Architectural Metaphor is, along with Alien Planetscapes and F/i, one of the seminal American underground Space Rock bands to emerge in the 1980s. Keyboardist and founding member Paul Eggleston was the first person I ever interviewed, appearing in issue #2, April 1998, back when Aural Innovations was a printed mag. I’ve still got a micro-cassette of our phone conversation. I had been enamored of their 1997 released Creature Of The Velvet Void album, which has a distinctive style that holds up to this day. The combination of Eggleston’s BIG keyboards, Greg Kozlowski’s soaring guitar, and Deb Young’s haunting vocals on that album still sends shivers down my spine.
I had been in communication with Paul earlier this year when the latest Architectural Metaphor album – Everything You Know Is Wrong – was released. Our email exchanges made me realize that the story told in the 1998 interview didn’t paint a large enough picure, as I had learned so much more about the band in subsequent years and wanted to tell a much fuller story. Paul responded with a fascinatingly detailed history, and instead of my usual interview style, what follows is Paul telling the band’s story himself.
My roommate at UMass, BD, had moved to Edinburgh Scotland for a year in college there, and began to send back tales of multiple Hawkwind shows he had seen, backed by some cassette bootlegs he had made. My apartment consisted of rabid Hawkwind fans, and we were the only ones in western Massachusetts as far as we knew. His tale of the 1983 Stonehenge Free Festival finished with the plan that he and I would attend in the coming year. We did.
So did Anthony Who? from Melting Euphoria and Tommy Grenas from Farflung. I walked past Ozric Tentacles at Stonehenge as they jammed, with primitive lights. I think it may have been one of their solidifying debut shows. BD was our early light guy and major Hawkwind freak besides myself. Stonehenge ’84 definitely started something, without anyone being aware at the time. Odd that four bands started at one festival.
ArcMet: Version One
I returned and started solo experiments and duets in a one week period of July that summer with Bill Buitenhuys, a sometimes jam partner on guitar. I had a hold of my brother’s Electro Harmonix Octave Multiplexer which gave out hellish sounds of chaos, not really a guitar pedal at all. Armed with that, a cheap early 60s Japanese organ, Ibanez Iceman, fuzzbox and Bill’s SG copy, we made the debut cassette Lone Rhino in a Flying Teapot (1984). (Adrian Belew meets Gong in our brains). This was marketed through an advert in Boston Rock in which we claimed to sound like Throbbing Gristle and the Residents.
We involved others in Wakefield, Mass to expand into a social club/band. We used Hawkwind as a blueprint for many of our early ideas, trying to evolve a ‘Space Ritual’ of our own. This ended up partly coming to fruition two years later.
We played in the basement of Barry Corbett (guitar and percussion effects) who brought in a Wakefield Deadhead, Chris Mogan (world percussion) and his co worker, Bob Foley (guitar and synthesizer). Bob was a classically trained pianist and a way better guitar player than Barry, Bill and me combined. Yet we made the decision to not sound like any band and confined Bob to Moog. (By the way, when we peeled the Lizzie Borden and the Axes sticker off the Moog’s flight case, in neatly stenciled letters read: Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny Group.) The occasional appearance of my friend Dave Gorrill (world percussion and sfx) rounded out the original sextet. It was a rare day when we got the full band together, but usually practiced as at least a quintet. This is the band that released what many consider to be the first release proper, the Music for Mensas cassette (1984). (We didn’t know at the time that the plural was ‘Mensans’.) This was sold via mail order and through some local stores. We got some limited attention for our outright strangeness.
The band’s sound at the time was a combination of early 80’s Grateful Dead ‘space’, Pink Floyd circa 1968 freakouts, and primal Hawkwind noise freakouts. It sounded like peaceful Throbbing Gristle, a bit like the Heathen Earth album. I had added a dodgy ARP Odyssey by this point to the guitar and echo of my rig. Third and Short was the follow up cassette release, with a variation of the sextet throughout. All of this material was recorded in Barry’s basement.
We also had modern classical influences. We did a piece that stayed in the set for a long while, 57 Candles for Karlheinz, based loosely on our understanding of Stockhausen’s work. It included typewriter and scissors and a television as instruments. We once blew out the electricity in a whole wing of Brandeis University while playing this live on the radio there. (TV shorted out on a heating baseboard.) In retrospect, we were doing what Pink Floyd tried to do (and abandoned) for their follow up to Dark Side of the Moon, a song made through found household objects and utilizing few to no instruments. John Cage was another influence. Bill and I had seen him reading unintelligible syllables from Thoreau’s journals at a performance near Walden Pond around this time, and we were fascinated by his disregard for any conventions at all in structuring music. Deconstructing more accurately.
