Source Mirror Record Vol. 3
Source Mirror Record, Vol. 3: 1998

With the publication of the third volume of Source Mirror Record, the epic scope of producer Brian Weaver’s intentions for the project takes shape, as the story of a band continues to unfold before our ears, musically and otherwise, in a series of moments mined from the recorded comminglings of the Cubby Creatures in the year 1998.

Potentially as interesting to archivists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, and even, at this point, archeologists as it might be to musicologists and music lovers, Source Mirror Record 3: 1998 lays bare the inner workings of an American band as its members set aside their day jobs and come together, each managing to make the trek two nights a week into the outer mission to the rehearsal space, to jam, work on group compositions, and to conjure the Cubby.

On the outside, each of us was struggling in our modest way to exist in (and around) San Francisco, California, on the margins of a tightening economic squeeze ever evicting more artists and people of color; but inside the rehearsal studio we playfully brought forth the music inside of us, with the instruments at our disposal, in a musical conversation that went on week after week for a fistful of years. Our commitment to joyful escapism via the Cubby was our active resistance to the forces of capitalism that threatened to consume us one way or another.

Brian Weaver, now head of Cubby Control Records and producer of this collection of ephemeral melodies (mostly fragments captured by Weaver himself with a couple of room mics and his tape deck in the Cubby Creatures’ rehearsal space throughout the year of our horde 1998), supplied the bass. The delightful Jason Gonzales, on drums, joined the band at the beginning of the volume’s titular year, and his friend Bill Fisher came on as keyboardist after his breakout role as Astro in the Cubby Creatures’ rock opera The World of Tina, documented in the second volume of Source Mirror Record. Emily Davis was the violin player, and Karl Soehnlein tooted his art out as the outfit’s clarinetist. Joel Perez supplied the greenhorn guitar (actually a baby-blue Fender Telecaster, since stolen), the unsteady warbling, and the pre-verbal mutterings and unhinged ejaculations of a callow, insensitive, cisgendered bipolar white man without a cause but nevertheless with a mysterious beef and so much trouble on his back.

A couple of tracks here were reasonably well rehearsed and professionally recorded and produced at the time, but the vast majority of the pieces here assembled were of the moment ballads and songs snatched directly from that ethereal zone where creation knows its source. The rawness and spontaneity of these pieces is the album’s primary strength, and it begs no forgiveness for its flaws and imperfections; rather, it presents these as the very keys to enjoying the Cubby (the source, the force, the aesthetic of things taking their course, the Now, the What Is). The album feels like a celebration of the creative process itself, just as much as it’s a divulgence of the Cubby Creatures’ surprising versatility.

Taken as a whole, listening to this album is akin to the experience of watching clouds pass through the sky; earworms arise spontaneously, a structure materializes for a moment, catches the imagination, and then casually disintegrates, vaporized away to make room in the sky for another peculiar formation to emerge from that font of creativity from which all things spring.

The magician to be credited with this revelatory audio experience is Mr. Brian Weaver, who is deservedly heralded in song throughout this volume of Cubby Creature rarities and neverweres. This is a feat of musical archiving that seldom if ever before has been undertaken...a dramatic unveiling of curiosities by a band that itself was the ultimate curiosity; a parade of lullabies, jigs, dirges, and spells culled from the attics of madmen, hidden away from the 21st Century for 21 years...until now.

Now a veritable deluge has been unleashed on an unsuspecting world that has not exactly demanded it, but which very much deserves it, in my opinion. If there were a God capable of administering divine justice in this universe, then Brian Weaver would get a Grammy nod for this damned thing.

Thanks and glory be to Brian Weaver. And thanks to all who listen and discover this time-obscured band and its funny, strange, sad, miraculous history. May these many new portals into the Cubby welcome inside many new friends and travelers.

-- Jol Devitro, 28 January 2019

1998 Was a Very Productive Year

This edition of the Source Mirror Record (SMR) series should probably be titled 1998 Part 2, since the previous SMR, The World of Tina, was also comprised of songs written in 1998. As Jol states in a November 1998 rehearsal, which is the audio clip that introduces volume 3, "The Cubby's winding up what's been a very productive year, in many ways disappointing, in many ways encouraging." Certainly 1998 was productive, which was indeed encouraging -- we wrote and performed our first rock operetta The World of Tina in April of that year at the the Peacock Lounge in front of a crowd of about 200 people; we began composing some of the songs that would appear on our first album The Blessed Invention; we initiated our first studio recording sessions, which I refer to as the "Yoko Sessions" since our friend Yoko Kato recorded us at the audio engineering school she was attending (the name of which escapes me now); in addition to the The World of Tina show, we played around four other shows in 1998 as we became an active live band in the San Francisco art/indie rock scene; and we nearly completed writing a second rock operetta The Telethon for the Benefit of Suzie, which is where the disappointing part of 1998 comes in.

I can't remember whether the idea for The Telethon for the Benefit of Suzie came before the invitation to perform at SAP: The Residue of the San Francisco Art Scene or if they asked us to play the show based on having seen or heard about The World of Tina. Either way, The Cubby Creatures took on the challenge of creating a second rock operetta in a year. We wrote songs, created a story, invited friends to rehearsals to play various roles in the musical, secured local comedic crooner Andy Peters to host the telethon, and asked SF-based experimental filmmaker Mark Taylor to show film clips during the performance, which ultimately ended up being an essential part of the overall show. So essential that when the SAP organizers called to tell us that we could no longer perform at 10:30 PM and were instead scheduled to perform at 5:30 PM (due to neighbors of the Lanai Motel complaining to the city about the potential loud noise after 6:00 PM), we ended up cancelling the telethon and performing a set of songs instead -- ultimately a big disappointment for all involved.

Of course, these days the most disappointing thing to me is that we did not record in a studio setting all the songs we wrote in 1998. We did record some of them during the Yoko Sessions. But there were so many more, as you will hear, that were fully fleshed out -- "Chicken and the Wolf," "Mr. Schroeder," "Trouble Song," -- and could've made great stuio recordings. Alas, that did not happen, and the versions presented here are in some cases the only ones extant. Of course, there are rehearsal jams that were never repeated, alternate versions of tracks that appeared on previous SMRs, 4-track and 8-track recordings we did ourselves, AND some never released studio recordings: "Johnson 6," "Dolores Park Me," and "Don't in the Middle." 1998 was, indeed, a very productive year.

-- Brian Weaver, January 2019