Thursday, July 10, 2008

SHADOWS AS TALL AS TREES EP


Here is one of my favorite Bay Area darkwave records. It was released on the Still Life label in 1987. Essentially a duo of brothers, this group released this one EP, played around the Bay Area between 1984-1988 or so, and then dropped off the face of the earth. They were one of a number of similar bands in the mid to late 80s in the Bay Area. I imagine they would have fit perfectly on the Epithet Records roster with Autumn Cathedral, Crimson Ivy, Mute Angst Envy, ...And Tears Fell, and others, but they were just a bit too early. Shadows As Tall As Trees was synth and keyboard heavy, and remarkably well-produced for such a small indie release. They sound similar to Tears for Fears, Danse Society, Die Unbekannten, etc... Not terribly original, but man are they GOOD!

Songs:
1. The Problem
2. Now Don't Cry
3. Care
4. The Problem (Depression Mix)

1987 Still Life Records

Click here to download this EP!

40 comments:

iceolate said...

This is a pretty decent EP. I must say, I don't think I could go for more than 4 songs or so, but a nice little piece. I like the long remix the best, I think.

Random Discussion said...
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Random Discussion said...
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Sean Kelly said...

Hey! Since I was in this band, I'm going to call you on the "essentially a band of brothers" thing. But you're right. It was...Great find and am glad to find it listed somewhere in history, for what it's worth.

Random Discussion said...

I actually remember this band and still have that white 12" in my garage. It was probably October 1987. I was going to SF State, my first year, when, a good friend who I was in band with listened to one of my recordings and told me that my vocals sounded like "shadows as tall as trees." So I went to Tower Records on Columbus/Bay to see how they sounded.

I liked it a lot, especially "The Problem" and "Now Don't Cry" which got some airplay on live 105 at the time.

Have you heard of another local obscure Bay Area band called "Trial"? Their album "Moments of Collapse" was very Joy Division-esque. The song "Lobotmized" was a melodramatic goth sort of a song that comes to mind.

goutroy said...

Hi Sean, thanks for the comment. I used the "essentially" qualifier because I wasn't sure if you were a permanent member or not (I knew you played on a couple songs on the 12" and performed live, but that's it). Glad you could set me straight.
And Random Discussion, I have the Trial LP and 7"... They are both excellent. If anyone is interested, the Moments of Collapse LP is still available for download from the Phoenix Hairpins blog:
http://phoenixhairpins.blogspot.com/2007/11/trial-moments-of-collapse-lp.html

Sean Kelly said...

Goutry--

No problem...That was a pretty difficult period. The band was the three of us but I felt frequently overruled on important decisions (such as the name of the band, which I always disliked), so I quit just ahead of the album (and lost some of the credit in the process).

Scott and James were good guys, though. I think anytime you're young and in a band, you face some challenges that are hard to navigate.

Waver said...

I downloaded this from your blog a while ago but just got to hear it in detail recently. All I have to say is wow! They were damn good indeed!! I'm glad you decided to share this gem that I wouldn't have hear otherwise. Anyone has more detailed info on the band?

Kevin said...

Thanks so much Goutroy! Until now I only had "Now Don't Cry" on old cassette, taped off KITS!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

I was a big fan of this band. In fact after Sean Kelly left the band, I contacted Scott and James to try out as their bassist. Guess I didn't impress them because they chose to use a backing bass track and play as a duo live.

I saw them perform at the San Jose Dance club "One Step Beyond" more than once and still have the Album in my garage.

Really wish the brothers had kept at it. The song writing is good and over time who knows what they could have accomplished.

Again, thanks for sharing this with the world. I thought I was the only one who still remembered Shadows as Tall as Trees.

A note to Scott or James. If you see this post, give us an update! Did you make any other music after Shadows as Tall as Trees?

Anonymous said...

This is great to find after all these years! Thanks for putting this up for all us fans!

I also didn't think anyone else remembered them but me but now I see that is not the case. I have to agree with the above comment that if they had stayed at it they would have become something big!

I was lucky enough to have seen them live at One Step Beyond too. I remember they did some other songs that weren’t on the EP that were really good. Ahhhh those were the good ol’ days.

