Friday, November 11, 2005

ANCIENT HISTORY:
EDEMA (ADEMA) (1999)

Mark "Marky" Chavez: Lead Vocals (1999-2004)
Mike Ransom: Guitar (1999-2002)
Erik Jackson: Guitar (1999)
Mike "Motown" Montano: Bass (1999)
Cesareo Garasa: Drums (1999)

Discography: 2-song demo (1999)
1. ????
2. Skin
4-song demo(1999)
1. Shattered
2. Fuck You
3. Skin
4. Fate

Most readers familiar with the Bakersfield music scene are already aware of what this band became: a gold certified selling artist that was signed to Arista records and had success with several popular singles. As of this writing, the future for the band is uncertain and none of the original members are in the group anymore.

The band started as an offshoot of BPD: a band consisting of Jaime Contreras (who now sings with BEFORE JUNE along with ex ADEMA member Anthony Cutshall), his brother R.B. Contreras and Mark Chavez on guitars. Mike Montano ( or his nickname "Motown" due to his soulful playing) played bass and Barry White rounded out the line-up on drums. The band rehearsed underneath The Trade Center ( a very popular rehearsal spot over the years for many, many, many bands) located on 19th street between Eye and Chester Avenue. This was at the end of 1997.

How BPD splintered is unknown to me. I remember being at one of their rehearsals and sat behind the drums and jammed with them (random jamming will always be a source of great joy for me). Afterwards, it was time to go to Bottoms Up that was conveniantly located NEXT DOOR. If you read the BENCHMARK blog, then you know how much I miss this bar. Eventually, Mark, Motown and Barry decided to form another group. Mark decided to step down from guitar and start singing lead.

At that time I was playing full-time with MENTO BURU again, and I had just recently stopped playing with THE STEVE URRICHIO BAND. The guitarist in MENTO at that time was Mike Ransom who had originally played in the band on a different instrument: saxophone. MENTO was in the process of recording their second CD at Pig Studios ( with the illustrious Nick Forcillo engineering once again) and Mike mentioned that he had started jamming with Mark, Barry and Motown. I think Erik had stepped in about this time: around fall of 1998. Ransom would eventually leave MENTO to devote all his energy to the emerging quintet.

For some reason, Barry didn't work out. It wasn't on any bad terms. In fact, when I first tried out for them I played on Barry's Rockstar drum set that was still set up in the studio. I don't know who recommended me, but I remember that I was asked to "try out" to see if I could play their material. I agreed, and two evenings later I was riding with Mike Ransom to their new rehearsal spot located in the far Southeast part of Bakersfield off of Oswell just south off the freeway.

The studio was two rooms: one with a couch, a TV and a super Nintendo; the other with the PA and all the equipment. Mark bought the PA with a loan that he was paying off with each gig. If anyone made any money from those early gigs, it definitely wasn't me. I never got paid once and if I remember right I spent money just so we could play. There is a lesson here for any Band Guys in the making. We initially had about 8 songs but we were still basically a garage band for a month and a half. The name ADEMA was suggested by Mike Montano who was working with his brother-in-law, Kenny Mount (the lead singer and guitarist of THE FILTHIES) in a mortuary. ADEMA is actually misspelled- it's actually edema. It's the swelling of the tissue due to a build-up of fluid.

Mike didn't last long in that job. I remember him telling me how Kenny pulled a practical joke on him by lying on one of the embalmbing tables under a sheet pretending to be a corpse and waited for Mike to show up. When Mike did, Kenny rose up in front of him and caused Mike to promptly go ape shit with good reason. I mean, imagine, you're in a morgue and a corpse sits up. Creepy shit, but pretty funny when I picture it happening to Mike because I can imagine his reaction. If you know either of them, then you can see why it makes me chuckle.

So, ADEMA it was. We started playing regularly at Club Hollywood and at Jelly's; both local venues that closed years ago. At this time the bands that were popular in town were harder edged bands like ANGRY ASPHALT MACHINE ( who wasn't playing much at this time), JUICE and SWAG 666. JUICE was fronted by Brian Armor who later sang in MY BEAUTIFUL SECRET, Dave Deroo played bass and later joined ADEMA as did JUICE'S guitarist Tim Fluckie. The drummer was Anthony Cutshall (whom I previously mentioned) and their second guitarist was Ray Solis (who also played in SEX ART and whom I played with in my first Bakersfield band: MISERY...what a name). SWAG 666's line-up was Bill Van Boening on guitar (who later restarted the band under the moniker SWAG 667), Sean Smith on bass, Peter Lomely on 2nd guitar and Greg Looney on drums (who later played with AUTOMATIC 7, and ARRIVAL OF FAWN among other projects). Zak Griffin sang/growled.

One thing that you might notice is that a lot of the same names keep popping up in the different band line-ups that I've listed. Bakersfield's scene is small but considerably incestuous. Good players will still be able to play in bands here as long as they're willing, able and not ostricized because of a bad reputation or laziness.

