Stompbox Bassist Tells His Story

One of the cool things about having a blog site is just the total randomness.  I posted a blog a couple weeks ago about post-hardcore now defunct band Stompbox in my new Times Of Yore posts.

Apparently one of the former band members happened to come across my post and shot me an email asking if I wanted some elaboration on what really happened.  The band member was Patrick, the former bassist of Stompbox.

Well of course I did.  So I interviewed him…

I sent him back an email asking what really happened to the band and what he and the rest of the band members were up to these days.  Here are his responses collectively as I’ve mixed up the few emails we exchanged and categorized them with Patrick’s approval of course.

Stompbox Flyer - Vintage!!!
Stompbox Flyer - Vintage!!!

The reason Stompbox called it quits, what happened to the lead singer Erich, and what direction did the band members took:

The reason Erich left the band is that we asked him to. There are/were rumors flying around that drugs had a lot to do with our breakup, but that’s all blown way out of proportion.  Sure, Erich was doing drugs, (as were most of the rest of us) but it didn’t bother any of us much.  Erich was (and still is) kind of a dick. By “kind of a dick” I mean a real a–hole. In addition to that, he was… …uh, let’s just say he was an inconsistent singer.  When he was on, he was great, but a lot of times he was off. Way off. There’s some live recordings that Jeff has that are just brutal.  Also, we had some very fundamental differences in what we wanted to do musically.

Erich was in favor (and in hindsight, he was probably right) of “giving the people what they want”. All the kids that came to our shows really wanted the “big riff” so they could get sick in the pit and hurt each other, and (except for the part about hurting each other…we were very “Fugazi” about that and stopped a lot of shows when fights broke out etc…) he (Erich) was perfectly happy with that.

The rest of us wanted to be “artists” and “express ourselves musically”.  Again, hindsight (or maybe cynicism) tells me that we were probably foolish.

So, we gave him the boot and changed the name of the band to Slower.  We wrote a bunch of new tunes and did a couple more tours.  We added a second bass player (Mikey Welch, who later was in Weezer for an album) and I took over vocals.  I wish I had some good recordings of that band, but there just isn’t much around.  I’ve got some abysmal recordings from a show we did in Seattle, but it was straight off the board, so pretty much all you can hear is the drums and vocals.  It’s brutally bad.  There’s a tape from a live radio show that I have, but it’s in pretty crappy condition, much of it is all garbled up.  Zephan’s ex-girlfriend supposedly has a ton of live Slower video, but they didn’t exactly break up on very good terms.  I guess when your boyfriend breaks up with you by telling you he married somebody else, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Go figure.  Zephan is a phenomenal drummer, but he’s a bit on the self centered side!

We did one tour billed as Stompbox still, and used that to introduce the “new sound” to people who were into Stompbox.  Some people liked it more, some liked in less.  (On one of those tours we played with Jesus Lizard at Peabody’s in Cleveland…David Yow drank me under the table and then went out and played their show. I guess he’s got what’s called an “iron constitution”…Ha! I was so tanked I had to pass out in our van after about two Jesus Lizard songs. Good times!)

After those two tours, we just sort of imploded.

Zephan and Mikey Welch [went on to] play with Juliana Hatfield on her attempt at rocking out called “Juliana’s Pony”.   Jeff is [currently] the musical director for the Blue Man Group in NYC now.

Jeff and Zeph were also in a band called Milligram for a while. The CD called This is Class War is absolutely amazing if you can find it.  [Milligram] had Jonah the singer from Only Living Witness and Darryl from Slapshot/Roadsaw playing guitar. That cd is so good it STILL makes me jealous!  You can download the whole Milligram album This is Class War for free, which is a pretty sweet deal! That website has that whole album, plus the EP they did AND a bunch of punk rock covers.

