In the past few months, a group on Facebook of Ominous Seapods Fans have had the benefit of having first listen to OS shows that were, for the first time since the original performance, transferred and uploaded to Archive.org. Thanks to Rich Lemire, Taper Wayne and a lot of patience, these recordings are now free for fans of the Seapods to download or stream at their leisure.
To get an idea of what went into this task – unearthing and uploading shows from 15-20 years ago, Editor Pete Mason talked with Rich Lemire about the process, the history and technology behind these classic recordings of The Ominous Seapods.
Pete Mason: Take me back – you were clearly an early Seapods fan. What were the early shows like, especially as the fan base began to grow around the state?
Rich Lemire: The shows were always a lot of fun! From the very first time I met the guys, you could just tell that they were a lot of fun to hang with and while they were serious about their music, they were just as serious about having some fun! You could tell that they were having a great time playing together and finding their sound as a band.
The first year or two I saw them, I only caught them in Albany and Plattsburgh, so I couldn’t really comment on any other shows they were playing elsewhere. But they were either a bit on the intimate side like they were in Albany, when they were establishing themselves after they moved here, to totally rowdy affairs when they would return to Plattsburgh, their original stomping grounds in college.
PM: How many shows would you estimate you saw? How many would you estimate you taped?
RL: While the band was together and a touring unit, I would estimate I saw roughly 300 shows, most of them during the four year period I was working with them. I’d say roughly seventy-five percent of those shows I saw were taped.
PM: The tapes – currently, they are mostly from 1992 and a few from the later 1990s. Why did they only come to light now?
RL: Most of the Seapods shows I recorded and want to archive digitally are from late 1991 when I first saw the band, through the summer of 1997, with some random shows from 1998-2001 thrown in. It’s just time for them to be digitized and shared, you know? They’ve been sitting in tape racks the entire time, some I haven’t listened to in almost 20 years. Their conversion only came to light recently after a couple of conversations I had with their former sound engineer Marty, and TaperWayne who was Conehead Buddha’s archivist while they were together during the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Marty and I had a conversation during the setbreak of a Phish show at Madison Square Garden a little while back, about the band being on indefinite hiatus now that Dana is in Australia, and that it would be really great to preserve the recorded legacy of the band.
I had given thought to doing it for a quite a while beforehand, but it always came down having the time to deal with it. To create the digital files, it’s a real time process to play the audio cassettes and create the tracks digitally. And that’s where TaperWayne comes in!
I need to say that Wayne’s effort has really been the key to this project, and I’m thankful he is into the project as much as he is!! He’s totally psyched to help get the shows converted and added to the Live Music Archive, just to get them out there for people to hear. We’re old friends and he’s out in Wisconsin these days, so it’s just great to just keep in regular touch while working on it. We eventually want to convert and upload more shows down the road, from other bands I was seeing and recording, like Moon Boot Lover, God Street Wine, Shockra and a bunch of others in my archives from the ‘90s. It just made the most sense to start with the Ominous Seapods archives.
PM: How were these shows recorded, taped and transferred?
RL: The shows were recorded mostly by just taking a feed directly from the soundboard right to the tape deck. Some of the earlier shows I taped were audience recording and some of the very early stuff I posted from the archives was passed on to me by Eric Buecken, the band’s manager at the time, when he was stepping away from handling the band’s affairs.
The majority of the shows that I recorded were on Sony D5 or D6 cassette decks, some were recorded on a home cassette deck in instances where I was dealing with repairs on mine or another taper friend was borrowing it to run multiple decks at Grateful Dead or Phish shows they were hitting. Towards the end of recording them and for the most part taping regularly, I started dabbling in some DAT recording, either using either a Sony D3 or Sony D7.
All of my recordings that have been posted so far have been transferred by Wayne, using a deck he has that is specifically used for archiving purposes. From the cassette playback, he extracts the audio files from the cassettes and creates the digital files in .WAV format in a program called Audacity. From there, he does some clean up or normalization to the files as needed and converts them to FLAC files in a program called CDWave. FLAC is an acronym for Free Lossless Audio Codec. It’s a format much like an MP3 or WAV file, but it’s lossless, meaning that the audio is compressed without any loss in quality. From there, one of us uploads the FLAC files to the Live Music Archive or to etree if the band is not on the Archive.
PM: Are there any shows that have stand out among the shows you are sharing, or any shows that you have specific memories from?
RL: As you can probably imagine a lot of those nights 15-20 years ago are a total blur now, as some of them were a blur back then! Ha ha! We’re only two batches of tapes into the conversion project, so were really just getting started. So while I can’t say anything that we’ve done yet has really stood out for me personally, what has been cool with this project so far, at least to me, is to hear the progression that some of the older songs they played made as they continued to play them through the years, maturing as musicians and as a band. I am really looking forward to re-listening to some of the shows from 1994, which is when I felt the band really became the well-oiled machine they were. This was about a year after Ted joined the band. They had evolved into a really tight unit writing some great tunes and putting on some great rock shows! I hope people are really digging checking out these shows, as much as Wayne and I have been converting them. There’s much more to come!!
Here are the first batch of shows that have been released on Archive.org. We’ll update this list as more shows are uploaded.
Bogie’s, Albany, 11/15/91
Bogie’s, Albany, 12/20/91
Bogie’s, Albany, 10/30/92
Aiko’s, Saratoga Springs, 1/4/92
P.B. Finnan’s, Plattsburgh, 4/24/92
Bogie’s, Albany, 5/2/92
Bogie’s, Albany, 6/6/92
P.B. Finnan’s, Plattsburgh, 10/17/92
P.B. Finnan’s, Plattsburgh, 11/7/92
Rhinecliff Hotel, Rhinecliff, 11/20/92
Bogie’s, Albany, 3/11/94
Bogie’s, Albany, 2/25/95