Now what? What arrived, one Sunday morning, was Josh Madell, a friend of a friend, who knew Burgoo and had learned we needed a drummer (again). He came back to his hometown of NYC from San Francisco, where he played in a band called Argonne and worked as a fearless bike messenger, managing to back his bike off the Bay Bridge moments before it collapsed into the water during the 1989 earthquake. After ninety seconds of his tryout, Tim and Tara knew they were onto something very, very good.
As would happen several times in our career, we were blessed with an injection of youth and enthusiasm for rock at a turning point. Madell was not even able to get into some bars legally where we played, notably at our first SXSW, where it was not at all certain he would be allowed in for the set. The energy level of the music and the intensity of the discourse, the banter and those band intangibles fell into place quickly with JM.
Soon, we found ourselves back at Water Music making Everywhere Outside -- within six weeks of Madell's arrival. John Siket worked the board. Siket was probably the first engineer TK tortured as she gained confidence (or arrogance). An apology is in order for a blast in Siket's ear from the MesaBoogie one day during mike set-up, and well, for that 11am mastering session that followed a 20-hour mixing session, careening wide-eyed through New Jersey to end up with TK asleep on the floor in front of the monitors while Madell and Siket perservered, and well, again, sorry!
Now optimized for touring, we were one of Susanne McCarthy's first Flower Booking Agency bands. The more we toured, the more everything kicked up a notch—the songs were fast and faster, the rushes got stronger and the stage show more athletic. The energy of the band was less about collage and more about thrust.
Places became favorite stops all over the country—San Francisco in particular—and places we only played once turned out to be memorable—an insane, packed room of Monday night ravers in Missoula, MT, for example. Guitar meeting the head of one dancer with no ill effect and, in fact, registering glee on her face. But above all there was the Lounge Ax in Chicago, run by Sue Miller and Julia Adams. More on this later, but pinball was/is a passion for TH, TK and JM. Someone at Lounge Ax always saw to it that the machines were serviced when we were coming to town. Those little touches like Gary Schepers faithful behind the sound board and beyond. Julia and her future husband Patrick Monaghan, who also worked at Lounge Ax, would be critical to Antietam's life a decade later. And it was at Lounge Ax that Mark, a Williams Pinball developer, showed up one night and offered a private tour of the factory the next day. A hundred Addams Family machines bleeped under stress tests in the dark. There was a room where we played and critiqued three prototype machines. Several months later, word came that the Antietam logo had been planted deep into the machine Fish Tales, to be accessed by a special Fibonacci code. Every machine. Forever.
One charge often thrown at the band was that the intensity of our live show was hard to capture on our studio records. Part petulance and part bravado led us to make Antietam Comes Alive! in 1991. We'll show them worked well in this case. By this time we had been playing live so often, we felt incredibly sharp and telepathic with eyes-closed communication. We booked a show at CB's, used their 16-track setup and, with Siket manning the board, slammed through twelve songs fom 8:40 to 9:30pm in front of a crowd of our finest fans (including future Homestead head Steven Joerg). Chris O'Rourke became the first guitar guest on an Antietam record, helixing with TK on a cover of "Ask the Angels." When we listen to it now, the pace of the set bears some resemblance to the beat of a hummingbird's heart. Well, we were excited.