So here’s where it all starts for me, making music and doing the tape label thing. My old high school buddy Seth Thomson and I used to goof around recording funny made-up radio shows and songs and things, some we’d record together and others we’d record separately and trade copies of with each other. During high school we recorded quite a bit of music, a mix of songs we’d write and on-the-spot improvised jams, recorded on boombox or portable cassette recorders, all incorporating the warped sense of humor we were always developing between us. After Seth graduated a year ahead of me and went off to college at Iowa State, I took up the bass guitar, and my family moved to a different house where I had most of the finished basement as my room; Seth came over with his acoustic 12-string while he was back in town for Thanksgiving break, and I had borrowed a really sweet cassette deck and a couple microphones from the school and set it up in a little “extra room” behind the furnace, and we went in there and recorded a bunch more shit. It was all just something we did for our own enjoyment, and originally I don’t think we ever considered making it available to anyone else.
I graduated and went off to my first unsuccessful attempt at college, also at Iowa State, after Seth dropped out and stuck around Ames. We hung out quite a bit and he had formed a duo with a flute player named Bola King called The Blues Miracle and were playing at various hippie-ish bars and the like. I played bass with them for a short while, co-wrote a really depressing pseudo-political song with them, but it didn’t really work out. But I also got wind of the whole lo-fi tape label movement that was going on, both the indie-folk and loony noisecore parts of it, and I thought hey, these guys are putting out this stuff, maybe some folks will like the stuff Seth and I had recorded. So I named our band Gok (an acronym for “Gee, Okay”), compiled three 45-minute albums from our various jam session tapes, made up inserts for them, and started up TapeSNotRecords.
The Gok story, and the story of my year in Ames, are far from over there, but I think it’s best if I continue it later. The short version of it is that I eventually dropped out of ISU and went back home, did a zine for a while, then ended up in No Consensus and Ragman. Seth ended up moving to Nevada (the town in Iowa, not the state) and working various IT gigs in Des Moines. We kept in touch for a number of years, and I probably annoyed the hell out him multiple times. Eventually I lost track of him. A couple times I’ve found his phone number and tried calling him. Both times I left a message on some machine, and never heard back. Since moving to Des Moines I’ve wondered about him a few times, but I get the feeling he doesn’t want to be found.