The Staklo Foundation

Burden of Friendship

Research Defense Squad



Music by Mark Giangrande

Favorite Links

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's many career paths involve information gathering and customer service have led him to help people buy and sell homes as a realtor and also to find forever homes for needy Golden Retrievers; 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 Doug'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).

Look for a clip of the show to which Doug refers coming soon on this page. 


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.