Philip Glass was another influence, mainly implemented through the newly acquired Roland SH101 and its ability to run hypnotic arpeggios. I now had two synths in my rig, mainly for sfx, while Bob held down the real keyboard job on MicroMoog and Korg Poly 800, and later an early DX7 knock off, the Casio CZ1000.
A debut gig at Innersleeve Records in Allston on Dec 14, 1984 was followed by Radio broadcasts on Tufts WMFO, Boston College WZBC and ULowell WJUL which garnered attention and perplexed many. MITs WMBR were also early fans who understood this atonal semi-hippy space music that seemed to have no songs at all in the repertoire. Another early gig was opening for Deep Wound (later Dinosaur Jr) at an outdoor party in Amherst. The whole band ran off one extension cord from a 1700’s era house. Bob’s moog made unplanned and uncontrollable sounds, which we later figured out were due to its voltage controlled oscillators not receiving the correct voltage from the house from the draw of all the equipment and amps and PA plugged in. A brown-out of sorts. (A super rare compilation vinyl LP on Innersleeve, Drastic Perversions, contains an ArcMet song, giving the band their first national release. CLICK HERE to listen to a track on YouTube.) A cassette release of the debut show at Innersleeve was our fourth release, Innervistas (1985).
Chronicle of cassette releases
Lone Rhino in a Flying Teapot (Paul solo and Paul and Bill duets) July 1984
Music for Mensas (the quintet) September 1984. Sold in Boston area record stores
Innervistas (live at Innersleeve, Dec 1984) Feb 1985. This one got some distribution and one song was chosen for a California compilation of USA cassette underground bands.
Third and Short (sextet) October 1984. Ltd edition of 25
Soundtrack to an Imaginary Motion Picture (Paul, Barry and Bob) Jan 1985 (Ltd edn of 10)
WMFO live March 1985 (served as our promo recording to get gigs)
Crystallized Intelligence (the sextet) June 1985 (Ltd edn of 25)
Impressions of Ancient Souls (the sextet) Sept 1985 (Ltd edn of 40) This had three songs in our set we played a lot, Arctic Desolation, Peptide Bondage and 57 Candles for Karlheinz. Our first release to have some planned material and not be a collection of our best freeform pieces, which is what all of the previous cassette releases were.
Noodles (the sextet) October 1985. The first to feature our original woodcut logo.
Planet Nine from Outer Space (quintet) Sept 1986. The last recordings with Bob.
There is a studio session professionally recorded in 1985 that has not been released in any form as of yet. A planned edited release is upcoming for the end of 2013.
(Chris Green, the other member of the synth duo Bionaut with me, heard the strange sound of Hawkwind’s Sonic Attack come out of his radio at Tufts in 1985, leading to his coming to the station to witness the madness live, later joining the band in 1990, and the formation of Bionaut in 1994.)
Bob Foley, our gifted keyboardist, had a ‘Syd Barrett moment’ when in the space of a month in 1987 decided to quit his job, sell his car, records, stereo, instruments and move into his parents basement, never to be seen again. I think we had a negative influence on his naturally reclusive and gentle state of mind. Him spray painting my synths and himself orange at a private space ritual on the South Shore, and declaring us ‘orange enough to play now’, perhaps was an early warning of his upcoming break.
Barry had left the band by then and Deb Young had joined on percussion and space whisper. Paul, Bill, Deb and Dave trooped into the studio to record Odysseum Galacti in 1988. This contained some recognizable songs, especially the catchy Waterwheel (written/discovered by me in ten minutes while the rest of the band went to get beer at a rehearsal in 1986, to the surprise of all parties) and We’ve Come for Your Children. Strangely, the song Peptide Bondage, an early popular sequencer space jam was not included. I think we wanted to have the newest sound we could come up with. Cascading Foliage was a sequencer song dedicated to Bob, as he usually drove these kinds of tunes. The title was a nod to his apparent madness and surname. It was a kind of Ur-Punk space rock… primitive and not new-agey at all. The studio was run by Chris Bruce, a self taught wizard who had connections at Lexicon. Prototype cutting edge Lexicon signal processing and delay units were smuggled out at closing and quietly returned before they opened in the morning. Much of this gear wasn’t released commercially until the following year. This is part of the special spaciousness that got the ‘this is a headphone album’ warning on the back of the CD. The album was originally planned as an LP with a different cover, now the black and white part of the booklet of the CD.
Around this time we had a short association with Dave Prescott, an analog synth wizard who ended up recording with German pioneers like Conny Plank. Dave played with Alien Planetscapes for a brief time around this period as well. He did three gigs with us in the Boston area.
The band developed a following in Unity College Maine around this time, and played several Earth Day festivals up there, spreading our madness North. People up there were drawn in by our lengthy cover of Tangerine Dream’s Ricochet, a staple of the set along with Sonic Attack for a long while.
