I Belong to Me
An Intimate Bioscopic Experience with Treadmill Trackstar
Treadmill Trackstar, an alt-rock band that features a cellist, and sounds like a concoction of equal parts Wilco and Smashing Pumpkins, topped off with a dollop of Big Star.
How does a band that got unceremoniously dropped from a major label, has been defunct for ten years, whose members who have violent reactions to touring, and who have no interest in ever revisiting the music business (as if the music business wanted us) pay for a decent recording? Great question. That was our question too. We figured we needed about 6 grand to make a low quality piece of shit. And we didn’t even have the cash for that.
So this insane plan was hatched. We’d get our friends and fans and family to contribute Public Radio style. Yeah! We’d raise the money! Brilliant! Um, except our friends were poor, our families don’t talk to us, and our fans were all dead of old age. But I found our dusty old email list. I mean, dusty as hell. Last time I used it was on a Mac Classic. We put together a bunch of dumb contribution levels (Bad Ass, Cool Mo’ Fo’, etc..) and we sent that email to our old list. Just flat out asking for cash. We started a record company called (Your Name Here) Records, and tried to find some names to put there. What did we have to lose?
Right away, half the emails were returned as dead addresses. What did we expect? But then, somehow, slowly – cash started appearing in our Paypal account. We were like, holy shit! No way!” Once we got to about six hundred bucks, we’re like, “That’s plenty. Let’s start recording.”
So we did. And the money kept rolling in. And then suddenly we had over Twelve Grand. And before we fainted in disbelief – we spent every single penny making an album that we’re pretty proud of. It’s called, i belong to me. And we couldn’t have done it without our awesomely generous and outrageously cool contributors. And we’d like for people to hear it. Because we’re musicians. And as musicians, we don’t really exist unless someone listens to our music.
We toured America from 1991 until 1998 in an extremely dangerous and smelly box truck. We released our first record, Excessive Use of the Passive Voice, on a tiny indie label called Raging Rose Records in 1994. That album garnered surprising regional airplay throughout the southeast. Our constant touring came to a climax in the summer of 1997 when we were lucky enough to hit the summer festival circuit with the likes of Beck, Moby and Iggy Pop and had the chance to perform for crowds of thirty thousand plus. (This was the ROAR Tour – anyone remember that?! Oh God.)
We received our ‘lucky break’ in 1997 when we were signed to an Atlantic Records imprint called Breaking. We made a good record called Only This. But we went about it wrong. We were so worried about it being successful, that we may have made some musical choices that were less then true to ourselves. I don’t blame us. Everything was riding on that record. Our entire futures. After a year of typical music industry soul crushing, we got dropped. You’ve heard it all before. We soon realized that the music industry wasn’t the place for us to flourish and that we should be grateful to have escaped without any major addictions. So we said, screw it, and went our separate ways in 1998. Families, alternative careers and kids ensued for all of us. Goodbye sweet dream of Rock Stardom. Hello motorcycle messagering.
Fast forward to 2007. I’d just moved back to the East Coast within striking distance of my old mates. (This is Angelo here by the way. Thanks for getting this far.) A group of promoters found Tony on MySpace and contacted him out of the blue about getting Treadmill back together to perform at a charity concert. We were like, “why the hell would we want to do that!? We’re old and shitty. No way.” Quite honestly, I was scared shitless to try it again. My memories of Treadmill were tainted enough – I certainly didn’t want a humiliating show of aging bastards to add to that. But after much gnashing of teeth, we made it onto the stage. And brother… sister… let me tell you something. It was glorious. Here’s what was different. This time, it was music for music’s sake. Nothing else. No pressure and no expectations and no goals. Perfect! It was, dare I say it… enjoyable again. And that’s when things began to get interesting. What if we could make a record with those same lowly ideals intact? No expectations and no goals. Hmmm…. Interesting…
So, after playing our first show in a decade after hardly keeping in touch, we felt that the natural next step would be to make a record. So we did.
And the outcome is i belong to me. The goal of this project was to walk away from it at it’s conclusion without a single regret. Without that gnawing feeling that Only This left us with – “If only we’d done it this way instead of that way.” We took our time with this one. Thirteen months in fact. And there is not one gnawing aspect of this record for us. Good or bad, it’s exactly what we wanted it to be. We’ve had a lot of things happen to us in the past 10 years since our dreams were dashed. I didn’t play a note for two years after we got dropped, I was so bitter and angry at music for letting me down after all we’d put into it. And while we all got on with our lives and had success in other things, there was some unresolved stuff we needed to get out there. And we couldn’t resolve it until we all got back together again. It’s kind of a Wonder Twins type of deal. We had to do it together. And this record is it. Resolved. We hope it goes on to have a wonderful life. (Luckily, we have a whole host of other unresolved stuff for the next record, which is, um, already in the works.)
• The record took 13 months from start to finish. We walked into the studio in September of 2008 and Mastering was completed on November 5, 2009. That’s a long time in the oven. And it came out well done.
• The ‘Gateway Songs’ (the three short songs on the album) almost didn’t make it. There were battles. There were re-writes. Each of these songs was recorded in their entirety between 11:59pm and 12:01am. If there was a mess up – had to wait until the next night. Why? You’d have to ask Ang. And he won’t tell you. Some kind of voodoo shit, most likely.
• The best drum fill every recorded in the history of the world takes place at the end of Three Cheers at 5:37 Tony attained a higher plane when he laid that one down.
• Best bass slide ever recorded in the history of the world takes place at the :06 in Euphoric.
• Coolest cello part – I’m going with Least I’m Feeling and the end of Last Good Breath.
• The band has never played Three Cheers together in person in the same room. With our touring schedule the way it is, we may never play it together.
• The last line of the album was hotly debated. Pessimism won the day… this time.
• Heidi blew Kenny and Angelo’s mind in the studio when she said that G sharp and A flat are different notes. This is an issue that still causes mayhem to this day. When the band breaks up again, it will be because of this.
• The acoustic guitar, which was always one of the cornerstone’s of Treadmill’s sound is hardly found on i belong to me.
• Piano, Wurlitzer. Rhodes, Celesta and Vibes show their lovely faces for the first time for Treadmill on i belong to me. The band cracked the door just a hint for a wisp of syths and programing – although tried to keep it way subtle. Except for Call to Prayer (Settled)! Not so subtle there.
• Mike laid down all his bass tracks in under seven hours making him the most economical bass player in the world. He is a monster and a bad ass, and that’s just how he rolls. He’s also the most tasteful bass player you’ve ever met.
• The band used over 55 tracks to record the song Call to Prayer (Settled).
• In mastering, the entire record was fed through an antique whatchamathing called a 1/2 inch tape machine to give it that little subtle thang. These machines were once used by cavemen to organize the intestines of the small animals they’d killed.
• The line, like when it started to bend, in Best You Never Knew is a vague reference to the line bend out of lane in Shouldn’t I Take from Only This and Excessive Use of the Passive Voice.
• Greener Grass was originally written to be on the soundtrack of a short film written by Angelo of the same name. The song was rejected by the director. Silly director.
• Band’s favorite lyric – “felated the lies that I had told…” in Best You Never Knew.