US Maple...

A barrage of no wave sound - rock taken to its extreme.

Drum lines emerge out of chaos, hold for 5 seconds or so, then descend into cacophony. Guitars pluck strange, out of tune notes, seemingly at random. The bass noodles out of control, and the vocalist whines and screams like a mortar shell flying out of the sky.

US Maple are a band that many people find hard to enjoy. I was at a concert once in which they were the opening band. After they left the stage, general confusion erupted amongst the audience. Someone shouted "THAT SUCKED!" and receieved general applause. Although opinions do differ wildly (I've heard people fawn over them to no end), it can't be disputed that US Maple play "rock" like few others.

This Chicago based band is made up of vocalist Al Johnson, bassist Todd Rittman, guitarist Mark Shippy, and drummer Pat Samson. They can currently be found on Drag City records.
Discography:
Talker (released 1999 on Drag City)
Sang Phat Editor (released 1997 on Skin Graft Records)
Long Hair in Three Stages (released 1995 on Skin Graft Records) - This album helped launch US Maple, for it was produced by famed producer Jim O'Rourke.

Did you know? Members of US Maple can be found in a cameo role in the John Cusack movie "High Fidelity".

I just recently attended a live show where the majority of the crowd were devout fans. There were a total of about 15 of us standing in the Courtyard Cafe at UIUC. The US Maple performance was fairly excellent in my opinion and must be seen by any fan of experimental/avant-garde performance art/music.

I expected the show to be pure improv, however I was suprised to discover these fellows really know their songs, no matter how wandering they become on their studio albums. I also discovered the songs actually have lyrics, not just gutteral gusts of noise from Al Johnson.

Part of their method seems to me is that they attempt to make the crowd slightly uncomfortable by 'acting' uncomfortable on the stage. At one point, they started to yell at the top of their lungs to each other total nonsense. I once heard the guitarist say, "you fucking ham bastard" to the singer and the singer responded by pushing the guitarist off the stage. They recovered and then the other guitarist made some classic rock kicking motions while playing one note over and over again. It basically went from there. At the end of the concert, the band broke into a rolling stones cover and slowly moved off stage, while tripping over equipment.

The best description of the music I've heard is "a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs." Do with that what you will.

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