Note: I’m starting to really enjoy Thursdays. I love learning about where the music comes from. Here, Jeff Schneider of Darling let’s us know the moment he knew he wanted to become a career musician. Great stuff, Jeff! — Josh
By Jeff Schneider
The Glow Pt. 2 by The Microphones: The album that got me into music 10 years ago still shines bright today
Let me start by saying that writing an article about which record got me into music is a daunting and difficult task; one not to be taken lightly. One of my earliest vivid memories of music goes back to 1991 when I was 11 years old and on my way to the rolling stone music store with my brother Dan. He had just gotten his driver’s license, so leaving our hometown was still a novelty. The song “Killer Queen” came on the car radio and I remember to this day how the solo made me feel; each note dragged me into outer space and very shortly after I started playing the guitar.
If this were an article about people who got you into music my brother and my dad would be the front-runners, but it’s not, so I’ll stay to the topic at hand; the record that got me into music. Flash forward 10 years to 2001, my Junior year of college at an Everybody Uh Oh concert at The Highdive in Champaign-Urbana. My friend Jeremy Keller fronted this band and had recently left U of I for the greener musical pastures of Chicago. After the show, I walked up to him and asked him what music he was listening to lately and his response was, “The Microphones, all the time.”
I went out and got The Microphones’ new record, The Glow Pt. 2. The album was instantly engaging and had the qualities of something that was living. In the beginning of the first song, “I want wind to blow,” the backup guitar sounds incredibly like a beating heart. The transition between the first two songs beautifully encapsulates what this record meant to me. Going from marching classical guitar to blown out drums and bass, this was something I never expected and something I would obsess over for the next 10 years. The soundscape alone on this record could take a whole separate article to pour into the meticulous instrumentation and mixing. Nevertheless, The Glow Pt 2 was a coming of age record for my generation and I liked it; it was different from the sounds of The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan that my dad and brother had brought me up on. Lyrically, it cut right through me with painfully crafted stories of hope and loss. One particular lyric from the song, “The Glow Part 2” really struck a chord with me:
I could not get through September without a battle, I faced death, I went in with my arms swinging
I still think about this lyric every September, with the anxiety of starting another year and the pressures that go with it.
Shortly after picking up the record, I heard about a basement show The Microphones were doing, so I convinced my brother to come with me. We arrived at the address and walked to into what appeared to be a cantina. There was a Quinceanera on the upper floor and after a bit of confusion we made our way downstairs. Phil Elverum (singer of The Microphones) was playing a classical guitar and surrounded by a semi-circle of people around my age that were sitting on the ground and looking up with fixed gazes. No mics needed as you could hear a pin drop between chords. Phil played many of The Glow Pt. 2 songs and actively involved the audience in a call and response verse chorus, as he would be known to do in later shows. It was at this moment I knew that I wanted to play music for audiences.
Although my music doesn’t resemble The Microphones, the creative pursuit of recording and connecting with an audience is something I strive for. Later that year, I put together a band and Adam Schmitt recorded my first record. Ward Gollings booked me my first show at the Highdive, opening up for the band, For Stars. Thinking about this turning point between being a musician and playing music for audiences, it is obvious what influenced and led me in this direction. The Glow Pt 2 was in my head the whole time. It still is.
Here’s a great version of the first track off The Glow Pt 2 titled, “I want wind to blow,” played by Phil Elverum under his current band name Mount Eerie: