Saint Marie Records

The Emerald Down


A HISTORY OF THE BAND

Twenty years of tragedy and triumph: TED finally speaks, kicking ass and taking names (well, at least trying to remember them)…

Olympia, WA, USA 1995: in a town better known for lo-fi indie pop, riot grrrl and punk guitarist of the Mukilteo Fairies (Kill Rock Stars and Outpunk band whose other members went on to form Trial of Dead, Tight Bros from Way Back When, and Lords of Lightspeed ) Rebecca Basye (guitar and vocals) put together a then three-piece band called The Emerald Down with Joel Schumacher (drums) of Raisler, and Jessica Marshall (bass and vocals). Yes, in typical Pacific Northwest style it was indeed named after the race track that opened its doors at the same time. However, not so typical for the PNW at the time was TED’s huge, effects-driven wall of sound laced with harmonious vocals. One of only a few Pacific Northwest—indeed American—bands in the genre at the time whose contemporaries were largely located in the UK, they were a lone reed amongst a sea of mostly low-fi regional scenesters fairly unfamiliar with or adapted to TED’s genre.

In fact, Basye, while simultaneously helping to arrange Riot Grrrl bake sales, girl gigs and touring with the Fairies, had tried to inject her proto-TED concept into the PNW scene on four (count ‘em, four) prior occasions, starting bands like Horehound (with Cheryl Hooper of Doris, Jason Reece of Trail of Dead, and Eric Wolford) in 1992-93, Sleepwell (with Paul Schuster of Internal/External, P.E.Z., Some Velvet Sidewalk, Jessica Marshall, and Jason Reece) in 1993-94, Cherry 2000 (with the dearly departed Deanne Rowley McAdams of Leopards, Plain Jane, Trail of Dead and Dead Air Fresheners, Lucas Porcell of Raisler, Kento Oiwa of IQU and Jason Reece) in 1994, and Celeste in 1995, but had a rough time keeping these projects together in the face of internal/external forces (no pun or finger pointing intended). She also dabbled in some twee pop, joining as second guitarist and backing vocalist in Pat Maley’s (Courtney Love and Yo Yo) band Skylab with Jessica Marshall, and Jeff Fell (Crayon and Tullycraft) in 1995, recording a full-length album (that was, tragically, only released on cassette) called Redstone. Disclaimer: Rebecca admits the chronology, members and spellings are likely a bit jumbled now after 20-25 years.

One rainy night at the Midnight Sun in Olympia During the mid 1990s, The Emerald Down played to an audience containing members of Olympia’s Some Gorgeous Accident (SGA included, Jason Markin, Marcus Donaldson, Matt Hickey, Matthew Patsel, and Toby Gordon of Tooth and Nail fame), who said to Rebecca “you need to join our band” to which Rebecca replied, firm in her belief in TED, “No! You need to join mine!” and the rest was history. On that night TED officially stole Markin and later another part-time member Matt Patsel from SGA. A few other members of TED came and went in the interim, including Lucas Porcell (Cherry 2000 and Raisler) on bass in 1997, for whom the song Lucas (which will be included in the up-and-coming re-release of Scream The Sound) was written in November of 2001, just a few weeks after he tragically passed away.

Suffice it to say that, with the addition of Markin in 1997, who had recently swooped into Olympia from Los Angeles with the skills and vision to deliver, TED had finally acquired the right mix of stability, passion, motivation, and ideas. Markin remains with TED to this day.

What set The Emerald Down of the 1990s apart from their UK contemporaries was a rougher aesthetic honed by their Pacific Northwest roots and influences that stretched beyond that then domestically dirty word ‘shoegaze’. This difference brought them enough love and praise within the lo-fi music scene they were encased in to forge ahead from the likes of Lois Maffeo, Carrie Brownstein (Excuse 17, Sleater-Kinney), contemporaries Unwound and Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, K Records). By their second year TED recorded a four song, self-titled EP with engineer Scott Swayze at Steve Wold's (Seasick Steve on Atlantic/Warner) Moon Studios in Olympia. In the early days TED thinks it remembers playing a number of shows with the likes of Unwound, Karp, Beck, Heavenly, Hovercraft and King Black Acid in the Pacific Northwest US, and was voted as among the top 25 PNW bands by Seattle’s Pandemonium Magazine.

