burMONTER was my first real band ever. I had just returned to the States and was intent on starting a band that was representative of the type of music I actually listened to at the time. Whilst in Deutschland I was playing guitar in what surmounted to a HC/Punk/Metal cover band. We did a lot of Misfits covers and broke it up with songs by Spermbirds, Slayer, & DRI. But what I was listening to at the time was the Cure, Lush, Violent Femmes, The Cramps, and bands of that ilk. So immediately after arriving in the US I began searching for bandmembers and would eventually recruit a drummer that lived a neighborhood over and a vocalist that I met by chance. We went to the same HS but didn't have classes together...just happened to see each other in the halls on occassion. Like my current band, my brother took over the rhythm guitar and eventually moved to bass when the bassist we found bailed but for the sake of this recording we captured it as a five piece. That in a nutshell was how burMONTER began. Since we were in a podunk North Carolina town, there weren't that many options in regards to playing live shows, so we wound up spending more time writing and making home recordings.
My last Christmas in Germany, my parents had bought me a Tascam Porta-Studio 4-Track. So it was this device that we recorded our first demo tape, the self-titled burMONTER. It was the first go at writing songs and recording them as a band I had experienced up to this point. The year was 1991 or 92.
As mentioned the influences on these songs were mostly The Cure, Mission UK, Violent Femmes, Lush, the Sundays, the Smiths (for vocals) and an assortment of others that the rhythm section brought in and I would probably be unable to recognize without it being pointed out to me.
"Last Breath" was the opener and was proceeded by a brief vocal swell ala "Hero Takes A Fall" by the Bangles before the muted guitar influenced heavily by 17 Seconds era guitar intro kicks in. Just a heavy kick and the muted guitar. It then pops with a straight forward rock beat and rhythm with arpegiated guitars for the verses and the choruses burst in with a typcial C-D-G with a Robert Smithy strum pattern. This was the first original song I had ever written and aside from using such a common chord progression during the chorus I don't think it was such a bad effort. When we toured Germany a few years later, this song made it's way back into the set and held up just as well if not better than some of the newer material. What I notice most about these recordings are the bass lines. Totally not typical of my post-punk/Simon Gallup influences. Charli Ramos was older and more influenced by music from the 70's and the bass represents that. Also, this was back when I did a lot of lyric writing which probably made it more difficult for our vocalist to come up with vocal melodies....or did it? The song doesn't really go anywhere to me, just some parts that sound good together, smushed together. The final vocal line today sounds weird to me "i have breathed my last breath"...is that even proper english?
"The First Rays of the Waking Hour" was probably more solid songwriting. It had a long instrumental intro definitely influenced by The Cure's "Push" with single notes played high with a bunch of open strings to fill out the sound. The drums do that double time beat that's popular in Pop music that I enjoy and once the verses start you can hear a bit more of my Bangles/Cure influence in the guitar. The song is light and very 90s. I sort of wish we had keyboards back then.
The other highlight of this demo is the song "Dalia." More Cure influence with the tribal drums and the guitar solo in the end and also the darker lyrics and use of some Robert Smithisms in both the guitar and the lyrics. This was a song that never left our set once we started playing live. Of note are Charli's backup vocals during the chorus. The really boominess of the drums I think are great and our drummer at the time went on to become a phenomenal player far surpassing the skill level of anybody else involved in this project.
The other songs I don't even want to mention, full of youthful idiocy and lameness. But what I do notice is that the sound quality on this demo is much fuller and although very flawed, much better than the demo's that came after it, Hybrid I & II. I'm not sure what we did right here and wrong on the other recordings. We basically recorded the drums with three random mic's that we happened to possess and then bounced it down to one track. Then added the overdubs and did the same until we were done. Recording all onto cassette tape mind you. While not something I would say I'm proud of, this recording for the time and method and the place that we were at the time, I think came out okay. I'm pretty sure the bass went direct and the guitar was a horrible little crate practice amp with built-in chorus and a Charvel Model 4 guitar, so to begin with, we had so much working against us. As I learned later, what saved this record probably was getting a fairly decent drum sound (for what we were working with).
To hear for yourself: http://plumerai.bandcamp.com/album/the-ugliness-about-me where you can hear the various era demos burMONTER did.
for more info you can also visit http://www.myspace.com/burmonter