After a few shows, we recorded a two song demo at Fat Tracks studios. The quality was questionable due to both poor preparation and a ridiculously bad drum sound. It wasn't the engineer's fault; my drums at that time were laughable. in fact, I got a backhanded compliment from the drummer that was playing with Buck Owens at the time: "He's got the perfect drum sound for that band: shitty."

There was a palpable feeling of building momentum with each gig we played. It was as if we were all on the verge of breaking wide open. It seemed that anyone that was a fan of the band was convinced of it; that success (at least in the general "making it big" sort of way) wasn't just a possibility but an inevitabilaty. Marky was (and still is) a very charismatic frontman. At the time, his confidence was shaky- but the more time passed, the stronger his personality on stage became. A tell-tale sign of a frontman (or woman's) charisma, is by how much hype the band has. The worthiness of that hype is in direct proportion to the quality of the band.

The turning point for ADEMA happened when we played a show at The Roxy in Hollywood along with both JUICE and SWAG 666. The Roxy was taken over by Bakersfield that Tuesday night. We played a great set, and I remember hearing that ADEMA graffiti had popped up in the girl's bathroom after that night. Mostly about Mark.

I have two other memories of that night: JUICE performed as if there were a thousand people in the place even though there was only a hundred or so, and SWAG got the crap time-slot of twelve thirty in the morning.

It's pretty well known that Mark is Jonathan Davis's half brother. Mr. Davis has found extreme success singing with his band KORN. The first time I met him was at a gig we played at Spike's ( another extinct Bakersfield bar) in June of 1999. It was a pajama birthday party for our friend Paul Fugate. I introduced myself and Jonathan introduced himself. I then asked him "Capricorn, right?" because I'm keen on astrology and I remember that his birthday was in January. As soon as I said that, he turned around and completely shut me out. I then muttered "See, I remember" and felt like a moron. It was like being ignored by the cool kid in high school, which is ironic considering the outcast template KORN had perfected in its image and lyrical content. Kind of like being snubbed by Thom Yorke.

I never was a part of the circle that spawned SEX ART, CRADLE OF THORNS ( who later became VIDEODRONE) or bands of that ilk. That was a scene sparked from the decadence that started to gain momentum in the eighties and that either claimed its casualties or fueled the tenacious until meeting itself on the other side of the next century. That was a scene sparked from the bonfire of Bam Bam's and Vidals; the genesis of what the local scene is today. Dark, yet beautiful.I never knew Jonathan or any of the members of KORN before that night. I still don't. I was intoduced to Brian Welch four years ago, but it was no more than "Nice to meet ya." (cool guy, though)

Everyone in Bakersfield either knows someone in KORN or someone who knows someone in KORN. Everyone. Them and Buck Owens.

I remember reading in a Spin magazine article one time that the author was a bit starstruck by Gwen Stefani. He then realized that even she had to take a shit. That analogy kind of puts celebrity into perspective. It doesn't matter how famous, powerful, rich or popular a person is: we all have to take a shit; that is never glamorous and always vulnerable.


A few months after that show, we had another gig at the Roxy so Marky, Erik and myself went down to Hollywood a couple of days earlier and stayed at Jonathan's house. I remember seeing "The Blair Witch Project" on a bootleg video a week before that movie was actually realesed in theatres. The only other words I said to Jonathon during that stay were" Have you heard of ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN?", "Yeah, they suck." and " Thank you for your hospitality." Nice enough guy, but the member of Mark's family I remember the most is his step-sister who I still consider to be one of the most impressive people I have ever met. I hope she's well.


It felt like we were playing The Roxy every week. For a while we were playing there every week! At first we were selling tickets to play (one Roxy show we didn't sell enough tickets, so the owner of Naked Al's tattoo, Al, bailed us out by loaning us the money to give to the Roxy so we could play. As I said, I have no idea who made money in that band, it sure wasn't me), but after a few shows we were being booked without having to do any pay-to -play or push any presale tickets. Still, a lot of gigs were packed by people hoping to see if a member of KORN would be there to watch us. The bigger the rumour, the bigger the crowd.

Before one Roxy gig I was introduced to a stripper (or a porn actress, I don't remember) in front of the venue who said "Pleasure to meet you" and then promptly squirted me with milk from her breast.

.......!

What I remember the most in that band was the people that believed in us. We had a group of twenty to thirty friends that went to every show we played no matter where it was. A lot of them I'm still friends with, the others I have no idea what happened to them. When we decided to record a four song demo, it was partially funded by another loan from yet another friend. we recorded it at Pig Studios with Nick Forcillo (again) behind the board. I used my friend Josh Burns' drumkit for that session. Josh was a coworker of mine at Blockbuster music. When I quit my old band BOB, I turned the gig over to him where he stayed for years. He currently plays with AMERICAN STANDARD who just recently signed with Earache records (coincedentally, ADEMA's current record label).