In 1999, Basye and Markin relocated TED to Columbus, OH, where they incorporated Jim Rock as bassist and second vocalist (Go Evol Shiki) and Chad Williamson on second guitar. Together the four wrote and recorded Scream The Sound (2001) at Engine Studios in Chicago with engineers Andy Bosnak and Laurent Bichara. The original album was mastered by Neal Schmitt (Pretty Mighty Mighty) at PMM’s Workbook Studios. Sadly, the original Scream reel was lost in a fire at Engine. Nevertheless, somehow Scream The Sound made its way into the hands of a dedicated international audience on a limited scale in the mobilizing, early days of the Internet where it was mostly well received, thanks in no small part to the support of like-minded bands, vehicles such as the Blisscent I compilation, the now defunct Losing Today magazine,and The Big Takeover, as well as the supportive Ohio music scene that they now called home. Ohio, and the new transnationality of the ‘indie’ scene in general, breathed new life into TED.

On the heels of Scream the Sound TED said a sad goodbye to Jim Rock and Chad Williamson, who were replaced by Erik Kang as second vocalist and guitarist (Margot & the Nuclear So and So's and Tiara), and Bryan Ford (The Moving Parts) on bass, the final incarnation of TED, who together with Basye and Markin wrote and recorded Aquarium (2002). This period saw a series of regional tours of the Northeastern US, teaming up and sharing the stage with bands like Skywave, Ides of Space, Highspire, Alcian Blue, The Black Keys, Shellac, Melt Banana, as well as old friends from way back when The Locust, Bratmobile, and The Make-up. With Kang, Ford, Basye and Markin, TED had for the first time achieved a durable, internal harmony to match the exterior one, and began to explore and push their song writing in new directions both during and after Aquarium, but some of this was never released or realized at the time. TED was almost on its way to play at AC30 in London, a festival in Scotland, and then, boom. It was time for a break. That break lasted 13 years.

The lost years, 2003-2015, have seen serious personal tragedy and triumph for some of TED’s members. It would be more accurate to say that they have been ‘inactive’ than disbanded, as the potential of something new always festered, and life and other goals simply took precedence. Basye, now living in Germany, very recently spent an entire year in grueling treatment fighting Stage IV cancer, nearly succumbing to it, and has now (keep your fingers crossed) won that battle. On that note, forgive TED if this bio reads a bit like an obituary, as after the last year’s difficultly we realized how little time someone has on this earth. However, we can assure you. Rebecca’s is still here and so is TED!

As of late 2015, TED is resurfacing as an international project in the US and Germany, and Markin, Kang and Basye (and perhaps a few more) plan to work on new material in the coming year. In keeping with this theme, both Scream the Sound and Aquarium will be re-released on Saint Marie Records with never-before-heard bonus material (including Lucas) and remixes by Basye and J*A*L*A*L (of the long-time radio show Popscene with J*A*L*A*L and Gazing video show) while TED works to bring you even more. As a taste of things to come, TED’s previously unreleased song Turn Away will appear for the first time anywhere on this year’s Static Waves 4 compilation brought to you by Saint Marie Records.

DISCOGRAPHY

Self Titled, EP (1996)
Rebecca Basye : guitar, vocals
Jessica Marshall : bass, vocals
Joel Schumacher : drums

Scream The Sound, CD (2001)
Rebecca Basye : guitar, vocals
Jim Rock : bass, vocals
Chad Williamson : guitar
Jason Markin : drums

Blisscent I (2002)
"Red Shift"

Aquarium, EP (2002)
Rebecca Basye : guitar, vocal
Erik Kang : guitar, vocals
Chad Williamson: guitar (tracks 2 & 5)
Bryan Ford : bass
Jason Markin : drums

Static Waves 4 (2015)
"Turn Away"