Rodan

Fifteen Quiet Years is a celebratory document four years in the making; a repository for all the important Rodan recordings that fans of Rusty have long wished they could unearth. The collection includes the 1994 BBC Peel session, together with all of Rodan’s long-out-of-print 7″s and compilation tracks. In 2009, Bob Weston, Jeff Mueller and Jason Noble lovingly re-mastered the tracks at Chicago Mastering Service. All formats of the album will include a digital download of 10 bonus live recordings selected by Jason Noble, Jeff Mueller, Tara Jane O’Neil and Kevin Coultas. The packaging for the vinyl album and CD was designed by Jason Noble and Jeff Mueller, and has been letterpress printed by Jeff Mueller at his own Dexterity Press studio.

Despite the brief time span of their existence (1992-1994), Rodan appeared on a surprising number of records. Aside from their classic (and only) full length album Rusty (1994 on Quarterstick Records), the band released the Aviary demo cassette, and the How The Winter Was Passed single. They also contributed tracks to theCompulsiv For TwoInclined Plane, and Merry Christmas Is For Rockers compilations as well as released a song on the soundtrack to the film Half Cocked (in which they also acted), and recorded a brilliant session at the BBC studios in London for the John Peel show (unreleased until now).

Many artists make their mark in the world while writing and performing in their first or second band, and they never again reach or exceed the high water mark of their earliest artistic output. The members of Rodan are an unusual exception to this all-too-common artistic struggle. Jeff Mueller went on to play guitar and sing in the highly influential and well loved group June Of 44, and subsequently in the very heavy group The Shipping News. Jason Noble played bass in the modern classical, indie-phenomena outfit Rachel’s, as well as in The Shipping News (with Jeff Mueller). Tara Jane O’Neil contributed her lovely voice and distinct guitar playing to the newly formed The Sonora Pine (together with Kevin Coultas), as well as the duo Retsin. Subsequent to the breakup of The Sonora Pine in 1998, Tara Jane began a solo career as TJO. Kevin Coultas continued to collaborate with Jason Noble (playing drums in Rachel’s), and with Tara Jane O’Neil as the drummer for The Sonora Pine.

On August 4, 2012, Jason Noble lost a 3 year battle with cancer and passed away at the all-too- young age of 40. On February 9, 2013, Jon Cook also passed away. After 20+ years of continuous involvement in the Louisville music scene, both Jason and Jon will be greatly missed.

Jeff Mueller – Guitar, Vocals Jason Noble – Guitar, Vocals Tara Jane O’Neil – Bass, Guitar, Vocals Jon Cook / John Weiss / Kevin Coultas – Drums

ORAL HISTORIES:

“It wasn’t our first trip to Louisville; Jenny and Kristin had passed through in the summer of 1990 as part of the legendary “Wet Behind the Ears” tour with Geek, Superchunk and Seaweed. (Memory is foggy but we think that show was organized by an enthusiastic young Jon Cook, whose band Crain also played.)

It also wasn’t our first experience with Louisville music. We already stood in awe of Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Slint, Babylon Dance Band, Antietam and tons of others.

But in 1992, we rolled into Louisville on Tsunami tour to play a show with Rodan. Jason, Jeff, Tara Jane and Jon goofed around before the show, effusing a mixture of Southern charm and unbottled, unhinged hollering exuberance. We instantly felt like best friends. On stage they morphed into a beautiful sludge of intense, urgent, joyful melancholy. One of the few bands we’ve seen who could be both grounded and soaring simultaneously and a testament to the range of individual member contribution to what became the Rodan stew. We knew IMMEDIATELY that we needed to put out a record together.

That evening we stayed at Jon Cook’s Rocket House, where at least half of the Louisville scene was living at the time. They stayed up to the wee hours shellacking moths and butterflies onto wooden blocks, doing woodcuts, writing music, or silkscreening Rodan panties for their next show. The house was electric with potential: a factory.

