The Keith Walsh Experience is a one-man band from Los Angeles. The KWE features raw and unique psychedelic-punk-rock-intensity synchronic performances. The KWE is a DIY web that straddles the traditional paradigms of musicians and sounds, pushing the limits of the cerebral cortex's ability to accommodate an overloaded human body-mapping activity. It's the machine of one that unites folk, punk, psychedelic rock, and noise performance.
I am an artist and self-taught musician. The KWE began in 1995 in Lynn, Massachusetts, emerging from the primordial soup of my previous performance art activities, universe music events, and spoken-word introductions for bands such as Clem Snide on stage in Cambridge. The first KWE recordings took place in the kitchen -- with its live acoustics -- utilizing a spaghetti lid tapper, acoustic guitar, miscellaneous kitchen percussion, and (for a brief period) an ancient Casio. This approach conjured my inspirations such as the early folk music of Bob Dylan, the left field hooks of Syd Barrett, the poetics and vocal characterizations of Captain Beefheart, and Trio (the 80s German band). It was Trio’s primal punk/pop rawness and wit, and the absence of a bass in their music that really convinced me that my trip was possible. A few years later, things got shaped a bit more by my love for the unhinged boogie of Meat Puppets and Pussy Galore.
Between 1995 and 1999 seven albums were recorded and limitedly distributed on cassettes. These recordings were no-overdub affairs captured by one strategically placed pancake field-recorder microphone that fed into a Marantz one-track cassette recorder deck. The songs that were selected for the cassette albums were more often than not preceded by dozens of performance “takes” (which drove my apartment neighbors crazy). In those days, I would compose for an album in a sequential, linear manner from start to finish. Over the years the KWE has grown to a custom-built modular and ergonomic kit with several drums, guitars, amps, vocals, and keyboard. While sitting, the drums are played with foot kick-pedals, and the cymbals are hit with bare hands between the guitar-work. For many years a toy piano was in the mix (featured on “Hate the Sun” from 1999). In 2011 a Yamaha keyboard was integrated into the kit. Similar to the cymbals, it is “hit” or brought into the compositions via “moon rock” weights. The guitar effects pedals are positioned backwards to allow for activation between drumbeats or rolls. The drum kit riser has managed to go through some sort of re-design every year or so to accommodate different instrumentation or improve the ergonomics.
Live performances of the KWE began in 1996 with private parties, open-mic nights around Boston, and an appearance on Tufts University Radio. After moving to Los Angeles in late 1998 the KWE performed at various clubs like Canter's Kibitz Room, the Crooked Bar, the Garage, and the Blue Saloon and The CIA in the Valley, various art parties, and at Cal Arts. From 1999 began a four-year tradition of recording an album on the 4th of July. Up in San Francisco, grad-school pal and engineer Dave Greenberg and I would bang out a no-overdubs CD album on the nation's birthday and mix it on the 5th. Striking a live and cathartic feel, twelve-song recordings such as 2001's Modal Universe CD were done in three-and-a-half hours. The 2001 era was heavily under the influence of Iggy & the Stooges, The Silver Apples, The Ramones, and mid-70s Miles Davis. Accordingly, the KWE was increasing its emphasis on breakneck tempos, amplification, unpredictable acoustic-electric guitar feedback, drone, high-speed drum rolls, growling, and occasional guitar bashing at gigs. I got banned from Canter's Kibitz Room for throwing myself into the kit, into the screaming microphones. A few cover tunes entered the repertoire around then including Eight Days A Week, Blue Sunday, Wined and Dined, and Interstellar Overdrive. Several KWE live art gallery performances in LA in 2000--2001 lasted three hours, and in one other circumstance children have been documented to break-dance and dervish and invade the kit. Between 2001 and 2002 I was as a member of The Legion of Rock Stars, a Los Angeles art-performance troop that covered rock and heavy metal tunes. We would listen to the real song fed into our headphones, yet couldn’t hear the music we collectively produced! I got my chance to do the light show and play bass (which was an unfamiliar instrument to me). Our best show was at the MAK Center Apartments in Culver City. 2002 was the year of endless gigging, mostly at Zen Sushi and Toppers Tavern on LA’s east side, and a live appearance on KXLU 88.9 fm Demolisten, where I went into a hypnotized rant against an airwaves-interfering corporate Christian station. 2002 also saw the September release of the Lost Angeles CD, an equally ethereal and grinding album recorded in a suburban house crouched in the misty hills of El Cerrito, near Berkeley California. It's A Sign and Superman come from this album. The Lost Angeles album was quickly followed by Wider Than The Horizon, an improvised soundtrack album to a conceptual film that has yet to be released. Around this time the KWE was included in the Roctober Magazine encyclopedia of known one-man-bands, with a compact disc compilation titled Uno-Go-Go that included 1999's Hate The Sun. In the fall of 2002 the online blog Tongue Of The Eye reviewed the Uno-Go-go disc, noting that Hate The Sun "sounds like Blind Faith on ludes mixed with Hasil Adkins and Joy Division."
