Part Five 1997-1999
Loss and Rebirth

At this point, I no longer had my Crowded Studio but the rest of 1997 into early 1998 would be our most productive period. Previously, Kira had recorded few songs at a local studio, Waveburner Recording, operated by Dalton Brand, formerly of the popular northern Ohio band, Mü. She suggested we should record an album. For the rest of the year, we hardly did anything else besides write, play and record music and it was great to have someone else behind the board. It was an interesting and educational exercise trying to relate our visions for the songs to a third party. Many late night rehearsal sessions which often lasted until dawn produced dozens of songs with, at least, demos recorded. The cream of the crop ended up as proper studio recordings on Frank's Closet in 1999. From this point, between 1997 and 2000, my focus was on the partnership. Thus, all Worm projects were essentially put on hold.

Although Kira and I had been making music together for over two years,
this is the first photo taken of us together. It was March 1998 at
Waveburner Recording during a session for "April Fool".

Waveburner brochure

March 1998 - Dalton Brand

Listening to a playback of "April Fool"

Providing my two cents at a session for "Your Little Tune", "My Elegant Way"
and "Tomorrow Never Knows" at Waveburner Recording in June 1998.
For more photos taken at Waveburner during the Frank's Closet sessions
see Kira's gallery.

Because I was playing more and taking it more seriously, I felt it was time for a gear upgrade. Throughout 1997,
I bought three new guitars and, because I was rehearsing and playing in different places, I needed a more portable amp.
These new guitars and amps are seen in the photos below

Fender DG-5 acoustic

Fender Stratocaster

Epiphone Les Paul

Here's a better pic of the Les Paul

I gave my old "no name" acoustic to Kira

Crate G15 XL
Has a handy built-in reverb.

Peavey Rage 158
A nice ballsy little amp that
sounds great close-mic'd

Kira and I were also recording so many demos which I would take home and embelish but my old
Fostex X-18 wasn't quite cuttin' it. So, I bought a new Tascam that had a lot of nice tricks to it.

Tascam PortaStudio 414 4-track cassette

Recording for Frank's Closet was finished in June 1998 . During the summer, at a local café, we played our first live gig on July 5th. This was simply an acoustic set with just the two of us and consisted of just original Kira & Chazz songs (I think we might have also done "C'mon Billy" by PJ Harvey). No Worm songs were performed. We did a few more acoustic gigs that summer but we never seriously considered continuing this type of presentation..

July 5, 1998
Our first gig. It was just us with our acoustics in a small local café.

Our second live gig and the first photo taken of us performing live.

Dalton Brand handled the sound for us

July 22, 1998
This was our first advertised gig.

Wanting to get some of our recorded product out, our first EP-CD, April Fool, was released that summer. In general, Kira is the focus of our projects.She typically writes the lyrics and I arrange the music however, our first CD's title song, "April Fool", was the rare occasion when I wrote the words and Kira did the music.

1998 - April Fool EP

As the summer of 1998 drew to a close, Kira and I had been going at it heavily for about a year and a half.
We decided to take a little hiatus. We still wrote and played but not nearly at the pace we had been.

After the year-end holidays, the music resumed in earnest in February 1999.
Utilizing my mobile unit, we set up rehearsals, oddly enough, on Kira's front porch.

February 16, 1999 rehearsal on Kira's front porch
Although a couple of new songs had been written hot on the heels of the Frank's Closet project
(and one was even during but never made it on the album), these rehearsals were the beginning of the second album

Although the recording of Frank's Closet was finished in June 1998, some minor editing,
mastering and artwork took another year and in late 1999, it was finally released.

Remembering the live gigs of the previous year, we soon set about to do some more. However, this time we wanted a full band. We first went to Dalton, who had produced Frank's Closet, to play drums and Bill Stadler, who also worked on the album as musician and engineer, to play bass because they were familiar with our songs. We christened the band "Partners In Crime". We played one gig with the initial personnel. Dalton dropped out of the project and Bill took over the drummer's seat. Now we needed a bass player.

July 10, 1999
The first gig as Partners In Crime.
Bill Stadler - bass, Dalton Brand - drums

Maintaining the Partners In Crime name, we played one gig with Robin Dulac on bass but that was only a last minute favor on Robin's part. In the end, we recruited an old friend of Bill's and Dalton's named Tony Papas to play bass. Tony would remain as the bass player for the duration of the band's existance.

July 17, 1999
Bill Stadler - Drums, Robin Dulac - bass

Some additional handbills from that summer designed by our friend Seraph Jordan.

August 14, 1999
Bill Stadler - Drums, Tony Papas - bass

September 1999 N.O.R.M.L. Fest
Bill Stadler - Drums, Tony Papas - bass
This was the last Partners In Crime gig.

The band dissolved after the September N.O.R.M.L. fest gig but Kira and I continued to write and demo new songs. By the end of 1999, Kira and I had enough substantial material to begin work on a second album. But we didn't want to have to pay for studio-time again. Now living in a different place, I no longer had Crowded Studio. I finally, and temporily, set up a few pieces of my gear and began to do some recording at home again. We had considered recording backing tracks for use in live performance but nothing significant was produced and the idea was soon abandoned. Essentially it was just experimentation as I acquired new gear. But as I got rolling, the desire for another studio grew strong. Kira and I needed a place to record and if we ever expected have another band we needed rehearsal space!

This was the temporary set up in a small room at my residence as I geared up for a new studio.

