Klassic Detholz! Reject – “Victory Mansion”

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XVII — and for our regular readers, welcome back to the February Detholz! retrospective!

Today a demo track from the era of “Who Are The Detholz!?” (first Detholz! LP, 2000) that was voted down by the band even before it had finished playing:

VICTORY MANSION

(Thanks to regular Kebab Dylan for forwarding this song to me. I had all but forgotten it existed, and now it has a home! In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to post it, except that Mr. Kebab has assured me on numerous occasions that this song is worth hearing.)

This is a “fresh out of music school” sort of number, and suffers from many of the warts of last week’s DH! dusty, “Cinema Verite” :

1. Painful dorkiness

2. Over-cluttered with ideas

3. Choppy, elephantine construction

4. Forced vocal delivery

5. Crappy lyrics

Even so, as I listened to this for the first time in 8 years, I couldn’t help but get a tad sentimental for those halcyon, more innocent days when Detholz! was a younger, hungrier, unabashedly nerdier band. At 24, I was convinced that we possessed some sort of cock-and-balls formula for “success” and harbored more than a few grand delusions about where the band was headed– that the nerds of the world would line up in force behind us and, by virtue of superior gadgetry and programming, propel us past the skinny Chicago scenesters right to the top of the heap!

Surprise! It’s The Detholz! (We still had the “The” in those days.)

Those were the days of standing outside of The Metro in the cold and passing out handbills to the Creatures from Planet Wrigleyville, CD assembly parties, driving from the city out to the suburbs every week for rehearsal, annual attendance at “Mobfest” [Chicago’s music industry bullshit-slingin’ dog-and-pony show], shows at the illustrious Elbo Room, the elusive and well-dressed Fabian Guerra and his doomed-from-the-start music mgmt. co., Quest Management, the crazy three-fingered Mexican man who owned the venerable Big Horse [literally a taco stand that would book bands!], bi-monthly brush-off’s from the booking dept. at Empty Bottle that lasted for almost 2 years… ahh, yes, indeed. Those were the days! Some of you Detholz! graybeards remember, I’m sure.

Looking back on all of that, those were actually some of the best times of my life thus far. Make no mistake– I have no wish to relive them. LAWS, no. But you can hear a little bit of that bristling itchiness of early Detholz! in this track.

We were all obsessed with Frank Black’s first record at that time, having just cleared the 90’s and all. “Victory Mansion” was my attempt at the time to emulate Frank Black’s Ethos — wide, death-defying harmonic changes, spacey lyrics, chunga-chunga bar chords in the 5 or so layered guitar tracks, etc. There’s also a curious “Broadway” element that I missed back then– almost certainly a holdover from my recently completed schooling and obsessive need to tie up the musical ends.

Anyway, it’s in the world now, for better or worse. Hope some of you get something out of it, if even just a nod and a chuckle.

Tune in next week for the final installment in our February Detholz! Retrospective!

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19 Responses to “Klassic Detholz! Reject – “Victory Mansion””

  1. kebabdylan Says:

    ha! glad to see this one make it. i love this song.

  2. Dave Snyder Says:

    I love this song. I listened to it before I read your post, and I thought, “This sounds like their old stuff!” My favorite aspect of that era of your music was the sort of wall of sound that would develop throughout a song and eventually hit you like a ton of bricks. Nerds rock!

  3. kebabdylan Says:

    to elaborate..

    1. Painful dorkiness – i say delightful dorkiness

    2. Over-cluttered with ideas – I can’t get enough of ideas. the more the merrier

    3. Choppy, elephantine construction – Fantastic!

    4. Forced vocal delivery – I think the singing is great. It is kinda mechanical but it fits the song/music and some of the vocal interactions are really great. i really like that bassy “ah ah ah” and then the beach boys falsetto

    5. Crappy lyrics – ok. it kinda sounds like cliff’s notes, but I liked the book so it’s easily forgivable.

    I would never have connected this to frank black. that is interesting.

  4. detholz Says:

    Dave: Always great to hear from a new (old?) face. It warms the cockles of my heart that DH! still have so many fans out there who have kept quiet tabs on us through the years.

    Ha, yes, we stuck to a formula back then:

    verse-chorus-verse-chorus-maybe-bridge-then-HUGE-OUT-CHORUS/HUGE-CODA

    As Apu would say: “Thank you, come again!”