In 2003 Dave Greenberg moved to Florida and I pulled back awhile from constant performing to focus on exploring the architecture of late 1980s Panasonic hand held tape recorders that I’ve used for my art installations. The result was Strictly Panasonic, dubbed to CD in June 2004. It was a live and totally improvised album made in six hours, where I would perform to one recorder, all of which was collected on a second recorder. Strictly Panasonic conjured a raw and off-kilter tribal folk vibe, somewhere between Animal Collective, Seventh Suns, and Serge Gainsbourg. Portrait of A Cassette and Tape Me come from this album. The next album, 2005's Heavy Meta CD was constructed over several months on a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder. Expanding upon the vibe of the previous album, it jammed and protested its technicolor way through the gothic election season with more elaborate songs such as the folk-reverb-falsetto of Nothing Left to Sell, the futurism of Who’ll Take the Coffee Into Outer Space? and the ricochet space-science rap of Get Back to the Flat. The astral poetics continued in 2006's 4-track cassette recording of the You're In My Heaven CD album. The folk urges of the previous album are blended with various lo-fi synthesizer rumblings, vague 1970s Bowie disco fantasies, wah-wah pedal guitar sex wetness, and the motorik beats of Neu -- all of which was processed (sort of) through a Kaempfert lounge music filter. It almost sounds like a movie soundtrack. In 2006 I also wrapped up work with the LA roots music trio-quartet All Purpose Bucket, which featured several of my current tunes, but mostly a range of excellent covers from Toots & the Maytals to the Doors to Merle Haggard to bluegrass traditionals. We performed a handful of high-spirited shows in Los Angeles! In 2007 the KWE returned to performing a la carte, and has appeared at various LA area venues such as Mr. T's Bowl, Suzy's Hermosa Beach, King King Hollywood, the 2nd Street Jazz Bar & Grille. Back to the Pyramids CD (2009) marked the KWE’s return to live studio performance, which was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Wheaton at Catasonic in LA. Back To the Pyramids is a no-overdub album of punk rock and psychedelic tunes that revisits the directness of the 1999-2002 recordings. The 75 Or Less music blog described the album as the “sound of someone falling down the stairs with an arm load of instruments, or Jad Fair.” Responding to a live KWE performance at L2K gallery in LA’s Chinatown, Mat Gleason of Coagula Magazine noted: “Forget Chinese Democracy ... the Keith Walsh Experience is loud, abrasive and utterly creative.” The KWE got together again with Mark Wheaton at Catasonic this past summer to record the new CD album Motorik (2011), a collection of new songs that pushes the cosmic rocket trip of futurism, tight maneuvers, sonic nuances, lyrical intensities, and unique songwriting farther and better than ever before! In October 2012 Motorik was enthusiastically reviewed by LA Record and Razorcake online magazines. Stay tuned for more KWE performances and new songs in 2013!