American Gothic – 1998

The first year moved pretty fast for us, we played close to 70 shows in less than a full calendar year. We moved from our clock tower rehearsal space to the cozy 10x10 space in John's basement. There we ran at full volume, full lights, full fog and we wrote some great tunes that ended up making American Gothic. The first thing we needed was a better way to record, so we took the money we made from live shows and purchased a Roland VS 1680 16 tracks of hard disk audio recording goodness, then we upgraded Dave's Mac and we were off. Unlike Debut, we had some luxury of time so we spent a few months recording this and promptly released this at a Halloween show at The Stadium in Fairless Hills.

Adding to the “special” event, Gary was carried to the stage in a full length coffin and this event was one of the first shows where Carfax began another trademark of just plowing through one song to the next. No Breaks, No speaking, just music. The live idea to do this was because American Gothic is played in a CD player you don't hear the typical “ID breaks from on song to the next” American Gothic flows from one track all the way to the end of the recording. We loved this idea so much it became the idea for all live shows.

Prior to this recording the average Carfax Song just about wrote itself in a practice or two, not the case with Embrace. That tune took us forever to complete and had more variations than Gary has had make up styles over the years. After weeks and multiple times of trashing the song, we finally hit pay dirt and it has been a staple for us since.

This release was not without some serious heartache. As every band knows you start out playing to very few people, the early supporters always leave a lasting impression on you. Claire-Marie Monti was an amazing woman, friend and one of the very first supporters we had. She purchased one of the very first Carfax Abbey shirts we had made up, she attended just about every darn show during our first year but sadly, she was stolen from us before American Gothic was released. She was murdered over the weekend of our first show at The Trocadero in Philly for a Loud and Local event that took place on a Saturday April 25 1998, her body was discovered on April 26 in Kansas City. We played a show at The Stadium literally a week before the Troc show, she informed us of her disappointment that she would be missing this big step and show for us, she gave the ticket to a friend who would be attending and taking pictures for her. That was the last time we saw and spoke with Claire.

We were informed that Claire passed away by a good friend Lacy who routinely assisted us with moving our gear and setting up. Lacy saw the newspaper and called John at work. Mondays were religious rehearsal days for Carfax and this Monday was no exception. Rather than talk of the glories of a great weekend show, we sat. We sobbed. We cursed. Then, we got angry. Raving like madmen about how we would have loved a chance to be alone with the bastards who did this horrible crime. While we were spewing all this hate Gary began writing feverously in his lyric book. John and Dave instantly clicked with the coming up with the music. It's really hard to explain but it was almost like being possessed by such an uncontrollable rage that the only outlet was to write a song and bleed out the hurt because the only other option would have probable led to legal issues. Gary and John attended Claire's funeral, she was buried with her Carfax Abbey shirt. We will never forget Claire.

The cover art….. Well, yeah, the Cover Art. It is a funeral portrait of one of Gary's relatives. It was found in his Grandfathers attic and it was the saddest and coolest thing we had ever seen. The look in the mother's eyes just rattled us to the very core, you can actually feel her grief and pain just from the look in her eyes. Funeral Portraits were a morbid trend in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Watch the movie “The Others” and you will understand.

The Players

Gary – Vocals
John – Guitars
David – Keys, programming
Paul – Bass
Byron – Drums

Produced, mixed and slaved over by David (mostly), John, Gary, Paul, Byron