Well, things went well at first when Jamie Nichols, a great blues/bluegrass/rock/funk guitarist and Austin native to boot, and Doug Anthony, the best dang 6-string bass player on the planet, joined. Still searching for a drummer, these two helped Mark arrange a good half of the present Fake live set. A demo was quickly recorded (Mark played drums) and the first show was set for December. At the last minute Mike's pal, Philistine drummer Mark Maynard, was recruited, and things went very well. It would be the last show for many months...
By January, Mark Maynard was out of the picture and Doug became increasingly hard to schedule practices with. Drummer Dave Hamilton promptly joined and recorded the remaining drum tracks for the FJT album; though he and Errol Siegel play most on that album (besides Mark), they've never actually played together. The next five months were spent auditioning bassists, becoming a decent vocal group, and losing Mike (who hadn't been doing much managing anyway).
In June, Sam Ray, who had finished school and dropped out of his funk band Soul Circus (the two things that made him busy enough that he hadn't really been devoting himself to FJT), rejoined. Though he helped mix the FJT album, and he played in FJT for several months before its recording started, he missed the actual recording entirely. In any case, the new band had great chemistry, and everyone got along very well as individuals. A live show was recorded in September, from which a demo was culled, and the first real gig was in October '98.
This lineup played periodic
gigs through September, '99. Though shows weren't frequent (the band kept up
Mike's tradition of not calling bars much), the Fake was without question the
tightest, most likable, most groovy band Mark had played with. While the
songs still ranged stylistically, there is a core of funk (mostly Sam's fault)
and Texas twang (mostly Jamie's fault) that held the set together. As
is usual, the stylistic changes were more subtle than anticipated, so that while
the sound was in general pretty different from FJT, the band was still stuck
playing the same venues (another reason why there wasn't much playing out at
all). Over the summer of '99, the band holed up to record instrumental
tracks for a full album, generating a full 18 songs, including three MayTricks
remakes and one revived from the original Fake Johnson Trio EP.
By October, '99 it became clear that no one was going to bother to get any more gigs. Mark was planning to leave Austin within the year, and there just wasn't any point in fostering relationships with uninterested clubs who would probably close anyway. (Note: The Steamboat, the most frequent gig for FJT and the final gig for the Fake, closed down that month, driven from its location by rising rents. Its demise follows those of other major Austin venues like Liberty Lunch, the Electric Lounge, and Chicago House.) This frankly sapped a lot of enthusiasm from some band members for the project. Add to this that Dave's wife was expecting a baby in November (it showed up Dec. 4) and Jamie was importing a new bride from Canada, thereby earning himself three kids. Subsequent recording (on Sam's PC hard disk studio) thus occurred in fits and starts over the next many months. The last notes didn't get recorded until June, 2000, after Mark moved to Madison, WI, where he recorded the Pipe Circus horn section and mailed the tape back to Austin. Recording squeaked in shortly before Mark's departure included sessions with John LeBec (then piano player for Mr. Fabulous, formerly an assistant to Herbie Hancock, present whereabouts unknown) and organist Tony Ginko. Former MayTricks Steve Petrinko, Cliff Kaminsky, and Brian Drake all contributed parts long distance, and Ken LaBarre (of the Madison band Tangy) added a 12-string guitar part.
Sam now had all of the tracks on his computer (and on the tapes Mark had sent) and estimated that he would be finished mixing them down by September, 2000. Then the estimate became Thanksgiving. Some time in November, he delivered a completed mix of one track (Poor Lover). The whole mixing process had become more cumbersome than he had expected, and he was now devoting energy to a new band (Kathy Smock and the Brave Souls), but he estimated (when Mark told him about some label interest in the project) that he could deliver several more songs by March, 2001. Time passed...
In September, 2001, Mark finally upgraded his computer, meaning he could finish the tracks himself, though finishing this was now clearly a lower priority than kicking his new band Madison Lint into high gear. It took nearly a year of periodic pleas and threats for Mark to get Sam to mail him all the necessary tracks and tapes to get the thing going. Though Mark was able to work out some of the major hurdles in the mixing process (the drum sound) during the preceding winter and spring, mixing did not begin in earnest until August, 2002. Mark had to re-record a couple of his parts (plus Jamie redid a missing backing vocal and e-mailed the track from Austin) and had perform a lot of mixing chicanery in the mix to cover up mistakes in the bass parts that Sam (who now had a broken hand and had sold off his computer recording setup in reaction to job situation changes; a lesson about the perils of procrastination if there's ever been one!) had planned to redo but had not, but (as of 11/02) it's FINALLY DONE! And damn, is it great! Here, listen to the whole thing. You can also read lyrics. Any labels interested in marketing a product by a no-longer-extistant band should let me know.
to the Fake Johnson Trio
Continue to Mark Lint and the Simulacra