Illegal Artists (aka Cliff Barnes & the Fear of Winning)





Avalanche Drive.mp3

Ain't No Love.mp3

I cannot get a good scan of this Illegal Artists CD cover (sorry!) I am about to accuse Bob Giddens, their fearless leader, of imbedding some space age image blurring substance in the ink. Bob is such a giant of a musician, idea man, promotional/marketing genius I would not put it past him, after his "I'm an Asshole" Cliff Barnes marketing campaign. ( see foto from A2A on the left)

The story of this recording is good and bad. Bob called out of the blue from Quackenbruck, Germany where he lives, and introduced himself as the guy from Cliff Barnes and the Fear of Winning (of whom I had heard) to ask me if I would get involved with him in doing a non-Cliff Barnes recording. Sounded curious to me so I said sure. They came over and played SXSW and brought some tapes of already recorded songs, recorded with Manfred Schutz and Marcus at the Fear Factory. I proceeded to overdub with things that seemed to fit with amazing Austin players (Danny Barnes and Ralph White from the BAD LIVERS, Susan Voelz, John Nelson). The tapes were 1 inch 16 track, well before many ADATS or digital recording was really happening, so we had to find a machine that would work. We ended up working a small studio in a guys garage I had never met and have never seen again.

Little by little we really started turning these into something really cool. Marcus Praed is a very good guitar player and really knew how to use any kind of amplifier to it's best advantage. Heinz Rebellius was the bassist and is such a cool and supportive man. He is also very knowledgeable about musical history and very interesting to talk to.

We mixed this in a little studio called The Cottage Studio in Spenge, Germany. I was a very cool situation. an old farmers cottage in the middle of a big wheat field. It was near Quackenbruck and I stayed with Bob and we drive out there everyday through the rolling farms of central Germany; it was nice drive. This is the only studio where the mixing console ever caught on fire while I was working, prompting a lot of comments about how hot the tracks were.

The sad part of this situation is that this was such a good record and it never got any notice. Their label was unable to fight their way through the distributer going out of business and the time it took to settle that. Also the Cliff Barnes fans did not really find the serious songs to be to their taste and in the end it more or less fell flat in the marketplace.

Cliff Barnes is still playing shows, though without Heinz, and Marcus is running Fear Factory Studio and the live sound for Tito and Tarantula.

I am happy to know these guys and think always of good things for them.