photo credit: Jim Saah