AN UPDATE TO THE I AM HEAVEN DATABASE!

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I got an email last night from a fella named Steven Smith.

In it, he mentioned that he was wandering memory lane and came across this site. He found a posting about I AM HEAVEN and sent along some additional facts and figures.

First, he sent some very nice photos of the actual demo that he still has in his possession. Cover, insert and all. I posted them up over on the original post.

He reports that, from his memory, all of the songs on the demo ended up on the I AM HEAVEN LP which of course, is not accurate.

He also reports that the backwards track on the LP (not included on this post) is actually the first song from the demo played backwards (in case you were wondering!)

Not a huge update, but some very nice additions to the site that I certainly appreciate.

Thanks Steve!

12 TONE SYSTEM – SOUNDTRACK TO SYNTHETIC MUSIC 7″

Today we’re zooming back to the 12 Tone System 7″ released on Keystone Ember. Starring Eric, Mike, Brandon, John and Tim, this 7″ was recorded in May of 1997. Hard to imagine that was 15 years ago but it was and here we are today looking back. Mike did not play on this 7″ but he would quickly join the band after the original drummer moved (I think?) until their eventual break up.

12 Tone System was a short lived band. I have no idea how many actual shows they ever played during their time together, but it felt as though they were there one day and gone the next. Looking back on my own musical history it’s hard for me to relate. The bands I ever played in were long running (maybe too long) and while I always appreciated and perceived that as being lucky enough to find people I truly enjoyed playing music with I also wonder if it wasn’t also habit and a little too comfortable. Maybe the band that is sudden and short lived might also present the opportunity for quick testing, even quicker evolution and ultimately get you to your next developmental stage musically and more effectively than the drawn out, slow death of a “lifer” band. Hard to say.

I first heard 12 Tone System in my car. I think it was one of the numerous Toyota Camry’s I owned that was eventually, destroyed by a drunk driver but I’m not positive. I would go on to have multiple car wrecks in the late 90’s ,all of which weren’t my fault, but I digress. I was given a cassette of what would become this 7″ and thought to myself, “Well this is something different.” The attack of the drums on the first track sounded amazing (you would be surprised how hard it always seemed to get a decent drum set sound), the guitars were fuzzed the effects turned up. As with any community of young kids who start out playing punk/hardcore music, we all started listening to more diverse music and incorporating those influences into the bands we were playing in.

It usually looks something like this:

Punk > Hardcore > Shoegaze > Brit Pop > Beach Boys and so on…

12 Tone System was yet another example that everyone was growing up and expanding their horizons. This made the community so much more interesting because ultimately, you would never know what one person or group of people might be doing musically from one band to the next. And, if that group of people were tearing through short lived bands, the evolution was at Mach speed making it even more jarring and fascinating.

After bands like I Am Heaven, a unique band in its own right (both Eric and Mike had been members), Goodbye, Blue Monday (Mike was a member) and Serephim (an odd twist on the emo/hardcore genre that then lent John and Brandon to 12 Tone System) you had a group of fellas who already had a rather diverse mixture of influences in them. Needless to say, what they spit forth was yet another document of evolution.

Let me apologize now, the encode of these songs is not the best. In fact, it’s rather fuzzy but think of it as added style than sin.

[s]he’s sensational

inner agnew

soundtrack to synthetics

I AM HEAVEN – 3 SONG DEMO

Here’s another rad surprise. While helping Mike Parsell move a rather large, wooden armoire he surprised me with a bundle of unlabled cassette tapes. While he tried to remember exactly what each dusty cassette contained, there was one that he picked up which he recognized instantaneously. A white cassette with a crudely stenciled image of Saturn on one side.

The cassette contained 3 demo recordings of I Am Heaven. Sweet score indeed! I don’t know if this demo was ever officially offered at shows or anything or was used to help secure shows, but nonetheless, it’s a rad recording if not a bit wildly bass heavy. Only one of these songs ended up on the I Am Heaven 12″ so enjoy!

I AM HEAVEN DEMO 2

I AM HEAVEN DEMO 1

I AM HEAVEN DEMO 3

Demo 1

Demo 2

Demo 3

I AM HEAVEN – S/T LP

One thing that is difficult about running a blog such as this one is trying to remember details. I’ve said it before in previous posts, but in regards to certain musical projects or time periods, my memory is pretty much void. An obvious solution of course would be to go to other interested parties and ask them to contribute their thoughts or memories. Believe you me, I have…unfortunately, what I get is a lot of ballooey.

Fortunately, I did see Mike Parsell last night, and he was able to give me a little background information about today’s subject, I Am Heaven.

I Am Heaven was a very short lived band that formed somewhere in the area of 1995. As Mike explains it (and I summarize), after Frail broke up, he teamed up with Eric Wareheim and Fred Coldwell who had been playing in a band called Elements of Need. Brian Hutchinson (a fella who had played in a band called Lollycolumn) was looking for a band and thus, I Am Heaven was formed.

Mike, who had been playing drums for Mandela Strikeforce, would stay on the drums, Eric played guitar, Brian would play bass and Fred would sing. They started practicing pretty steadily and began playing shows pretty quickly. One thing I Am Heaven was known for was their equipment. Believing in the idea that, “more volume meant more awesome”, I Am Heaven boasted the following gear when they played live:

2 – 8×10″ Marshall guitar cabinets
2 – 2×15″ Fender bass cabinets
2 – Mark II Marshall guitar heads
2 – Ampeg bass heads

Mind you, this was potentially enough wattage to power a small radio station, but I Am Heaven, only being around a short while, rarely played outside of basements. Needless to say, a typical I Am Heaven show (while visually impressive because of the sheer amount of equipment) rarely sounded like anything more than ear-splitting noise. Which was a shame since they had a great bit of talent between the bunch of them and some righteous grooves.

That’s why it was such a pleasure when they recorded this 12″ LP. To this day, I don’t think anyone can say for sure if it was ever officially released, but I managed to get my hands on a copy of the vinyl, sans cover. Was there a cover? I don’t know.

The record was recorded at Snugfit Studios by an older fella who lived with his Mom. Several bands would record there over the years and it’s understandable why. The ride cymbal on this I Am Heaven recording sounds great. It’s really difficult to get a good ride cymbal bell on recording so when you find a person that can, you stick with them.

Of course, following I Am Heaven, Mike and Brian would go on to form Goodbye, Blue Monday with Tim and Chris from True High Fidelity. Eric would form Ink & Dagger with Don Devore and Sean McCabe and Fred would kind of groove out for a while.

Sorry, no song titles on this slab of wax. Enjoy!

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