The news of an imminent Hawkwind US tour, their first since 1978, gripped the band in 1989. We decided to make a full on assault on the club in Somerville to get the opening slot. Bill used his company’s assets to print up a few one-off professionally book-bound presskits, giving the impression of a well organized and professional band. This worked and we threw ArcMet’s madness into the Hawkwind crowd, spreading the word a bit further. (This show is the one where Brock allowed me to do the lead vocal on the speech Welcome to the Future as part of Hawkwind’s encore.) This was ArcMet’s first huge Boston show.
The band at this time consisted of Bill on guitar, Chris Green on guitar, Paul on synths, Dave on percussion and samples, Deb on percussion and space whispers and Chris Mogan on bongos and percussion.
Several more opening slots for Hawkwind in Boston (the Channel) and NYC garnered more attention from college radio and the underground space rock scene. Job commitments left Bill unable to play many shows, and he left guitar duties to Chris Green. The band was now essentially a trio – Paul, Chris and Deb. A Roland Sampler, Crumar Trilogy and Roland jx3p were added to the SH101 as the Arp Odyssey was retired. This was in an attempt to beef up the sound of the trio. Gigs at UMass started around this time. Chris also had commitments and became unavailable for some shows, so there was a need to find a replacement guitarist that would enable Chris to play whenever he could, and give the band a permanent and dependable guitarist.
This ends the tale of ArcMet version one, the sextet.
ArcMet: Version Two
It was around this time we became aware of F/i, a Midwest space rock band, and Alien Planetscapes from NYC. Being aware of like minded, yet vastly different sounding bands was encouraging. Spacemen 3’s roadies formed a band called Loop around this time, and there was a sense that a small groundswell in the space rock scene could be happening. Through Chris Bruce, we managed to cross paths with Doug Walker of Alien Planetscapes, the self-proclaimed ‘only Black Man in Space Rock’. Doug could smoke prodigious amounts of weed and was a tireless self promoter. His outfit had a constantly shifting membership as Doug sought the perfect band. He was the mainstay on electric synth saxophone and EMS synthi and VCS3 sound machines. His band released a ton of material on cassette.
We auditioned several guitarists that found our help wanted poster proclaiming our influences: Hawkwind, Gong, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül 2, Pink Floyd, Ozric Tentacles, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze… it was like a forty band list. Greg Kozlowski, who lived fairly far away in Rhode Island kind of freaked out. He auditioned, assured us that coming from RI to band practice would not be a problem, and ArcMet version two was born – Paul, Deb and Greg (and occasionally Chris Green). This is the version of the band that really got down to brass tacks and aligned the band with a more professional approach. We played the Loud Music Festival in Northampton, and were alternates at the CMJ festival in NYC, the major unsigned festival of the 90s, much like SXSW is today.
The new trio, occasionally augmented by Chris Green, worked nearly full time on the band. One of our first major gigs with the new line up was opening for Ozric Tentacles in Allston at the former Bunrattys, Local 186. The band was greeted by the promoter as we pulled up on the street to tell us that the Ozrics would not be having any opening bands at all on their debut US tour due to space limitations onstage, and he had made a mistake. Negotiations inside were fruitless, until I decided to start at the bottom of the food chain, and spoke with the Ozrics roadie. I indicated that if he was willing to move two monitor wedge speakers onstage a bit, we could squeak our trio in between the large synth rigs of Ed and Joie. He agreed, and we proceeded to set up, to the amazement of the house manager and Ozrics manager as well. “How the hell did you do that?” (In a side note, one of our fans, without any permission had plugged his tape deck into Ozrics personal soundboard that they had floated over the ocean and was the size of a Volkswagen. It blew the fuses out in half of it causing the Ozric manager to throw a fit of Vesuvian proportions. He tried to throw us off the bill, but was later convinced we had no control over our semi-psychotic fans and it was only a fuse easily fixed.) We ended up as the only opening act on their first tour. Someone spilled a pitcher of beer by mistake into my prized Ensoniq Mirage sampler, killing it stone dead at this show.
Gigs and opening slots proliferated. We did several shows in NYC at the Wetlands, opening for Hawkwind and the Legendary Pink Dots in 1994-95. We also did several shows at CBGBs, the club/toilet/legend in the Bowery. In Boston we did many shows at the Rat in Kenmore Square, a fading hotbed of punk and cutting edge music. We recorded the song Brainticket there live, and this was one of the two songs on Odysseum Galacti featuring Greg. We played with the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black there. Other highlights of that era included opening for Gong at what is now the House of Blues in Boston, and Alan Holdsworth in Northampton. Northampton, Mass became our base of operations and was a burgeoning rock hot spot that was getting some press buzz as the next ‘Seattle’. A show with Pere Ubu in Northampton brought us the beginnings of a post punk crossover audience. We frequently played the Baystate Hotel, the center of action in Northampton with many up and coming punk tinged bands – The Unband, New Radiant Storm King, Scud Mtn Boys, Sons of the Corporate Dog (a band made up of members who had been kicked out of Dinosaur Jr at some point). We did a free festival on Amherst Common with five other bands and recorded In Between Dunes there, the second song on Odysseum Galacti to feature Greg. This all happened in 1994-95.
