residential goosing 1995-1996

Residential Goosing was my high school band. Josh Able and Mike Fass and I had a fake band called G*I*Z*Z*A*R*D, and then Brian Dietz joined up and we decided to become a real band. The name “Residential Goosing” came from some nature article that Mr. Falter, the media center director, was reading. He said, “Residential Goosing – that’d be a good band name,” so we said “Okay.”

At first we just tried to cover other people’s songs until one day we realized that we could actually write our own. We wrote about six songs over that first six months or so, and then Dietz left the band in May 1996 to pursue his solo career. At that point, we recorded our debut EP, “Do You Have Fax Modem?” in Josh’s grandma’s garage. It included the songs “Ode to Pee Wee,” “Ballad of Autumn Love,” “Happy Garbage Man” and “The Fourteen and a Half Song.” Not long after that, Andrew Ensz joined the band to make sure we maintained our level of three guitarists.

When Andrew joined, we went on a major writing spree and wrote about 40 songs in the next three months. Several more were recorded during a legendary night that became known as The All Night Jam Session. More specifically, it was a night Andrew’s parents were out of town so we could stay up and play guitars. Fall came, and Josh and Mike and I moved to Lincoln for college. We intended to keep Residential Goosing going, but it didn’t work out long. In 1999, Andrew and I re-recorded our greatest hits with a few years of experience on our side.

In 2001, Residential Goosing re-united with founding member Brian Dietz to perform some acoustic selections on 90.3 KRNU’s “Local Inferno” radio show. It was the first time we had played together as a band since 1996.

We were supposed to re-unite to open up for Auburn music sensations No You as surprise guests for their last-day-of-school concert in May 2002, but it didn’t work out. Instead, I had to assemble a new band, hastily dubbed “RG2K” under the premise that we were Residential Goosing’s evil clones from the future. We played early RG covers “Fraggle Rock Theme” and “Mr. S” (from The Letter People) in addition to covering “Baby One More Time” in the style of King Jellyfish (see below) and ending up with a rousing rendition of RG original “The Fourteen and a Half Song,” which became an instant classic.

Then in August 2002, a dream of ours was realized – we had long fantasized about holding a music festival out in the country and calling it Woodshaft. The problem was, in 1996, we had neither a drummer nor any live experience. Over the course of the summer of 2002, the plans were laid to host an Auburn music showcase in the back yard of my parents’ house. The stage was a wagon surrounded by hay bales with a backdrop of grain bins. With fellow Auburnite Gerrad Edwards on drums, Mike, Josh, Andrew and I performed a Residential Goosing’s greatest hits set.

At the conclusion of No You’s set (the headliners), all of the musicians from throughout the day gathered onstage for a very “We are the World”-esque group singalong of “The Fourteen and a Half Song.” There probably wasn’t a better way imagineable for Residential Goosing to wrap up its career.

At my request, in 2002 Dietz wrote this essay on his career as a Goose for a now-defunct RG website. It gives some insight on what that band, for all its lack of really existing as a band, meant to us:

“My life as a goose:

Residential Goosing started off a silly high school experiment for me. It never really gained greater status than that until many years later when I began to realize that even if all Residential Goosing started out as was a silly experiment, it was these silly experiments that we tried during our high school careers that were really amazing exercises in creativity. I have really begun to appreciate the creative force the Geese and various fringe members were able to generate in high school and in the years following.

I launched into the band project in the midst of both a downfall and a re-birth, and that combination made me not a very good band member. I had moved to Auburn a few years before the band began with hopes of gaining the “popular” social status I had failed to achieve in the town of my childhood. And for a while, I did. After a time, though, my newness wore off and my desire to do something (I was never sure what) with a wittier, more creative group coupled with the fact that I was too much of a loser to actually be a successful popular person was initiative enough to find a new group of friends and some new hobbies. Thanks to Neal, my dad, Andrew, and Nathan, guitar became one of those hobbies.

Another factor that made me a poor band member was my attempt to re-unite with the first “love” of my life and the overdrama that I built into that process. Hence, my first and only contribution to the group “Infinite Sadness.” I did what every un-witty, un-creative teenager that has just learned to play guitar would do, I wrote a sappy teenage loss of love ballad.

I didn’t get Neal’s songs. I still had a shred of coolness lurking behind my new un-popular self, and singing songs about Pee-wee Herman just didn’t feel even remotely cool. I wonder if Neal had written “It May” before I left the band if I would have stayed. “It May” is my favorite Residential Goosing song. It’s witty, catchy, and totally should have been a radio hit.

