Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chunklet Releases Che's Thee Speaking Canaries Demos

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chunklet Releases Che's Thee Speaking Canaries Demos

Article excerpt

Damon Che did most of his damage behind the drums, playing for such Pittsburgh heavies as Half Life, The Heretics and seminal math- rock band Don Caballero.

Around 1991, the same time as Don Cab, he took a bold step out front with Thee Speaking Canaries, a band he formed with Karl Hendricks on bass and Noah Leger on drums.

Canaries released a series of records on the local Mind Cure and Scat labels, starting in 1993 with "The Joy of Wine" and continuing in 1995 with the double LP "Songs for the Terrestrially Challenged."

What never saw the light of day, until now, were Che's early demos which he recorded himself, without vocals. They arrive all these years later on Chunklet/Mind Cure titled "Platter Base Must Be Constructed of Moon Rock."

The brainchild of Henry Owings, Chunklet is a Georgia-based label/ magazine notorious for such special issues as "Is This Guy The Biggest A--hole in Rock?" and "The Overrated Issue." Mr. Owings, originally from York, Pa., was in Pittsburgh for one year ('90-'91) getting his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh when Che was working on these recordings.

"My time in Pittsburgh had a profound influence on me, which I still feel to this day," Mr Owings says. "Ian Williams [of Don Cab] lived down the street from me on Dawson. I've been told I lived in Pittsburgh for 'the good year.' Even though I lived in Pittsburgh for 11 months, people in Georgia still think I'm from there.

"Damon," he adds, "was an intimidating figure in Pittsburgh even then."

Although he saw him play here, they didn't meet until 1992, backstage at a Jesus Lizard concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. There's a famous Che story that at a 2003 show in Athens, Ga., he got into an argument with his band, Bellini, walked off the stage, packed his gear and drove the van home, stranding his bandmates.

The Chunklet founder was doing that show. …

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