My old friend Donny Mutt runs a blog called Pizza Friends. One of the running features is a segment where old heads such as myself write about the records that changed things up for us. I recently contributed the following piece examining my unhealthy obsession with Deadguy’s “Fixation On A Co-Worker” and thought I should share it with the good folks over here at GSA. Enjoy! Or don’t, that’s cool too.
Luke and I started All Else Failed when Hate To Say It, our high school band, broke up a year or so into our college lives. Hate To Say It was our baby. Although we were routinely mocked pretty heavily for any number of reasons, looking back it wasn’t so bad. We were this sort of “120 Minutes” take on hardcore, mainly because we really had no idea what we were doing, or even trying to do. There was a sort of genuine innocence about it though, as if we didn’t understand that it wouldn’t really come off so well if a bunch of 16-year-olds tried to mix Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and Primus with Minor Threat and Helmet and Biohazard.
Anyway, when it came time to start All Else Failed, we wanted to continue incorporating our diverse tastes, but we knew we needed to establish some sort of identity, almost like a definitive sound from which we could grow and experiment.
It was around 1994 and Luke had been telling me about this band called Deadguy that he had seen somewhere in Philly and how they were pretty much what he thought a band should sound like. The last time he said that, he played me Groundwork, which was cool but a bit spastic for my tastes. At this point we had teamed up with Steve and Sesso, who were full on in to Skinny Puppy, The Legendary Pink Dots and Joy Division and stuff like that, so it was obvious we were leaning toward a darker sound. Most of the first wave of emo was awesome but didn’t really speak to us as far as being the kind of stuff we would (or could) do. We wrote the first batch of All Else Failed songs and they were so so, even by our standards at the time, which were very, very low. It seemed like the same thing was going to happen to All Else Failed that happened to Hate To Say It: a band trying to be too many things, and in doing so not really doing anything very well.
I guess we really just needed a record to put it in to perspective for us. Luke called me one day and told me I had to stop by his basement apartment in Lansdowne to check out Fixation On A Co-Worker by Deadguy. When I got there, he was furious that his puppy had puked on the jacket (a crime considering the amazing layout). Nonetheless, Luke just said “I’ve never heard anything like this before” and put on “Doom Patrol.” That was it. We listened to the record over and over. I listened to “Makeshift Atomsmasher” about 100 times. That was what we needed. It was like that single record made everything else that was out at the time make more sense to us, like Bloodlet and Turmoil and Integrity. We had heard all of that stuff before, but now Fixation came out and defined it, so to speak. We now knew where we were going.
A year or so later we started getting a little bit of notice and got to play in Princeton, New Jersey, with Deadguy. Unfortunately, it was not long after their original lineup split. Screaming With The Deadguy Quintet, I maintain, is right there with Fixation, but that wasn’t out yet, or if it was we hadn’t heard it (remember life before the internet?). Their new lineup was awesome but just not really the band we heard on Fixation. It probably should have just been a different band, but I could probably say the same thing about All Else Failed six times over by this point so I get it.
For a while we covered “Apparatus” and all traded instruments, which was tons of fun. We did it at a show in Virginia once, and during load out I heard this exchange:
Dude #1: “Did you hear the Deadguy cover?”
Dude #2: “I thought they were all Deadguy covers.”
I thought that was funny but was secretly totally stoked that we were at least tight enough to be considered an adequate rip off. I think I may be selling myself short by saying “rip off” but who cares.
Year and years later, after All Else Failed had broken up for good (sike), we ended up in contact with Tim Singer and presented him the idea of a collaboration. We got the original All Else Failed lineup together, learned all of Fixation and were going to perform it with Tim on vocals as “Crazy Eddie” at the second installment of This Is Hardcore. We practiced once, and it was the greatest night of music I have ever played. We crushed and Tim hadn’t lost a step. It felt more like watching Deadguy than did watching the second lineup of Deadguy back in the day. Unfortunately, Tim ended up with cold feet about the project and ultimately backed out, but I cherish the memory of the one night that we were Deadguy.