Flak Scrampe Tramauntra

"Chris Van Etten has been providing some of the latest stuff posted on this blog (e.g. Wheeljack demo, 42 Live at WREK, Chapman Park demo), and during the process I have been learning about some of his previous bands. He is currently the bassplayer for the Carbonas, but one of his earlier bands was called Flak Scrampe Tramauntra. Jon Lukens forwarded me their five song recording recently, and I was really blown away, especially concerning the time period from which it came from. In the late 90's, the general tendency for DIY bands was to get more academic and cerebral in their writing and presentation. Song structures became more complicated, band names became more complicated, and everything was becoming purposefully impenetrable. This is a technique by which bands can sometimes become popular by making music that is difficult for people to understand, and thereby earning respect for the intellectual exercise. These guys took where they were coming from and added a visceral element to it, and greatly improved the output. I look at it like a Wheeljack-type band (maybe because they had the same singer), but throw in some Born Against, maybe some Skull Kontrol and you get these guys. I never got to see them during their era, which is unfortunate, but it shows that there are good bands all over the place, and maybe they don't have the connections to get the big shows, but you should not judge a band by their popularity, rule one. Here are some details provided by Chris himself: Flakscrampe Tramauntra 1996-1999 Membs: Scott Rogers (vox), Phil Ritchie (guitar), Chris Van Etten (bass), Jeff Dilbeck (drums). Initially Phil and I tried to be a two-piece using a drum machine, but that didn't work so Jeff offered to play drums. Our first few practices had Phil and I switching vocals, but Scott was itching to sing in another band (Wheeljack was active at this time), so we brought him in. Just as well, since he was a better vocalist/lyricist than me or Phil. This line up solidified in Nov 1996. Despite practicing regularly, we didn't play a show until July 1997. We played out sporadically until our last show on August 4th, 1999. All of the shows were either in Atlanta or Athens, I think there were 17 altogether. Because we played out so rarely, most of the shows were on the sloppy side. Sometimes we'd do really well, and once or twice we flat out sucked. Also, like I told you before, we didn't know how the hell to promote ourselves so often we'd wind up playing to just a handful of friends. Every once in a while we'd do something gimmicky like all wear hammer and sickle t-shirts or all shave our heads. Musically, I guess we were inspired by the more interesting (read:arty) DIY bands of the mid 90's, as well as Nomeansno, NOU, the Steve Albini bands and older punk bands like Black Flag (the only cover we ever played in public was "No Values"). The straight-up punk influence was particularly important, because it seemed at the time that most bands were trying TOO hard to sound "advanced" and "nuanced" or whatever. Maybe this is too personal, but I thought it was stupid that you would look more out of place wearing a Meatmen shirt at a show than a fucking SMITHS shirt. I also didn't (and still don't) feel that retaining a solid punk influence and adapting interesting stylistic attributes couldn't go together. Too many people had poured the baby out with the bathwater. I don't mean to rant, but that had a lot to do with the ideology of the band. This is all in my opinion, the other guys may feel different. We did some basement recordings and one song "The Lost Art of Dueling" wound up on a Food Not Bombs comp. The six songs we recorded in the studio were initially meant to be one side of a split LP with Action Porn, Josh Fauver's one-man band at the time. Around 2005/2006, an attempt was made to reignite the band. We all lived in different states, so we would email tracks to each other. These songs were electronically based and didn't really sound like the old material. This more or less fell through, but I think Jeff and Phil are still working together on stuff. As of right now, Jeff still lives in the Atlanta area, Scott is living in North Carolina (I think) and Phil is in the Navy, living in San Francisco. For our name, Jeff and I just threw a bunch of syllables together out of frustration after hearing that Thoughtcrime, our initial moniker, had already been taken." - James Joyce / Beyond Failure Blog

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