I was in another band for a while called Placer.  Noisy arty stuff.  We did one CD called Summer on Dopamine Records, a teeny indie label out of Boston.  You can find the Placer album on iTunes.  Even if you don’t want to buy it, you can hear little samples of the songs. I played steel guitar in that band. Oddly enough, when I quit that band, Jeff (guitarist of Stompbox) too over my spot on steel.

If you want to hear what Slower sounded like, Jeff’s got a homemade video up on YouTube.  The sound is from a radio show we did, and you get to hear me totally flub the second line of the song.  Slower was in many ways the opposite of Stompbox.  Stompbox was music that made us laugh with words that were brooding and self indulgent, while Slower was words that made us laugh with music that was self indulgent!  Jeff also did a pretty cool video for “Jake Song” with the original demo track we did. It [can be found] on YouTube too.

These days Erich’s living in Los Angeles. I don’t really know what he’s doing for sure, I think he runs sound in clubs.

I had pretty much dropped out of the music biz after Slower dissolved. I decided that maybe it would be fun to find out what it was like to have money to live on. As it turns out, it’s pretty cool!

I live in Toledo now, and am a stay at home dad. In fact, until about a year ago, we were living in Lakewood, not too far from were you are, I guess.  I used to go to My Minds Eye a lot.  Cool record store.  Bent Crayon too.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Cleveland in general, but I REALLY liked Lakewood. In fact I kind of miss it, which I didn’t think I would when we moved.

The real story about the departure from the record label:

The deal with Columbia was that our A&R person left and went to Maverick. That left us at Columbia with nobody who really cared much about us, so we were sort of in limbo.  Finally, we asked them (Columbia) if they’d let us (Stompbox) go with no strings attached, and they said “Sure!”  Mary (the A&R person from Columbia who went to Maverick) wanted us to come over to Maverick with her, but this was all happening at the same time as we were getting ready to kick Erich out of the band.  After we booted him, she kind of took it personally and said “Oh, well f— you too” and signed the Deftones. (as it turns out, that was a good move…in fact, I still have to say that they were a pretty cool band. I don’t know if they are STILL a cool band, cause that sort of thing can change over time…)

Thoughts about the unofficial Stompbox MySpace Page:

That MySpace thing is pretty funny. I don’t know who started it, but it’s pretty crazy that so many people even remember us.  On the list of Stompbox’s friends, we (the individual former members of the band) are the top four friends. It makes me feel important. (har har)

Videos:

So there you have it.  That was a greatly appreciated dose of information from the source itself.  Patrick, props to you for offering to tell your side of the story.

31 thoughts on “Stompbox Bassist Tells His Story”

  1. I think i was probably like 10 when this was all going down…it seems to me that stompbox jams pretty hard. I might just have to check some of there stuff out.

  2. Hey, man. Nice stuff on Stompbox, definitely one of those “Why didn’t they reach the big time?” (etc.) kind of bands that I dug and talked about to as many as would listen back at college (’92 – ’96) and even into grad school (’96 to ’01). I, too, had wondered what happened to them so thanks for the news. Anyhow, I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you so I hit the ol’ reply option. Wanna run a sound check through your broken headphones about Kilgore (nee Kilgore Smudge)? They were similar to Stompbox by my estimation in any number of ways, particularly the “Why…?” factor. Just a recommendation. Keep on keepin’ on…. \m/

  3. How funny…I am the guy who started, and still runs the MySpace page for the Band. One of the Friends on the list sent me a link to this…What a trip.

    I wasn’t even sure if anyone would give a crap…I just felt it was borderline criminal that their music wasn’t represented, and felt it was a personal duty to try to get it out there and share what little info I had on them. I was a little suprised when a few of the actual band members actually wrote me to thank me for starting the page…figured I was gonna get into trouble..haha..But they seem pretty cool with it.

