JOB · Thin Hot Soup

So this is what really happened.

You can say the whole damn thing started back in the summer of 1993, when three very young and hopeful Bay Area transplants joined forces in order to make the Bay Area safe again for smart-ass white-boy art-funk with a hip-hop/shuffle feel. Matt Lebofsky flailed his 5-string with unrivaled vim, pounding out bass lines that not only woke the dead but invited them to shake their bony booties. Jai Young Kim pounced on his keyboards with the grace of a guillotine, stripping the paint off the walls with his squealing samples and imponderable patches. At the drums sat Adam Weissman, flinging sweat in all directions as his limbs windmilled around the kit in a blur. He was the master of the meter, he reigned over rhythm, and he was tight as fuck.

Matt and Jai Young liked to call Adam "Phatbeats," though never really to his face despite the fact it was both a compliment and a term of endearment. It was this kind of lack of communication which quickly brought the whole operation to a halt. That and perhaps Jai Young's Virgo-ish tendencies which conflicted with both Adam and Matt, both wishy-washy yet stubborn Cancers.

Fourth Generation Copy So after two months of musical bliss, this trio fell apart, leaving behind one big 10-minute prog/funk epic about having sex in space (or sex on acid, depending on which band member you ask) and about 97 fractions of songs which have since never been heard again. Such is the way of rock. If you go to the Oakland rehearsal spaces at 43rd and Telegraph today, you can probably still hear the echoes of the magic soundings these three virile, young men created years ago. (Their chemistry however was documented on the 1993 limited cassette release FOF005 - better known as Fourth Generation Copy - although no band name is credited. Hopefully this will never get re-released.)

Well, the band didn't break up as much as split into two halves. Sharing a common, guiltless love of the bands Kansas, Jethro Tull, and other easy targets in the history of modern music, Jai Young and Matt continued to hang out and quack endlessly about this and that. Eventually they got swept up into the whole Rocker Studios scene in San Francisco, which led to them both joining the quintessential yet easy-to-ignore Bay Area band Flywheel. Many gigs at the Nightbreak and Paradise ensued, including one where Peter Tork from the Monkees was in the audience, and he got up and danced wildly when they played "(She's a Real) Go-Go Dancer."

By the way, Kansas rocks and you can't deny it just because their two worst songs got overplayed on the radio throughout the '70s and '80s (and well into the '90s).

Meanwhile, in the East Bay, Matt and Phat continued jamming as a duo until they became one sick-ass rhythm section. They launched into the craziest of time signatures without any perceivable fluctuation in tempo. They generated the most impenetrable of polyrhythms without dropping the beat.

They also scared away every guitarist who answered their ad which they placed in order to find that elusive 6-string version of Jai Young. These auditions went on forever and caused much pain and stress. Each guitarist failed greatly in one capacity or another (and in one depressing case, ALL capacities), but these axemen all had incredibly bizarre last names which brought great joy to Matt and Adam during clumsy attempts to spell them or say them out loud.

However, one guitarist they tried out, Mark Schifferli, piqued Matt's interest. For someone who chose guitar as his main instrument, he surprisingly had zero pretension and zero wankerish tendencies. As well, he was already wrapped up in a musical world completely removed from the typical Bay Area "rock" scene. Adam couldn't hang with the overtly experimental nature of Mark's creativity, but Matt already owned all the Henry Cow albums and quickly groked Mark's vibe.

So as Adam and Matt's musical relationship slowly burnt out, Matt followed Mark to some Splatter Trio shows and in turn found himself more and more interested in straight-up improvisational music. During this exciting journey, Matt and Mark made noises with a young man named Johnny Donuts and some old woman whose name really doesn't matter at this point in time (but she is mentioned simply because she played oboe, shofar, and shocked both Mark and Matt when she made cat noises).

Meanwhile, Adam's faith in the old Matt/Phat alliance was renewed when he discovered yet another potential guitarist, Todd, with the weirdest last name of them all. We shan't tell you his last name, but it contained the letters (in alphabetical order): J, M, S, U, and Y. On top of that, he was Canadian. At long last it seemed as if there was finally success on the horizon, and maybe Matt and Adam would break into the Oakland post-prog scene after all.

They toiled long and hard, but it became quickly evident that there was that missing "spark" to create those perfect sequences of notes which would satisfy all three men. Todd was also missing that certain "money" and "job" and "place to live," which only added to the difficulty of maintaining a working musical relationship. Ugh.

Matt introduced Todd to his friend Dina, and those two lovebirds hooked up, which temporary helped Todd's financial and residential problems. Still, the band was going nowhere. Matt and Todd wanted the band to sound more like Slint. Adam and Matt wanted the band to sound more like Phish. Adam and Todd wanted the band to sound less like Primus. You do the math.

Matt attempted to save the whole thing by bringing up the idea of adding Mark to the mix. But before that could happen Todd and Dina started breaking up, then the band broke up, and a year or so later Todd left the Bay Area to escape various major debts to landlords and other scum. Last Matt heard Todd got busted at the Canadian border, but snuck back into America anyway, rode a freight train to New York City, and started volunteering for Food Not Bombs.

Back to Square-Onesville. Time passed, and while falling into a meditative state during the act of washing a sink full of his housemate's soiled dishes, Matt mused about his new job, and how he, Jai Young, and Mark were the only three musicians he knew in the Bay Area with real, full-time jobs.