Shortly after they disbanded I remember that one of the brothers worked in a toy store. Unfortunately I can’t remember any other details about what they were up to and were they were going. A friend of mine knew them and gave me their phone number and I called them. I think it was Scott that I was talking to. One thing I remember is that we talked about the sample on The Problem remix. He said that he was driving and listening to a talk show on the radio and hurried home to record it so they could use it on the song. The part where it says “stop hating your father, stop taking money from your father…” is actually one of them. Again which one I don’t remember.

***Sean Kelly*** If you read this please respond. In your comment you said that you left just before they recorded the album. Did they ever release it as far as you know? I use to work in a record store at the time and never saw one. Believe you me I was always looking.

~~~Scott or James~~~ If you read this please respond. You still have a following and new fans are on board. Would you please post a comment letting us know answers to our questions such as what are you up to today? Did you ever release any other music? If so where can we find it? I would love to be able to listen to more of your music.

I still have my white vinyl EP! It is one of my special treasures and survived my MANY moves over the years.

Sean said...

Hi all--

I have some high-level information and can provide some more info if you're interested.

As some of you already know, I worked on the album and played live from the beginning, although Scott and James played in another band beforehand that was fantastic (and opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the earliest of times).

I jumped over from another band I formed, that evolved into a ska type of band and still plays today.

After leaving the band, I recorded some stuff with Scott, who continued his work under a separate name (Deep Blue Dream). Pretty ambient stuff. I believe some of it was used for documentary work.

I got tired of lugging stuff around and became a writer. Although my work has connected me with some famous folks I have occasionally been able to play with.

James, who is an EXCEPTIONAL artist on every level (and a far better bass player than me in my opinion) went into the animation business. I believe he played a significant role in the animation of the movie James and the Giant Peach.

He later went on to write a haunting storybook for children called Thirteen O'Clock (if my memory serves me right).

Let me say this again, though: James was a super artist and I myself wish I could have seen his musical style and talents evolve.

Scott was also very, very talented, just with a different style. He and I were close friends and I've tried to find him but haven't had much luck....

On occasion I listen to various recordings I still have (and videos, too!), many ruined by aged cassettes. From time to time I think about re-recording some of the songs in a more "modern" style.

I hope this answers a few questions. It's nice to know that period is still remembered. Maybe there's a 25 year anniversary re-union tour in the works? (just kidding) :)

--S

Sean said...

Oh, one more thing of note:

Our producer at the time thought we were going to make it big time, so he often sneaked us into the recording studio he worked for.

An earlier commenter noted correctly that Scott recorded from his radio for parts of the Problem (Depression Mix). For other parts, I recall our producer and I recording from the radio in a car in the studio parking lot. We actually had to push the car with the engine off while recording to get better reception.

This producer was an amazing musician who ended up playing with, writing songs for, or producing with major artists: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Eddie Money, and Sheryl Crow (he was a member of the Tuesday Night Music Club and wrote a substantial amount of her first album).

His name was Kevin Gilbert. Tragically he passed away at an early age just when he was finding his way (in my view).

He has two terrific full-length albums--one called Thud (it's great) and an epic rock-opera about the darker side of the music industry (that's absolutely outstanding) even for its cohesiveness. It's called "The Shaming of the True" (a play, of course, off the Taming of the Shrew). I'm listening to it now and it always amazes me how talented he was.

I highly recommend checking out his work at http://www.kevingilbert.com/.

R.I.P. Kevin

That's all for now...

--S

Sid said...

Hey Sean,

Thanks for responding! I really appreciate it.

I know it's a lot to ask, but if you ever get around to converting any lost audio/video to digital format, please post it (youtube, etc) We would all appreciate it.

I've done some digitizing of old band videos and sharing them with old band mates. It's fun seeing their reaction after all these years.

All the best!

Sid said...

Follow up.

Yes Sean it is Thirteen O'Clock

http://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-OClock-James-Stimson/dp/0811848396

and Illustrator of Uglified Ducky

http://store.augusthouse.com/contributorinfo.cfm?ContribID=255

goutroy said...

Wow! Thanks Sean, for all that info!

Dawayne Bailey said...

