40 Grit / Rumpelforeskin

In the late 1990’s I joined a band made up of musicians from the Boston music scene: Jeff Aach on the Aachrocach (a guitar strung with bass strings, if memory serves me) and Keith “Kato” Martinelli on drums, both hailed from the group Medicine Pipe; Courtney Allendar, a veteran of the local scene, and a fellow Tower Records alum, played bass; and I, lately of the Dark Young, sang and screeched.

Fueled by 12 packs of MGD, we rehearsed in the basement of the Brainerd House, a duplex in which Kato and Jeff resided, alongside many of our musical colleagues. There were house parties aplenty and the one photo I have of the band is from the one public appearance we made at the Halloween party of 1997.

Rumpelforeskin, Halloween 1997 @ live at the Brainerd House basement.

Rumpelforeskin, Halloween 1997 @ live at the Brainerd House basement.

The sound was somewhere between mid 70’s King Crimson and Sonic Youth, with lots of improvisation and distortion. We had a few actual songs, which I wrote the lyrics for and helped arrange, although the music itself was all created by the instrumentalists.

We began as 40 Grit, a reference to a coarse grade of sandpaper, but found that a New York group were already known under that name, so Jeff came up with Rumpelforeskin, which we all thought was hilarious. I wrote some lyrics for a song with that title, but it never really gelled and by that time we had begun to go our separate ways.

The few songs we did do together were pretty catchy and one of them, Ride My Grill, actually made it to the studio as a recording project for a friend who was taking a college course of some kind. The title was inspired by a comment Kato made after running through the riff a few times. It’s part nursery rhyme and part Horror story. I thought of the movie The Car (1977) when I wrote it. I love the song, and am partial to a rehearsal recording which peels the paint off the walls. Unfortunately, a dear friend of mine was killed a few years ago in a hit and run in NYC and some of the relish I had in delivering the gruesome lines has diminished. I have considered since then, that if I ever published a copy of the lyric or a recording of the song to a wider audience, I would like to perhaps offer a percentage of the proceeds to some charity for survivors of similar tragedies.

Truth Cake was taken from a poem I had written for my buddy Philip, who always talked about doling out the Truth Cake! I cannot recall how the song came about, but we all worked on the arrangement together.

Lastly, there was No Candy from Courtney which was inspired by a story Courtney told us in a rehearsal. Apparently, he had bought a lot of candy for the trick-or-treaters in his building complex. Come Halloween night, however, no one showed up to knock on his door. He was so miffed that he had wasted all of his money on the candy that no one wanted, that he vowed if they came around the following year he would answer the door, wielding his bass guitar like a club screaming “No candy from Courtney! No Candy from Courtney!”

The guys were fun to hang with and great musicians, and I am still close to Courtney, since we have a longer history both prior and since. I had fun with the band, as short lived as it was, but it never had the impact on me that the Dark Young did, as that was, aesthetically, closer to my heart.

Below are links to the lyrics for the aforementioned songs:

No Candy from Courtney: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/no-candy-from-courtney/

Rumpelforeskin / Truth Cake / Ride My Grill: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/rumpelforeskin-ride-my-grill-truth-cake/

 

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