My perspective today has shifted. I’d love to put on a Residential Goosing mini-tour where we all came together and actually practiced the hell out of the songs and then went out and rocked. I’ve always felt like Residential Goosing, minus me, avoided all the cliches of a band, from the members lack of ability to play their instruments to songs about seemingly harmless topics that often reflected a deeper understanding of the world around them or vice-versa.

Trying to capture the flock: I think I left Residential Goosing because I was in a selfish mood. Initially I was completely locked out of the group, which made sense since I threw away the key. I found my musical outlet for several of the in between years playing bass guitar in a church band and twiddling on Mother Folkers songs with Mike when we managed to gather, which was rare. In later years, Neal and I created song every once in a while in short bursts of musical activity, but other projects for Neal and myself (musical and non-musical) often interferred with our ability to put together a significant work.

What does it all mean? I’ll never forget trying to play the Mr. S theme song in my basement with all the other geese. I’ll never forget practicing guitar with Neal at the band shell in the park until we couldn’t feel our fingers any more. I’ll never forget the time I first picked up a guitar (Neal’s) in HELL one night. I haven’t put it down since.

I’ll never forget sitting on Neal’s floor recording “Intellect” one random afternoon and laughing as we screwed up the percussion consisting of water in a glass and hand claps.

I’ll never forget being the oddest band on the radio in Lincoln one night last winter.

I still love to play the rock.”

  • Ode to Pee Wee
    written by Able / Fass / Obermeyer
    performed by Able / Ensz / Fass / Obermeyer
    Ode to Pee Wee was actually a carry-over from Gizzard, the short-lived band I was in with Josh Able and Mike Fass. It was initially a fast punk song, but it was slowed to a waltz for the Residential Goosing period.

    listen to Ode to Pee Wee (1.14mb)

  • Parasitic Worms
    written by Able / Obermeyer
    performed by Able / ObermeyerParasitic Worms was written as a study guide for a biology quiz, but it was also the first (and only) song recorded by Gizzard. It was later adopted by Residential Goosing.

    listen to Parasitic Worms (888k)

  • Because I Like You
    written by Able / Ensz / Fass / Obermeyer
    performed by Able / Ensz / Fass / Obermeyer
    Because I Like You was written about people who are mean to those they like. Our original demo was probably my favorite recording we ever did. This version is a little mellower, but still has a creepy quality to it.

    listen to Because I Like You (807k)

  • Violated
    written by Ensz / Fass / Obermeyer
    performed by Able / Ensz / Fass / Obermeyer
    Violated kind of has a secret meaning that is evident by about the third minute or so, but before you get to that point, it can be very uncomfortable to listen to. That was the point.The words and music were written separately – Mike came up with the bassline the night of the All Night Jam Session during the 5am hour while Andrew and I went for a jog. We came back to find Mike playing this cool and menacing melody. This and The Trenches were two of our most experimental recordings – this one included playing a flute part and jingling car keys and looping those sounds backwards to feed back on themselves. Also, Andrew’s sister Mary sat in on the drums.

    listen to Violated (930k)

  • The Trenches
    written by Ensz / Obermeyer
    performed by Ensz / ObermeyerThe Trenches is a song about bean walking told as a war song. Like most of the rest of the Residential Goosing catalogue, it is a story about something mundane told through the vehicle of something profound. When Andrew and I recorded the noisy guitar parts at the end, we both simultaneously jumped into the lead guitar part without planning it, creating a great doubled-lead sound that we think is best described as an organ playing in a burning church.

    listen to The Trenches (1.36MB)

  • kazookazoo 1997-1999

    kazookazoo was my solo project by default. After moving to Lincoln for college, I maintained that 15-songs-per-month output for a few months, just figuring the songs would be used by Residential Goosing. Well, when it eventually became apparent that the RG thing wasn’t going to continue, kazookazoo was born.

    The songs that made up the album “Birds,” which was released in 1999 on Milk Records, were actually written mostly in 1997 and 1998 while I lived in England. While I was out of the country, we resumed talk of reforming RG upon my return to the US. So again, these kazookazoo songs were actually written with the intention of performing them with Residential Goosing.

    “Birds” was recorded throughout the summer of 1999 on a Tascam 4-track using a lot of creative little tricks to get as much out of 4 tracks (with a maximum of 2 at a time) as possible. It was mastered digitally and released on CD in November 1999 (just in time to use it for a lot of family Christmas presents).