I'd love a copy of this - would you please re-upload it so others can get a copy? Thank you!!

or could you send mp3s here:
db@dawaynebailey.com

Craig Allyn Rose said...

Hi All -

I too have a connection, of sorts, to SATAT. Sean will remember me from a couple of kinda wild evenings.

I lived with Scott, and actually funded the manufacturing of this EP. That's a long story in and of itself. Yes, it was a band of brothers, but in retrospect, I think that was the very thing that killed the band.

Sean was a really good guy, and I miss him a lot. As for James and Scott, have had little contact with them, but miss them both.

Sean, if you read this, feel free to drop me an email at:

craigallynrose@gmail.com

http://www.emergencyphoto.com

Anonymous said...

Hello,

It's Scott from the band....

I see this is an old thread with the exception of Craig's post, but I just stumbled across it today. I was actually poking around the web in an effort to see if I could catch-up with the guys from Red Weather... remember that band? They where such kind and talented guys.

Anyway, I was playing the drums yesterday and came up with a rhythm that reminded me of something Josh from Red Weather might have played. It inspired me to google the band. No luck though. I proceeded to look up other bands from the past with no luck. I finally thought I would see if there was anything out there on Shadows As Tall As Trees and hit on this blog.

The last time I looked to see if there was anything on the web related to SATAT was over ten years ago. At that time, to my dismay, I discovered that our master tapes stored at Sensa Studios had been auctioned off for charity since the studio could not catch up with James or me to pick them up when they closed their doors. Reason enough to wait ten years to look again, yeah?

I have to say, I'm quite surprised anyone out there is still interested in the music, but I'm glad to hear that there are some who still enjoy it.

Sean, Craig, I miss you both very much. I have been trying for years to catch up with you guys. I'll definitely ping you, Craig, in the next few days since you left your email address.

I've reached my character limit for the posting, so I will continue below...

Anonymous said...

Scott from the band.... continued

I thought I would attempt to answer some of the questions and iron out some inaccuracies in the discussion. Not sure if any of you are still checking this thread or even care....

Goutroy, you are correct. The band was my brother James and myself. All of the music we where performing at shows and on the EP was written by the two of us between 1982 - 1986. Sean was brought on as our live bass player with the option to join the band in the future depending on how we gelled as a writing team.

Sean's timeline about quitting the band prior to the release of the record and loosing credit due to the separation is not an accurate description. Sean was actually performing with us at the time that we recorded the EP. He also played the record release show at One Step Beyond and all but the bands last two shows.

Since Sean was performing live with us and he knew the material we asked if he would like to record Now Don't Cry and Care for the EP as a "work for hire". A work for hire document is a legal document stating that the performer on the recording is only a performer and is not the "creator" of the music - it's fairly standard in the music business. At the time of recording Sean was in agreement with those statements and signed the work for hire documents. The signed documents are on file with the library of congress along with James and my copyright of the songs.

The recordings of Now Don't Cry and Care would not have been what they where if it was not for Sean's style and interpretation of the original baselines. Sean did absolutely beautiful work on everything he touched, but bottom line, the melody and basic structure was the work of James.

At some point the stress of our differences in opinion on the subject of who wrote the music brought us to the mutual decision that we should no longer work together.

This time was particularly tough because Sean was a very close friend. Obviously, our friendship got us through because Sean and I did work together afterward on a new project that I was doing.

I've reached my character limit for the posting, so I will continue below...

Anonymous said...

Scott from the band.... continued

Sid - Great to hear from you. Are you still making music? You where absolutely great when we auditioned you. With the recent shake-ups we just chose to see if we could perform with just the two of us for a while. If any of you saw those shows I would like to apologize now.... boy, they where not very good (at least from my perspective on stage).

What happened then? Well, James and I had not completed any new material since about 1986. Mainly because both of our musical interests had changed, both in very different directions.... I think in past bands that we played together in we really didn't care much if our ideas where different - we would just keep banging the ideas together and enjoy the process along the way. Now people where actually listening and that added pressure to have some cohesiveness to the work.

