I got an email from a bass player in one of the first SF bands so I thought I would jot down my experiences in early 90’s rock in SF.
I got to San Francisco in 1991 when I was 20 years old after 18 months living in Santa Cruz with various friends and bandmates.
Find work was not a problem but find people to play music with was something different. This was pre craigslist, pre email, this was pre internet for the most part. Most musician ads were in coffee houses or in local papers like “The Guardian”, the “SF Weekly” or BAM. Remember BAM?
Once I got to SF I had no car… Can you imagine trying to move a Fender 68 Bandmaster head with a Fender Rhodes speaker cabinet around without a car? These are not the kind of items you can bring on the bus.
So my days were filled with working at a warehouse, playing guitar about 6 hours a day and combing ads looking for bands. Very little came my way. At least my roommate Brian was also a musician so I had someone to talk to about music. He was also my first introduction to using computers to record and edit music. I thought his MAC II synced up to a 4-track was pretty bad ass.
I am not even sure how I hooked up with “The Bridgemen” but I’m sure it was through one of the local weeklies. Just for the record, I did not choose the name. I thought it was lame then and I still do.
The band was made up of 2 Chris’, Dave? (I think), Eric and me. We were so diverse as people and with the music influences we had that it seems strange we ever played together. The biggest plus was that I could keep my equipment at the practice space, a converted industrial warehouse space in Oakland that also served as the home to the bass player and later the singer. Sadly I was the one person in the band who have to be picked up and brought to practice like a child to soccer practice. I learned a little about getting my shit together from this.
If I had an of the recorded material that came from this band in my possession I would have to think long and hard about posting it. I can’t be any worse than the other stuff I had done in this era, but you don’t see that up here either. I mean I keep cassette tapes all the way back to 1989 of my songwriting but I hope to god that if I die someone will take all the tapes and burn them.
This is how I would describe “The Bridgemen”
Chris – Singer: Wants to be Jim Kerr from the Simple Minds, is outgoing in a date rape frat boy kinda way. He drove the band to do stuff, but also drove everyone crazy. He had a good voice but in to much of an operatic way.
Chris – guitar player: Funny and generally nice guy to be around. Taught me that guitar playing in bands like this really is about writing good guitar parts and not just making it up every time. Played kinda like The Edge from U2.
Eric – Bass: One of the few people in the band who I got along with almost all the time. He and I had the most music in common. He played bass like Adam Clayton or a less stoic John Entwhistle.
Dave? Drums: I wish I could be sure what your name was… Sorry.. I always thought he would have had a better time playing drums in a 70’s cover band. Good drummer, but in more of a “Phish/Greatful Dead” kinda way.
Me – Guitar: I didn’t know shit. I mean I could keep in key and remember my parts when I had them but for the most part I was still to green. I wanted to play harder stuff, like Smashing Pumpkins or Nirvana or Soundgarden and that just wasn’t gonna happen in this band.
Our shows were kinda ridiculous and for the most part disasters. We started out playing a monday night at a then newish club called “Bottom of the Hill”. There were probable more people on stage than off. The singer couldn’t help leaving the stage during the show. Dork. It just went downhill from there. Our lowest moment was playing some lame ass “Battle of the Bands” in San Mateo or something like that. Or maybe our worst would have been the open mic we played out in bumble fuck nowhere. We drove for an hour on a fucking week night to hang out in a shitty bar to play 2 songs and go home. Retarded.
Our recording experiences were on a different scale. Our first recording experience as a band was paying to go into Brilliant Studios in San Francisco. This, at the time was big studio… Not even sure if its around now. This must have cost a shitload of money.
Brilliant Studios was a 24 track 2″ analog studio with a Trident board I believe. It had a huge live room with a basement and lots of iso booths. For someone like me who had just seen 4-track and 8-track stuff, this was the Holy of Holys. We even had a producer Damian Rasmussen, who every time I see him he acknowledges some kind of recognition, which is nice. Probable because he remembers what a tard the singer was. I would also work with him years later for recording with “Heavy Into Jeff”. Our assistant engineer was really cool and I heard that later on he did some stuff with “Grant Lee Buffalo”.
I’m not that sure what broke up the band in the end. I think it was the guitar player Chris (Who worked at Lucas Arts) not having enough time to do it anymore. It sort of unraveled from there. There was some kinda crazy shit with the bass player and singer who were living together the warehouse but I can’t remember. Something to do with the singers girlfriend and killing an animal? Fucking nice folks.