We were thrilled when Rodan gave us the song “Darjeeling” for Inclined Plane, the final 7″ in the Simple Machines series and even more excited when Rodan agreed to join Tsunami and Eggs — all of us traveling in one splitter van — in England in 1994 for the “Monsters of Rock” tour. Tsunami was never a shy band, but we were wallflowers compared to Rodan who not only played intense shows but would drop their instruments wherever we landed to generate a dance floor and engage in playfully obscene dry humping with each other till the wee hours. The funnest tour ever.

In January 1994, Simple Machines hosted the Working Holiday Weekend, to cap off a year’s worth of singles. We invited Rodan to play the show but, even better, Jason Noble emceed the entire event. Tina Fey has nothing on Jason Noble, who bounded onto the stage to introduce everyone from Jawbox to Danielle Howle with such Southern charm and ridiculous enthusiasm that it completely made the event. Eventually, Rodan took the stage themselves, and ripped through another amazing set, playing the epic “Big Things, Little Things”, which ended up on the Working Holiday Live CD.

Rodan the band didn’t last much longer, but it’s no surprise that each member went on to other amazing musical projects. Looking back 20 years hence, we remember the intensity of it all, the music and the friendships. We’d give anything to be in the front row again.”—Jenny Toomey, Kristin Thomson, Simple Machines

“‘It’s something in the water.’ They say it about us. We say it about ourselves, usually accompanied by an incredulous headshake or an exaggerated shrug. I can’t explain what it is but I know it’s true. It’s about the River, the Ohio. Lazy, smooth and agreeable to man and (flat)boat alike until you hit the Falls. This is where and why Louisville was founded. It was birthed at the point of bucolic disruption.

Why a band? Banding, according to definition= a company of persons joined, acting together. An aggregation, party or troop. A division of a nomadic tribe who move and camp together and subsist by hunting and gathering. A group of persons living outside the law.

Yes, yes, all of the above.

Dogwood oxygen. Lazy river. A town of contradiction, Louisville takes a gamble, drinks its weight in whiskey and gets up to go to church on Sunday. It’s hugged by a bowl of a river valley that usually diverts funnels despite many Tornado Warnings and shifts from one blue sky minute to black sky calamity in the blink of an eye. We present, face first, with a gentility profile but there has always been something bubbling underneath: an itch in Eden. And occasionally, a funnel breaks through. We are propelled from it and inevitably drawn back to it.

There is writ a cyclical history of freaks on the life raft together in this town, supported by a sort of Bluegrass laissez-faire through an repeating arc of boredom, agitation, assembly and thrust; either the rocket clears the atmosphere or implodes and falls back to earth. Mine was in the 1970s. Our rocket did not travel as far…

The Rocket House (38.23 degrees latitude, -85.72 degrees longitude): combustion chamber and Safe House for the Bucolic Disrupters, mach 1990s. Both magnet and disseminator. The Rodan platoon’s home, so very typical of a Louisville combo in genetic makeup of gender blind, strong, equal individuals- containing no backseaters or ciphers.

Combustion, you see, is a chain reaction, using friction to convert energy to heat. Heat plus oxygen (infused not only with dogwoods, but ozone trapped in the valley and the Stockyard’s aroma) plus propellant causes combustion. FIRE-thrust-liftoff! Remember that gunpowder, the earliest propellant, was the result of Taoist alchemists looking for an immortality elixir. That is not too far off the mark for “reasons to make a band”.

“When I listen to these tracks, I hear combustion. I hear exuberant ignition that is as guileless as it gets- first band Big Love kinetics, possibilities. I hear collision and I hear unity. I hear the smooth currents and I hear the Falls. And I hear the pearls being made by attack on the intruders and irritants, even if borne from nothing more serious than ennui in border state Paradise or simply being the fish out of the water.” –Tara Key, Antietam, Columbia University librarian, Virgo, and the First Queen of Punk Rock in Louisville, Kentucky


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Photo Credit: Michael Galinsky (Image 1); Ewolf (Images 2 & 3)

IMAGES: To download, click above.

MP3:

“Darjeeling”

LINKS:

Rodan