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John Tabacco

Composer, Songwriter, Producer, Engineer & Recording Artist

The Origin of Go House Yourself

…GO HOUSE?

One summer night in 1989 Chris Pati, Nick DiMauro and I went to some local dance club in downtown Huntington, NY hoping to hear a snippet of a 12 inch, vinyl record single we had edited a few months earlier. We just finished a long and tedious engineering session trying to make someone’s cruddy recording sound a little less cruddier and we were depressed because our biggest pair of monitor speakers (the ones used to check out how much bass is on a recording) still didn’t come back from the repair shop and the studio biz for that month was slow. We were sure about our talents but no one in the music world seemed to care, so our attitude was how shall I say… Shitty? At the time, our own homespun label, Back Door Records had released Marci Geller’s 12 inch single "Shake You Up". We were learning about the pains of retail tracking and had spent that winter working with a DJ by the name of Stu Best. Stu was kind of a mock "Italian Guido" character that showed us how to create extended dance re-mixes from Marci’s 24 track tape of "Shake You Up". This is a customary procedure done to most pop dance records if ya don’t already know. He also stressed how important it was for him to have a piece of toast before every session. Hey, whatever works. Anyway, the single had gone through all the expected pay off channels in order to get some airplay and sales. Marci did her best to cover the dance club circuit but basically we found ourselves being ripped off by a greedy promotion company and lied to by radio DJs. The president of Backdoor Records, (a young, trusting, quiet man in his early twenties), Joe Remson soon suggested begrudgingly, that we try to put out another single. But what to put out? We didn’t know. Angry and frustrated, here we were at this club confronted with a herd of white Long Island disco heads, grinding away at the obnoxious pounding of a four on the floor kick drum that could easily have been used as a weapon during some current Middle East war. Amidst the typical dance music however, was a new sounding groove that while still being obnoxious to me, was rather bizarre in harmony and form. Some of it I actually enjoyed. Nick and Chris instantly dug it and they told me it was called house music; more specifically, "This Is Acid" by Maurice Starr. After about an hour of soaking up the seamy atmosphere of this disco fluid exchange, we left in an aggressively snotty mood, screaming out all sorts of existential profanities at no one in particular. Someone started to say the word "HOUSE" in a rather bizarre voice and the three of us all agreed that this new dance stuff was a piece of cake to write. (Not necessarily true we would find out later). As we waltzed in the moist midnight air back to our car, it was Chris who eventually screamed out "GO FUCK YOURSELF" but for "street" commercial reasons we quickly modified that phrase into "GO HOUSE YOURSELF". In an instant, the clichéd light bulb lit up. "Hey, what a ridiculous idea for a house piece." "Lets make tons of money." "We’ll show those bastards!"

…it was Chris who eventually screamed out "GO FUCK YOURSELF" but for "street" commercial reasons we quickly modified that phrase…

Half-heartedly we made our way into a diner laughing, choking, ordering toast, now feeling somewhat energized. This was the perfect way to get rid of our music business frustrations; brutally make fun of a popular musical trend and record it without giving a flyin’ rat’s ass what anyone thinks. Yeah… EAT ME! And so, on the back of a paper place mat Nick channeled the GOD OF ABSURDITY and quickly scribbled down the lyrics about "vinyl shoes" and "back door hoagies" and "cash next to my wallet" etc…

Go House Yourself

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Warp factor 47, and we were back at the studio messing around with some beats and basic keyboard parts. Nick and Chris (in my opinion always in competition) came up with most of the groove with me just adding those strange (not so strange anymore) John Tabacco harmonic ideas that could easily upset an A&R clone at any one of the major labels. After lying down the rap, which Nick did in one take, we put in some wacky Emax samples I had slated for a future tune. One such sample was the infamous chain saw, introduced in a typical Dan Robinson type voice (a talented songwriter Nick and I worked with years earlier). The other sample (just before that magnificent minor nine guitar chord) was a slice from an unfinished Chris Pati song called "I’ll Be Waiting". The results were just as we suspected. Hip but contemporary. Maybe it sucked. We didn’t know. We had no way of measuring the amount of bass. We didn’t care. It was fun. There was toast everywhere… sort of. In an instant, GO HOUSE YOURSELF was mixed and ready to be pressed. We took a quick, cold nap in the studio. Later that afternoon, we played it for Meryl Mathews, Scotto Savitt and Joe Remson. It got the big thumbs up. This was the next Back Door single. Now it’s time! We’ll take over the dance industry! Sure. Ok, but first we needed a name. We tossed around the most obvious ones: Martin Luther Seizure, White Pope Pooper, There’s A Sheep In My Ass, King Jewish T___, The Mona Lisa Soloman Body Bag Brigade etc’ None of them quite fit. Too commercial! Eventually, we settled on Souled Out. With no lawyers in sight, all three of us signed each other’s contract to Back Door Records, had some chicken and broccoli (glass on the side) and created a few club re-mixes from the original house mix. First we edited the Popular Radio Mix. Initially it seemed easy enough to realize but we actually ran into a problem because the last edit didn’t sound smooth. Maybe a voice held over or the sound pressure dropped. I can’t remember exactly what the problem was (maybe just bad tape editing on our part). Anyway, I suggested to Nick that we put in an outrageous explosion to cover up the problem. And I knew just the right explosion. It was a sample from a holographic sound FX disc someone gave to us a while back. Lo’ and behold, it worked! We loved it! Unfortunately, Mr. Phil Austin at the record pressing plant was not too pleased. His cutting needle jumped five feet off the lathe when that section came up. Obviously our house parody was made for the dynamic range of a CD, but we were still making vinyl records back then. Oh well. Let’s face it. WE DIDN’T CARE. It sounded exciting!

