It's a complicated timeline, understanding the birthing of the earliest vonHummer album, "That Which Does Not Smash." I'll try to make it brief, as it's really not that interesting.
The year is 1999. After tinkering around with various guitars, I'm convinced I've finally got a sound I'm in love with. I create a demo on my Tascam 4-track cassette recorder—no vocals—of 12 new songs and with it I move to Portland, Oregon, where I imagine musical genius like mine will find an interested audience, if I'll just give it a chance, as indeed I did NOT do in Washington, D.C.
First thing I do when I get to town is buy an Ovation acoustic bass and re-string it in my standard 3-stringed way, and add it into my plans for a top-notch album with my THE SOUND guitars: a high drone, and a drum guitar of my own devising. Convinced that if I just take my time, I can record a professional-quality album on cassette tape…in a volkswagen tent…set up in a one-car garage…in the parking lot of my apartment complex…in the wee hours before work and wife.
July 2000. Takes me about six months, but, by golly, I do it. 24 songs, by this point, with the idea that I'll split them into two albums and save myself time later while I'm touring promoting the first album. Which I still haven't done to this day, come to think on it. Among all my many talents will NOT be found: follow-through promotional ability. And so all 24 songs gather dust for a year.
July 2001. Looking around for recorded songs to run in my upcoming cable access series, "The vonHummer Hour," I pick out the 8 best—leaving the remaining 12 for the next year's "Leftoverwhelming"—and so, "That Which Does Not Smash" was born into the world.
Not that the world would have an inkling thereof. For, like most of the vonHummer catalog, this album, too, was never released. Still, many of the songs became popular downloads from vonHummer.com
, especially "Flip a Bitch," which I consider to be my first "hit."
"Approval" did well, and so did "Flying Buttress" and "That Which Does Not Smash."
As i listen again, i'm still quite proud of this album. It really gels for something so inherently inorganically constructed. I would start with a simple drum machine track, recorded off a 90's Casio keyboard (the toy kind, not the good kind, either!) Then I'd add the bass drone part and then the high drone. Last of all was the drum guitar, which would erase the drum track as I went. Filling in the drums at the end is all wrong, trust me, but it seemed like the thing to do.
But it's a very wooden-sounding work, with lost of clicks and clacks and bouncing rhythms, and the very first time I ever hit the sound I was aiming at, artistically, and will always hold a place in my iPod.