This was originally [kind of] released in 2007, but is being officially released here in memory of my friend Adam Cooley, who passed away on February 3rd, 2014.
There's a lot I have to say, so please indulge me for just a few minutes:
In May of 2005, I stumbled upon a community on the internet where my music was, for the first time ever, not out of place. The community was big and loosely defined, but was brought together by some related set of unconventional ideas about what music should sound like. It existed on Soulseek, MySpace, and even LiveJournal, and through record labels like Brokecore and X Died En Route Y.
How absurd it was to me, at the time, that anyone else would think to make grind with a computer, make noise as a form of music, or use a gameboy or guitar pedals as instruments. Prior to then, I thought I was all alone in my ideas, but that illusion was shattered. So many people treading in territory I wanted to see, with completely different ways to do so and totally different abilities and influences. No one was doing the same thing because there was no pre-existing scene and no set of genres to imitate. Everything being done was new and I was thrilled.
One of the most important projects in that scene, for me, was a band called Scissor Shock. At the time of my discovering the project, it was a complete sensory assault. Layers of low fidelity, distorted guitar, manic shrieking, toy keyboards, walls of MIDI, sped-up video game soundtracks, drums that sounded like the entire history of electronic music having a panic attack, wild feedback, and bizarre atmospheric noise, all jumping hoops through multiple time signatures and tempos at once. I didn't always understand what was happening and couldn't tell if it was the most hyper-constructed and complicated thing that had ever been created or a complete mess, but my stomach would jump and my pulse would quicken. I definitely liked whatever was going on.
The band often appeared as a three piece in the promotional material of the time, but it was ultimately the brain child of one consistent person, Adam Cooley. A master of self-promotion and image cultivation, even when it risked being viewed as excessive, Adam had the entire genesis of his musical history documented in exacting detail on his website, and I clung to every word. He quickly became someone who I flat out admired.
As I did with everyone in the various facets of this scene, I reached out slowly, the fear of rejection at the front of my mind, trying to humbly see if there was any interest in what I was doing. To my shock and elation though, he actually answered me, and with positive response, too. He even went as far as to say what I was doing was "the better version of Scissor Shock" (the project I was doing at the time was c@)
Adam was one of the first people in the scene to embrace and support my music, and he was also my favorite in the scene.
I got his email and we talked a bit before I eventually worked the nerve to ask about a collaboration, which yielded a track titled "Untitled and Unfinished". For the young me, this was an impossibly huge moment. I dreamed of a split with Scissor Shock but wouldn't develop the courage to ask about that until some time later.
Adam and I grew to be friends over the years, and would occasionally talk via AIM, MSN Messenger, or Soulseek chat (later on we and some other friends would be pals on LiveJournal and talk via comments). By 2007, our friendship was well established. Just as he was an early supporter of c@, he was also one of the first in the scene to embrace Bubblegum Octopus. We talked about doing a split, agreed it was a great idea, and we each did a track. I wrote "Here he is He's GONE" and "I'm going to roll you up and beat the shit out of you" for the split, but I cut the latter because I felt the two songs were too similar for the same release. He recorded and sent me the song "Etherhead", a huge departure from previous scissor shock material, with DXM syrup drenched synths, a warbly and explosive trombone, drums that sounded like they were falling down the stairs on purpose, and some of the strangest and most unsettling vocals I've ever heard. It was aggressive and terrifying, but in ways that were not at all familiar in the idioms of extreme music as most know it.
I was so excited.
We sent our music off to a tape label in Mexico, well before tapes were the kind of collectible-retro-cool that they are now, and waited for the good news. Unfortunately, the release date was pushed back on an extremely regular basis, despite the fact that both of our projects were blossoming in popularity (this was about the time that I simply left the internet for a while because my small amount of unintended success was making me feel crazy) and we left a lot of people hanging, including ourselves.
The label put it up for download on SoulSeek, allegedly, making it the first organized release of Bubblegum Octopus music (and even less accessible than the very messy release of my demo).
With the extra time before the REAL release, I recorded two more tracks, "Digidock" and "Sausage MAXXX". Eventually, Adam came to me with two more tracks for the eventual physical release as well. His new tracks were one that were cut from a split he planned with a group that were apparently frustrating to deal with or something (I won't name names). I think maybe they were desperate to cut their ties with the now completely overflowing digital grind community?
More time passed, no release, and I added another song ("This is not Dead Time!", which I released earlier this year as part of "Tough") and it seemed like the release just wasn't going to happen. We added our collab song from 2005 (which I think was originally just billed as m@ Vs. Adam Cooley) and threw it online again, via SoulSeek, MegaUpload, Torrents, and MediaFire... and that was it.
We continued to occasionally puzzle about the release becoming legitimate, but that was it.
In short, the split has never received a proper release, even 8 years later. There is not even any definitive version of it. They might not be on many harddrives, but there's at least five versions of it floating around out there.
As far as I am aware, the original posting of the two track download, made by the label that was supposed to print it, was in July of 2007, but I've actually never even been able to get a download from them.
