The Fake Johnson Trio

Listen to the whole Mark Lint and the Fake Johnson Trio album.

spring, '95
         In the fall of '94, Mark moved to Austin and looked about for a good rhythm section to play under his solo material.  The band was meant to be a retreat from eclecticism, from the rather "variety show" sound of the MayTricks (with its four singer/songwriters), to a consistent, somewhat stupid sound modeled upon such bands as Big Star and Bob Mould's band at the time, Sugar.  Mark took the most bitter, most sarcastic, and most fun songs he had written in '94 (in the aftermath of a crappy, unrequited, rather pathetic "relationship" extensively detailed in Mark's only novel, Tripe, a 325 page mostly stream-of-consciousness combination of humor and pseudo-philosophy, sort of a brain candy for the intelligencia) and tried his best to sell out.  The result of this initial effort was The Fake Johnson Trio EP, composed of six songs cut mostly live in an actual studio (all the previous outings had been home recorded on 4-track) that is really not all that mainstream-sounding.  In fact, the raw-to-the-point of-Lennonesque engineering (I'm talking early solo Lennon, ca. Plastic Ono Band) which put distortion all over Mark's classical guitar directly resulted in bassist Shane Walker quitting the band.  (Drummer Steve Henao had only played with them for three weeks anyway, and had already decided not to continue.)

        In the summer of '95, Mark re-visited Ann Arbor to try to record some more with the MayTricks.  However, Fingers (the band made up of the rest of The MayTricks plus a new bass player) was recording an album of its own at the time, and consequently only enough attention was given to the MayTricks project to finish two songs.  Mark spent the extra time hanging out with guitarist Errol Siegel and keyboardist Jeff Rosenberg, some of his former housemates from the summer of '93, who had a band called Violet Wine that had played with the MayTricks a few times during previous years.  These Winers were looking to move out of Ann Arbor, concluding, as Mark had, that it was, as a city, a musical dead end.  Austin seemed a promising alternative, so Mark suggested that all four of them (including bassist Lee Abramson and drummer Matt Miller) join his band and tour down to Austin during their move.  ...And so it was.

        Acquiring musicians as a group is not the best way to insure that they all, individually, will want to stay in it.  Within two months after the move, Jeff quit.  The band became very disciplined, practicing constantly to a metronome, becoming extremely anal about every detail in the arrangements; this was a very far cry from Mark's original, relaxed conception of the band.  The strict attention to improving the present set discouraged Mark from writing much new material.  On The New and Improved Fake Johnson Trio EP, recorded in spurts from Nov. '95 to July '96, there is (out of six tracks) only one new song, along with new recordings of songs from the first EP and from Happy Songs (the last MayTricks album).  These new recordings were home produced, like the MayTricks albums, but nicer equipment yielded a more professional sounding product.

winter, '95 or spring, '96       However, in the summer of '96 when the band began to play out more frequently to two or even three times a week, this group ethic slowly destroyed itself.  Matt, tired of playing pop songs that he wasn't allowed to solo all over every second, announced he was quitting moments before going on stage at a July gig, which was consequently not a pleasant experience.  Lee, similarly disappointed by the lack of financial success, announced shortly afterwards that he would like to be phased out.  New drummer Bryan Breaux, who had recently moved from Port Arthur, Texas with his band Nog Pan Jami, was trained instantaneously, and added a new energy to the project.  By this time, Errol had also lost most of his enthusiasm, and began to sell off much of his studio equipment and delegate the managerial duties (which, being one of those guys that calls up from a long-distance company trying to get people to switch, and usually succeeding, he was damn good at) to Mark, which he was biologically unsuited for.  The band began to concentrate more on just playing Austin, in the hope of building the following that had so far eluded them.

        Though the shows in the fall of '96 were impressive, featuring the good-natured, pro-wrestler-looking bassist Sam Ray (and occasionally Jeff back sitting in with the band), FJT suffered from a lack of any real management, and the attempt to get everyone in the band to share the responsibility proved a complete failure.  By December, Mark decided to train himself back on bass, and so the group shrunk back to three.  Though gigs were booked at the usual rate, an unexpected rash of cancellations left the fellas with only two more shows before they decided to take a break from playing out and spend all of their energy on recording.

        The prospect of devoting themselves completely to recording energized the group... briefly.  Lee and Jeff both signed back on at the prospect, but Lee opted out after one meeting and Jeff proved impossible to schedule session time with.  Guide tracks were laid down, Errol's parts were quickly recorded, sessions were begun recording drums in Bryan's garage, and, to speed up the process, additional drum sessions were scheduled in Ann Arbor with Steve Petrinko.  However, through the summer of '97 Bryan began to get more discouraged (and hence flakier) about getting his parts recorded.  Though most of the background vocals were recorded by September (with a variety of great singers; see below), the lack of drum parts had ground the process to a halt.  At this point Mark decided that the only way to reenergize the project would be to start up a new live act.  Though Errol and Bryan were both in attendance at (different) initial rehearsals for this, Errol was by this time too busy with the band Punchy (with whom he'd been jamming for the previous six months) to give it the time and Bryan, also too busy with other projects, just plain disappeared.  It wasn't until the following February that Mark was able to get down the rest of the drums successfully with new drummer Dave Hamilton.  Errol was recruited for one more song ("Time Alone"), Mark ended up doing most of the bass parts, and the thing was finally finished...

        Well, finished except for seven months of mixing down (Mark was assisted by some current member of The Fake during each of these sessions), and another five months of mastering (after wasting time waiting for an Austin engineer to get the job done, it was finally sent out to Steve Petrinko, who did it very quickly), plus another month or two while Mark messed around with the liner notes...  The resultant album contains three songs recorded for The New and Improved Fake Johnson Trio EP, albeit with new drum tracks and added background vocals.  The other songs from that EP, and two more that surfaced on the old and unimproved Fake Johnson Trio EP, were completely redone.  Additionally, there are six newer songs and one resurrected from The MayTricks's Happy Songs Will Bring You Down.  The players on the new recordings include Mark, Errol (who, still with Punchy, has been touring Texas and beyond at a furious rate), Dave Hamilton (member of The Fake), Bryan, former MayTricks Steve Petrinko (presently in Ann Arbor playing with The Bureau) and Cliff Kaminsky (x-Ape 7 frontman who moved to LA and now performs under the name Cliff Kaye), Lee (who played for over a year with Errol in Punchy), x-Fake bassist Doug Anthony, Mark's fellow philosophy Ph.D. student at U. of Texas Hal Thorsrud on keyboards, and a large number of talented Austin vocalists including Richard White (presently fronting a band called Honeywhite), Todd Love, Brett McHargue, Russ Somers, Alaetha Carr, Patrick Donahue (of Otis Pinto), Kevin Christopher (aka Kevin Brown), Bradley Scott Berman, Scott Kelley, and Colin Burt. See the cover art and listen to the album.

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