Friday, September 21, 2018


Alfright, here we have dudes from Comadre getting nostalgic about their records. 
Their roles in the band were respectively:
Wes - drums
Juan - vocals
Kenny - guitar
Jack - guitar
Steven - bass.
Here we go.

The Youth - 2004

Our first full length release. This record was exciting to create since it was our first time putting together a complete record. Jack (Guitarist/Engineer) had already recorded a number of bands in his home studio, but this record seemed different and exciting to create since we were still trying out new ideas and developing our sound. The vocals on the record were much different than any other Comadre release. The way Jack recorded the vocals created a somewhat “natural distortion” to the how the vocals ended up sounding on the record, which is what we were looking for. Lyrics for most of the songs revolved around togetherness, a lot of “us” and “we” talk/chants and a general distaste for religion. Recording the backup vocals was super fun because we were able to have our friends chant, yell and scream with us, providing a good range of vocals, plus the added hand claps (very early 2000s emo) on some songs. We wanted to make sure our live performance and sound was heard through this first full length. We wanted the record to sound as close to our live performance as possible.

This was very early in my recording life and I was just learning how it all worked.  The thing that felt most natural to us was to just record the way we had band practice: All huddled around in the same room -- Amps, drums, full blast with no physical separation, no headphones, etc.  I still record a lot of bands this way, and I think getting into it early on washed any fear away about bleed and raw circumstances while making a record.

“Mess with the best undress like the rest” is the first song that we ever wrote; the opening riff was something that Jack and I had messed around with a bit when we were in our band prior to Comadre.  It was the first riff we jammed on at our first practice in March 2004. The title “I sleep with my eyes open” is in reference to Kenny, who every day on tour would fall asleep as soon as Jack started the engine of the van.  Also he slept with at least one eye open. Listen closely to “welcome to blood town…” there is a sample from the original Predator (1987) in the breakdown.

Before we settled on the name Comadre, we played a handful of shows under the pseudonym Coffin. Our first release (before The Youth) was a 4-song demo that had the word “Coffin” printed on it. I can’t exactly recall if that is what we decided to name the band or that is just want we decided to name the demo, but it confused some people (me included, apparently). 3 of those songs ended up on The Youth while the other was an instrumental jam. You can find all 4 songs from the demo on the More Songs About the Man release. The release show for The Youth was at the Half Moon Bay Community Center - a venue that would provide a lot of amazing memories the next 5+ years (thanks again, Susan). A song that will always hold a dear place in my heart is “Are You Guys Telling Jokes?”. Not only was that one of the first songs that we wrote, but I was basically exclusively listening to bands on Level-Plane Records during this time and I think that song is a good representation of that.

Songs about the Man - 2005

I feel like Juan was never too into talking between songs when we played live.  There was at least one show, maybe only one, where between almost every song he said “this next song is about The Man.”  In my memory, he said it more and more obnoxiously each time. That is where the title of this record came from.

Chronologically, this is the first album that we released on vinyl.  The assembly and production for the Coldbringer 7”/CDr of this was kind of intense.  Our friends Phil and Andy of End on End ran Coldbringer Records. Because we only pressed 300 records, they had to get blank labels to offset the cost.  We stamped “A” and “B” onto all the records. We burned 300 CDs on our home computers and then stamped them. I designed the booklet and copied them at Kinkos.  We cut the paper at home and bought a special stapler that would allow us to staple the 14 inch wide booklet in the center so that we could fold it to 7”x7”. We stapled plastic sleeves to the back of the booklet and inserted the burned and stamped CDs.  Juan designed and burned the silkscreens for the cover. We didn’t have a proper screen printing set up so we eyeballed the alignment for the two color prints (which was pretty obvious on a lot of the covers). We scored, folded, numbered each cover. And finally we inserted each package into a plastic 7” sleeve.  We agreed that we would not hand produce the packaging for our next record after that experience. Also, 50 of the 300 records were pressed on teal green vinyl. The color we selected from the pressing plant’s catalogue was called “olive drab.”

The original Songs About the Man release was 4 songs that were pressed as a 7inch. We included a CD-R with the 7inch that had an additional 8 songs on it (b-sides: covers, a live track and a remix that our buddy Lev made) that would later be known as More Songs About the Man. The release show for this record was the first time we played at 924 Gilman Street (Gospel and Meneguar played too - so good) and the following day we played the first annual “Kinda Like A Fest” show that we would host every summer. That following month we went on our first U.S. tour which I still can’t believe went as smooth as it did. We drove from California to Florida to Massachusetts and back in 24 days - only 1 show fell through and we only picked up 1 recently released convict on accident! Shout-out to VLV for getting 99% of that tour booked.