    It’s sad that they couldn’t have kept it together for a few more albums, but what they left the World was one of those seemingly insignificant records that you find that just blows your mind..and leaves your friends saying…who is this again?…haha

  4. Great piece of writing. Erich was one of the 1st people I met when I moved to Boston and regardless of whats said , he was always a good guy by me. I met Patrick years later at one of my former jobs and he is also a great guy. Stompbos is one of my top 5 old local bands. I’ve been saying for years that Disturbed stole the riff from No Wood for their sickness song. Thanks for the Milligram link by the way, been trying to find that one for a while.

    Jose
    Splint
    Dead Friends

  5. First heard Stompbox on some Transworld Snowboarding Video mid 90’s. Instantly loved this band!
    Thought about them often over the years and what happened. Last year, I picked up another copy of the disk on Amazon an it’s totally one of my favorite listens on my ipod. Thanks for the update man, now I need to find some “Slower” for sure.

  6. Man I saw these guys open for Biohazard in the early 90’s I think it was. I went and bought there album the next day. I still have this CD in my rotation of music on my music player. One of the most under-rated bands of their time…for sure!

  7. Finally googled to find out what happened to Stompbox. Glad to find an answer. Saw these guys a couple of times. Still recomend them to friends when we talk about top 10’s. Thanks for the info.

  8. ahhh! boston in the early 90s was such a fun place to be! my sort-of boyfriend from another boston band and i hung out with (and did some drugs with) erich a few times. i always had such a crush on him- he was so handsome and incredibly kind and good to me. i always wondered what happened to him and them. hope everyone is well, happy, healthy and that the 90s didnt leave too permanent a scar on anyone. much love!

  9. so i finally researched this too and its kind of sad. I cant believe that no one came to these guys aid and saw what i saw and kept them together. Any idea of how much music we could be enjoying right now??? How many big arena shows that couldve been rockin? You guys should be where Disturbed is. Damn it man!!! Sure someone needed to get E straight – maybe the rest of the guys. Well, what ya do??? Wish you guys the best in all just remember, its not tooo late.

  10. Amazing that I stumbled on to this… Probably my favorite band ever. My band had the good fortune to play with Stompbox maybe 5-6 times in New England back in the 90’s and even opened for them at their CD release party at the Rat for the Stress CD. I was always blown away by how amazing they were, even in times when Erich was off or wasted. Should have been huge… and Jose is right – Disturbed completely stole the riff from “No Woods.”

    BTW, iTunes has a Stompbox EP called “Travis” that has some of the songs that made it to Stress, but were clearly a work in progress.

  11. Great band! Their music is still on a semi-regular rotation. Ahh, Music in Boston back in the day… such great local music scene.

  12. Glad to find this. As stated here by numerous persons, I was mystified by the short lived tenure of Stompbox. Not sure what numbers Stompbox rung up in sales but I pretty much got all of my friends with similar music tastes to buy Stress (and equally enjoy it). Funny about the Disturbed inquiry. First time I heard the Sickness song, I truly believed that there were some connecting pieces between the two bands since that opening riff was so similar. Seems like Disturbed were fans too lol!

  13. Saw stompbox at hammerjacks in 95′ opening for biohazard and thought they put on one of the best shows ive ever seen. Blew biohazard out of the water. I was always under the impression the lead singer died of an overdose and was replaced by a less polished singer. That band should have gone big time.

  14. I saw Stompbox at the old 9:30 club opening up for Biohazard and they crushed it! It sucks that Erich and the band couldn’t work things out but having been in the situation before its hard. Being from Boston it was always great when you could see bands like this on the regular. Now I live in Cleveland and I wish Patrick was still in town because I would love to try and sell him on playing again. Come back to us Stompbox and I will sing for you.

  15. Patrick thanks for the story! I have loved your music ever since I saw Stompbox live in Seattle at RCKCNDY in the 90s. I bought your CD that night at the show and I have listened to it at least weekly since that day (seriously!) I listened to it in my car on the way home from work last night. You guys totally rocked. Thanks again.

  16. Loved Stompbox. I still have a CD and a 45 vinyl that they passed out at one of their shows! I used to see them at “The Rat” and other clubs. I used to talk to Erich and he was always cool and thanked me for my praise. I used to flip off his shoulder into the pit during their shows!

