The Staklo Foundation

Burden of Friendship

Research Defense Squad



Music by Mark Giangrande

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Burden of Friendship

This seminal noise band from Chicago existed into the early and mid-80's, until it morphed into several other bands, including Err Or Correction, Research Defense Squad, and Staklo.

The line-up included (at various times)  Robert St. Clair, William Meehan, Scott Marshall, Doug Brown, Mark Giangrande, James Koehnline, Paul Rosen, and others too numerous and/or minor to list here.  The band has scattered to the various corners of the United States.  Scott Marshall now lives in New York City working as an artist and musician;  James Koehnline works in the Seattle, Washington area as an artist; Robert St. Clair lives in the Detroit as a hotel service worker and artist; Doug Brown passed away several years ago and is missed by his friends; William Meehan still lives in the Chicago area, as does Paul Rosen (we assume).

BOF had many friends who would come on stage or rehearse with the core members.  The first show was at the Noise Factory on West Lake Street as part of the 666 Show, a multiband extravaganza featuring Ono, Dementia 13, End Result, Algebra Suicide, Pile of Cows, and others.  That show took place on August 30, 1984.  There is a videotape of the show that survives to this day.

The band played in various well known Chicago venues such as Batteries Not Included, Lucky Number, Exit, Gaspar's, and Metro.  The shows would be a combination of music, noise, and performance art.  Much of the music was rehearsed at Scott's haunted coach house on Ravenswood, just off of Greenleaf Street, or in the studios of WZRD-FM where several of the band members were staff DJ's.  There, band and friends would take over the airwaves and perform live along with a combination of turntables, cassette players, and microphones, emanating from Studios A, B, and C, the record library room, the hallways, and anywhere there was space for an instrument, clanging pieces of metal, or shattering dishes.

As Scott Marshall puts it:

We came together at WZRD in 1984, and that we were probably the city's very first improv-noise-art ensemble. As such, we were hugely influential to the next generation of musicians and the whole electronic-improv scene as well. I really believe that. Both Dan Burke and Jim O'Rourke once told me that they would listen to our "Voidwatches" late at night when they were youngsters in high school. Jim O'Rourke opened for one of our dates at Batteries Not Included when he was 16 years old (and there were about 5 people watching us play). Also, Mike Krause was totally inspired and influenced by our work, as well as by the cassettes on my Panic Records and Tapes label. Mike is still doing noise shows in Chicago, still booking shows, and is still involved with WZRD as well. Our first-ever live performance at the Noise Factory was influential too. You may remember that a very young Urge Overkill was on that date of groups. In addition, when we were active 1984-85, there were only about two or three out-of-the-way saloons where we could get away with our schtick. But within ten years after that, there was a plethora of spaces and musicians doing that kind of thing, and now Chicago has something of a reputation of a swingin' improv and experimental music scene. I honestly believe that BOF played a large part in that; not that what we were doing was so brilliant or anything, but that we were doing the right thing at the right time, and I just don't think Chicago ever had anyone doing that sort of thing before.

It should also be mentioned that Eric Leonardson, Lou Mallozzi, and a few others started Experimental Sound Studios at about the same time or a year or two after BOF's brief existence. Of course, ESS is not a band or a performance space, but that place did, and still does, play its own part in fostering a healthy atmosphere for sonic experimentalism in Chicago (a low-cost recording studio co-op).

Doug Brown remembers how the band got its name:

We were booked to play at that first show (hey, we/Scott/Bob booked the other bands so we got to book ourselves, too) and Bob was worried that RDS would not be as good as the concept in his mind so we became BOF because it was such a burden to be in a band and be friends and all that shit.  And it became [an] ego trip anyway with the smashing of light bulbs over hooded Scott's back. Did you or any of us ever understand why we did that?  Jeff Bale from Maximum Rock & Roll in California, visiting with Terry Nelson, stormed the stage as we ended and took the mike and admonished the audience "You guys liked that pretentious art shit?  Fuck, you guys are lame" and we just grinned....  Punk had earlier influenced us to know that bands could be anybody and anybody could be in a band.  But we were not good enough to be a band so we played noise until we had delusions of bandeur.  BOF became an entity wider than (not greater than) RDS, that RDS really stood for really drunk shitkickers, and that BOF also stood for boring old farts (eventually).


Here is a sample of the band recorded live at the original Exit on Wells Street in Chicago on December 15th, 1985:

My Old College Saxophone 6 min 43 sec,  3.1 megabytes, MP3
Track © 2004 The Staklo Foundation.

The next two tracks were recorded at Scott's Coach House on November 29, 1985:

Children At Play 8 min 35 sec, 8.1 megabytes, MP3
Track © 2004 The Staklo Foundation.

Kubisms 4 min 41 sec, 4.4 megabytes, MP3
Track © 2004 The Staklo Foundation.

The next piece was recorded at an unknown location at an unknown date:

Unnamed Piece, 8 min 37 sec, 8.2 megabytes, MP3
Track © 2004 The Staklo Foundation.

Burden of Friendship rarely performed cover songs, Like A Virgin being the only other. The band recorded a version of Mercy by Wire in August of 1987 and performed it live around the same time at Batteries Not Included. Here is a copy of Mercy rescued from cassette:

Mercy, 5 min 08 sec, 9.5 megabytes, MP3
Track © 2012 The Staklo Foundation.

The next piece is an excerpt from one of the earliest Voidwatch performances at WZRD. This one comes from the first 45 minutes of an almost 7 hour recording from April 27, 1984. The voice at the end of the clip is that of Doug Brown as it was his show that night. More information about these get togethers is available from New City in an article called Escape From Noise: Is This Not Music?

Voidwatch WZRD April 27, 1984 Excerpt 1, 9 min 43 sec, 17.8 megabytes
Track © 2012 The Staklo Foundation.

The Ice Cream Man is a song about a delicate subject. This recording was found on cassette.

The Ice Cream Man, 7 min 56 sec, 14.55 megabytes
Track © 2012 The Staklo Foundation.

This version of The Ice Cream Man is a 2012 Remix from the orginal multi-track tape. The cassette version above is an 80s mix of the same performance.

The Ice Cream Man, 8 min 01 sec, 18.37 megabytes
Track © 2012 The Staklo Foundation.

At Home With The Burdens was recorded at Mark's apartment in 1986 while the band was hanging out on a weekend afternoon.The first several layers were recorded without the band realizing it. Each layer, seven in all, were recorded in real time, a few backwards. It wasn't until the fourth or fifth layer when everyone figured it out. This version is an April 2015 remix of the entire piece.

At Home WIth The Burdens, 15 min 36 sec, 35.7 megabytes
Track © 2015 The Staklo Foundation.

These three tracks were recorded sometime in the middle 80's at Scott's Coach House.

My Old College Saxophone Part 2, 9 min 12 sec, 21 megabytes
Track © 2015 The Staklo Foundation

My Old College Saxophone Part 1, 4 min 12 sec, 9.6 megabytes
Track © 2015 The Staklo Foundation

Turn Me Around Day By Day 8 min 37 sec, 20 megabytes
Track © 2012 The Staklo Foundation

This next piece is a bit epic given the work that went into it. The track was recorded by Scott, Doug, and Mark at Mark's apartment on Bernard Street in 1986. It was meant to be a backing piece for a live performance by Scott on November 1, hence the alternative name Novone.

The Jarry Symphonette (Novone) 22 min 46 sec, 57 megabytes
Track © 2015 The Staklo Foundation