Crooks on Tape has signed to Misra. You will soon have no choice but to love this band. Drone it together: “We will soon have no choice but to love this band.” You will be able to hear Crooks very soon. Once you do, you will know The Truth™. Together: “We will be able to hear Crooks very soon. Once we do, we will know The Truth™.”
Crooks on Tape is John Schmersal (Enon, Brainiac), Rick Lee (Enon, Skeleton Key, Butter 08), and Joey Galvan. The unscripted band was born out of a simple notion: convene, improvise, and record every moment. Fingerprint is their debut record.
In 2010, the Los Angeles trio assembled a rotating fortress of instruments, synthesizers, samplers, and loopers. Crooks recorded hundreds of hours of material, largely instrumental in its original performance. Fingerprint is the first evidence of this undertaking and a window into the band’s sound. The record you hear is analogous to tiny snapshots of an altered crime scene.
In many ways, Crooks picks up where Enon left off. Rick and John created two instrumental records in Enon’s early days (Long Play and On Hold). Fingerprint is an outgrowth of those directions, spun in a totally live, improvisational context, augmented by vocals. Though unpredictable, Joey’s marked drumming style provides the adhesion, gluing the group together when sessions become too cacophonous.
Misra Records is now based in Dayton, OH — the hometown of Schmersal and his former band Brainiac. Strange, unformed, wildly intriguing snippets of Fingerprint began making their way to the label in early 2013. Each song sounded like a story unfolding. Songs were amended, vocals were added, and a debut album began to develop.
This material is mined from sessions lasting between winter, 2010 – Spring, 2012. The band has since moved from the location where these documents were made. They are hard at work constructing a new space. John has been dividing his time between Crooks on Tape, Caribou, Girls Against Boys (occasionally subbing for Eli Janney), and playing with another new band. You can expect many more records to evolve from this time period alone.
Fingerprint is for Crooks a pop record — the band at its most accessible. Stranger things are to follow.
2. If Feelings Mean a Thing
3. Tito’s Riser
4. The Regiments
5. Melting the Ice
6. Summer’s End
7. River Bait
8. Milo’s Creeper
9. A Hazmat Dream
10. Wandered Again
11. Clergyman Segway
12. Barging In
This is a pretty fun release for the label for a number of reasons. A boring-ass story on it below. A Donewaiting article by Misra manager Leo DeLuca, titled “15 years since the passing of Brainiac’s Timmy Taylor” can be found via this [link]. Below is a shitty YouTube video of the amazing Enon song “Get the Letter Out”. Stranger things are to follow.
Members of Crooks helped Misra before Crooks even existed: While supporting The Wrens (Absolutely Kosher) in his longtime home of Athens, OH, current Misra manager Leo DeLuca (playing with Southeast Engine that day) found kinship with Wrens co-frontman Charles Bissell over their mutual love for Dayton Ohio’s Brainiac. The Wrens were former Grass Records labelmates with 3RA1N1AC and, seeing the band live at The Lithuanian Club (age 14), proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for DeLuca. Bissell took to SEE, put in a good word with Misra/Kosher, and Southeast Engine signed to the former shortly after.
After founding a cottage label in 2010, DeLuca suddenly found himself heading Misra later that year. Following a stretch in NC, he returned to his hometown to operate the label — an attempt to give back to the city that provided him with so much inspiration. Misra is now based in Dayton, OH.*
*Along with the airplane, cash register, starter motor, 70s funk scene, numerous literary contributions, and more, Dayton boasts the most patents, per capita, of any U.S. city — a true mark of its vast creative nature. Also, for a limited-only, a Free Banana Split in a Misra Records Minihelmet** will be given to the first ten folks who correctly answer the following Dayton-centric trivia question: “which Daytonian invented the pop tab?”***
**There will no free banana split.
***The inventor of the pop tab was Ermal Cleon Fraze.