Face of Decline

Face of Decline (1987-1992) began as a songwriting/recording project that I hoped would eventually become a full-fledged band. I was just a crappy guitar player writing songs and recording demos on a 4-track cassette machine, and I had already done three album-length cassette demos of original songs, which were called "Happily Discontented", "Leather Over Liberty", and "Legacy of Lies". Intending to turn my next project into a real band, I had difficulty finding anyone who both liked the music and could actually play it fast enough and in time. I originally imagined that I would find a drummer -- I planned to play lead guitar with my brother Paul playing rhythm guitar, and my friend Matt playing bass. For a while, my friend Tom was slated to become our front-man and then replacement bass player, as Matt was planning to enlist in the Navy. Then Tom moved back to Wisconsin (and later joined the Navy also). At some point, I gave up looking for a drummer and bought a used set for myself, and by that time Paul's playing was solid enough to fully take over the guitar role. I was the singing drummer from then on. That was about the same time Matt and Tom were both moving away, and we recruited Terry to play bass. 

On the earliest FOD stuff, drums were recorded on a boom box (me playing a friend's kit) and then input to one channel of the four-track. After adding bass guitar, the bass and drums were usually ping-ponged to share a track, to make room for two guitar tracks and a vocal track. Later on, we upgraded to recording the drums with three microphones (snare, bass, and an overhead mic) before ping-ponging them to a single track. Guitar solos usually went onto the vocal track in spots where there was no singing. It was clumsy and usually sounded terrible, but it was punk. Eventually, with practice, the four-track recordings got much better and other bands even asked me to help them record. During the cassette tape era, we always called them "demo"s for some reason, although they weren't the kind you make to try and get signed by a record label, and everyone knew that wasn't what they were for. I think we just thought it sounded dumb to call them albums if they weren't on vinyl.

Relapse Records #1: FOD 7" e.p.
Face of Decline played dozens of all-ages shows around town in basements, garages, the Nordic Hall, and the Mad Hatter. We played a little around the area, mostly in Mankato and Sioux City. The band recorded several cassette demos, appeared on a number of national compilation tapes, were reviewed and interviewed in lots of fanzines, and appeared on an 8" flexi compilation (with Humidifier and Thompson's Disease) called "I Sold My Trombone for Rock & Roll" on Bugscratch Records, a split 7" e.p. with Big Mouth on Fetish Records, and became the first band to appear on Relapse Records with a self-titled 7" e.p.

Face of Decline called it quits in September 1992. Creative differences were beginning to make compromise and cohesion difficult, and each of us by this time had begun side projects. FOD began to receive the least of our efforts and enthusiasm, and eventually it was obvious that it had stagnated on the back burner after adding only one new song in our final year.

Blinded by Vision
cassette demo, early 1988

Mainly hardcore/thrash-flavored songs with a detectable metal influence and social/political lyrics.

Lineup: Face of Decline was just a recording project at this stage. Bill played everything on the first demo, although Paul and Matt later added some backing vocals.

Win our hearts and take our minds with patriotism in the face of decline”

Box Happy Squish
cassette demo, mid-1988

Hardcore/thrash with melodic elements, leaning more punk than metal. Lyrics covering both social/political and personal subject matter. Included songs penned by Paul and Matt.

Lineup: Paul and Matt did play on this one, but this was still not a full-fledged band.

I know that things won't be that great in nineteen-fuckin'-eighty-eight”

The Longer We Wait
cassette demo, early 1989

Same sort of lyrical subject matter with a little more humor infused, and musically more varied. More melodic and pop elements began to stand out.

Lineup: Face of Decline played one show during this era, that featured Bill on drums/vocals, Paul on guitar/vocals, and Matt switching off with Tom on bass and vocals.

The longer we wait, the bigger it gets...and it's not going to go away”

Is It Gone Yet?
cassette demo, late 1989

Melodic punk rock with lyrics about social change, personal struggle, and other topics.

Lineup: Bill on drums/vocals, Paul on guitar/vocals, and the debut of Terry on bass -- the lineup that would endure to the end. Even more notably, this is the first release where everyone played their own instrument entirely.

Just pointing out that nothing's being done doesn't mean it ever will”

Eat You For Breakfast
cassette demo, 1990

A musically varied and good-natured collection with lyrics shifting a little more toward personal thoughts than social issues.

Lineup: Bill on drums/vocals, Paul on guitar/vocals, Terry on bass.

Just don't ask me for sympathy – I'm too busy feeling sorry for myself”

A Clockwork Orangutan
cassette demo, 1991

Musically the most melodic and textured release, featuring lyrics focused mostly on personal subjects.

Lineup: Bill on drums/vocals, Paul on guitar/vocals, Terry on bass.

It seems the odds are so unfair, it may be hopeless – I don't care –five billion against one little old me”

Face of Decline on facebook

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