Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Retrovirus Lab: A Brief History

So, I suppose the first question, one that I've been asked recently, is this: Am I getting the band back together?  This was asked not so much in the literal sense, as in actually tracking down former band members from all over the country and actually playing together again, but in the figurative sense...  Am I really looking at diving back into this music thing?

Well, for now, the answer is no.  Beyond, maybe, when I have some time, if I ever have any time, remixing some of the material from 2008 and, an even bigger maybe, recording some mostly spoken word solo type of stuff even further down the road, I cannot really see getting too much back into it at this point in my life.  Hell, I can barely keep up with the current elements of my life, let alone trying to throw a band into the mix.

However, it is something I would like to do later on.  Someday...  maybe.

So, what is going on with all these band sites and what not?  Just sticking my toe in the door, keeping the name preserved, and having the online infrastructure in place in case I do decide to throw in again.

But, for now, this is a blog about music, not about a band.  And that is what I am happy with right now.

Here is some old profile information on Retrovirus Lab:

Retrovirus Lab Resurrection? Part One: A history of Seattle band inbreeding (2008)

So the history works like this… Once upon a time there was a fun little city called Seattle...

First I was in a basement band called Taramarteau (the spelling may not be correct here, but I do not think it matters much). One of the songs I am working on now, "Filler," actually dates back to this old band in 1992. This band never played anywhere but the basement, but it was my first time out as a singer, and I am glad that there is no surviving evidence from this warm up period.

Mary the bass player and I fled the suck and started a new band, which was Koan. Musicians were wanted in The Stranger. Koan went through two incarnations, the first with Mary, Jason Roberts, Brad Haug (who was one of the founding members of Faith & Disease), his buddy Andy, and a cute redhead whose name I cannot remember right now on keyboards. There was drama. One show was played at the Rendezvous, I believe, rapidly followed by more drama and the collapse of the band.

Jason and I kept the name, added his friend J. D. Jarmer, and eventually Ryan Kingsbury on drums, with a number of other musicians rolling in and out here and there, live and in the studio. "C Chaos" comes from this period, based on a song originally titled "Squirting Chaos," as does "Four Minute Barrier," "It Could Really Be Murder," "Thresholds," and "My Soul Is Free." Essentially, these are covers of old Koan songs. I am reclaiming them for this new project since I wrote the lyrics and had the lead vocal duties on these songs.

This incarnation of Koan lasted for a while, put out a demo tape, kroatoan, played quite a few shows at places such as the Off Ramp and, of course, the Lake Union Pub. We lived at the Jam Box rehearsal studios, and then up near Northgate in a garage. Jason and J.D. were students in Shoreline's audio engineering program (as was I, for a couple of quarters), so we parked up in the college's 16 track analog studio for weekends at a time. We were briefly popular in Salt Lake City due to the strategic location of a stack of band stickers that used The Sisters of Mercy font, and due to the fact that no one in SLC had ever heard our music… We were a part of the NW Goth Coalition for a while, even though we were not really a Goth band, and we also hung out with a lot of the guys playing in bands in the NW Industrial Coalition. Cleopatra signed almost all of those guys.

Eventually, everything got weird (I'll take quite a bit of the responsibility for this), and we broke up. During the break up, live in the middle of a set at the Lake Union Pub, I was thrown out the back door of the establishment and told to never return. It was quite a remarkable feat, getting 86ed from this old punk dive, one that I am strangely proud of. This was 1994.

Two weeks later, the original Retrovirus Lab made its debut back at the Lake Union Pub. Mike Tune on bass, Ryan Kingsbury on drums, Cliff Braten on guitar, and I was handling the vocals and playing quite a bit of sax.

Back at the Jambox, a rehearsal space was shared for a few weeks with The Reactors, but due to wide spread band poverty, Retrovirus Lab only had about three or four rehearsals there before we became homeless. Still, with three or four solid songs and the loose seeds of a few more that were used as the foundation for some long improvisational jams, we boldly set forth once more into the Seattle music scene.

That first show at the Lake Union, two weeks after I was catching air out the back door, had the same bartender loading us up with free beer at closing time and going off on how we were the best fuckin' band to play that shithole in a long time. We were on to something. The pub pretty much became our rehearsal space and we played there every week or two for the next year, as well as a number of other shows around the Seattle club scene.

Current Artist Bio (2011)

Retrovirus Lab, in its first incarnation, was a live band playing small clubs in Seattle in the mid-1990s. The group was a loose assortment of musicians playing a heavily improvisational style of music influenced by the members’ punk, industrial, metal, and jazz roots. The primary line up consisted of A.F. Litt on lead vocals and alto sax, Cliff Braten on guitar, Mike Tune on bass, and Ryan Kingsbury on percussion.

In 2008, A. F. Litt revived the name Retrovirus Lab for a solo project that resulted in a number of songs being recorded in his living room. This material consisted of reworked Retrovirus Lab songs from the 1990s, reworked songs from an earlier band of his, featuring several Retrovirus Lab members, called Koan, and several new songs.

While currently on hiatus, Litt is planning on remixing much of the 2008 material for release late in 2011 or early 2012 and recording new material for release sometime in 2012.

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