Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Googling Oneself Considered Harmful

Don't Google yourself. You might be frightened by what you find.

Apparently there is, or was, a garage band out of Penn State called Blasting Trout Overbite. They seem to be primarily influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel. So far, so good. _In the Aeroplane Over the Sea_ is one of my favorite albums and I love garage bands in general. I listened to a few of their songs and it would have been fun to hear them play live. The recordings are a mixed bag. Their earlier material is more fun, and songs like "Written or Burned" make hunting through the rest of them worthwhile. I could do without the use of the word "faggot" -- as lyrics go, surreal is great, silly is great, strange is great, even plain incomprehensible is all right, but hateful is not cool.

They have a number of covers. Their version of XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" sounds like a Residents song fed through a ring modulator, and lacks any sense of the rhythm that propels the original. It is bad, very bad. Their cover of "King of Carrot Flowers" is considerably better although it feels a little flat and lacking in instrumentation.

After splitting up some of the members have been involved in spin-offs. One of these seems to be called "The History and Civilization of the Great Black Swamp." They have a single called "Paul Potts" with a B-side called "Been Down to the Grape." The single (MP3 files and artwork) is available here:

The site includes the lyrics. They are a bit odd, and include the verse:

Paul Potts, in the middle of a clearing under a tree
Paul Potts, can you hear me terrify me?
Paul Potts, an orphan's what I'll grow up to be
Paul Potts, get you away from me

The track is not actually very good; the drumming in particular seems absolutely terrible, although I admire the enthusiasm. I should be clear: I admire anyone who gets together and makes live music. Everyone should try playing in a band at least once. I remember my own attempts at playing in high school garage bands and even though we were horrible, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

My only real question is whether I am the Paul Potts in question, and if so, where my name came from. It isn't a very common name, although there have been a couple of other people named Paul Potts, including an English author. I grew up in North East, Harbocreek, and Erie, and these are not far from Penn State, although if the students where were in this band graduated in 2004 or 2005 I am about fifteen years too old to have known any of them in high school.

On second thought, maybe I don't want to know. Once after I left for college someone committed some crimes in Erie and apparently used my name as one of his aliases. I also get e-mail messages from people either jokingly, or maybe seriously, thinking that I am Pol Pot.

I left a note on the Blasting Trout Overbite forum introducing myself. I guess I do have one more question. Should I record a cover of the song? It would seem only appropriate. If so, in what style? Most of my music gear got sold off get a bit of cash in my last round of unemployment in 2004, but I could probably improvise something...


April said...

hey paul potts! this dan from BTO. i actually grew up in North East! awesome. you'll have to ask arthur whether or not the song is about you, and you should DEFINITELY do a cover (i'd love to hear it). as for the use of the word "faggot," our friend (not a member of the band) wrote that song to be offensive, and though it holds a special place in our hearts, we are embarassed by it and are definitely not hateful dudes. we love everyone! in fact, my girlfriend (april, also a member of the band) was an officer in allies, a friends of gay/lesbian/bisexual club at PSU. i attened a few of their parties and had good times. so there ya go. we should probably remove the song from our site. thanks for the kind words and honest critiques!


plasket said...

Yeah, I agree with Dan above (who is signed in as April for some reason). I was never okay with the use of "that word" (which I cannot tolerate in the slightest), and the fact that everyone seemed to go along with that song actually made me question whether I was with the right group of people. (I was there when they recorded an alternate version of the offending song; I protested by not singing.)

As Dan said, our friend Dave, who lived next door to Matt and Arthur at the time, wrote the song, and his goal was to write a catchy tune with horribly offensive words. I always thought any page that has it should have a disclaimer to that effect (I think the current page has "we're sorry").

As long as I'm apologizing for BTO's sins, I'll admit that I was never happy with our cover of "King of Carrot Flowers Pt 1." It was done for Dan's birthday, and we had recorded it the night before, and I had never heard the song. I kept getting the ending wrong, and on the take we used, my throat suddenly gave out.

Hope that cleared some things up for you... sorry to weird you out. (I hope this doesn't happen with all the other names we made up...)

--John T Plasket, occasional leader, BTO.

Paul R. Potts said...

Thanks for the comments, both of you! I am surprised to find someone from North East! I lived there from about 1970-1980. I am considering doing a cover, but I don't have much in the way of music gear anymore (my hobbies go through cycles, stuff I'm not using gets sold off). We'll see... I think it is just about time I got into some music-making activities again.