The Odysseum Galacti CD was finally released in 1995 and made many college radio playlists across the country, as chronicled in the CMJ (college music journal) industry magazine. More gigs in NYC and Boston solidified a following for a band with what could only loosely be considered songs as their repertoire. We were more intent on creating a ‘vibe’ in our shows.
A second album was recorded with our newly written material, and we were signed to Black Widow in Italy. They released Creature From the Velvet Void on CD and on lavish gatefold vinyl, with an enclosed poster. Fantastic job they did. They also commissioned us to go into the studio to record a song for their amazing Not Of This World 4-CD tribute to sci-fi movies and books. Again, a very high production standard and amazing package. The Maker, our tribute to Dune, made its only studio appearance on this release. This gave us some exposure in Europe and press in Milan and Genoa. Discussions of an Italian tour sadly broke down before being finalized.
Another break came with the release of Space Box: 1970 and Beyond-Space, Krautrock and Acid Trips on Cleopatra. A 3-CD set featuring the legends of space rock – Hawkwind, Gong, Amon Düül II, Guru Guru, Cluster, Faust… it also included new space rock bands including Alien Planetscapes and… Architectural Metaphor. This national exposure led to participation on the King Crimson tribute Schizoid Dimension and Genesis tribute CDs in 1998 and 1999 on Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid. National magazines began to notice us and name-check us in reviews and articles. And then, the Strange Daze festival loomed on the horizon, the first ‘Gathering of the Tribes’ of American space rock bands…
The Strange Daze Festival put together by Jim Lascko in 1997 was an amazing event. The cream of US space rock bands gathered in Western NY for America’s first space rock festival. (Nicely documented on the two CD Pangea Music release.) It was amazing to meet and hang out with members of Alien Planetscapes, F/i, ST37, Nucleon, Red Giant, Melting Euphoria, Farflung, Quarkspace, and Born to Go, along with Hawkwind and Nik Turner. This was a groundbreaking meeting of the minds, with the tunes and the vintage gear to not be believed in its weekend long array. This was the best of the festivals, and many there were as amazed as we were at the array of bands, instruments, and ideas from all over the country. A true gathering of the like minded.
We were part of the Orion space rock festival in Baltimore after the first Strange Daze. Fantastic light show at that one I remember. The space rock scene seemed to be expanding and so did our horizons.
The 1998 Strange Daze festival moved to Ohio. We played the night before at the Wetlands, NYC, and someone had thrown a paving stone through my side window, stealing CDs, all of my stage costumes, but fortunately all of the instruments were still in the club. With no window and uncertain weather ahead, we decided to return to Northampton for a fresh vehicle, which made us miss our time slot on the opening day of the festival. We ended up playing on Sunday afternoon and played a decent set on an extremely hot day. I remember this being one of the hottest stage temperatures the band had experienced. We brought with us the very limited CD Strange Daze ’98, which consisted of studio recordings made in 1997. This album featured Amy Risley as vocalist on two songs in addition to Deb Young. This is the first appearance of the Temple Song, now released on our current 2013 album, Everything You Know is Wrong.
A tour in 2000 brought us farther than we ever had gone before. Quarkstock 2000 in Columbus, Ohio yielded the small release CD Viva, which contains the whole show, minus the Tangerine Dream cover Ricochet. It did have our full length version of Pink Floyd’s Echoes, no mean feat for a trio. Shows in Chicago and Cleveland around this time exposed us to the Midwest. The Strange Daze 2000 show found us in the Cannabis tent, not the main stage. Band tensions had grown on this tour, and Deb was having difficulties within the band. A couple of near dust ups before the show ensured adrenaline was high, and we introduced some newer poppier songs, but the mighty Kairos showed what we were still capable of for space rock. At the end of this tour, Deb exited and was replaced by Murph of Dinosaur Jr fame, launching ArcMet again as a trio, but this time an instrumental trio. Thus ends the tale of ArcMet version 2, Paul, Greg and Deb.
BACK TO EDITOR
The latest Architectural Metaphor CD is Everything You Know Is Wrong, which though released this year was recorded some years ago and the band have not been active for a while. The CD is available by emailing Paul Eggleston at firstname.lastname@example.org. CLICK HERE to read the review published in Aural Innovations.
ARCHITECTURAL METAPHOR HISTORICAL GALLERY
Paul shared a load of Architectural Metaphor history – Photos, newsletters, gig flyers and more, all of which I’ve made available in a photo gallery. Big thanks to Paul for sharing all these goodies. CLICK HERE to check it out.