Coral Springs, Florida, Dcember 1989

Formed in South Florida, 1985.

The year was 1985. Four friends from South Florida decided to somehow release themselves from the barren cultural wasteland known as Margate. Strip malls and Chuck E Cheese’s were infiltrating the psyche of the suburban neighborhood they called home. How were they going to break the blanket of conformity and conservatism that seemed to cover the whole region? Well, they didn’t quite know but started much like the estranged youth of America had done before them–they bought a guitar, a harmonica and borrowed an aging hippie's drum set. Of course they had no prior musical knowledge, but that was of little importance. They improvised and started first with concepts, letting their ideas chart the unknown territories of a strangely beautiful noise that was all thier own.

It was Mark Shepherd and Tylor Durand who committed the first Group sounds to acetate. Mark’s penchant for scientific theory brought to The Group a bizarre and philosophical sensibility. His ideas are often crude in their approach and execution but carry a wonderful and naive sense of originality. Tylor’s interest in the possibilities of art and what it means to be an artist offer a unique perspective. His criticism of the so-called “art life” is an integral part of the group’s musical language.

Soon to follow was Steve Sandler who initially chose the harmonica as his vehicle but quickly abandoned it for the broader possibilities of the spoken and written word. His gritty view of reality serves as a conceptual springboard for The Group’s foray into poetic songwriting. Mark Farone, the last to complete the essential four, has an equally original and inspired approach to the creative process. His punk ethic would often subvert the initial idea, pushing the other members and bringing it to that level where it becomes art.

The Group’s history has been marked by ups and downs–periods of intense creativity, periods of separation, times of joy and times of frustration. There was even an arrest at the peak of their development. In December 1988, The Group was jailed on Christmas Eve. During this time they were recording what was to become one of their greatest musical achievements, Das Group: Head Cheese In December. Interestingly, the title “A Closer Look at College Criminals in America Part 1” was also considered. The culmination of avant-garde noise experiments, refined songwriting and biting social criticism, Head Cheese is a landmark in the group’s development and a foreshadowing of the low-fi movement.

Since that session, the group has refined and expanded their vision and interpretation of the known universe. The Group’s recorded output is an exciting and original document of life in America during the tail end of the 20th century. It is something unheard, something that exists in the fleeting wind, the sound of the streets and garages.

The sound of America.

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© 2007 King Of Beef