lucio menegon | music•noise•art

Heavy Cops and Giant Jeans

Happy New Year. Feels like it’s going to be an interesting one. To start it off as such, how about pulling out some skeletons in the closet?

Lauren Weisbecker, the twelve year old daughter of my high school bandmate and drummer, Will Weisbecker recently posted a comment on The Early Years. In response, I dug around for some nuggets residing in my strange but true audio folder. I found a few that merit exposure:

      1. Heavy Cop

This was written and recorded by my friend and fab musician, Gunnar Madsen back in the late 90’s when Gunnar was a staff composer for Atari Games. He hired me to play metal guitar on this dittie for use in an auto racing arcade game called California Speed. Just imagine yourself tearing down Highway 101, becoming airborne, literally flying, smashing into trees, cars, rocks, and miraculously crossing the finish line – no doubt propelled by this double shot of caffeinated metal riffage. Since neither Gunnar nor I own any rights to this tune, I post it in the hope that one of us will get sued by Atari. We could use the exposure.

The game received a very limited release, but I did encounter it once in real life while on tour with Ramona the Pest. We were hanging out in a random sports bar in Denver, Colorado when the tune sort of wafted by. Hey that’s my guitar! I exclaimed to my skeptical bandmates as we made a beeline to the source and played it quite a few times.

      2. Giant Jeans

This is a recording made in the late 90’s for an ad agency competition. Two friends of Steve Lucky‘s worked for a big firm in SF and Steve got me in on the gig. We recorded it on a 1/2″ 8-track reel to reel deck at my warehouse space in Berkeley. Steve plays organ and I play the slide guitar bits. A fun tune that apparently earned an honorable mention, but lost out to…a heavy metal tune. Apologies for infringing on someone’s copyright here.

And last, a classic from 1988:

      3. Won't You Be My Neighbor? (e.e esckilsen/f. rodgers)

R’n’R with a nod to Mr. Rogers by Manatee, a band I played in with my old college ‘mates. This is from Unlikely Mermen, our first official cassette release in 1988. Recorded on my Tascam Porta Studio 4-track in the 3rd floor living room of a dilapidated mansion in Newport, RI that the bass player and I lived in that summer. It was pretty much one big party and we pretty much wrecked the place. Erik Esckilsen plays the Bob Stinson approved end solo. Never did find out who left the phone message.

The Early Years

Sometime around the third grade, I started guitar lessons with a friend of my parents named Joe Petrone. It was on a small classical guitar, which I still have. Joe Petrone was a nice fella who had wire-y reddish hair that reminded me of a rusted brillo pad and which was in fact, a bad toupee. He had a music shop in the basement of his house in Cos Cob, CT and I still remember the smell of all the amps and guitars down there. I particularly remember a big promotional poster of Robin Trower standing next to a wall of huge Marshall amps. That was a sound I wanted, but didn’t know how to get.

After a few frustrating years of plucking ‘Au Claire de Lune’ on my classical guitar, I was convinced by one of my grade school teachers to play the cello in the school orchestra. It was led by a portly man named Mr. Serafin, who had the god forsaken task of keeping a bunch of 4th through 6th grade kids interested and in tune. I remember being able to sight read some pretty tricky stuff and even taking a solo at my 6th grade concert, but gave it up in 7th grade in order to try out for a drum position in my junior high school band. This gig was one I promptly quit – I swear the conductor was such a hardass.

Sometime around the 9th grade I returned to the guitar after I convinced my parents to purchase a Univox Les Paul electric guitar and Univox amp from Petrone’s Music shop.

Said Univox’s in hand, I turned up at my best friend Paul Porter’s house where the first band I played in, Ludlow J. Poindexter and the Dirty Underwears (named by Paul’s dad, Erf Porter), was forming. We mostly played classic rock tunes by The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and a few cutting edge tunes that our buddy David Dear’s sister (who was in college at UMASS) turned us onto, like the Cars and the B52’s – all very poorly. I think back on all those parties we played and can only appreciate the effort our the parents and neighbors made in putting up with us. Then it was on to a band named LSD which I remember was a short-lived 3 piece ‘instrumentals only’ band that could play Heart’s “Crazy on You” for like 15 minutes or more.

The next band was called Renegade. A truly inventive name, I believe the drummer Brad Dippy named it after a model of Jeep he coveted. That band sort of grew out of Ludlow J. and LSD by slowly ejecting members until we were actually pretty good. The line-up consisted of Will Weisbecker on drums – who got the gig after Brad Dippy didn’t show up for rehearsal the nth time, Rob Parker on guitar – who replaced Paul Porter who was great but could never quite keep his guitar tuned (the big vice grip that hung from a missing tuning peg was bad-ass, but not very helpful), Tony Doughney on bass and vocals – the only guy we knew who could do both things pretty well, and me.

I got my first big guitar amp, a silver ’79 Fender Twin Reverb with an MXR Distortion+. Rob Parker had the same exact rig. In fact, I think our parents bought them together at Sam Ash Music in White Plains, NY. I made matching black wooden boxes with “Renegade” stenciled on the front for the amps to rest on (for ‘the look’) and now we could really rock. I remember one show in particular – I had made a tape loop on a reel to reel recorder of the beginning synthesizer part of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” so we could do it like them live. I swear it worked great at practice. But at our first big show, an outdoor affair opening for some band with really BIG Marshall amplifiers (see below), our soundman Mike Bonaparte must have put the deck on vari-speed or something because the loop played out of tune and tempo and it was ugly. I remember hearing a tape of the show and you can hear my little sister laughing when it gets real bad.


Will Weisbecker recently unearthed a tape of Renegade playing Skynyrd’s, Needle in the Spoon on January 24, 1980 and forwarded to me:

      1. Needle and the Spoon

What a hoot. Rob Parker played a really nice melodic first solo, then I proceed to play this ridiculous solo to end the song. I’m sure I hated it at the time, but love it now and would like to think I was somehow channeling Robert Quine, who is one one my guitar heroes and was probably wildly soloing just 30 miles away in NYC around this time.