an unofficial page
This humble page is dedicated to preserving the memory of two bands whose greatest claim to fame is that Ben Shepherd was in them before he joined Soundgarden.
original photo copyright 1997 Dena White, enhanced by Jenny Grover 1998
"I didn't talk very much at all back then. Just played." Ben Shepherd, Spin 7-96
March of Crimes formed in Bainbridge Island, WA in 1982.
The lineup was founder John Evison (nickname Monkeyseeker): vocals, Pete Droge: guitar,
Andy Veterrani: bass, vocals, and Steve Nelson: drums. Ben Shepherd later replaced
Pete Droge on guitar, and Andy Carrow replaced Andy Veterrani on bass. Stone Gossard had a passing association
with the band, but never joined as a regular member and to my knowledge never played any gigs with them.
Kim Neely in her book "Five Against One" reports, "Stone joined eagerly. Not only were the guys in March of Crimes keeping company with the much-admired Melvins, they were gigging regularly.
'We played a lot of shows at the Metropolis,' Shepherd recalled. 'And we played the very first show at Gorilla Gardens, where Soundgarden played their second show ever. That was like the place where all the out of town bands would play all-ages shows. A total rip-off joint.' Stone's stint in March of Crimes lasted about a nanosecond. Although he and Shepherd got along fine, he clashed with the other band members ("I was trying to have my second-rate Van Halen licks involved," Stone said later), and they fired him the first chance they got."
The band released a self-produced demo cassette which included the songs "Soup Kitchen" and "Shades of Grey." To hear songs from this tape, visit the March of Crimes
page on MySpace, created and maintained by John Evison's nephew. Ben Shepherd has described their music as "speedcore" and some have compared their sound to Soundgarden's "HIV Baby," Ben's first recording with Soundgarden, to which he wrote the music. The guitar riff is one he had been kicking around for years. Matt Cameron, in an interview in Goldmine, described them as "fucking awesome! They sounded extremely raw, inspired punk rock. It was high-school-kid punk rock that's on to something. They were very abrasive sounding." Their most important gig was opening for GBH at Mountaineers Hall.
Click on the thumbnails below to view images of March of Crimes playing at the Grey Door in Seattle in 1984. Other bands on the bill were the Melvins and Malfunkshun.
all photos copyright 1984 Damon Romero
photo copyright 3-31-84 anonymous contributor
"And we got to meet Jello Biafra because he liked our name." Ben Shepherd, Rolling Stone 7-9-92
600 School formed about the same time as March of Crimes, in Kingston, WA. The lineup was Ben Shepherd: guitar, John Waterman: vocals, Mike Swanzey: bass, and Chet McKnight: drums. Their only known recording was a cassette recorded live on a 4-track in Mike Swanzey's living room in about an hour's time. Songs on this tape included:
No Trust (lyrics)
Look in My Eyes (lyrics) (sound clip- 459 KB wav file)
Frankenstein (lyrics) (sound clip- 907 KB wav file)
If I Had a Gun (lyrics)
I Fell (lyrics) (sound clip- 1148 KB wav file)
According to John Waterman, "most of
the music and all of the lyrics are attributable to Ben--he's always been
prolific on guitar, and we extracted the lyrics from various sketchbooks or
notes he kept in his possession. Though," he adds, "Mike Swanzey's bass playing definitely turned our punk fits into something musical."
Mike Swanzey recalls, "Ben and John really had what I believe to be a strange form
of alternative British punk sound, often funny and disgusting but also
really brought his interests in extreme alternative sounds: Birthday Party,
Throbbing Gristle, older Bauhaus, Joy Division, and Red Krayola. But each
of us became more involved in the straight hardcore sound: Die Kruezen,
Zero Boys, DOA, Husker Du, Saccharin Trust, The Exploited, Crass, Dead
Kennedys, and Rudimentary Peni."
All eventually shared and appreciated each other's styles, melding them
into a unique sound.
Mike further remembers, "I had a good time with Ben because he was probably
the most musically focused in making something happen. He was very hungry
to learn and would listen to my technique criticisms. He and I got together
and would play bass and guitar duets on a crappy old reel-to-reel tape
recorder. It was quite fun and I think he said that he enjoyed them such
that he still has the recordings stashed away."
The name 600 School came from a short story that was required reading at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, WA, which Ben attended. The story involves a young white teacher in New York and a black teen gang member who goes straight and joins the Nation of Islam.
Damon Romero recalls a gig they played at NKHS gymnasium during a Battle of the Bands:
"It was really funny...the other bands were mostly heavy metal cover bands and 'hard rock'. 600 School had a small but dedicated audience who were dying to hear live punk rock. For some it was their first time ever to slam. Of course the chaperones flipped out and wanted to pull the plug."
Ben was also in a band called Tic Dolly Row (sailor's lingo for "down and out") around 1987. The line-up was Ben Shepherd: vocals, Chad Channing: drums, John Hurd: guitar, and Chris Karr: bass.
Click below for sound clips from their fall '87 live broadcast on KAOS FM, Olympia, WA.
clip one (593 KB WAV file)
clip two (574 KB WAV file)
clip three (588 KB WAV file)
Mind Circus was a summer of 1985 project involving Ben, John Waterman, and Chad Channing. They jammed in an abandoned house with electricity on Tyee Road, playing instrumentals, as there was no P.A. for vocals. Their song Watcher of the Moon is said to have sounded like Ben's offerings on Soundgarden's Superunknown album. There are no known recordings of Mind Circus.
Click on the thumbnails below to view images of Mind Circus.
all photos copyright 1985 Damon Romero
Episode was Ben's last band before he joined Soundgarden. The line-up was Ben: guitar and vocals, Andy Miller: drums, and John Waterman: bass. Many of their songs later evolved into Hater songs.
This page is maintained by Jenny Grover. Extra special thanks to Damon Romero, without whose contributions (large portions of the information here) this page would not have been possible. Thanks also to John Evison for March of Crimes info, to John Waterman for 600 School sound clips, lyrics, and info, to Mike Swanzey for 600 School info, to Seth Perlman at the Unofficial Soundgarden Homepage for compiling so much searchable info in one place, to Fiona Thiessen, to Maria Joseph, to Niki Freer, to friends who wish to remain anonymous for the Tic Dolly Row sound clips and March of Crimes photos, and to Andy Miller for Episode info.
Please address all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Any further information, images, or sounds would be greatly appreciated and fully credited to the contributor.
Visit these wonderful unofficial pages:
Unofficial SG Homepage
Now Invisibly, the Wellwater Conspiracy Homepage
Onewhiskey, the Mark Lanegan Homepage
Soundcheck, the Northwest Music Database
And one official one: