the mimeograph series: bio
1. 1984‐1986. Dee Madden played drums in a rockabilly band from Huntington Beach, California called the Satellites. The Satellites would become the first band to ever play live at the infamous Safari Sam’s nightclub, also in Huntington Beach. Sam Lanni, owner of the club, became their manager. The Satellites evolved into something of a house band at Sam’s. “We lost our practice space at one point,” Dee continues, “so Sam let us practice there. Our ‘rehearsals’ would actually be live shows performed during the week under fake names. We would often use ‘The Wangly Men’, Some silly name our guitar player made up.“ It was during these “practice” sessions that The Satellites began to turn up for their weekly live slot with nothing but a couple of acoustic guitars, an upright bass, and a snare with brushes. They would often play this way when they hung out getting drunk at the house they used to practice in on the weekends. These performances became the stuff of legend in the tiny little 100 seat room that was Safari Sam’s. This was a club populated primarily by punk and alternative college radio bands. No one had seen anything like it there. At one of them, a 20 year old Dee opened the set. He sat down with an acoustic guitar, all by his lonesome, front and center, for the first time in his life. He performed a song he wrote called “On This World”. The rest of the band let him do it because the singer hadn’t learned it yet. Dee enjoyed the experience.
2. 2002. Dee had been living in Portland, Oregon for 4 years. In the interim, he had played drums in punk and post‐punk bands, keyboards in a post punk band, guitar in a goth band folks know as Ex‐VoTo for some years, and fronted a band called Penal Colony through the early to mid 90’s. He began work on a new Penal Colony record at the urging of friends, after 7 years of self‐imposed limbo, or “wilderness years”, something independent film icon Jim Jarmusch called it when referring to his friend Joe Strummer’s blackout period after the Clash broke up. He flew down to Orange County, California that summer to visit friends, and to attend a festival with them that had been going on for a couple of years called The Hootenanny. Rockabilly, punkabilly, pschobilly, roots rock, rock n’ punk bands on 3 stages. It was awe inspiring. “I saw all of this, and it immediately sent me back to my days with the Satellites,” Dee said. “Those great impromptu acoustic gigs we did at Sam’s, and how great it felt. I wanted that feeling again.”
3. 2004‐2007. The Penal Colony record, “Unfinished Business”, was in the can and out in the world. Dee’s yearning for doing something with acoustic guitars, upright basses, and snare drums with brushes only became stronger. He managed to sneak a track called “21 Robot Man” into “Unfinished Business” that prominently featured an acoustic guitar, on a record that was largely an electro/EBM/industrial affair. Between doing remixes for friend’s records, collaborating with friends on their records, and one‐off tracks for compilation CDs that other friends were putting out (Dee is not very good at uttering the word “No”), he gradually began to gather up acoustic gear. A pawn shop guitar was swapped out for a jumbo acoustic like one of the guitars his hero Johnny Cash played. He found a cheap upright bass on eBay. He walked down to Apple Music Row on the Portland waterfront one day and bought a snare drum and a pair of brushes. He found a hollow body gold top electric guitar like the one guitarist Scotty Moore played in Elvis’ original band, another hero of Dee’s. But there wasn’t much time to dabble with it. There was the day gig. There were kids to raise. There were all of those remixes and one‐offs he had committed to. So all of these precious pieces of equipment, they would languor in the corner of his studio. They collected dust at many points. It was sad.
4. October 2008. Dee found himself divorced after 21 years of marriage, extricated from his home of 6 years, living in a small studio apartment in the Nob Hill neighborhood of northwest Portland. For the first time in his life, he was truly all alone. Just like up on that stage at Safari Sam’s, 20+ years prior. All by his lonesome. “I had never, in my entire life, lived by myself up until that point,” Dee explains, “It was hard. Really hard. I miss my kids so, so badly. I continue to have these emotional breakdowns that rear up on me constantly. Once, twice, sometimes three or more a day. Weird little things will remind me of them and how much I miss them. Sometimes it branches out to how much I miss some of my friends that are 2 or 3 states away, or my Grandmother who has been dead for 20+ years now. All of it just makes me cry uncontrollably sometimes.” Dee needed to direct this energy and emotion into something productive. It was time to dust off the upright bass. The Scotty Moore gold top. The snare and the brushes. The acoustic guitar would have to wait it out a little longer. “Simplify, simplify, simplify. That became my mantra. Simplify everything. Do away with any unnecessary possessions. Stop writing songs with 40 tracks of synth parts, 5 different synth bass parts, 3 different drum kits and a couple handfuls of loops. I needed to do something simple. Something I couldn’t hide behind,” Dee said. A crazy notion emerged. 3 separate collections of cover songs, each with its own theme, all using pretty much the same instrumentation. Dee decided to call it “the mimeograph series.” He began recording. He called his friend Christian over at Toxic Shock Records, a label that – much like Rick Rubin’s American Recordings at the time Rubin set about reintroducing Johnny Cash to a new generation – was not known for quiet, mostly acoustic music. Dee floated the idea to Christian, pitched him the plan, sent a few tracks over. Christian liked the same things Dee likes. He liked what Dee was doing.
5. February 2009. The Merriam‐Webster dictionary’s definition of “mimeograph” reads “a duplicator for making copies that utilizes a stencil through which ink is pressed." Seemed like an apt title to Dee for his new project. A somewhat funny, self‐deprecating way of describing three collections of cover songs as crude imitations of their original form. In this, the first in the series, “mimeograph.1: songs I sing to myself when I am sad”, on Toxic Shock Records, as well as the next 2 collections, all tracks have been constrained to the same instrumentation: the Scotty Moore goldtop hollow body electric guitar. The upright bass. The snare with brushes. Just like the days at Safari Sam’s. On many of the songs, the instrumentation grew more sparse. “Ghosts”, an old song from the 80’s written by glam‐cum‐new romantic groundbreakers Japan; Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”, and T. Rex’s “Spaceball Ricochet” are all performed almost entirely or with nothing but guitar. “Moon River”, a song from the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” movie soundtrack, aside from a brief guitar break, is all upright bass and snare with brushes. PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love” is the one detour from said constrained instrumentation. It is done with nothing but an upright bass and a mandolin. “Doing it with the instrumentation I restricted myself to would have veered way to close to the sound of the original on that one,” Dee explains, “so I had to change things up a little.” “mimeograph.1: songs I sing to myself when I am sad” will initially be released digitally only. A companion chapbook will be released separately at the same time, which will serve as the liner notes and provide some of Dee’s meanderings about the songs he chose, why he chose them, and anecdotes about them. Casey Niccoli, of Jane’s Addiction fame, the director of all of Jane’s early music videos and the infamous Jane’s film “Gift”, will be lending her talents to the chapbooks artwork and packaging. “Fact of the matter is, no one buys CDs anymore,” Dee says, “but like most folks, I miss having something tangible that tells me about the record. So I came up with the idea of doing a chapbook
6. Late 2009 – Early 2010. The next collections in the series will emerge, with any luck. “mimeograph.2: dm” will be a collection of Depeche Mode covers, all performed with the same instrumentation as “mimeograph.1: songs I sing to myself when I am sad”. “mimeograph.3: red devil satellite” will be a collection of rockabilly rarities once performed by 80’s OC rockabilly revival giants The Red Devils used to perform in their set, along with a few other old favorites of Dee’s. The plan is to change up things a little for that one. Acoustic guitar. Upright bass. Snare with brushes.