On the song "Skin" Nick used an inventive reverse chorus delay effect on Marky's voice for an intro. When ADEMA recorded their major label debut, they re-recorded "Skin" but used the same intro, uncredited. The song "Fuck You" was inspired by the fact that Mike Ransom had been randomly jumped by a few guys and was still bruised up even by the time of the recording.
In my opinion, those two songs still hold up. "Shattered" had it's moments, but for the most part it's maddingly generic and "Fate" is simply mundane. So mundane I don't even know if that's the right title. The best part of all the songs we had were the musicians playing them.

By late fall of 1999, I had moved in with Eric and his girlfriend Melissa at their apartment in far southwest Bakersfield. The tension between the band members had reached a tense,volitile state. Factions were formed: Ransom and Marky; Motown and Erik. I was in the middle trying to keep the frayed edges from disintergrating the whole. The last show we played was at Spike's with JUICE and the hostility between members had hit such an intense high, that Erik walked off stage before the show was over. That caused an outrage between the different factions. I ended up stabbing my sticks through my snare drum in frustration.

I remember saying that night that I gave the band three months before it was over. I was wrong, it was a week.

There was some sneaky shit that happened torwards the end. Scandalous, but old hat.

I remember trying to convince Erik that the band should stay together because of the music. I played our demo and we listened to it just to push home my point. It seemed to work, but the next day he was back to his old resolve.

I still don't know if the end of the band was manipulated by alterior motives from different parties, or if the band really couldn't stand each other. I feel it was both. I don't remember who put the axe down, all I know is that we had three gigs coming up that were wasted. In my opinion, that is the SHITTIEST way for a band to go. Sad.

I stayed with Erik and Motown and we formed ANDRIL with Jaime Contreras very soon after. Mike Ransom and Marky were both affected by the split, I remember Ransom being angrier about it and Marky being sadder about it. He really felt betrayed. Since I stayed on the fence during the split I wasn't on anyone's bad side. My band basically imploded and I was left going "What happened?"
It was not the last time I would be in that position.

I was invited to start another project with Ransom and Marky. they had just recently recruited Dave Deroo on Bass ( and he still retains that position) and had booked some time in Fat Tracks again. Our friend Chris O'Donnell engineered that session for us. He was (and still is) the main front-of-house sound engineer at Buck Owens club, The Crystal Palace. He is extremely skilled and also helped us out on many gigs as a soundman. Every time he has been behind a sound board the result has always been gold.
Marky and Ransom had no song. Dave was in the same boat I was: "Huh?" And the session went nowhere. I recorded a drum track and an overdub played with my hands on the snare drum and we all left. I gave Dave a ride home that night. I remember telling him that I had a feeling that project would not be going anywhere. If I would have stayed, it might not have.

Anthony Cutshall stepped in and played with them for a while. I remember Marky calling me and offering the drum chair because Anthony was going to switch to bass guitar. After that, Marky and Anthony had an extremely personal falling out and Kris Kohls (stepping in after the very recently disbanded VIDEODRONE) replaced Anthony. Tim Flucky joined up and they were signed to their record deal soon after.

Marky and Motown are in a new band named MIDNIGHT PANIC, Ransom is busy in LA and Erik is a Kern County Sherriff (!!). The ADEMA of 1999 is nowhere near the ADEMA of 2005 ( hell, the first bumper stickers I designed and got printed were spelled with the proper spelling EDEMA. Thanks to Sherrie Nettles for being an unsung promotions goddess), and I can't help but wonder if what we did back then even made a dent in what our music scene is now. I don't think we'll ever know, due to the later incarnations' success, but I will never forget the anticipation of those early shows ( before everything turned sour, paranoid, angry and personal). I'll always remember the feeling of something bigger hovering in front of us before the hope we all had turned into a debt.

POSTSCRIPT 3/26/11 : I've recently been informed of the technicality that I was not the drummer of Adema per sé since during my time wih Marky and co. the band's name was spelled with an E (in keeping with the words' proper spelling). But the later incarnation's choice to keep the name and change the spelling doesn't change my history with the franchise. After all, two of the songs written in my time with the band were used on later releases by (A)dema proving that changing one letter does not change and cannot hide all the previous work linking all the line-ups into the sum of the whole.

6 Comments:

Blogger SPUD said...

Hi Cesareo. Interesting stuff. We've added your feed to Bakersfieldbands.com. You'll find it in the righthand sidebar under "Band Blogs." Keep up the great writing! -SPUD at Bakotopia.com

5:03 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Cesareo said...

I have no idea.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Hey there! I was reading your blog entry about the whole Adema thing :D
You seem like a really cool person!

If you're ever on MySpace, my profile is http://www.myspace.com/dmyze

L8r! :D

3:01 PM  
Blogger Richard Verzosa said...

What's BPD stand for?

1:12 AM  
Blogger Coleiosis B. said...

What happened to the demos? We have only recovered two of them ("Struggle" and "Pain Inside"), and have found only live performances of the other songs. But where can I find the actual studio recordings?

2:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home