For a studio to function properly, you need two primary items - a mixer and a multi-track recorder. I found what I needed in an Alesis mixer and a Tascam recorder. I had intended to buy a Mackie mixer but after I described what I wanted, the salesperson directed me to the Alesis 32 mixer and, indeed, it was a much more useful than the Mackie would have been. This thing will route an audio signal dozens of ways. The Tascam 38 is a behemouth of a machine with its two external dbx noise-reduction units which has been a real workhorse of the studio. OK, I had enough gear now, I needed a place for it.

Tascam 38 1/2" 8-track recorder
& Alesis Studio 32 20 channel mixer

These were a few additional pieces that I added to the studio.

Yamaha DD-10 drum machine
Nice because it has foot pads as well.

Roland RE-201 Space Echo
a classic machine
I traded six CDRs of rare Stooges tracks for this.
Quite a deal, huh?

Casio MT-500
This unit is nice because it has large remote drum pads.
Used in conjuction with the Yahama unit above and my Yahama DD-7
I virtually had an electronic drum kit.

To back up a bit, to around 1995-1996, I met an acquaintence of my brother. Edna Floretta was primarily a graphical/visual artist but dabbled in a variety of artistic endeavors as well as having an arts degree. After some discussion, because her art was primarily visual and mine was aural, we had serious considerations for collaboration. However, nothing initially materialized.

Then, in 1997, around the same time Kira and I began to record Frank's Closet, Edna and I began to finally produce some work. We began by making abstract, avant-garde, "art piece" (call it what you like) videos which essentially consisted of audio/video collages. We would employ and experimant with a variety of makeshift and professional techniques. While I partook and provided equal contribution into these efforts, the end product was destined to be used as stock for Edna's further artistic exploits. I do expect that, at some point in the future, I'll likely utilize some of the material for projects of my own.

Edna Floretta (circa 2000)

As time passed, Edna would become a close friend to me as well as a mainstay and frequent collaborator/contributor in my growing group of artistic friends.

Also, in 1997, I stumbled into the acquaintence of Seraph Jordan who had a serious artistic bent. Like Edna, Seraph's work had primarily been visual in nature. her expansive mind provoked many possibilities and although some ideas had been tossed about, we didn't begin any sort of real collaborative effort until late 1999. From that point on, as she to began hang around more with Kira and myself as we were making music, Seraph's desires to make music were fueled.

Seraph would also become my 'computer guru' so to speak. Her creative computer experience and expertise preceeded mine by about two years providing her a knowledge that I was able to tap as computers entered my life. It was Seraph who provided my initial tutorial on how to create web pages and has continued to provide assistance for my internet exploits..

Seraph Jordan

You might notice that, for this section of the journey, I haven't mentioned any music that was influencing me. The reason? I was so involved with my own artistic endeavors that I had little time to explore what new stuff was out there. I was still buying music but I was drawn toward older albums that I had passed on in the past or new CD versions of older vinyl albums I already had in my collection. I still bought new stuff by artists already established as my favorites but that was about all the new music I was buying. Due to the amount of music I was recording which, of course, needed to be listened to, I had little time to listen to anything else.

However, due to the major artistic influence my female collaborators had on me and to enlighten my future avenues, I began to explore music made by women. To this point, my primary music listening experience had been male dominated. I had many favorite female artists (Janis Joplin, Crissy Hynde, Debbie Harry, Donnette Thayer, Lisa Germano, Linda Ronstadt, Exene Cervenka, Marti Jones, Kim Gordon, Scrawl, Belly, Throwing Muses, The Bangles, The Go Gos, The Breeders and, of course, PJ Harvey) but my musical world had been primarily male.

Ever since working with Mick in the late 1970s and Lisa in the late 1980s, I've always always felt that a female mind and voice can add incredible versatility to music. In 1993, PJ Harvey really lit the fuse of my interest in female artists however, that interest sort of just simmered until I met Kira, Edna and Seraph. The new introductions that would become perenial favorites for inspiration and listening pleasure are noted below. These ladies opened my eyes to a whole new world of musical possibilities. Aside from those male artists that had already established themselves as my favorites, I don't think I bought anything by anyone new to me during the late 1990s and even today, I don't hear much interesting new music by guys that does anything for me. Most guys seem to be simply emulating older influences. How many of today's male artists sound like nothing more than clones of Pearl Jam or Nirvana? Not that the fellows are bad. They just don't seem to be doing anything inovative. On the other hand, women artists are doing all sorts of amazing things and, if you can dig beneath the male dominance, they have been for quite some time and I don't think they get their due credit.

Ani Difranco

Loreena McKinnett

Diamanda Galás



Tori Amos

And even some classics...

Bessie Smith

Billie Holiday

Of course, as always, The Beatles were still a driving force in my life during this time. In fact, the proliferation of bootleg Beatles CDs was at it's peak during this time and I seized any opportunity (and spent a lot of money) to acquire those CDs. Also, due to finally having access to the internet, it was at this time that my affinity for Beatles acetates and the "savage young" Beatles era was really fueled and it was at this time that I began work on the data that would manifest itself as my Beatles web sites.

As previously mentioned, in 1999, Kira and I had begun to gear up for a second album. And, as illustrated above, I had begun to buy new gear with the intent of creating a studio for us. In September 1999, the goal finally saw the light of day. Kira had an empty storage building on her property. I don't know why we hadn't thought of it before but it was a perfect place for a studio and where Kira lived, there were no neighbors to bother. It was perfect! The remainder of 1999 was spent building the studio. The sound room was completed in November (so we had a place to practice and do minimal recording) but the control wasn't finished until January 2000.

Welcome to...

The Womb.

Graphic designed by Seraph Jordan

On to Part Six