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The history that always EXPLODES!

2000-20012002-2003 I 2004-2005 I 2006-Present - Pr

Here is a little write-up about the way we formed and how we have managed to stick around after several years.

2001-2002: from meager beginnings...

Back in April of 2000, I was living in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I had finished with school and was hanging around in Fayetteville, a college-town environment.  I had been having a chronic string of relationship problems, family health problems, and inability to keep a good band together for the past year. 

My father's illness was going to make me have to move back to the Little Rock area, where I grew up to be close to him as grew more and more ill.

I had played in three or four musical projects while I was living in Fayetteville, but none had worked out like I wished they had, so I decided to ask a couple of friends to play in a band.  The idea was that it would be real simple and we would practice like four times, play just one show, and break up. 

My departure from Fayetteville was becoming all the more imminent, so I hit up my friend David Dean, who I had had the pleasure of playing in a couple of bands with previously (Prison Planet 7734 and 30 Seconds to Disenchantment).  I asked him if he'd be interested in doing this simple, no-stress project relatively soon and be done with it before the end of April, 2000.  I had set my target day to move to LR as April 30th. 

David said yes, which was good, but I knew that I had to hustle to keep him interested.  So I asked another person, Daniel Kaminsky to play drums.  Daniel was a nice guy, still in high school or just finishing at that point, who I had known for a long time.  He was an official Fayetteville townie who had played in a band called The Affections and had some solo projects.  He had always been very cool to me and always had a mind to do proactive things with music and was always into helping out the scene by collecting his friends music and making demo compilations on tape.  He was totally into jamming and we were set to roll.   

After I talked to David and Daniel about this idea I got all excited, went home and channeled all my nervous energy into writing three new songs on the guitar.  These became the genesis of The Thing That Always Explodes.

We got together a couple of times and practiced the songs after hours at Clunk Music Hall. While this was all happening, David thought of the name, The Thing That Always Explodes (originally he said The Thing That Always Blows Up, but "Explodes" rolls off the tongue a little better).  David seemed to be into playing in a new band at first, but unfortunately lost interest.  He said he didn't have time or something.  So Daniel and I were looking to find someone else.  We talked to a couple of local people, some expressing interest, but it never went anywhere.  We considered doing it just the two of us, since it wouldn't be a big deal, but we both never got motivated enough to get the stuff all in order.  The target date came and went.  I had to move to Little Rock to be with my family.

After I got settled into my new environment in Little Rock, I had not had much time for making music with people in Fayetteville, and had gotten involved with this project called in Skyscrapers And The Men Who Build Them, a hardcore band that was pretty fun.  After a few months of being in Little Rock, and doing this band thing, I talked to Dan Kaminsky and he expressed apology that we hadn't worked it out.  We made a plan to try to start it back up and write some new songs.  I would be driving back up to Fayetteville a lot in order to make this happen since Daniel didn't have a car or a driver's license, and I had gotten my dad's truck since he wasn't really able to drive it any more.

Daniel and I had fun writing songs over the next few months through the Fall and Winter of 2000.  I'd drive up to Fayetteville for a day or two and we'd just practice at Clunk Music Hall overnight since we had a key.  We wrote 4 or 5 new songs in addition to the three that I had written originally.  The creative process was very good with Daniel because we both could just be ourselves since we both felt pretty silly and goofy most of the time and additionally were both pretty much outcast types from the cooly scenes of LR and Fayetteville.        

After we had gotten things together pretty good, Daniel approached Cody Johnson about playing bass.  Cody was another Fayetteville townie who had been in the high school punk band, The Pleebs.  They might have actually gone to high school together or something.  Cody had just started to school at Hendrix that previous year, so it would be good since I could just drive 30 minutes to Conway to help him learn the songs.  

We got together once or twice and then with Daniel here and there in Fayetteville.  Daniel and I agreed that Cody fit the band well because he was just as silly as we were, but was also a sincere and good-hearted person.  After a couple of months of practicing, we finally agreed that we were ready for a show and we scheduled one on Mayday (May 1st), 2001.  We scheduled it just to force ourselves to get off out butts and practice so that we'd be ready to play.  I knew that I was probably going to be moving to Madison, Wisconsin for a job, and so we had to start making this come together, or it would all be for naught. 

Our first show was at the Little Rock Riverfront Park Belevdere, with the Flammables, a bunch of friends from Fayetteville who played rock 'n roll punk style.  It went off very well actually, so we did some more in Fayetteville (usually at Clunk Music Hall), Little Rock (at the Belvedere) and Conway (at the Matrix).

In July 2001, I moved to Madison, WI to work for a student activist group, but we managed to keep the band going.  I came down to Arkansas about once a month to see my sweetheart, and usually we played a show and practiced a few times.