    ‘Bab: Almost everything we wrote in that era was directly lifted from either Frank Black or Shudder To Think– Karl mixed “Who Are The Detholz!?” by attempting to replicate as closely as possible the production on Shudder To Think’s “Pony Express Record” (a masterpiece — and it STILL sounds good 14 years later, IMHO).

    To our longtime fans/fans of the early DH!: A DH! graybeard has forwarded me a pile of old DH! tracks this week that I thought had been lost forever. (Thank you, graybeard!)

    February has been Detholz! History Month, but I am planning on posting more unreleased dusties from the DH! Time Vault throughout the year!

    Y’all come back now, hear?

  5. kebabdylan Says:

    i’m a big fan of pony express record. rebirth control always seemed to = hit liquor to my ears. army of mars always seemed f/b.

    per last weeks post, rebirth control IS maybe the best song title ever

  6. Jim Says:

    I’m just loving all the WATDH ahs, bops, and ooos. This one’s got such a great sounding chorus too. It has an old DH era sounding chord progression. I always loved “dancing” to the choppy, cluttered sounding songs of yore, even if your newer material is much more danceable. Oh, C-Haus. I didn’t even go to that school and I miss that place. All this nostalgia is making me misty eyed.

  7. detholz Says:

    ‘Bab: Yeah, RC was an attempt to directly channel Craig Wedren, whom I’ve admired since my zitty days growing up in DC.

    Shudder To Think’s “Get Your Goat” (’91 or ’92, I think) changed my life in high school. I remember buying that record along with a recording of Stravinsky’s Mass… One of those priceless epiphanies you receive only as a developing musician: “I had no idea music could sound like this!”

    Funny, after so many years of touring, shows, etc. I’m climbing out of a long burnout where I stopped listening to music altogether. Been going on for about a year or so, but as part of a new Baby Teeth experiment (read the Baby Teeth blog for details: 52teeth.wordpress.com ) I’ve been listening to WXRT and am becoming fascinated with pop music again.

    Also, soundtracks! Viva la MIDI-stration!

    Jim: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:

    If you haven’t seen DH! at Beloit College, you haven’t seen DH!.

    Our best shows have always been played there. Don’t know if you heard, but this year’s music committee isn’t so amped about what we do (I don’t blame them– you can’t argue taste, after all, and DH! isn’t for everybody). Still, a few student fans rallied and apparently there was a story in the school paper about our noticeable absence last semester.

    It made us sad, really. It was like skipping Halloween! We’ve played at Beloit every semester since 2001!

    Thankfully, they’ve been merciful and booked us at C-Haus in April. We can’t wait to go back. We’ve played a LOT of colleges and universities over the years, but Beloit has some kind of weird juju (plus an assortment of consistently wonderful, unique people) that always brings out the best in the band.

    Why Beloit? Who knows. Nature is Nature, I guess!

  8. dj Says:

    Thanks for posting this Jim. It’s great that Kebab and this other Greybeard can contribute to the, ‘This is your life” month of the ‘holz blog. I’m still convinced Miss Apocalypse would’ve/could’ve been your break-out hit.

    “I see her tearing her hair out / I hear the clacking of her teeth / I smell the vile aroma / that’s lurking underneath”

    Yuck!

    Speaking of C-haus and Beloit, at a show there are few years back I had my fondest Detholz! moment — other than random credit checks.

    “Sorry ladies, he’s married and I’m gay.”

    Priceless.

  9. Amy Says:

    Hey, this is gold! Maybe a smidgen unwieldy, but nice transitions and lovely layering of vocals. Don’t suppose you’d be able to post the lyrics to this one…?

  10. detholz Says:

    DJ: Who said that?

    I owe you one, brother. Expect the appropriate shout-out in next week’s posting!

    Amy: “Unwieldy” aptly describes how I’ve always felt about this one. It’s like a giant electro-woolly mammoth bursting through the wall, Kool-Aid Man style. Has its moments, but perhaps a little over-ambitious.

    While I appreciate your desire for the complete DH! experience (very much!), the lyrics to this particular song are immaterial, really. It was penned in my more tender years when I didn’t give a damn about lyrics, and as such– as Kebab put it– they read like Cliff Notes. Subsequently, I might be a tad mortified if they were released to the general public…

    I shall throw thee a bone next week, however, when I expose myself to the elements and post the Mother of All Detholz! B-Sides– lyrics and all.

    Hope to read you then!