  • Mental
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    Mental was written outside the Lime Street train station in Liverpool. There are giant, old buildings in the area, and I was just thinking about all the people who must have come by and sat on the benches in the garden there, and all the things that were going on in those lives. This song includes the sound of a car that drove by my parents’ house when I was recording in the living room with the window open.

    listen to Mental (1.06MB)

  • Swell
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    Just a simple song about falling in love too quickly.

    listen to Swell (745k)

  • December (soundtrack mix)
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    December was originally written as a soundtrack to a non-existent movie. Since there wasn’t going to be a movie, I wrote some words to tell the story the visuals would have, and it became a 3-part musical story that was going to be its own EP. When the opportunity came to actually shoot the movie, I recorded instrumental versions of the songs – as they were orginally conceived – and then mixed them together to make up the soundtrack. Parts 1 and 2 appeared on the album “Birds” as separate instrumental tracks, so this is an exclusive mix of the song otherwise only available as a part of the movie.

    listen to December (soundtrack mix) (1.5mb)

  • The Backyard
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    This was a demo for what was supposed to be the first single from the second kazookazoo album, which never ended up existing. Then it was going to be part of a kazookazoo EP, and that never ended up happening either.

    listen to The Backyard (527k)

  • king jellyfish 1999-2000

    King Jellyfish started as a 10/11 band – Mike and bandmates Bob Jorgensen and Carson Young all worked at the tv station together. They had a fourth member who was supposed to play guitar, but he backed out, so Mike asked me if I’d like to play guitar.

    I was very intrigued by just being a musician in a band. I had never been anything but songwriter first, musician second, so this seemed like a lot of fun. Mike told me that Bob wrote the songs and so we’d just have to come up with music.

    Playing with Carson Young will make anyone sound like a good musician. I am not a good guitarist. I can work things out on guitar that sound good, but I have no technical skill or improvisational know-how, but Carson is so amazing on the drums that he can basically read the minds of the people he is playing with and his anticipation of where you’re going makes you sound like you know what you’re doing. Carson and I would go on these 15-20 minute “jams” (which was something I had never done before) and Mike and Bob would be convinced that Carson and I were secretly practicing without them.

    We would practice at 11:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday night almost every week until maybe 2:30-3am. We were writing songs like crazy, averaging about one new complete song per week. We eventually started hosting invite-only concerts in our underground rehearsal space in the Haymarket. We’d take all the furniture out and pack in as many as we could – usually around 30 people – and run through about 8 songs.

    When we got to a point where we decided we were ready to go public and try to play at some bars, Carson announced he was moving to Denver. So we arranged to hold a farewell concert and record our album live. The album, quickly produced and released by Milk Records to be available at our farewell concert, is dirty, noisy and raw, but it’s very indicative of what King Jellyfish was like. And people kind of liked our music, too. The song “My Kind of Man” was voted #38 on the 90.3 KRNU Top 100 of 2000. Definitely the most fun band I’ve been in.

  • Just the Other Day
    from the album “Sitting Naked with Three Other Guys in a Boat Filled with Slimy, Wet, Largemouth Bass” (Milk Records, 2000)
    written by Fass / Jorgensen / Obermeyer / Young

    I was going to be having ear surgery in January ’00 and there was a decent chance I would lose my hearing. So we in King Jellyfish decided we needed to go on a writing / recording rampage and get all of our songs (at that time, four) onto tape, so that in case I was unable to rock after the surgery, the band’s output would be recorded. Bob had this song he’d been working on – lyrics that were really important to him – and he wanted this to be like the ultimate King Jellyfish song.

    But in Bob’s words, he wanted it to be our “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” This IN NO WAY motivated me to write the appropriate music. We were a post-punk band along the lines of Joy Division or Gang of Four in my mind, and were not going to have an acoustic ballad made for middle school dances. So I just couldn’t really come up with anything.

    I had the surgery and my hearing survived, but we never really came back to that song, until June ’00 when Carson announced he was moving to Denver and we would be a band no longer. In preparation for our farewell concert, Bob once again brought up “Just the Other Day.” He went through the words, the vocal melody he had in mind, and the new sense of urgency and mortality provided by the end of King Jellyfish brought about just the emotions needed to write the music.

    Like many King Jellyfish songs, the music for that just flowed out of us. I immediately had a guitar melody; Carson – as always – read my mind and improved on it; Mike’s counter melody bassline was almost immediate; and the solo was born out of our impromptu jamming.

    Now, five years later, listening to that song and particularly the solo, it just takes me back to the sweat dripping off while playing that song for an audience packed into that hot, little underground lair in the Haymarket. It makes me think back to how that band ended in its prime, and how, without my knowledge, it ended up becoming our “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”

    listen to Just the Other Day (923k)

  • mommasaysgo 1999-2000

    In 1999, founding Residential Goosing member Brian Dietz and I started playing together again. He had written a song called “Intellect” that he wanted me to help record, so I wrote a bass part and produced the song for him.