Then Daniel started talking about how he was itching to travel and he started going to national festivals, conferences, and gatherings of anarcho-crusty types.  Eventually, he decided to move to Philadelphia (or was it Kansas City?) and we had to find someone else to play drums.  It was a bummer to lose him, because his energy really made the persona of the band.

While I was in Madison, Cody looked around Conway and found this fellow named Daniel Dillard, who went to school at Hendrix with him.  They even had a pretty good practice space up there in the college music department's rooms. 

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2002 – 2003: to the pinnacle of rock stardom!

We practiced quite a bit and eventually were ready to play a show at Clunk in Fayetteville, which we did (I think it was with a band from Eureka Springs, AR.  Then we played at the Wesley Foundation at UA-Little Rock in early 2002.  Daniel Dillard was a great drummer, with a very complex style.  Unfortunately, he was moving to Rhode Island in August, so we had to hurry and play as many shows as possible.  We did some more shows in Little Rock and Fayetteville.  On one of our last shows before Daniel Dillard moved away to Rhode Island, Daniel K. was back in town and he sat in on drums.  It was pretty sweet.

When the time came for Daniel Dillard to move to Providence, there was some debate over whether or not we should continue on as a band.  We had what we weren’t sure if it could be our last show in Fayetteville, AR in July, 2002.  The next morning, Cody and I got together at Arsaga's coffee shop to talk about what we would do with the band in the wake of Daniel Dillard leaving.  Cody wanted to just stop the band and make a clean break.  I wanted to keep it going and find a new drummer.  I originally told Cody that I would be OK with just letting it go.  Then later I thought about it more and I e-mailed him and asked him if we could reconsider.  I had been approached by Dave Dobbs from Pine Bluff about playing drums.  Cody initially wasn't into it, but told me to go ahead and find new people such as Dave to replace him and Daniel.  So I went down to Pine Bluff and practiced with Dave Dobbs.  As we were starting, Dave called his pal Josh Blackstock and asked him to come over and play bass.  Josh came over and it just totally worked; it sounded great. 

Then there was some confusion with Cody, who now wanted to keep going as the bass player.  I didn't know how to tell him that I had already been playing with new people, and there was some miscommunication which unfortunately affected our relationship and Cody didn't continue.

But things were going pretty good with Dave and Josh.  We practiced a lot and had our first show at Blank Generation in Conway in December of 2002 or January of 2003.  Then we played a great show with Mad Trucker and The Benders (later to become Grand Serenade) at the UALR Wesley Foundation.

We practiced more, played more shows, got pretty tight.  By May or so we had a recording and a t-shirt design.  We set up a tour and went around the eastern US (click here to read the tour diary).  It was great, but it made us get sick of each other.  After the tour, Dave Dobbs eventually left the band over a mix of  personal,
philosophical, and other reasons.

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2004 -2005:  the drug years...

We sort of went on hiatus for a couple of months and then David Dean, the original bass player who never played any more than 2 or 3 practices got with us and Josh and I made runs between Little Rock and Fort Smith where David lived at the time. Playing with Dave really sped up the band, but we never could get all the songs learned because practice time was hard to come by with Josh and I living in Little Rock and Dave living two hours away, in Ft. Smith.  We did manage to write a song that we all kind of just created together out of the blue.  "The Rivermarket: A Great Place To Be White" is the song that we made up.  We had been planning a short tour, but that fell through the cracks due to work/school schedules, distance, and no tour transportation.  Dave then decided he was going to move away to Bloomington, Indiana.

That was at the middle of 2004. After three years and four drummers, Josh and I decided to keep plugging, but to maybe try and find someone who had more roots to the community.  We thought maybe we needed to look outside of our circle of friends.  We made some cheesy flyers and put them up at music places and on online message boards.  After jamming with a couple of people and nothing really clicking, I remembered that there was a new kid in town named Teddy who seemed to know a lot of the people that I knew and he had told me something about a band that he had been in once and played drums.  So, we asked him to come over and jam.  Teddy eventually was inducted into the band and had quite an affect.  He moved the band into more of a funkier, and more rock-and-roll type sound.  It worked well, and we were able to throw together two new songs that fit the more funky direction the drumming was taking us. This line-up had the fortune of touring for a week and 1/2 and made it to NYC for what may have been our best show in January 2005.  We picked up Walker Metling on tour and he made the trip even more fun.  We got to play with Dead Things, a great band from Asheville, NC who had previously done a tour around several towns in North Carolina where they did all the traveling between cities on bikes. What a great idea!  They were a lot of fun.