  11. kebabdylan Says:

    i’ve never know what all the words were to the dead meat chorus… It has bothered me for years. can you at least email them to me? inquiring minds have to know

  12. detholz Says:

    Happy to oblige. But in case anyone else is curious, here are the complete lyrics to Dead Meat:

    DEAD MEAT

    The day is a bore
    The night is a scream
    Just pull a stool, dear
    You’ll see what I mean

    FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

    The TV’s aglow
    The patrons are dim
    So stiff in their movements
    With yellowy grins

    MEAT WON’T LET THEM DOWN

    CHORUS:
    There goes the sun
    Under the rug
    Hands on the clock will stop
    And shoulders will shrug
    Up comes the moon
    A lump in your throat
    Saxophones screech before
    Your dinner will choke

    The suckers in here
    Belong in cartoons
    With piccolo soundtracks
    Performed out of tune

    FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

    The band is undead
    And earning their keep
    They play “Take the ‘A’ Train”
    To put you to sleep

    MEAT WON’T LET THEM DOWN

    CHORUS

    Dips his fedora
    Says “well, how do ya…?”
    Look in the mirror
    No one there but you
    Can’t believe it’s true
    When he smiles
    His incisors will gleam and bleed

    You’ve made it before
    But never again
    Mistake of assuming
    You’re dealing with men

    FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

    The barkeep is pale
    And raises a toast
    The blood in his chaser
    Should scare you the most

    FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

    MEAT WON’T LET THEM DOWN

    You’ve made it before
    But never again
    Mistake of assuming
    You’re dealing with men

    FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

  13. jim Says:

    Excellent request Kebab. I wish I knew what a lot of the lyrics off that album were. I usually just loudly mouth similar sounding syllables.

  14. tiny tron Says:

    DJ,
    I treasure that moment as well, but it should be put into context. After saying goodbye to two Bleu Haus party goers we were followed down the stairs by the same two gals we had just said goodbye too. After reluctantly agreeing to giving them a ride home due to most of the back seat being equipment laden, DJ and I were offered to come up to the dorm room and imbibe in alcohol and weed. If it hadn’t been 2am in the morning with a couple hour drive ahead of us and if these two ladies were not ~ 10 years younger than us, I might have agreed, but I decided to stop it there and then.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

    As a fan first band member and a stock holder of McDonald’s I’d have to say that I’m loving this month of the blog too.

  15. kebabdylan Says:

    going even further back, what’s the bands favoirte pre-“who are the detholz” track? Any early tracks stand out to you?

  16. detholz Says:

    Jim: A link is coming with the complete lyrics– available for the first time anywhere! Stay tuned.

    TT/Ben: Thanks for stopping by! And, good line!

    ‘Bab: Good question. I think all of us might answer that differently.

    Speaking for myself, my favorite early DH! track is “In the Box,” from our first demo CD, “Employee Primer.” Rick Franklin (original DH! keyboardist) wrote that song, and in my opinion, it’s the only song worth listening to from the pre-WRTDH days. Rick is such a gifted songwriter– esp. good at writing songs with stark emotional immediacy. I’ve been trying to figure out for years how he does it.

    There were a couple of Rick’s songs we that played during that era, most of which he never titled. So, as punishment, we gave them names like “Bukkake” and “Dirty Sanchez” (the rule was that if you wrote a song without a title, the band would name it– usually after a mythical sexual act or position). Despite their loathsome titles, those were some of my favorite DH! tracks which unfortunately were never recorded– except for “All for You,” which closes out WRTDH. Still sounds good to me all these years later.

    For those of you who don’t know, Rick F. is still alive and well! He writes his own songs, some of which you can hear here: http://www.myspace.com/theeasyups

    He hasn’t updated them in awhile, but all of the songs he’s posted there are truly astounding, in my opinion.

  17. Jim Says:

    Oh man, I LOVE In the Box! I’ll have to check some of his other tunes out. I love bukkake too. Unfamiliar with the song though…

  18. melly mel Says:

    i have to admit…

    i was a little disheartened that Fabian got an honorable mention…

    not that i’m one to talk. i don’t have a career in music management, either.

    but it has been nice to stroll down memory lane with you via this blog.

    i, like other fans, will remind you that the energy was incredible and the times were unforgettable. and we all really did believe that nerds would band together and conquer the world….

  19. kebabdylan Says:

    ha. so after dissing rebirth control, i listened to it again (its been a while) and it has been stuck in my head ever since. I may have to rethink my disses. In the box is the piano song with a lot of falseto? sort of “not – early -detholz” sounding? that was a nice song.

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