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From The Catalog: #OV003 – F-Box ‘EP 10:20’

Published on 02.04.24

Today’s ‘From The Archive’, is one of my personal albums, and as such, it may be hard to be objective. So I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll just explain it from my perspective.

In 1997, at the end of 500$Fine, I wrote an acoustic song for inclusion on the 500$Fine ‘Forward’ Cd. And from that, and with the acoustic I was borrowing from my girlfriend, I began writing A LOT of acoustic stuff. I had also started learning how to record, and to record at home. Fast forward two years, and I was working in a recording studio, and at night, recording my own stuff.

Punk rock, was the only music I ever connected with when I played it. Until this stuff. And this was ‘acoustic music’, and to me, it was also punk rock. At the time, 1999-2000, acoustic punk rock was not a thing. This was before bands like Against Me, or the genre of ‘Folk Punk’ existed. The only time I had heard something that could be described as ‘Acoustic Punk’, was a small show that Thomas and Rob from the local punk band Inquisition did, just acoustic guitar and vocal, at a very small cafe here in Richmond in the 1990s. And that was a one off, and even then, I think folks didn’t know what to think of it. But I thought it was fucking awesome. And the closest I had heard on record was the solo work by Billy Bragg, but even then, he would play solo electric guitar. So when the acoustic guitar started speaking to me as a way to make music, I had to kinda made up the style to myself as I went along. Punk energy, acoustic music. Should it have drums? should it just be instruments?

Also, there was the matter of this just being me. More out of circumstance than anything else. NO ONE wanted to play this stupid acoustic music with me. This was at the height of a new type of emo-hardcore, Mesa Dual Rectifier amplifiers, bands like ‘Cave-In’ creating space rock… and I’m over here figuring out how to mic an acoustic guitar so that it sounds cool.

Over that two year period, I ended up writing and recording rough demos of 30-40 songs. Some better than others. And so when I realized I had a ton of songs, I sat down and tried to figure out which ones I should ACTUALLY record. 12 songs stood out, but they were very moody, almost Bowie-esque, and they were not something I would want to build a future path of music with. But they were special. So those 12 got re-recorded and became my first solo release, ‘Silence Is Suicide’, released under an AKA of the same name, as a CD-r, to friends. But from that same group of songs, 2 or 3 had this OTHER thread in them, more positive, more defiant, and those became the basis for ‘F-Box’, and the first release ‘EP 10:20’.

This record would be my first proper release, that I didn’t play shows to perform. And the reason was a) I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear this stuff, hell my friends didn’t even want to hear it. And b) all my energy was going to running my studio business, and c) my health was becoming increasingly fucked.

So in 2004, when I realized I had to stop engineering due to my health, I closed down my studio, and took some of the money, and released ‘EP 10:20’ as a proper CD. I still had no plans to play shows, or even sell it, but it seemed like the next logical step. And so there I was, with this idea of a ‘Band’ that was just myself, and 1,000 CDs of a style of music that didn’t really even exist.

Luckily, the internet of 2004-06 happened to LOVE music, and over the next few years I began sharing the record online, for free, and recording and ‘releasing’ to digital, new stuff. By 2006, I had recorded another 5-song EP, and 2 singles, and had completed what the ‘F-box’ experiment was all about: making acoustic music with punk energy, and put into the world with punk ethics. And when, in 2013 I decided to start making lyrical music again, and release it under my own name, it was because of the lessons learned, and the path forged, in this work.

So when I listen to this record, I hear me trying to connect with things I feel, searching for a way to put them out there. To me, Its not a great record, but it’s real. And so I have to give it it’s place for respect.

– Gary Llama