When we came back we played a few more shows and threw together this recording at the 6th St. studio house near Vino's.  We worked really hard on the execution of playing it, but it was doomed due to crappy equipment.  But, we did learn a lot about how not to do it at least.  And the demo songs we made were useful if only for playing for friends. 
Teddy was making plans to work in the corn fields of Iowa de-tasselling corn with his hippy friends.  He said he'd only be gone for about 4-6 weeks, but he ended up being gone for three or four months before he finally leveled with us that he was pretty much not coming back to Little Rock.  Instead he was moving to Austin, TX.  We felt utter frustration with having so many drummers move away.  Josh and I managed to mitigate the frustration by collaborating with some friends on a one-time Black Sabbath cover band and we played as a benefit for ACAC at the Great Halloween Cover-Up in October, 2005.   

Then out of the blue, Teddy came back for a month or so and we decided to make the most of it by attempting another recording, this time with a slightly better setup and a much better-sounding room (the UALR Wesley Foundation).  Adrian Bozeman got together with us and helped us record the drums at the Wesley Foundation.  Later, after Teddy had gone back to Austin, we went over to Adrian's house and finished off the guitar and bass tracks.  It sounded a lot better.  But there was still more work to do.  Unfortunately, in the year or so since then, the recording has collected dust due to technical difficulties and lack of motivation.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel for it since some of the technical obstacles have now been overcome.  So keep checking back for updates on that.

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2006-Present: reform and a new positive attitude!

While Teddy was back we decided to try to play one show for old times sake.  We booked a last minute spot at a show in at Heshers in Ft. Smith with, Fire Don’t Care (locals) and Fourth Rotor, a great band from Chicago who had members of the legendary 8 Bark.  The show was OK, but we ended up playing last because the band dudes wanted to get tofu sandwiches at Pho's (a great Vietnamese restaurant in Ft. Smith), which took forever and we lost our early slot.  Then, when we left we got pulled over by the stupid pigs in Moffett, Oklahoma who took Teddy and Josh to jail because they had some empty beer cans in the van.  That sucked and those cops were assholes.  Not a great way to end the stint we had with Teddy, but such is life.

For the next 6 or 7 months, we weren't able to connect with a new drummer.  I practiced a lot with Donovan Romine who was also in Hard Luck Story.   We jammed while Josh was traveling around over the summer of 2006, and that was great.  Donovan was real good and very easy to work with.  He always showed up.  He was almost ready to start playing shows and then all of a sudden he decided that he wanted to move to Bloomington, IN.  A total bummer to say the least.  The 2nd drummer we had lost to Bloomington left me with ill feelings toward the town. 

I have no idea how, but even after all this, I managed to keep trying and eventually we contacted Alex Butler, a right lanky fellow who I had seen playing some shows in this band called Scrim.  We got together and tried it out and it sounded pretty good.  Josh made it to a few practices with all of us together but it was clear that after all these drummer changes and obstacles that he was burned out.  He finally informed me that he wouldn't be able to continue on.  That was really a setback to me because Josh had been a stalwart and a really good friend.  We were sure to continue on as friends but it felt really sad, like a breakup. 

So, at that point Alex and I talked and about who we could find to play bass.  Alex suggested this lady, Kate, who was also in the band the C.U.N.T.S. at the time.  She came and jammed with us and introduced a new slap-pop-slide style that sounds very cool.  We practiced hard to get the new crew up to speed and played what was supposed to be a fun party in a kids posh parent’s basement in Cabot that turned out to be a 20-degree freeze-out show on the back of a flatbed truck outside a trailer home but in the freaking B.F.E..  The audience was mostly under 18 years old, which was cool, but the parental chaperons at the show gave Alex a hard time because someone he had brought to the show was drunk or something.  A great way to start out with new people.  But things got better at our next couple of shows and we got to play at the Treehouse on New Year’s Eve 2006-2007.

This is where things stand as of February, 2007.  Its been almost 7 years since this band was first conceived of.  I was 23 when we had our first practice, 24 when we played out first show.  Now, I just turned 30.  If anything, I've become more steadfast about keeping with the DIY spirit that first motivated me and my fellow musicians to start playing in this band or any bands.  Having fun, participating in community and helping people increase their critical thinking skills about the world around them: that’s what we do.  I like to think we've maybe spawned a few arguments between Archie Bunker dads and their kids.  If this thing were ever about money, it would a) be a failure, and b) suck ass.  I've been very lucky to have had the opportunity to play music with these awesome musicians who happen to be very cool people.  I've always wished we could have been more active, had better recordings, and played bigger and more shows.  But I look at it now and am just glad for all the learning opportunities that being in this band has afforded me.  To all the people we've pissed off, sorry.  And to everyone who's been kind to us and helped us out on tour or with shows in Arkansas.  We thank you immensely.

Kate, Alex and I are excited about the future and we want to continue to write new material and tour.  We are looking to do some short mini-tours through the midwest and/or south since we can't take enough time off work to do long tours of the whole US or Canada.  So, get in touch and we’ll keep making it happen. 

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Andy Burns
February, 2007

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