Written by Art Jipson & Shelly Hulce
This Saturday the Dayton music community remembers several members of our music family. Jeremy Frederick Presents: North Of Nowhere South brings together several exciting bands to celebrate the life and music of Jeremy Frederick.
The Dayton music community has long had a unique “band of brothers” landscape as far back as anyone can remember. Even in the 1970’s when Dayton funk was taking the world by storm, it was very much a family affair here on the Dayton home front. It might be a Midwest thing, but the social bond between musicians in this town of ours has always seemed to transcend the average notion of a “scene.” In the James Greer book, Guided by Voices: A Brief History Twenty-one Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll, there is a Dayton music family tree. While that book will be 10 years old next month, the truth of the bonds that bind all of us remain eternal. A lot has happened to the music family tree in 10 years (and in Dayton years, that’s a lot longer than 10!) The one element that seems unaffected by time has been the bonds of solidarity, relationships, and family.
The ripples of Tim Taylor’s loss can still be felt by music fans, even 17 years later. Those who were closest to the epicenter of that tragedy have a deep survivor’s bond. A wound filled of memories, music, and possibilities. Many of Taylor’s closest friends and band mates resided at the infamous Rock and Roll Bed and Breakfast, 1317 N. Main St. in Dayton and are still shaped by the loss of Tim. As deeply as when he passed, the community at large still has that day etched in their hearts, those in Taylor’s social and musical circle had their lives forever altered.
Another loss equally felt by all of us, was the loss of Jeremy Frederick. Every bit the talented and outlandish a personality as Tim Taylor, Jeremy was a pillar in the music community we call family. Jeremy carried the grief of a brother. Taylor and Frederick were, and still are, twin flames – creating remarkable music in amazing bands that dazzled the Dayton community and beyond. At times, their light was bigger than the room. It’s obvious those flames have never dimmed. The thought of Taylor and Fredericks as surviving brothers in arms joining together in music celebration in one place at one time is sure to create a light that’s bigger than the room itself.
As John Schmersal noted about the musical celebration happening on Saturday: “I happened to be at my folks for Thanksgiving and after to visit so, I wanted to take part. We discussed doing songs from the high school band that Jeremy, Tyler, and I had called Sunken Giraffe. We weren’t able to get the bass player Brian involved and from there it turned into doing a Brainiac thing, since this year the idea was opened to not only celebrating Jeremy’s music but, other local musician’s who had passed. It has never occurred to any of us to reform the band because it is simply not Brainiac without Tim Taylor. This is about celebrating the music of our friends with our friends in the community where it came out from.”
As anyone who has loved deeply can tell you, the most incredible and humbling thing you’ll ever experience is someone caring for your child. Jeremy loved his daughter like he loved music. A lot of folks in our community remember Jeremy’s joy the day Izzy was born. This annual birthday party for Jeremy Frederick is more than an excuse to keep the fun and the memories going. This annual event also serves in tending to the future. The proceeds from the show go to her education fund. Jeremy and his mother, Jackie, were good examples of higher education to Izzy with their long history of attendance and employment at Wright State University. Jeremy’s personal legacy lives on in the stories of his WSU professors (If you knew Jeremy, let that sink in for a few minutes…).
Always at the forefront of Jeremy’s education and band life was his mother Jackie. This lady should be considered for sainthood. She once said that it was quite normal to awake in the middle of the night to find Jeremy and his band mates in women’s clothing. They were usually her clothes. Jackie cheerfully served as band roadie, chauffer, cook, secretary, you name it. She is very much a guest of honor during the annual benefit show. Jeremy’s father, Butch Frederick, was in ill health but attended the 2013 show.
Butch recently passed away and we send special thoughts and prayers to the Frederick family this holiday season.
Memories such as these are remarkable gifts. And nothing connects memory, loss, and the celebration of life as music. This weekend we have a very rare and special reminder of what music can – and should mean – to us as members of the Dayton community who have lost such remarkable people. The return of We’ll Eat Anything this Saturday night at Blind Bob’s is nothing short of the appropriate celebration of life and music that Jeremy and Tim’s flames require. For you see, We’ll Eat Anything represents not just an opportunity to celebrate lives lost far far too soon but connect us all to a strand of Dayton music that hails from one of the finest Dayton bands, Brainiac.
The late great band known as Brainiac was born in January 1992 with an initial lineup that included Tim Taylor on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, and synthesizers, bassist Juan Monasterio known in the beginning as “Monostereo”, guitarist Michelle Bodine and percussionist Tyler Trent. On March 12th, the band played an legendary first show at Wright State University’s Cafeteria, under the name We’ll Eat Anything. The band that would become known as Brainiac with the now-classic logo – debuted a short time later: 3RA1N1AC.