Ultimately, we decided to disband. Lot's of tears, etc. but James is still my brother and best friend. Always has been, always will be! Love you Bro!

After Shadows As Tall As Trees I wrote about two albums worth of music under the guise of Deep Blue Dream. I never really polished the songs into anything I felt was ready for release as an album, but some of the instrumental work has been used in documentaries.

I did work with some great musicians in the studio (Duck Ranch Studio) - Sean Kelly, Desmond Gribbin, Brian McMahon, Leigh Newsome, Kevin ___ (so sorry, I forgot your last name). It was a lot of fun.

For a short period I worked with a close friend, Brian McMahon, and created a commercial music business. We had minor success, but we found that music for commercials was not really a strong interest for us. After having to listen to a really bad actor in a Ragu commercial deliver his lines over and over again we where ready to focus elsewhere....

I have since become an Graphic Designer with a focus on web and multimedia design and development. A little animation thrown in as well. I'm married and have two beautiful girls. That said, I have not done any music outside of evening jam sessions with the girls for a good seven years now. Who knows what will come out!

I plan to release the music online once I get rolling. You can probably find it if you google Scott Stimson, Don't count on hearing anything soon. I have two young girls to look after as my first priority. :)

I've reached my character limit for the posting, so I will continue below...

Anonymous said...

Scott from the band.... continued

James has been busy writing and illustrating children's books. You should definitely check them out if you have the time. I believe Sid provided links, but he is published by Chronicle Books. He has also worked as a character designer for the stop animation film James and the Giant Peach. He was heavily involved with the "dream sequence" in that movie.

James has been doing pretty much what I have been doing for several years, just tinkering with music. This last year he has written quite a bit of wonderful stuff. He plans to compile his favorites and release them some time soon as well, probably via the web.

The "stop hating your father ", etc. part of The Problem remix was recorded from my car stereo in the parking lot of Sensa Studios at around 1:00 am. The dialog came from a late night psychology talk show we just stumbled across when taking a break from recording. We ran inside and asked Kevin to run a mic out to the car to capture the dialog.

I must say, I think that part of the album concerned our dad very much. We informed him that it was just a random discussion we found on the radio and it worked so well we stuck it in. Dad, if you ever read this, know it's true!

Now that I think of it, the parking lot was quite an inspiration. Some of the percussion in Now Don't Cry was created by recording an aluminum ladder that was thrown across the parking lot. I later triggered the sound via an old Linn Drum module and Simmons pads. God those things sucked! It was like playing a plywood drum set - absolutely no dynamics! What was I thinking!

Anyway, the production quality was very good on the album and that was entirely due to our producer, Kevin Gilbert. He was phenomenal. Since we where low budget and he liked our music he recorded us at a discount. The only way we could use the studio at the lower price was to record when it was empty... the middle of the night. Recording was always a joy and I'm grateful to have known Kevin. He was very talented, but most of all he was a good person.

Ok, I have carried on way too long.

Goutroy, thanks for the forum. Any chance you have any info on Red Weather? That's what originally brought me down the path to your blog.

Best of luck to you and thanks for remembering the music!

Thanks,
Scott

Anonymous said...

Scott from the band.... continued

Seems I managed to not include a sentence while cutting and pasting.

I just recently got my studio setup and running and plan to start writing again. Who knows what will come of it, but I will make the music available online.

Thanks,
Scott

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott ... Sid here,

Thanks for the lengthy reply. I'm sure anyone who is following this thread or comes across it will appreciate it. I was a big fan of the San Jose Music scene in the mid to late 80's (Remember First Strike). Your band was def. a favorite. Thanks for the kind words about my bass playing.

As far as my musical career, I ended up forming a duo as well. I created all the music on my Ensoniq 8-bit sampler. We did a 4 song demo which got us an opening spot for DEVO in 1990 at the Oasis in San Jose. That was our high water mark and split a few months later. We were called Detsky Mir. I'm sure no one heard of us, but it was a lot of fun.

A few more years of cover bands before I sold off my gear. On the plus side, writing music on my Mac Plus lead me into design, development, web programming and I just got my first iPhone app approved. ;-)

I still break out my acoustic guitar and do command performances of "What I Like About You" or as my 4 year old calls it "The Hey Song"

Scott... if you have any old video you can put on YouTube I'm sure people would love it. One Step Beyond!