  17. Man what a great post to find. I just got this beer the other day with Sam Black Church on the bottle, brought me back to what I was listening to around 13-14…sam black, stompbox, tree. Still have the stress cd but always wondered what happened to them.

  18. Man I saw these guys open up for Biohazard in the mid 90’s and they were kick ass. I often wonder if they would have stuck together longer how far they could have made it. They were truely ahead of there time and there music is still relevent if you ask me.

  19. Jonny Z (Megaforce Records) mentioned the record one night on Headbanger’s Ball and played a couple of snippets. (Did same for Machine Head’s ‘Burn My Eyes’ that night.) He said, “Go buy these!”, and I did. Still two of my faves from the 90’s….

  20. I moved to Europe from Boston in 1999 and Stress is still standard listening for me, mostly in the autumn for whatever reason. Sad to hear there’s really no other Stompbox stuff to rock out to but thankful I was able to an unscratched CD from amazon (my old casette wore out years ago).

  21. Thanks for the clarification Pat. Been a while since we spoke.

    Erich, Jeff, Pat, and Zephan – hope all is well.

    Dirk here, original drummer for Bilt Speer / Stomp Box.

    As most have stated, this band was absolutely amazing and, for the time period, way ahead of where music was at / going. Hard to accomplish. Wish that it could have continued.

  22. Dude… back in the mid 90s when I was in my late teens, my band Negative Silence were really into Stomp Box (among others naturally) and we listened to “Stress” constantly and even did a cover of “SaltPeterExitWound” when we played live. I’m really hoping to my hands on a copy of Stress soon, but it never shipped to Denmark and you’re not on iTunes yet. Only “Travis EP” and to be fair it’s not as well-polished as Stress. I could probably find it on Amazon or something… but I’m not even sure I have a working CD player heheh…

  23. The Stress album came out my senior year in high school. That tape lived in my shitty car stereo for 3 months. I went to watch Stompbox play at a few dive bars in North Carolina and i thought they rocked each time.

  24. Disturbed ABSOLUTELY lifted the opening riff from “No Woods”; note for note. I fell out the first time I heard it; the songs were only 5 years apart; yet everyone was going on at the time about how Scott Wieland was supposedly aping Eddie Vedder…? Looking back it makes no sense, and it makes no sense the plagiarists called Disturbed broke through using another signed band’s bad-ass riff. Ooo-WAH-AH AH AH!

  25. I first heard Stompbox on WKNC, NC State University’s College Radio station, where “No Woods” was played often back in the day. Then I saw them live at “The Brewery” in Raleigh and the show was unforgettable. Thanks for the memories Stompbox!!

  26. Echoing the thanks for the update. Heard Stress on a listening station at Nobody Beats the Wiz in ’95 and it hasn’t stopped blowing my mind. It’s still a go-to and a huge influence; bands with that prog/grunge balance were and are few and very far between. Looking forward to checking out the other names dropped.

    And thank you to any of the members who happen to see this!

  27. Saw these guys at Mama Kin for the “Reinited and it feels so good” show. I guess it was a one time gig before they all went their separate ways. Loved the show and play stress to this day.

  28. I got hip to Stomp Box from the No Woods video on Headbangers Ball. I bought the CD in the late 90’s and would basically play it like the rest, till I got bored with it. From time to time, I’d get nostalgic and buy it off Amazon, and it would always end up gone. But always wondered about the band, where they’re from, what haopened to them. It’s good to see and read a little info on history and up to date happenings on these guys. Thanks

  29. I got hip to Stomp Box from the No Woods video on Headbangers Ball. I bought the CD in the late 90’s and would basically play it like the rest, till I got bored with it. From time to time, I’d get nostalgic and buy it off Amazon, and it would always end up gone. But always wondered about the band, where they’re from, what happened to them. It’s good to see and read a little info on history and up to date happenings on these guys. Thanks

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