The blue hills of Barron in northern Wisconsin are the remains
of perhaps the oldest mountain range on earth. It was there, 20 years ago, that my
rototiller uncovered a mysterious cylinder of Unknown origins. The eventual opening
of this cylinder and the painstaking translation of the documents within, led
inexorably to the formation of the Intermittent Animals.
The decoded documents revealed a ridiculously simple method for reading data encrypted in ancient pottery shards: the shards are soaked in a bath of absinthe in which a Pokemon trading card has been dissolved. When the treated fragment is then passed through a hole in the doughnut, a holographic image is projected into space revealing more instructions which simply must be followed.
The first message received from our future ancestors in this manner was: Move to Ohio. Find a chemist, a clerk, two landscapers and a skinny astronomer. Make a joyful noise in the presence of entheogenic plants, and hope for the best!
Lord knows I was skeptical but that didn't stop the wheel from turning. The formation of the band, and the subsequent music making that occurred, led to the production of unique harmonic frequencies that continue to produce additional holographic projections, as cryptic in the information they reveal as they are puzzling in their bubble-like and ghostly beauty.
Why only last month, we brought forth the dancing image of a lizard dressed in fishnet stockings that whispered: continue as you can, doing what you must. And so we do. I suggest you all do the same.
Close enough to the university that patrons come in carrying books,
but far enough out that neighbors complain about loud music, there is
a coffee shop. Ostensibly a coffee shop, though they sell more beer
than coffee, its walls have been painted and over-painted by local
artists, and paintings hang on top of that. The place is fairly
empty, though pool balls crash in the back, and the blue glow of a
rented computer illuminates a still face. Few people pay any
attention to the Intermittent Animals on stage, talking amongst
themselves and noodling.
Finally, someone in the shadows yells out a request, and the band jumps right into it. The long neck of Paul's bass swings dangerously on the small platform. Gabe looks out intently as he picks at the melody on the marimba. Mike considers the washboard, then picks up the jew's harp. John and Dave watch each other carefully as they add layers of guitar. The rhythm twists and jumps, then begins to roll along. And on top of it all, the notes of John Carnes' banjo bounce and spin around and around. For a minute, it's beautiful, then the whole thing begins to fall apart as one by one we realize no one knows the song. An awkward silence ensues. Then Dave steps forward to his mike and says, "I guess we don't know that one."
If you have seen us there, you know it may have happened that way. On the other hand, perhaps this story is simply a metaphor for our whole approach to this thing: jumping eagerly into the mystery, playing as hard as we can, hoping to play the ones we don't know, or at least the ones we do. We often don't know what song we will play until it begins. Our arrangements are loose and unplanned. We would play solos, but everyone plays them at once. It is an approach that leaves us open to discovery, so that we often surprise ourselves.
Of course, this method is not ours alone. We can trace our roots back through Miles and Jerry to projective verse and Jackson Pollock (in fact, this freedom in composition may be America's greatest contribution to the Arts.)
At any rate, the music we play is less a polished performance than a record of our quest. What kind of music is this, anyway? Jazz? Rock? Bluegrass? Folk?... I guess we don't know that one.
The cellist responded favorably to Gabe's email inviting her to practice.
Gabe finally got her email address from Paul, the acoustic bass player who'd moved
to Minnesota several months earlier. Jill brought her cello to Paul's farewell
party and played with the band for the first time. She'd been inspired to do so when
John had announced this party at the gig at Little Brother's a few weeks
earlier, saying that jamming would be involved so bring your instruments.
Jill was at that Little Brother's show because she'd gotten the email Paul had sent to Darbnet, an email list they're both on. She'd joined Darbnet after graduating from Caltech in the early 90's, where she had been a "Darb" (a resident of Dabney House). Paul had joined some years previously, having graduated from Caltech in the early 80's.
Around the time Paul was starting at Caltech, Jill came home from third grade at the nearby Pasadena Alternative School one day and asked her mom if she could play cello. Her mom told her that she'd have to choose between cello and piano since she wasn't showing much interest in her current piano lessons. She chose cello, and that's how we came to have someone who plays that big violin in the band.
And now that you are before when you were when you started reading this little story, we'd like to point out a benefit of coming to our shows: we provide time-travel to any of our other shows. Try it out. We offer a risk-free guarantee. Check this space for testimonials of those who have successfully traveled from one of our shows to another.