Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Wellwater Conspiracy: The Early Years
When it comes to Seattle supergroups, Wellwater Conspiracy was the best of the bunch. As we all sadly know from hearing the Damn Yankees and Brides of Destruction (wait, did anybody actually buy that record?), supergroups are usually pretty terrible. Seattle, of course, had Temple of the Dog and Mad Season, but Wellwater Conspiracy gets way more play time at Lamestain Headquarters than either of those bands. Unlike those other bands, Wellwater Conspiracy doesn’t sound like a supergroup, and unless you were familiar with the band members and their sometime aliases, you might not be able to guess their rock pedigree by listening to the records. Wellwater Conspiracy had their own sound, so you can’t just describe them as Monster Magnet guitars meet Soundgarden’s rhythm section. Really the only supergroup in town that could give them any competition would be the Monkeywrench.
Starting off as a side project to the already-side-project band Hater, Wellwater Conspiracy featured ex-Skin Yard/Couch of Sound drummer Matt Cameron (aka Tad Dameron), Monster Magnet guitarist John Paul McBain, and March of Crimes guitarist Ben Shepherd (aka Zeb). If we were a stoner rock-focused blog, we would mention that Monster Magnet’s Spine of God is one of the best records in the genre. But we are not, so back to Wellwater Conspiracy.
The band formed during recording sessions for the first Hater record and was originally intended as just a studio project. They eventually started playing live shows and appeared at the 2000 Terrastock festival in Seattle’s Showbox Theater along with Windy and Carl, the Monkeywrench, Ghost, Bevis Frond, Kinski, Moe Tucker, and a bunch more.
Their 1993 debut single “Sleeveless” b/w “You Do You” (SE701) came out on Steve Turner’s amazingly consistent Super Electro record label and is a huge stylistic departure from the member’s better-known bands. Fans expecting anything heavy rock sounding might have been disappointed by the Sixties-style psychedelic pop that put the band more in line with the Paisley Underground than the Flannel rock scene. The 1994 “Trowerchord” b/w “Green Undertow” and “Enebrio” (SE706)EP came complete with an Al Goldstein-approved record cover and featured more trippy guitars and hi-pitched vocals. The band expanded their repertoire to Sixties Japanese beat/psychedelic and covered the Carnabeats’ “Sandy” and the Spiders’ “Nati Bati Yi” for their sleeveless third single (SE707). (You can also find the original “Nati Bati Yi” on the Planet X record’s Monster a Go Go compilation LP, which also features great songs by the Mops, the Carnabeats, the Golden Cups, and the Beavers.)
Their Declaration of Conformity LP (Super 07) (cd on Third Gear Records) came out in 1997, which is also around the time that the modest mice-like emo-kids took over the Seattle scene. The LP features all of the first three single tracks and is one of the more underrated modern psychedelic records. Wellwater Conspiracy has since done a few more records, toured with Pearl Jam, featured guest appearances by Jack Endino, Eddie Vedder (Wes C. Addle), Kim Thayil, and Josh Homme among others, but that falls outside of Lamestain’s very strict, self-imposed timeline.
"You Do You"
"Nati Bati Yi"
And all of the songs are on this .zip file.
-- MC Tom