Burn Your Bones - 2005-06

Our second full length. We had already done a couple of U.S. tours, which was new to most of us. The bands we were in prior to Comadre did some touring, but not as extensively. Some of the lyrics for this record were written in the van during our first US tour, while driving through states from west to east and back. Themes for the lyrics on this record relate to being alone, emptiness (generic emo topics) complaining about society, working together as a diy community to strive and of course, a general distaste for religion. Jack wrote lyrics for two of the songs on this record, by far the best grammatically written lyrics on the record. Burn Your Bones was the record that took us to different parts of the world as we were fortunate enough to be able to tour in Europe, Japan and Mexico with this record. Different versions of this record were released, all with different artwork. This is also the only record that was also released as a picture disc LP. We met a lot of really talented and amazing individuals while touring with this record while also continuing to develop the Comadre sound.

Boy, this record still haunts me.  I think our songwriting had far surpassed my production skills at this point.  I tried a bunch of stuff and I still feel like it mostly fell short. I have remixed this record 3 times.  The last one being the most presentable, but shit.

I had learned way more about recording by then, but was always reluctant to experiment with other people’s records.  Instead, I saved my experimentation for Comadre records. It didn’t always work out.

I’m pretty sure the first song we started writing for this record was “blackland dirt.”  We played in Fresno, CA on new years eve 2004-05. I’m not sure if it was a band that played that night, or the recent release of Le Tigre’s “This Island,” or both, but Jack was determined to write a song that was “dancey.”  He wrote the bass line that goes through most of the first half of the song. We were all pretty sceptical, but tried to keep an open mind. We jammed on that riff, turned it into a song, and then scrapped it. Then we wrote a bunch of other songs and eventually came back to that riff and reworked it into the version that made it to the record.  The sample that runs throughout the song is from “The Human Voice” with Ingrid Bergman. Jack bought the record on our first full U.S. tour in the summer of 2005 in (I think) North Carolina.

We recorded “Hit Me Up On My Celly-Cell” before any other song on this record. I remember that we were so stoked on it, that we recorded it and instantly made it available to download on our local hardcore/punk message board (shout-out RWCHC) before any other songs were even finished. That song would definitely become our song for a while and it is probably the song that we’ve played the most live. The release show for this record was at the PCC in Redwood City, California - another classic spot that we would spend a lot of time at. Circle Takes the Square played the show with us and it was also a few days before we would fly over to tour Japan for the first time (and for some of us, be out of the country for the first time).

Trainwreck Split - 2007

Our first split release with our friends from Aachen, Germany. We had met Trainwreck on our first European tour. There is no tour like a euro tour. The lyrics on this record yell about a love for punk-ness and generic emo-ness : ) Camel Bucks was my favorite song to play live for so long. 60 Grit was also hella fun to play too tand a bit more upbeat than usual. Such a good split with some solid humans.

This was the first thing we recorded at The Atomic Garden.  We actually recorded the whole thing twice. We tried doing something more clean and separated, but it lacked too much energy.  We ended up going back the “everyone in the room” approach. The recording sounds kinda shitty, but I am glad we got the vibe we were looking for.

“Camel bucks” is the first song we wrote for this record.  At the time we felt like it was the best song we had ever written.  Then we wrote “the best snakes bite back,” which I’m pretty sure is the worst song we’ve ever written.  The bassline at the end of “crimes and cadillacs” might be my favorite bassline I wrote in Comadre.

More significant than those tidbits about the writing process for this record is our friendship with the members of Trainwreck, which occurred almost immediately upon meeting them and continues even now that both of our bands are no more.  We shared lots of time with Trainwreck in Europe and on both coasts of the U.S. over a span of of three years and I have very positive memories of those times. In particular Marc and Felix did a lot for our band and we are grateful. Also, I handled the layout for this record and I spelt Marc’s name with a “k.”  Sorry, Winky! ;)

We almost got into a street brawl alongside Trainwreck while in Germany - we’ve said in the past that this was the moment that we realized that we should do a split together and I believe it still holds true. Like a few other folks have already mentioned, one thing that I will never take for granted are the friends that I made because of Comadre, and the homies in Trainwreck are no exception. We met them on our first European tour and instantly kicked it off. We would then spend the next few years visiting each other on both of our sides of the world. The release show for this record was at the Oddstad Art Gallery in Redwood City, California. Graf Orlock and Trainwreck (who were on their first U.S. tour) played that show with us.