Taking our aggression out even further on the music industry, we created the Out House mix. This little morsel was an insult to those who love to dance. It had no fixed time. Perfect for white folk. Chris messed with the pitch wheel on the 24 track machine while Nick and I randomly pulled the faders up and down. It was mixed in one take. All we needed now was an album cover. It just so happens Joe Remson’s nephew was a graphics designer and he quickly came up with a kind of ink drawing of a three-story tenement building. It looked cheesy enough, so we went with it. I helped with the layout and back sleeve. In fact, if you look closely on the back (assuming you can still find this vinyl relic) you can see a small Modern Voices logo (a symbol for a holographic group idea Chris had) with all of our initials carved on it. Since our names never appeared on the record I figured I’d put in some clues. Nobody noticed. And nobody cared! Fantastic. There is was: A record that was completed in 7 hours with totally absurd lyrics, fidelity that we cringed at and had always veered away from, a title that made fun of the industry we all wanted to be a big part of, no author or personnel listed, a chain saw solo, and to top it off, the rapper was a white guy from Stony Brook, Long Island. So much for following the rules, right? Guess what? It was the biggest selling 12" record forever! Well, not really. But it turned out to be a respectable success for an unknown indie label.

By November of 1989 the record went to #36 on Billboard’s retail dance chart. We were even offered a small deal with SBK Records and stupidly turned it down. We had an over seas deal with Bellephon in Europe, did an interview with a San Francisco radio station during the big 1989 San Francisco earthquake and ultimately sold quite a few 12" records, of which we received little or no money. I think they bootlegged them in Europe. Hell, it went to #9 in Italy! Oh and yes: Nick, Chris, Nick’s brother Gian, myself and my sister Laura went out one day and shot footage for a video. The total shooting cost was $12.00. That was just for the vhs tape.

Hell, it went to #9 in Italy!… the video went to #1 in Puerto Rico
By a stroke of luck one of Chris’ friends gave us $20,000 worth of professional editing time in a big facility in NYC for free. It definitely made the video look half way decent. Though it was rejected by MTV, (probably a skin color issue) the video went to #1 in Puerto Rico, (they should definitely turn that place into the 51st state) and was broadcast on some syndicated music show that went out to various one star hotels across the USA. Again, we saw no cash in our pockets. On a positive note: I remember going to the biggest club in Manhattan at the time called the Palladium. Marci Geller was promoting "Shake You Up" there and at one point the DJ put on Go House Yourself. At first I didn’t recognize the tune, then it registered. That annoying kick drum sounded freakin’ awesome! People were grooving to it! The explosion scared everybody. Dear Christ on a stick! We made it! What a rush!

Isn’t house music the best?

With all our newfound success we of course had to have a follow up, so later that month we created Pump House. The title at least, was a goof on the Technotronics hit "Pump Up The Jam". (Note: A few big dance / house groups sprung up about this time. One such group was C & C Music Factory. In their later efforts, they mysteriously referred to their new production company as "Souled Out". Coincidence? Rumor has it; they heard one of our productions for Jackie Siebert and stole the name. Too bad we weren’t incorporated.) But I digress… Pump House was far more sophisticated than Go House Yourself and in my opinion a lot more pop. "It had a catchy hook with "oooh, oooh, ooohs" in it, (check out the song "People of The 90s" by Fuzzy Gray Logic for possible continuity), and some inventive soloing and sampling. Though it has many hip musical moments I feel we never came close to the sneering contempt and spontaneity that went into Go House Yourself. Even Nick’s vocal on Pump House, while expertly done was re-cut many times and he was never happy with it. Out of nowhere, some one let us test out a state of the art digital editing devise and we went nuts cutting up this eclectic dance extravaganza. Unfortunately, the fidelity of this machine wasn’t so hot and that in and of itself gave Pump House a bad taste in our mouths. Nick tried to do a few club dates.

…some weird party for Woman’s Home Journal. Won’t go into that.…
Well, one actually, some weird party for Woman’s Home Journal. Won’t go into that. But basically the scene wasn’t happening. Simultaneously, we had to literally go house ourselves, because Bob Minetta, the owner of Backdoor Studios and the house where the studio was in, was moving to Virginia. By the time Chris struck a deal with Bob and we transported all the equipment to a new location in Centerport, NY and rebuilt the studio, our label started to have financial problems (cocaine decisions). Nasty ego type things also started to developed. In a blink of an ear, Souled Out and Back Door Records became history. True, all three of us tried to work together on more dance stuff (Jackie Siebert was the last artist), but it just wasn’t the same. The magic was gone. Nick and I (and later with his brother Gian) delved into the more alien side of house music eventually accumulating enough material to create the CD Alien Warehouse: A Matter Of History, while Chris worked with various dance star wannabes. Eventually money, the Centerport studio and friendships were lost. But with all due respect, we did learn two important things. The first being, how many beats of hi-hat one should have during the break down section in a club re-mix. And number two: Always order a piece of toast before attempting any kind of musical editing. Thank you Stu Best!

© 2012 by John Tabacco
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