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SlowBurn Historical Timeline I

  • 1986- SlowBurn Records was founded by a group of high school friends and musicians in Chicago Illinois.  School mates Eric Johnson (guitar), Young Arnold (bass) form their first band White Elephant along with vocalist Ben Johnston and drummer Bob Shive.  The band covers material like “House of the Rising Sun” and “You Really Got Me.” White Elephant also begins to write some originals like “Big City Blues” and “I Wanna be a Rock Star.”
  December 1986- SlowBurn Records, in effect, is born as members of White Elephant purchase a four track tape recorder and begin to experiment with recording techniques.  Drummer Bob Shive leaves the band to cover more ‘current’ material like The Clash with party band Johnny Phlemn. Ben Johnston also quits as vocalist.  The remaining members, Johnson and Arnold, focus on writing and recording.   December 1987- SlowBurn Records completes production on its first unofficial release, Action Figures “Blind Child and the Garden,” a collection of original material written and performed by Eric Johnson, Young Arnold and others.  It was decided that these 4 track projects were to be recorded under the name Action Figures and would include material from whomever chose to contribute.   “Blind Child and the Garden” was the first of many collaborative projects that became a SlowBurn tradition.  These early recordings had little or no percussion-- rounded out by guitar, bass, effects and vocals.  The material reflected influences from Barrett-era Pink Floyd, The Kinks, Bob Dylan and the blues/rock fusion of The Blues Breakers, Mike Bloomfield and others.   April 1989- During the previous year, Johnson and Arnold, along with drummer Brian Pott, formed the live counterpart to the early Universal recordings, Isis Rising.  The band rehearsed original material, covered songs by Hawkwind and Jimi Hendrix, and played a handful of parties.  Isis Rising tried out for the high school talent show with their epic 15 minute long “Easy Journey to Other Planets.”  Unfortunately, their live debut was postponed.  The band did not pass the audition because the song was too long and probably too weird.     May 1989- SlowBurn Records invests in a new Tascam Porta Two 4 track.  The SlowBurn family graduates high school.  Isis Rising is disbanded.   September 1989- Eric Johnson meets long time SlowBurn drummer Bryan Kohl (a.k.a Otto Terrorist) and forms seminal freak-rock band Cesare’s Dog. Electric oboist John Galuska, vocalist Jonathan Levitt and bassist Jeff Pedderson rounded out The Dog’s line-up for the next year.  SlowBurn Records completes production on its sixth and final full length project under the collective name Universal,Oceans.”  This initial era comes to a close and the collective moniker Universal was abandon for a new name that reflected a new direction.   January 1990- Eric Johnson (guitar, vocals) and Young Arnold (bass), along with a sit-in drummer, play their first official live performance under the name Blood Sucking Freaks. This chaotic, yet inspired performance was recorded by SlowBurn.   April 1990- SlowBurn Records records its first project with a full band, the self-titled debut, Cesare’s Dog. SlowBurn also continues its collective recording tradition under a new name, Future 47.  The musical style of this era was more experimental than the Universal period.  Drums and synthesizers were added.  The music became largely instrumental, reflecting influences from the Bevis Frond, Helios Creed, Chrome, Amon Duul II and others.   Summer 1990- Eric Johnson and Young Arnold team up again, this time with drummer Doug McLaughlin, under a new name Ella Guru, recording a collection of both studio and live material.   December 1990- After some personal changes, SlowBurn Records records the second and final Cesare’s Dog project, “La Raza.”   For this project, Eric Johnson moved to the bass and was replaced by Scott Felton on guitar.   June 1991- Cesare’s Dog plays their final performance.  Cesare’s Dog oboist, John Galuska discovers the rough gem, songwriter Bill Enich.  Galuska, along with bassist Jason Peer and Eric Johnson record Enich’s only recording, “Guru of Love.”     August 1991- SlowBurn completes work on  John Galuska’s concept record, “Incidents of Travel in Central America.”ITACA” was performed by the “Guru of Love” ensemble and tells a musical adaptation of the book, “Incidents of Travel in Central America,” by John L. Stephens.   Eric Johnson, Young Arnold and original White Elephant vocalist-turned-drummer, Ben Johnston records the seminal acid-exploration, Burrough’s Triangle.   January 1992- SlowBurn Records relocates to Madison Wisconsin from Chicago and completes production of the seventh and final recording of the Future 47 collective, “Space Noir.”   August 1992- SlowBurn Records begins a new era.  Continuing the 4 track collective project tradition, SlowBurn chooses a new name Synesthesia and records a debut project, “Tradition.” The music of this period’s musical explorations became more experimental and less rock oriented, citing influences from Fred Frith and Test Dept.   October 1992- Guitarist Eric Johnson joins Madison-based alternative rock band, Blue Ruin. The band’s line-up at the time was two sets of brothers, Todd Streicher (vocals), Pete Streicher  (guitar), Jason Goetz (drums) and long time SlowBurn collaborator Steve Goetz (bass).

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