A Wolf Ticket - 2009

Our third “full length” record. I love this record even though it’s really, really short. Some of my favorite songs are on this record, including; grow worms, king jeremy, tannerisms and suicides may have been pact.  By the time this record was recorded I felt like we had established the sound we were looking for. A Wolf Ticket flows seamlessly from the first track to the last. Lyrical themes include; a young, confused Hamlet, failures, searching for motivation, an appreciation for outsiders, the “hardcore blues” (too many similar sounding hardcore bands), good diversions to continue to grow as individuals, misunderstandings and calling in sick. Although most of the lyrics are somewhat pessimistic, the sample on the track “word is bond” encourages individuals/communities to strive for perfection. This record was release on CD, LP (10” at 45rpm and a one sided 12” at 33rpm with an etching on the b side) and a cassette tape. Artwork was different for all the releases, but similar themes and illustrations were used on all. I think this is my favorite record, from start to finish.

This is still one of my favorites.  It was made very different than any of the other records.  I don’t think we were ever all in the studio at the same time, actually.  Wes and I laid down the basic tracks together and everyone else came in one at a time.  Also, there are only 4 mics on the drums.

This was the first time since The Youth that I felt really good about the actual recording.

Wes and I thought the band had run out of songwriting power at the time.  We were very doubtful about the outcome. It wasn’t until the vocals got recorded that we all got very excited.  We hadn’t heard any vocals while we were writing, but Juan hand it all handled.

The initial concept for the music for “king jeremy” was to repurpose what was at the time a stereotypical hardcore breakdown drumbeat that we heard a hundred times from a hundred bands in our years of touring prior to this record.  In those songs we had heard, everything would be really tough sounding and all the kids would open the pit and start picking up change, practicing their martial arts, and doing that weird hardcore dance that looks an awful lot like skanking to me.  We intentionally wrote riffs around that beat that sounded like Jimmy Eat World and the Jealous Sound. We figured that Juan’s vocals were raw enough that we could get away with anything musically regardless of how poppy it sounded before his vocals went over the top while privately poking fun at the spectacle we had witnessed over and over all around the States.

This release would see our second time working with Adagio830 Records (Germany), our second time working with Cosmic Note Records (Japan) and our first time working with Paper + Plastic Records (Gainesville, Florida). By this point, we were flying out to The Fest (shout-out, King Tony) every year like it was a goddamn family reunion, so I was stoked on being a part of an official Gainesville release. Plus, Robert (Adagio830) and Uchuu (Cosmic Note) were the homies as well so it was great to have that ongoing support from them as well. Almost 10 years later, I find myself listening to “Suicides May Have Been Pact” every once in a while and it puts a pretty big grin on my face - that song is just so fucking cool (a little bias, I know). The release show for this record was at a punk house in Belmont, California that had a big garage that was doing shows at the time. Loma Prieta and Bad Friends (who were a side-project of Dead To Me) played that show with us.

Glasses Split - 2010

Looking back, I wish these songs were on A Wolf Ticket and it was an lp instead of a long ep.  These songs very much felt like a continuation of those. We often just wrote until the last minute before a record was due and went with what we had.  There were rarely any leftovers or b-sides from any writing sessions. We just worked an idea until it worked, rather than throwing things away. Tangent.

Writing for this record was tricky.  We were really racking our brains to come up with a sound that we hadn’t done before.  I think we were overthinking it to be honest. On a positive note, we started playing with concepts that would go on to inform the song-writing for our final LP.  “Byrne’ing down the haus” and “count basie box set” in particular we really worked get Wes and I more locked into a groove by just synching up my strumming rhythms with Wes’s bass drum patterns.  “Living differently” represents the beginning of mine and Jack’s Tom Waits phase (which continued into the self titled LP) in which we were trying to not to let the music become a wall of noise; difficult to do for a punk/hardcore/emo/screamo band.

“Byrne'in Down the Haus” was the first songs that we wrote with a more traditional song structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, outro and I remember thinking “yeah, that’s kinda tight” - apparently this would be foreshadowing to what was to come on the S/T record. Glasses were a great band which we also spent a lot of time together in a van with on both sides of the world. The double-7inch artwork was also a joint project between the two bands, which I think is cool to note. This was also the first time we worked with Justin and Vitriol Records - which would become home for us for the rest of our releases. The release show for this record was at the Submission Art Space in San Francisco, California. Dead To Me and Big Kids played this show with us.

This split meant we got to go back to Europe! Count Basie Box Set has my favorite sample at the end of it and the record flows together nicely with lyrics about understanding modern hardcore, talking head lyrics, moderation and dead philosophers. Glasses crew was/is the best.

Self Titled - 2012-13

This was by far our most ambitious record.  So much work went into the planning, writing and execution.  I remember pitching the whole concept and getting some side eyes, but I’m really glad we stuck with it.  I think it took 2 years to complete.

