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JUL 5-9, 2021
Instructor & performer at
Great Guitar Escape
Glen Cove, NY


Ron Thal - Hermit

Artist: Ron Thal
Title: hermit
Label: Shrapnel/Non-Interference
Selection#: IN-3001-2
UPC# 0-26245-30012-5
Release: January 1997

Track Listing

I Can't Play the Blues
Every Time I Shake My Head
(It's Like Christmas)

About the CD


by Ron Thal

The original concept for Hermit was to call the album "No. 2", and the first song on the CD was to be "Dirty Pant'loons" (song from the Hands CD about a bathroom accident I had in school when I was 5). It made sense being that it was to be the 2nd release under Shrapnel Records, and the connecting reference to the theme of Dirty Pant'loons. Didn't happen.

The album had rappier songs on it that didn't make it onto the CD (Dummy, Vomit, and Cactus - all on the "Hands" CD) and older grungier songs (Sweetmeat, Gray, and Unsound) were put in their place, taken from a 10-song CD I recorded (Summer '95) and was rejected by the label. The cover photo was taken by Tony Graziano in an abandoned building in Providence Rhode Island (many thanks to guitarist Joe Bochar for recommending the photographer).

The day before, I spent 4 hours hanging my head upside down while Shannon Conley (singer of "Sugargrass") put cornrows in my hair (pulling from the back of my head to the front and coming down in braids.) I looked like a mosquito's ass. For 4 nights my head was too sore to touch the pillow and sleep.

The album was recorded 24/32-track digitally - instead of using a footswitch to punch-in/out, I would set the auto-punch feature on the recorder, roll back the tape 20 seconds, run into the recording room, put on the headphones, sing the lines, throw off the headphones and run back into the mixing room and check it. The album was recorded entirely with the Swiss Cheese guitar and Marshall/Mesa Boogie amps. An error at the mastering facility caused the title track to be distorted. As I was mixing Zero, it seemed empty and I quickly plugged a mic into a Marshall half-stack and sang next to the speakers - Zero was an instrumental song I wrote as a teenager, and I used the theme to create the song Hermit. During the recording of this record, I was working on 3 other records at the same time, and I worked 140 hours a week throughout the month of April 96, taking naps on the floor of the studio with pen and paper next to me to jot down song ideas. Rowboat was written during one of those naps - I awoke at 3 in the morning and put the song together in 2 minutes, and went back to bed.

Freak spawned from an image-provoking story told to me by a friend, who in gym class had fallen witness to the accidental misfortune of a boy who's pimple-covered face met with a basketball in mid-game. His pimples erupted on impact, and as the puss-coated ball returned from his face back to the game court, the players instinctively went for the ball and pulled themselves back almost in the same motion, as the glistening ball lost momentum and rolled away.

Sweetmeat was a song I wrote during a bad case of the flu - a friend from the band Boiler Room was on my computer designing T-shirt ideas and I was sitting at the other end of the room dragging out chords on an acoustic guitar while hacking up phlegmy lyrics that I wrote as they left my mouth. He was laughing and commented on how it seemed to be so perfectly accurate a description of my ills. I do alot of writing when I'm ill. I Can't Play the Blues is one of my favorites. Hangup was part of my band's demo (pre-Shrapnel) and almost didn't make it onto the record.

I had 2 trips to France in Feb. and May 1997 to perform and promote, courtesy of Roadrunner Records (they licensed the CD from Shrapnel/Interference.) The label Interference Records (now called Non-Interference Records) was a subsidiary of Shrapnel Records for non-instrumental music. In Japan, all the lyrics were included with the CD - in the USA and Europe, only the lyrics to 4 songs were included. This was not my choice.

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