Sunday, July 17, 2011

Joel Gausten: Snake Bite Blues

Recorded May – July 2011. Produced by Joel Gausten. Cover Art by Shannon Gausten.

(UPDATE: Download four of the five songs from Joel Gausten's Snake Bite Blues EP for free at the bottom on this blog. The fifth song, "Spiral," is available for purchase as a benefit for Genesis P-Orridge. More info HERE.)

The release of this EP coincides with not only my 34th birthday but also my 25th year as a musician.

The seeds for this project were planted in the spring of 2011, when I got word that the amazing Keith LeBlanc (Tackhead / Ministry / Nine Inch Nails) was making a boatload of his famous drum loops available for free on his website. Being a huge fan of Keith’s work, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to create something of my own based on one of his loops. Of course, I had no idea what in the world I would do, but I knew instantly that my next musical endeavor – a “solo” project – was now official underway.

The only guideline I set for myself going into this project was to create music that sounded like nothing I had played on in the past. I wanted to dive in without restraint and completely indulge my interests in experimentation, basing my musical decisions strictly on instinct and vibe. After performing on about 40 releases over the years as a band member/session player, I would be conceiving, recording and releasing this project completely under my own steam.

I couldn’t wait to get started!

Shortly after posting a Facebook announcement regarding my intentions with this project, my old friend Pete Jones offered to help in any way he could. Pete has been a favorite musician of mine since I first heard Public Image Limited’s Commercial Zone as a kid, so his offer was exciting and humbling at the same time. Before long, another friend  – the immensely talented classical guitarist Sonny Bellavance  – volunteered his services as well. Suddenly, two of the greatest musicians I’ve ever known were part of this little project of mine.

My first act as a budding “solo artist/producer” was to take one of Keith’s great loops, add some of my own drumming on top and run it through my arsenal of homegrown effects (more on those in a bit). I ended up with some very atonal, savage noise. I passed an Mp3 of my racket to Pete, who added some absolutely outstanding bass and keyboards to the proceedings – thus making the whole thing feel like an actual song. Thank you, Pete!

Next up was Sonny, who blew my mind by sending me his interpretation of "Mrs. Vaux's Jig'" by English composer John Dowland (1563-1626). Sonny’s in a league of his own, man…Taking bits of Sonny’s beautiful piece and giving them the effects treatment, I soon had the perfect intro and outro for the song. Reaching the finish line, I asked my infinitely better half Shannon to listen to the track and add whatever sound effects she wanted. When all was said and done, the creation of “Take Flight” utilized the talents of five people in three countries. Ain’t the internet grand? With the exception of “Take Flight” and Shannon’s keyboard work on the track “Snake Bite Blues,” this EP is all me. Since the daily construction at the law college across the street from my apartment blasts me out of bed most mornings, I decided to put these sounds of saws and drills to better use by recording them on my laptop. Then, I went recording mad – everything from smacked flesh to the fan in my bedroom to the water in my shower was snatched up for use on this recording. In addition to using these items, I play drums all over this EP – even though you may not detect it at first listen. For example, much of the drone heard in the beginning of the track “Snake Bite Blues” is actually a floor tom pattern manipulated beyond recognition. Like pretty much everything else that comprises the music on this EP, that moment was simply a happy accident. “Spiral” and “The Island” were mostly happy accidents as well.

Thanks to all who download this EP for their kind interest and support. Many thanks to the great Carl Begai at for streaming the demo version of “The Island” and an early snippet of “Take Flight” on his site and helping to spread the word about this EP from day one. Thanks to the love of my life, Shannon, for her creative and artistic input and infinite patience. Thanks to Keith for his generosity in sharing his loops. Thanks to Sonny for elevating the quality of this project through his participation, and extra special thanks to Pete for his incredible talents and technical assistance.

Joel Gausten
July 17, 2011

 Listen to and download Snake Bite Blues below:

1. Take Flight
Joel Gausten: Drums, Construction Noise 
 Pete Jones: Bass, Keyboards 
 Sonny Bellavance: Guitar 
 Keith LeBlanc: Drum Loop 
 Shannon Gausten: Effects 

2. Snake Bite Blues
 Joel Gausten: Drums, Flesh, Construction Noise, Water, Window Fan 
 Shannon Gausten: Keyboards 

3. The Island
 Joel Gausten: Drums, Window Fan, Water, Construction Noise, Snarls, Sampled Screams 

Bonus Track: The Island (Demo)
 Joel Gausten: Drums, Window Fan, Water, Construction Noise, Snarls, Sampled Screams 
 Keith LeBlanc: Drum Loop 


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