The Idea was that we would write the songs the way we normally would (collaboratively in a room together, each with their part, etc), but then totally take them apart and arrange them with different instrumentation and a stripped down rhythm sound. Then build it all back up for the recording -- giving guitar parts to other instruments, etc.

Incorporating things like piano, organ, acoustic guitars, upright bass, horns, shakers, tambourine, accordion, saw, were all discussed and planned for.  We bought a piano because the one at the studio was too busted. And I had been given an old Hammond organ.

After the songs were written we had a handful of practices that were just bass and drums while the rest of us sat around and critiqued the cohesiveness of the rhythm section.  In the past, everyone just kind of wrote their own parts and they would occasionally overlap, but we were all kind of doing our own thing. This time there was serious consideration given to all the pieces and how they fit together.

The bass and drums were recorded together live with a scratch guitar for a guide. The drums were done in the space next to the studio that used to be an antique furniture warehouse.  The reverb that you hear on the drums is just that big open room. The drums were also recorded without any crash or ride cymbals, and no open hihat. Anywhere that would have had crash-ride was replaced with floor tom.  Anywhere that would have had open hihat was played closed and tight, and supplemented with tambourine and/or shaker. Crash cymbals were overdubbed later. The goal here was to preserve the “air” that was apparent on records I had gravitated towards at the time.  Tom Waits albums played a big part in shaping this one for me.

“Cold rain” and “date night” were the first songs we wrote for this record.  We started working on them at the beginning of 2011, but we then started planning the most intense tour that we would ever take on (of South East Asia and Australia) and that interrupted all of our progress on this record and I think kind of broke the band.  We held off on writing anything further until the start of 2012. We did very few shows and no tours in 2012 and just focused on the writing and production of this record.

Adding on to some things that Jack has already said, with the writing and recording of this album we wanted to reverse what our goals had previously been with nearly every other record:  We had always wanted our records to be true to our live sound. I think this is mostly because bands took advantage of features like auto-tune, time correction, overdubs, and punch-in capabilities to produce something that was beyond the actual skill of the members of the band; that could never be reproduced because the performers lacked the skill to pull it off in the first place.  I think we had been resentful of that phenomenon when we were younger. By the time we got to the self titled full length, I think most people had caught on that our live sound was consistent and knew what to expect. So we wanted to create an opportunity to make the two experiences of listening to the record and seeing the songs performed live totally different, but in a way that would actually push us to be more creative and to try some different things.  We wanted people to listen to the record and wonder, “so, are they gonna bring horns and keyboards out to their shows?” The answer to that question would be, “of course not!!!!” The intention all along was to keep the live set up intact and just have two different arrangements for each song: the recorded multi-instrumental version and the live drums, bass, guitar version. In fact, once the recording was done and we were so used to the arrangements that we had created for the record, we had to have several band practices where we just focused on reverse-arranging the songs back to just drums, bass, and guitars.

At the time what we were doing with this alternative instrumentation felt pretty extreme, but in hindsight it still feels pretty safe to me.  I like to think that had we stuck around long enough to make a follow-up to this album that we would have taken that even further.

I remember reading someone’s review of this record and it saying something along the lines of: “I didn't get it at first, then I got it, and then my mind was blown.” I think that is exactly the reaction we were hoping to get. Throughout the music and artwork, there is an underlying theme of “textures” and their variety. We wanted to have people listen and dissect each song, and hopefully find something new every time. Whether it was a tambourine or an organ replacing more traditional instruments, or the fact that there are sometimes little to no guitars at all - these were ways we wanted to show the dynamic textures of the record. And honestly, I go back and forth on which song is my favorite on this record because I too rediscover little things that I forgot we did on a song and it brings me back to that “oh, shiiiiit” moment in the studio when we recorded it. We ended up releasing the digital version of this record on our website a week early from the date, on New Year's Eve 2012 (cause why the hell not?). Vitriol Records followed up with an amazing release of the record that following week. Our release show was at the Submission Art Space in San Francisco, California. We wanted to do something extra special for this one so we got Chrome Bags to rent out the venue so that it could be a free show, and it was packed that night. Loma Prieta and Terry Malts played this show as well and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

The self titled is tight.

It sounds crazy good, not calculated but loose and real fun to play, even if it was just us practicing/refining songs and playing through the record from start to finish. I remember hearing the drums for Color Blind and being very excited to record vocals. Lyrics were, as usual, all over the place on this record. Such thought-provoking, head scratching lyrical themes such as the summer, Beetlejuice, books, a Percy Sledge song, the Moon, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, trumpets, Kris Udekwu’s writing, Amy Winehouse, a spanish artist and general sad times sprinkled with emo stuff.

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