Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beyond Zebra - on tape (1989, Sludge Train)

When I was doing my homework on this seemingly arcane Minneapolis export, I learned that Beyond Zebra not only had a discography beyond this demo, but a little known album on the grandaddy of all Mpls/St. Paul record labels, the one and only Twin/Tone.  The music occupying the grooves on that album, Gone Today, Here Tomorrow, bears little resemblance to the three tracks here, which are more than a little steeped in a cloak of Paisley Underground, psyche-pop mystique, not to mention a dab of REM's late '80s songcraft.  Nothing here is overly derivative I might add, but judging by this sharp trifecta of tunes, Beyond Zebra were in fact beyond the demo stage of their career.  By the time they inked that aforementioned contract with Twin/Tone, the band had undergone a pronounced lineup change, retaining only bassist and mouthpiece Greg Ebel.  You can peruse some footnotes on the band via this meager Facebook page, and be sure to check out this glowing critique of Gone Today.

01. Wake Her Again
02. Life Cannot Reverse Itself
03. I Laugh


Rich said...

Not sure the facts are straight here about the line up change. I was and still am very good friends with the guys in the band and I don't recall this big of a shake up. My band Truck Stop Love did a mini tour and several additional shows with BZ and this was never mentioned as I recall. Although most of that era for me was a bit of a blur! By the way if you ever want to post any Truck Stop Love fire away.

spavid said...

I'd be glad to share some TSL stuff at some point. Thanks for your blessing.

So far as I can tell, the lineup provided in the Beyond Zebra tape sleeve I'm sharing, and that on Twin/Tone's page ( have nothing in common with the exception of Greg Ebel. Maybe the rest of the band was using assumed names for one recording and not the other. Your guess is as good as mine, but given your background. you'd probably know better.

Rich said...

You've got me curious now and I'm doing doing some "investigative" work on this. I'll let you know when I find anything out.

Go Johnny Go said...

I am going through some of my Beyond Zebra cassettes this weekend, and I don't have the one you have listed here. I put out their 7" single on Susstones Records, and I can verify that they had two different full-length CDs on Twin/Tone.

Professor said...
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Professor said...

I think I can clarify. This tape was a demo we recorded at Gark studios in South Minneapolis. We chose Gark because that's where Trip Shakespeare (our heroes at the time), recorded their debut Applehead Man. I believe the Gear Daddies also recorded their breakthrough single She's Happy at Gark. Jay Leigh produced and engineered the songs for us. Dave Pinsky was hanging around as well; as I recall he had a knack for appearing whenever someone showed up with any quantity of wacky tabacky, and he would always help by quickly and efficiently reducing the quantity to nothing.

Anyways, we were really in the midst of a transition from The Paramedics to Beyond Zebra. The tape basically represented the death of the Paramedics, and the birth of Beyond Zebra. If you listen to the cassette, the 7", and our 1st album, you can get the whole context of our evolution and it sort of makes sense.

Officially, we began that new phase as On Beyond Zebra (after the Dr. Seuss book of the same name). We soon after dropped the "On" from the name.

The band did indeed change shortly after this. Basically I felt that we had pushed the lineup to its musical limits, and I wanted to go in a different direction. To be frank, the trade off was related to image and lifestyle as well as musical differences. I guess it's when I decided that I wanted the band to go all the way, and I felt we couldn't get to the next level without a change.

In the new lineup, I sang lead as well as wrote and played guitar. We added Grand Johnson as a ferocious 2nd guitar and "force of nature." Drummer Bob Herbers joined the band and played on our first vinyl 7" (Susstones). Shortly after that, we persuaded Michael Crego to permanently fill the drum role (that's like a triple pun for music geeks). He was still recovering from his stint in Grant Hart's Nova Mob, but we knew he was the guy and kept working on him until he relented.

With the new lineup we signed with Twin/Tone, did 2 CDs and toured the country for a couple years. We made lots of good friends (Hey Rich!) and lost valuable liver function. Restless Records had bought Twin/Tone, and had no interest in promoting us. So without any support, I was booking and managing the band during that time from the Twin/Tone offices on Nicollet Ave.

As far as the lineup changes, looking back, I'm not sure if it was the right move or not. I do know that for everything that is gained, something is lost.


Professor said...
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spavid said...

Hey Jason. Thanks for going to the trouble of taking the sheer mystery out of the on Beyond Zebra cassette. Really amazed there was such a backstory (then again, doesn't every band have one)? BTW, I wasn't even aware of the band until I stumbled on this cassette on Ebay a couple months ago, and thus far this is all the BZ my ears have consumed.

I was debating whether to refer to the band as "on Beyond Zebra" or just Beyond Zebra. I went with the latter when I discovered there were offical releases under that variation. Did the Paramedics record anything? Again, I definitely appreciate the history lesson.

Go Johnny, do you still happen to have available copies of any Susstones releases? Feel free to email me at the address in my profile.