Los Angeles? What the fuck, right? Somehow, Mark gets it in his head that it’s time to go to Law School. Don’t ask me. As far as I was concerned, this was the end of everything. Literally. I didn’t know what we were going to do now, but I knew we had to do something. Suddenly, the next year I had planned in my head suddenly had to happen in like 4 months or so. At the end of the summer of1997, he was done. Gigs were booked and these new songs we were working on had to be recorded. ASAP.
The band suddenly went from invincible to having a fucking death sentence. I remember canceling a gig with Dystopia cause I was all kinds of panicky about what our priorities were. In my mind, there was no band without Mark and I would have to worry about what that meant when he left. The “we’ll work when I come back on break” bullshit wasn’t flying with me. Like most things with the aggression, I felt things had to happen NOW cause we never had enough time. We rehearsed, we wrote, we planned. I felt like I was writing the last will and testament of the band.
We played a gig at Under Acme (which we later learned was at the time owned by Chris Link’s future brother in law), and everything came to a head. I remember drinking by myself at Continental for hours just strictly out of insecurity. They put us on way too early; 7:30pm. What a fucking disaster. I tanked the gig. Intentionally. It was probably my fuck you to Mark. We were all drunk and fucked up. I remember the Kidd looking at me onstage like I was from another planet. Maturity was not on my agenda. This is without a doubt my lowest point in the entire history of the band. I was running around in traffic like a moron, crying and screaming like it was the end of the world. Tom slapped me around trying to get me to get my shit together. Then he gave me total beatdown that I deserved. Back then, he was the voice of reason. Seriously. I remember tears and vomit. The band was supposed to be above all. This was my first lesson that it wasn’t that way for others. I have a very very very few regrets in my lie, that entire evening was one of them. I was a total fucker, but in my mind it was better to be the fucker who stayed in the band then the judas who was going to law school. Mind you, he’s a lawyer now, supposedly, so maybe he made the right move for him.
We laid low for a bit, but that didn’t last long. It was time to go back into the studio. We still didn’t have the chops to produce ourselves, especially without Ash, so we started to think about how to approach the 4 songs we had written for the EP. We decided to work with George Hagegeorge, who had a band called Under The Noise and later Urania (the first band Ash and I ever remixed). I had really liked his production and remix work with Clay People, and I am pretty sure Tinman had some kind of relationship with him. Either Jeff Tinman or Dan from Clay People put me in touch with George. Anyway, George was cool as fuck to talk to, was eager to work with us, and after weeks of writing and programming, Tom, Mark and I (The Kidd might have been in Summer School or some shit), found ourselves on the way to Baltimore to work record. Luckily, our dear friend Harbour, who was one of the first people to take notice and interview the aggression, and at the time was interning for FCR, was able to put us up at his pops house.
Mark, Tom and I were slightly hesitant about working with another producer, despite knowing we needed one. However, once we got set up with George, we found his easygoing personality and creative ideas a total joy to work with. He was encouraging and knew how to handle us. When it came to working, we weren’t the drunk and loud buffoons we appeared to be in interviews. We were all business and had a good work ethic. He was massively ahead of his time. We’re talking 1997 and he was already digitally recording music into his computer at home. We constantly had our balls busted for doing this by Kieran, the Acumen guys and anyone else who had anything resembling a recording budget. George had a sweet wife, Cheryl, and a lotta cats (that I was massively allergic to) and they went out of their way to make this as pleasant an experience as possible. We had some strong songs, including MISSIONARY MAN (which was a Mark/Tom song that they had been working on during soundchecks), BEAUTIFUL LOSERS (probably my least favourite ever recorded aggression song), HEY! (which started during an Albrecht Go’s jam), and CROSS, which was written years before in the dorm room, was a live staple that never left the set and was basically a variation of the Sisters TRAIN. It was Jeff at Tinman who specifically asked us to record that after he had to continually tell people at our gigs that this awesome rocker wasn’t on the album he was selling. I think we lost a few sales on that. I remember wrapping the songs up and driving back to NYC with Tom and Mark thinking this was the last thing the aggression was ever going to record…