The influence of Brainiac on local music cannot be overstated. So many local bands – Oh Condor, Northwest Ordinance, Toads and Mice and so many others were influenced by the sound of Brainiac yet, it is hard to describe Brainiac to the uninitiated. The music was post-punk inspired art noise before such a term had any meaning other than that of John Cage and his musical successors such as Sonic Youth (in New York), Husker Du (from Minneapolis), Blood Brothers (from Seattle), Big Black (started in Evanston, Illinois) to name a few. The music of Brainiac was a joyous clash of sound. The songs were a result of barely controlled alienation fueling the use of discordant guitars playing over a noise-rock combination of percussion, booming bass, and varied aural accompaniment of looping synth elements, beats, and sounds. The use of the synth as an equally aggressive instrument along with the guitars and bass combined expected and unexpected components to the music. In fact, many of the most exciting elements of the early Brainiac sound were the brilliant clash of different tuned guitars, bass, and synth that fused experiments of alternative sound collage, the most liberating elements of DIY punk rock aesthetic, and unique deconstruction of the rock and roll form. What Brainiac did so well – and light years ahead of their peers – was the creation of music that reinvigorated the rock and roll paradigm into directions of heat, light, sound, feeling, body, and musical escape that merged diverse voices and noise, art, sweat, and love and community into a solidarity of music.
Brainiac shows were collections of music lovers, adventurers, neighbors, and friends who were merged into a family through their shared experience and interactions at the performance. The intensity of the vocals – often accompanied with sweaty cathartic movement on stage – were remarkable collective episodes of community. Those who attended the early shows were thrown into a state of near euphoric collective almost tribal activity. You danced. You danced hard. And then you moved around some more.
As the band released a series of singles, the interest in this unique sound grew. The singles sold extremely well in the Dayton and surrounding areas. No other band in the area was fusing indie, post-punk and noise rock in this fashion. The band’s debut was released on the indie Grass, which was distributed by major label BMG Records in 1993. The debut Smack Bunny Baby produced by Girls against Boys Eli Janney was very well received both in the Dayton community that sheltered the developing band and garnered support nationally. The band’s intense performances only increased after the release of their first record. While on a regional tour the band picked up fans from each stop. In 1994, the band released its sophomore record, Bonsai Superstar. The record attracted even more attention than the first from recognized national critics and music fans alike. Pitchfork Magazine has called the record one of the best albums of the 90s. Bodine had left the band shortly after the release of Bonsai Superstar to be replaced by guitarist, multi-instrumentalist John Schmersal.
While supporting Bonsai Superstar, Brainiac’s influence continued to attract the attention of music fans, critics, and other artists. In 1995, Brainiac played on the Lollapalooza side stage and recorded four songs for the venerable Peel Sessions in the UK. The band was courted by Chicago-based independent label Touch and Go and released Internationale, produced by fellow Daytonian Kim Deal (The Pixies and The Breeders). This record continued their uncompromising approach to sound textures while still maintaining the intensity of post-punk, alternative rock, and indie.
Brainiac’s third album came out in 1996, Hissing Prigs in Static Coutre was another record released on the well-respected Touch & Go label. This album also increased the national stature of this local band. The album sold very well for Touch & Go and was listed as one of their best sellers that year. The band released what many consider their finest record a year later Electro Shock for President in 1997. This record has been cited by many artists as an example of what art noise rock can accomplish. Artists as diverse as Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) cited Brainiac as an influence on their music. Brainiac generated serious attention as the live act to see that resulted in them opening tours for such diverse artists as Beck, The Breeders, labelmates The Jesus Lizard. In addition, the band began receiving offers from major labels for their next record. Unfortunately the ep Electro Shock for President was their last record due to the sudden death of Tim Taylor. Taylor was killed in a car accident on May 23, 1997, during the pre-production for their fourth full length album. The record was to be the first of several for Interscope Records. Without Taylor, the other members decided to disband. A benefit show featuring fellow Daytonians Guided by Voices and The Breeders took place shortly after Taylor’s passing. So beloved was Brainiac that the benefit became more of an elegy to the band and the music that they had created rather than as a simple concert. Many Dayton music fans still remember the outpouring of emotion during that show and carry the memory of Brainiac with them today. Information about the Tim Taylor memorial fund can be found at BigBeef.com.
So, this weekend we have a rare opportunity to see the remaining members of Brainiac along with several great Brainiac-inspired bands, Oh Condor, My Latex Brain, and Cigar Jar Crash Attack. So, what are you waiting for? Make your plans now to join our community as we celebrate Tim and Jeremy’s lives, raise money for Izzy’s education, and remember some of the best of what makes Dayton a vibrant rock and roll city.
To experience some of what made Brainiac so real and so powerful watch the video – Vincent Come on Down And to experience what is special about our music community in Dayton, join us at Blind Bob’s this Saturday from 9 to well, who knows when the celebration will end that’s the thing about family!
For those who cannot make this show and want to contribute to Izzy Frederick’s college fund, you can send checks or money orders to her educational fund at the following address:
Isabella Frederick Educational Fund
Wright Patt Credit Union
P.O. Box 286, Fairborn, Ohio 45324
(photos in this essay contributed by Tim Krug and the Frederick Family)