    We decided it’d be fun to work together again, so we came up with a plan for songwriting. Inspired by the free tacos that the Watering Hole used to serve, we decided to write opposing songs – Dietz wrote “MSG” and I wrote “NoMSG.” But the project became more than just writing dueling songs. There was a full structure and timeframe.

    We went to Village Inn to write the lyrics, limiting our time to how long it took to order and complete our meals. Then our completed lyrics were taken to my apartment, where we went into separate rooms with exactly 30 minutes to compose music. Then we headed down to the King Jellyfish rehearsal space and recorded both tracks with each other as our respective backup musicians.

    We were only able to come up with one good debate topic. We considered the WTO as a sequel, but then Jello Biafra came out with the NoWTO Combo not long after, so we felt scooped.

  • MSG
    written by Dietz
    performed by Dietz / Obermeyer

    MSG was Dietz’s pro-MSG contribution to the musical debate. This topic was decided upon while eating tacos at the Watering Hole. The MSG would turn Dietz’s face red (which he referenced in his lyrics). Dietz played the acoustic guitar, bass and drums and sang the lead vocals, while I played the little lead part and sang backup.

    listen to MSG (805k)

  • NoMSG
    written by Obermeyer
    performed by Dietz / Obermeyer

    NoMSG was my contribution. I played several guitar parts (some of them were lost in the lo-fi mix) and bass, sang vocals, did wolf howls and played drums. Dietz sang and howled as well.listen to NoMSG (754k)

  • european bread machine 2000-2005

    European Bread Machine is the natural evolution of the songwriting partnership Andrew and I began in Residential Goosing. When we re-united in 1999 to re-record the RG classics, we realized how much creative energy was still there waiting to be exploited.

    Throughout the five year existence of EBM, I think we have completed exactly one song with probably a half-dozen others in various demo stages. But we still get together occasionally to crank out more ideas here and there.

  • Charlie Cotton
    written by Ensz / Obermeyer
    performed by Ensz / Obermeyer

    I had written the music to a song called “Janet Cotton” for a kazookazoo song, but I thought it’d be great for what we were trying to do in EBM. The bassline, guitar and piano are all maintained from the original, but Andrew did some amazing knob-twiddling to make the programmed drums a melodic component of their own.

    We also recorded a Vietnamese family reunion that was being held in the lobby of Andrew’s apartment building and sampled that, hence the chatter and clanging throughout the song. The full name of that version of the song was going to be “The Many Faces of Charlie Cotton,” but over time, we’ve just shortened it.

    listen to Charlie Cotton (2.84mb)

  • Halligan (part 1)
    written by Obermeyer
    performed by Collins / Ensz / Obermeyer

    Another kazookazoo carry-over, this song was drastically beautified by the slide guitar of Andrew and the solo by Jay.

    Halligan was a song named after Father James Halligan, the priest at my hometown church, because I think the music to this is probably most inspired by the church music we had there when I was a kid.

    listen to Halligan (part 1) (776k)

  • binuhman 2001-present

    Binuhman is my post-kazookazoo solo work. The name came from a dream I had about a musician named Binuhman, so I just figured I’d make him real. In the dream, I went to a music store looking for the latest Binuhman album, but I couldn’t find it. The clerk informed me that Binuhman had changed his name to “Inundate (Binuh Man Can Can Fish)” so that ended up being the name of my Binuhman album.

    Most Binuhman output is music I wrote for European Bread Machine but recorded because I was either too impatient to wait or too many miles away to make it possible (such as while I lived in San Diego).

  • Accidents Happen
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    The most noteworthy thing about this song is its rhythm section – the thump and shake of a tupperware container full of Rice Krispies.

    listen to Accidents Happen

  • What You Want
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    This song combined two songs I wrote – “What You Want” and “The Postman.” “What You Want” got to keep its title.This was most definitely written for European Bread Machine, because I was really excited to see what Andrew could do with this song when he got his hands on it.

    listen to What You Want

  • Gorillas in Virginia
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    While admittedly very cheesy, and somewhat deliberately so, this song was an experiment in tempos. I wanted to basically play the same song twice, once with an up-tempo rhythm and then at half that pace, to experiment with the dramatic effect. I really like how it turned out, no matter how silly it sounds.

    listen to Gorillas in Virginia

  • Be My Yoko
    written and performed by Neal Obermeyer

    This was kind of a sequel to the RG song “Every Band Needs a Yoko,” or maybe a prequel now that I think about it.

    listen to Be My Yoko