And if you come across a copy of Red Weather's CD can I get a copy? My was lost over the years. I've got Colour Scream (Across the Sky) if you want it. Mike Long was my room mate. LOL

Anonymous said...

I am trying to download the album but am not able to. If there is any other way I could get it, please let me know. I really enjoyed this album.

Anonymous said...

~Scott, thank you so much for posting all the information and answering questions!! I just knew if I kept coming back to this page that one day SOMEONE would surface.

I look forward (hopefully) to One Step Beyond video(s), and new music from you.

<3

Remind Me To Smile said...

I think it's awesome reading posts about friends reunited. Hey it looks like this one went down the mediafire drain. Any chance of a re-upload goutroy?

Bob said...

Worth sharing this information. Good Work
multimedia design | bunting design

Anonymous said...

Scott:

My four year old son is, at this very moment, playing golf with one of your drumsticks, signed by you no less! He's hitting a little shaker egg all over the room. I found the drumstick a few weeks ago in my mom's garage.

You were a neat person to know in high school. I hope I wasn't too annoying back then, and hope that you are well.

Karen R.

C. A. Rose said...

Only one thing left to say - Bora Bora - cheers all!

-C-

Jason Dryg said...

I hung out with the Sean for short time and I can honestly say they were all the nicest guys and we all thought they were gonna be huge. I would also be interested in hearing Red Weather again. Also really nice guys and one of them recorded a movie soundtrack for a non existent horror movie. I remember that it blew my mind. Lots of shoulder pads in those days.

Craig Allyn Rose said...

The budding new music tycoon...lol

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1537572011232&set=t.731007104

Anonymous said...

Can not believe I found this! Craig, how did I not realize you lived with Scott?? I didn't know Scott well, just a crush and a date once, but loved the music these guys played.

So fun to catch up on everyone!

Harlene

Sean said...

Hi all--I only just rediscovered this page and caught up with comments. Unfortunately I am to and fro Sri Lanka for significant periods of time and it's easy for email updates to sneak past me.

To everyone: I'm enjoying your comments. A special time of life for sure. Lots of memories created. I'm still a fan of a number of bands from those times and occasionally break out the vinyl. One of my faves was Epic Rumors.... I might have to give them another listen soon.

@Craig--Would love to catch up soon! I checked out your site and LOVE your work. As usual! You've always been a pioneer.

@Scott--Always a special place in my heart for you my friend. I really shouldn't have been so clumsy with my wording to start things off a while back. That said, I DID write the bass lines for two of the four songs on the EP. The rest I just played and added some of my own flare.

Whatever the case, while it was important to me way back when, it's of little concern now. I never really considered myself much of a bass player to begin with! (James was the man even in that area....)

I'd love to catch up with you Scott. Would love to meet your children.

I hope you're both (and all the rest I haven't met) doing wonderfully this 2011.

--Sean

Anonymous said...

I've uploaded a video I made for Now Don't Cry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH7SGkGR8JY

Anonymous said...

The Problem (depression mix) video now up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzt-oAJujcA

Anonymous said...

Hello Scott & James Stimson and everyone here...There is a One Step Beyond Reunion coming up Saturday, July 30, 2011 at Club Illusions in Palo Alto (Formerly The Edge/Vortex). All you cats should really try to make it. Will be Fantastic. Here's the Facebook Invite link: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=131961263548553

Or the official website will be published in a couple of days...so check that periodically: http://onestepbeyondreunion.com/

Stan kent, the crew & I will love to see you. Cheers! Diego (from the band Bolero back in the days)

Anonymous said...

Hi Diego here again. @James & Scott Stimson, if you are on Facebook, you can find me here:
http://www.facebook.com/people/Diego-Cisternas/1031984999

Hope to re-connect. Cheers! Diego

Invertir en oro said...

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Scott said...

It's been so long since the last post that I don't know if anyone will even see this. But I felt compelled to post something after rediscovering this EP, which I played into the ground around the time of its release and for a few years afterward, through a post on Facebook. I was a huge San Jose "First Strike" music fan, and though I never knew this band to be an official part of it (really wanted to see them live, but never got the chance), this stands as one of my favorite recordings from the time. I've kept in touch with quite a few of the musicians, still listen to some of the music, and have always wished this had been a full EP. I said it then, and I'll say it now—"Don't Cry" should have been a huge hit song, and you guys should have been rich and famous. Short of that, thanks for the music, which still sounds great today...