For Scissor Shock's side of this split, the project melted boundaries. Etherhead predicated the wave of the hyper cerebral and terrifying Scissor Shock releases that would immediately follow, while tracks 5 and 6 tampered with fundamental elements of music that even in 2015 most people still require for things to be in any way palatable.
For the Bubblegum Octopus side, this is the only recording that sounds more rough than the first album (except for the demo of course) and some extremely dark things I was dealing with (an abusive relationship, death, and sexual harassment) were reconciled through extreme silliness, aloofness, ignorance, confusion, and feigned confidence.
Adam and I stayed in regular contact until the end of 2009, at which point he reduced his internet presence until it became almost entirely impossible for me to even communicate with him.
He'd occasionally pop out of nowhere to tell me something, like that the song "Cat Planet Woman" from the Scissor Shock album "Psychic Existentialist" was about me, which coincidentally happened to be my favorite song from the album, or some update on new ideas to get our split released a new way, or we'd talk about trying to get me a show in his home town.
I always appreciated when we'd actually get to talk for a second. I really liked the guy.
In February of last year (2014) I saw a heartbreaking post on Facebook. Adam had passed away. To this day, that idea is still so preposterous to me. It still hurts. I have had no way, no words, no anything with which to give him a proper tribute or to do justice to the impact he had as a friend, mentor, and peer. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for those who saw and hung out with him all the time, his family, his closer friends. He really was a very special person. As an artist, he was never content to let his projects do the same thing for too long, he was not afraid to fundamentally alter every single thing about what he did, even at the expense of alienating everyone, and his relentless tenacity and self-assuredness is a big part of why, even through friendship, which all too often mutes us to the creativity and talent of our friends, he continued to blow my mind with his creativity and talent.
This split is representative of both of our projects in the summer of 2007 and spring 2008, depending on the track. I implore you to check out everything he did after this point, as well as what preceded it. Scissor Shock is a project that changed and reinvented itself constantly in the years it existed. Even in the wake of Adam's death, with a final, posthumous release, Scissor Shock continued to transform itself.
I am putting this split here because releasing it is the last thing I ever talked to him about. I will continue to look for ways to make him proud and to pay tribute to how he impacted me, through my music, but if there's one thing that I know I can do to honor his memory right now, it is giving his music to more people. I just want people to hear what we worked on, like he wanted. It took me a long time to convince myself that I should do this, but I think this is the right thing to do for him.
Adam's work goes beyond just Scissor Shock though. He had a number of other bands and other solo and collaborative music projects, as well as years of making extremely out-there films and TV shows. There's a tribute page on Facebook for him and his work, please give it a look through:
Anyway, before I stop writing, I'll leave you with four of my favorite, personal anecdotes from talking to Adam:
• One night in 2007, Adam reviewed the 2005 c@ album "copy" to me in real time via MSN Messenger. He reviewed every single track (over 40 of them). The best part is that, for as much as he told me he loved that album, he was very blunt about what he didn't like, including flat out saying: [the song] "Hate Kitties? Hate c@!" is complete filler.
• Adam asked me to make some sounds for the 2007 Scissor Shock album "The Mars Travolta". I sent him a bunch of stuff and when the album released, he told me I was on the album, but "heavily manipulated". To this day I have absolutely no idea where what I sent him is actually located or if he actually even used it.
• Adam was a fan of my bass playing and really liked this incredibly dumb, 10 or so second song I wrote called "nu-metal m@" that had me doing a goofy slap bass line with metal drums and choir sounds. I haven't heard it since, but I actually recorded him a similar track called "nu-metal Adam". I love the fact that, for as little as I have ever thought about or listened to nu-metal, he and I spent a pretty long time, cumulatively, talking and joking about it.
• In the summer of 2008 I finished re-recording what I needed to re-record for the first Bubblegum Octopus album. In a long, confusing and hypomanic LiveJournal rant, I talked about my frustration with what I should name the album, because people had, at the time, been circulating this bogus zip file called "8-LEGGED DANCE MOVES FULL ALBUM" and I felt like my album title had been taken from me.
Adam suggested two album titles, and then said: or you should just called it "The Album Formerly Known As 8-Legged Dance Moves"
Obviously, to anyone who follows Bubblegum Octopus at all, this is the most recognized album/album title to the project's name.
I know you don't like the cover art very much, but I can't find what you made to replace it. I hope it's not too awful this way. I'm so sorry this took so long and I'm so sorry that this isn't the way we planned to release it, but at least it's finally officially out. We only made people wait for eight years!! I'm sure that whatever world you're on right now, you're already busy breaking down artistic barriers and deconstructing conventions and comfort, but just in case you're in a place where you're still keeping tabs on all of us, I hope this brings you some unexpected closure. I know you still wanted this to see the light of day in a real way and I think this is pretty close.
I still love what you did for our split, and I still love your music and value our friendship. I hope the far-flung future has more of those last two. Maybe we can do a split?