"Wait a minute!" Matt thought, nearly dropping and shattering a sudsy glass. "Maybe I should introduce Mark to Jai Young... and the three of us could form a totally fucked-out experimental band... and that band would be called JOB..." Hosanna!

What would this JOB band sound like? Who knows... But phone calls were made, and Matt quickly got Jai Young and Mark together for the first time at a poorly attended yet incredibly powerful Glen Spearman Double Trio show at Kimball's East. Blown away by the performance, the three decided whatever JOB is, it will definitely contain lots of arhythmic improvisation.

The question did remain: Who is playing what? Actually, the real question was: Who is playing drums? Between the three of them they already had guitar, bass, keyboards, and violin mastered, but the percussion element was completely missing. This got temporarily resolved as all three traded off using Jai Young's housemate Derrick's drum kit. Eventually, though, Matt took over as the main drummer since he dropped $700 on a new drum set.

So the first two years of JOB were quite formative. Many "songs" got written, sometimes recorded, and eventually discarded because they didn't jibe with the band's vision which changed from day to day. Just as well, since this allowed time for Matt to scrape together a few drum chops, Jai Young to learn how to use his recording equipment, and Mark to convince the other two to stop writing silly songs.

These classic tunes included "A Short Biography," "Protecto," "Cigarettes," "Happy Little Girl, Hopping, Skipping," "Let's Have a Party," "32-Bar Blues," "Plotz," "Hut Bay," "Bus Wreck," and Matt's sister Ruth's favorite song of 1995, "Hi-Yo." Some songs got painstakingly recorded, while others got barely rehearsed. Maybe one day you'll actually get to hear some of them.

Meanwhile the three men finally started getting their pinky toes into various doors of the Bay Area music scene and joined other projects on the side. As part of this "musical slut" movement, Mark formed another improvisationally based quartet with the aforementioned Johnny Donuts on guitar and sax, and the wacky rhythm section of Oran Canfield and Eli Krause on drums and contrabass. This band went through a series of confusing names, eventually settling on Sparklecock. God bless them.

They also scored a regular Sunday afternoon gig at the Chameleon, a tiny dive bar nestled snugly in the classy Mission district of San Francisco. They usually played to a small audience containing patient friends, significant others, and homeless drunks, which isn't the most exciting crowd, but at least they got to perform in front of people, which JOB had yet to do.

That is, until the one Sunday during the hot summer of 1995, all the non-Mark members of Sparklecock fell ill, and so Mark tried to get JOB to fill in. Jai Young couldn't do it, having previous obligations to engineer a demo tape recording session for some South Bay punk band. But Matt gladly hauled his kit to the Chameleon, and as "Hemi-JOB" they filled the tiny venue with the noises that had previous been entirely hidden within their rehearsal studio.

Following this triumphant debut, Sparklecock was more than happy to let JOB continue to fill in on various Sundays, and in many cases, both bands performed together at the same time. It was an exciting time for this group of young, adventurous musicians. But the party didn't last long, as Sparklecock disbanded under friendly terms, and the Chameleon was getting tired of us weirdos scaring away their few potential Sunday afternoon patrons.

JOB continued on into 1996 playing shows here and there, placing their small flag on the map of the Bay Area improv scene. They released two cassettes during the year, K. and Let's Talk About God, containing nice mixes of live and studio recordings. Actually, "released" may not be the correct word, as "released" implies there was a demand for such tapes. Most of them were given away to friends and family, and sold only to a handful of polite strangers.

But the quality of the performances reached higher levels this year, no thanks to a very silly and short-lived "costume phase." The defining show of 1996 (and since, for that matter) happened at a party at Ilan's house. Ilan, friend of Jai Young and long-time true fan of JOB, graciously allowed the band to perform at his abode. JOB showed up with no songs or prior plans for this show, and ended up playing their best one ever.

They played two sets in Ilan's den, the first filled with their most psychedelic of grooves and anti-grooves. The second set was the BOMB, starting with a sudden crash of fervent noise, swelling to a panic as Matt freaked out on drums and microphone, then melting into a loud drone by Mark and Jai Young, all while The Dead C.'s Trapdoor Fucking Exit played on a boombox and got completely drowned out. During one of the quieter moments towards the end of the show, Matt overheard a drug-addled party-goer whisper, "That was good."

Sadly, this never got recorded, unlike the crappy Beanbender's show they just played a few weeks before which got entirely captured on DAT for no good reason. However, the spirit of the party at Ilan's never died. The remaining shows of 1996 all came very close to attaining the same level of intensity of emotion. Or maybe all those mind-numbing lights at the Stork Club in Oakland made it seem that way.

JOB always prided itself on its volume of equipment, and during 1996 some key instruments were added to the mix. Matt bought a Nord Lead synthesizer which was the perfect "analog" counterpart to Jai Young's new E-Mu E4K sampler. Mark, not one to be left out, commandeered Jai Young's old Emax II sampler and made great use of it. Pretty soon, using loops, sustained patches, and their own voices and free limbs, the three members of JOB were able to have upwards of nine separate noises blasting at once like a belching volcano of sound. What a trip!

That brings us to 1997, which is when this history lesson will end. It takes a good year or so to look back on what happened to make sense of it. So check back in 1998.

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    Last modified in September, 1998.