Why in the world would you ever release a 6 CD set? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the question. This is a music story mixed in with some family history.
Anyone who knows the stories of Rock and Roll also has heard the stories about siblings being in the same band. The highs, the lows, the arguments, the disagreements, but what remains is the music that was made together. There was always a reason they stuck it out as long as they could…The Music.
Haegers Bend was formed by my brother Paul who was joined by a few friends getting together with one common goal in mind: to make great music. The original group of friends changed, I joined the band and Haegers Bend was born.
Paul and I had grown up together, listening to music, attending concerts and festivals, and even had an entire afternoon and evening listening to Pink Floyd…Syd Barrett style, if you know what I mean - just to name a few. He was my youngest brother and I was going to show and tell him everything I knew at that point. Of course we had some styles of music that we both liked but we did have our differences. Music was always a big part of our lives.
I have always been a music junkie. From the early age of 12, riding my bike to my local Flip Side records to buy a few albums - this is how it started. I started going to Wax Trax Records in 1983. I also started to hang out at Medusa’s and The Metro at about this time as well. From 1987 - 2001, I worked in various record stores in the Chicagoland area. At some point, I not only worked at the stores but I made the stores work for me: getting on guest lists for shows, checking out the promos from new bands, and keeping in touch with the Chicago music scene that unknown to me I would soon become a part of.
As for that part of the story, anyone who has been a record store clerk understands the fine line I was walking. The record store/music geeks actually are the most difficult fans to play in front of. Anyone who has ever seen the film “High Fidelity” or “Empire Records” might understand what I’m talking about. I lived those movies out in real life and more.
Haegers Bend started like many other bands, playing and practicing in a garage. Our garage was built in 1928 and was actually a boat house next to a lake that had been long gone. We called it “the barn” and we turned it from just a garage/boat house into our two level party practice space. We had LOTS of parties, almost every Friday night at one point. We held three giant shows called the “Whirling Wah” in which we had over 1000 attend!!
As time went on, we lost the barn and moved into a professional practice space.
From the very beginning when I joined the band, I recorded it, almost to the annoyance of many, including band members. Starting from a simple Walkman cassette type recorder up until the present day, I recorded parties, practices, demos and live shows. I kept and archived most of the good stuff with a simple X on the tape or KEEP on the CD-R. Paul and I recorded thousands of hours of music over 20 plus years. Most of it has never been heard by anyone other than a VERY small group. These recordings are not perfect but I feel they represent the full Haegers Bend story. This set is meant to be a companion to our already released CDs. It was recorded before, during and after those releases. These are the recordings that kept me in the band for over two decades. I call them the “magical musical memories.”
We released a total of 5 CDs – “Atomic Dreamland”, Echos From The Past”, “A Letter For The Last Day In Time”, “Soundwave Experiments”, and the self title “Haegers Bend” a.k.a. “the black album”. “Atomic Dreamland” and “The Letter For The Last Day In Time” were recorded in a “true studio” (at Acme Recording) and the others were self-recorded releases.
The band started in 1993 so by the time we got to recording “Atomic Dreamland” in 1999 many things had happened that changed the band in major ways. Band members, our song writing, our playing, our live shows, just so much a band can change in six years when we went to record the CD. It was originally going to be recorded by Chicago’s very own Phil Bonnet and the band was very excited. Sadly, Phil passed away just a few weeks before we went in to the studio. We moved on and found Acme Recording on Belmont in Chicago. We knew the history of the place and we loved the giant live room for recording. Both of our studio CDs were recorded at Acme. The band also had interest from a few different labels but thing just did not happen for various reasons. When we were asked what style of music we played, it was “we are a rock band.” We played music that we liked to play and write. Some of it may have been “alternative” rock, some classic rock, and some noise and space rock. This left some confused on the direction of the band. No one could define our style.
About ten years ago I started to put together some of the best recordings of the band I had. What I discovered was some of the best music by the band was recorded when it was for us and no one else. The demos, the ideas, the live shows made me feel like I was in the Minneapolis band, The Replacements. I don’t mean the style of music that we played but the attitude of, “Yeah, we’re gonna do it our way, if you like it – cool; if you don’t, we don’t care. We’re gonna rock on stage, we’re gonna drink, sometimes way too much, what happens, happens.” For those who know The Replacements’ history also knows, that attitude can be a good thing or a very bad thing, but that’s how it was in Haegers Bend.
These are the recordings that I will remember as some of the best from the band. I was kind of shocked to go back and listen to some of the 4-track recordings to find out how great they sounded and the music felt very powerful, in some ways better then the studio CDs.
So after thousands of hours, I give you the Box Of Bend. For all those hours of practice, recording, writing, dealing with idiots and those nights “Fucked Up On The Kennedy,” Paul and I did it our way, the Haegers Bend way. We were one of the best bands from Chicago that no one really heard, until now.
Archived, Compiled, Mastered, Designed, Manufactured by Mike Wilson
Special thanks to:
Mom & Dad, Denise Wilson, Liz Robinson, Dale “the tail” Glatt, Jeff Glatt, Rob (light crew), Sue Wilson, Maggie Wilson, Jon Hopkins, Kevin Spiegel, David, Daryl and the one and only Julie Marie, The Rockhouse in Rolling Meadows, Cory Osborne, Jim Pomis, John Duffy, Mike Valdez, Cheryl DeFranceschi, Jamie Day, Daniel Cline, Nick Blasevich, Chris Payne, Ed Yawger, Nick Hajek, Jim DeRogatis, Scott Reynolds, Meagan Spiegel, Lauren Basik, Erin & Bryan Terada, Acme Recording, Ray at Soundspace Chicago, Trading Brains, The Cubby Bear, Fred Ingram, Meagan Maloney, Tom Spacey, Paul Bartelme, Phil Golucki, Owen Lloyd, Adam Reade Thompson, Flabby Hoffman, Adam Houghtaling, Jerry Kapolnek, Jim Forst, John Meseke, John Zahnen, John Rungger, Rob Riker, KC Saint John, Double Door, Edward Boe, Margaret Berg, Bern Andrews, Hector Hernandez, Wonderful Flying Machines, Erica Corniel, Scott Masson, Tom Smith, Office, Sleepy’s Reason, Odd Shaped Pieces, Kris Poulin, Jeremy Lemos, Richard Milne, WXRT, Mr. Wille, James VanOsdol, Wax Trax Records, Phil Bonnot, For All I Care, WLUW, Neutral Drop, Q101, Richard Berg and his record collection, Brian Sherman, American Cosmonaut, The Barn, The Beat Kitchen, Elbo Room, and, finally, Phil Drumin who was always on time and never gave us attitude.
Extra special thanks to Patty (my wife) and Kelley (my daughter) for being so understanding and supporting me always.