As the gas took affect the sock puppets from the late 90s MTV show, Sifl and Olly, came in and picked up the dentists tools. It was a scene that would unnerve most people but not Spokane musician, Glenn Case.
“I was completely OK with this,” Case said. “I was also emailing God back and forth actually which was quite interesting.”
For someone who isn't very well known on the local scene, Case has a list of accomplishments almost as long as his musical career. His achievements include playing with nerdcore sensation, MC Frontalot at the Penny Arcade Expo in 2004 and writing the soundtrack for the online sitcom The New Adventures of Captain S.
It all started with a Casio keyboard given to Case by his Grandmother in the mid-80's.
“I always used to say that it was my Grandfather that left the Casio keyboard to me but as it turns out I was corrected by my mother recently,” Case said reminiscing over a Vitamin Water at the Blvd. “I probably wouldn't have realized that I could play if it hadn't of been for that Casio Keyboard.”
Case stuck it out with his Casio and a four track recorder layering together his own songs until moving to Spokane at the age of 17.
Upon arriving in Spokane, he started jamming out with long time friend Tracy Aarronson, as a result he picked up lead guitar and bass as well as starting to play shows. But live shows have never been a big part of Cases music.
“Sometimes we'd sit there and promote a show and only have five people show up,” Case said. Guilt plays a large part in his withdrawal from local venues.
“I have no problem playing for five people myself,” Case said. “More importantly is a venue going to want to continue to want to have you play if you can't ever bring anybody? From a venue's standpoint it really doesn't make any sense to continue having a band play if they can only ever attract five people.”
Case also sites instances where he was booked to open for traveling bands with only a few people turning up for the show.
“I'd like to say that I would love to get a gigantic local following for the sole purpose of actually making it up to some of these bands that came through here and had a handful of people show.”
the recent disbanding of Cases band The Half Racks, all of his work
has been online.
Funky sounds drifting through cyber space.
“Happiness plus tragedy equals education.”- Olly
The web has taken a $30 million chunk out of the music industry with MP3s by some estimates but file sharing but it has also given a new voice for musicians who are willing to set their music adrift in the sea of cyberspace.
Case is extremely active in music web sites, mainly songfight.org and thesixtyone.com as well as maintaining a web site with 383 of his songs available for download.
On thesixtyone.com Case actually outranks Radiohead in the site's top forty.
“It sounds more impressive than it actually is,” Case said modestly. “Honestly the reason for that, the reason I'm above Radiohead, is they have like eight or nine songs up there ... I have like 27 or 29 songs up there.”
At thesixtyone.com ranks are assigned by a point system. People “bump” your songs and you get points. Not only that but you also get points for every time someone bumps a song that you bumped.
The site's ranking system makes it more of a game, attracting more musicians but also leading to some little white lies. Users can just as easily bump popular songs, like Case's, just to get the points instead of because they actually like the music. But Case still seems to relish his online presence more than the victories that the live stage has offered so far.
“I've become much more content with just being a basement musician that puts his music online for anyone on the internet that cares to hear it,” Case said.
The internet removes the guilt of drawing a crowd of five. People who are interested can have the music and those that don't will probably never hear it. Case's love of music transcends the need for fame and fortune, for him it is really all about the music.
“I just came to realize one day, as long as I maintain the ability to make music I'm gonna do it,” Case said. “As long as I'm living, breathing and have all of my appendages and the ability to do it, I'll go ahead.”
When it comes to his music Case is a modest man.
“I'm not a virtuoso musician that can sit there and rip up and play 16th and 32nd notes but I try to stick to the strengths that I do know,” Case said. “I'm certainly not the worst that you've ever heard and I'm not the best either but I try to stick to my strengths.”
Case's strengths often lean towards the strange end of the pool with songs like OMGWTFBBQ. It's title, which stands for “Oh My God What The Fuck BBQ” pokes fun at all of the internet acronyms that fly around while telling a twisted story of a scorned friend who wasn't invited to a BBQ.
Case was on day 16 of a Marathon Songs project that challenged artists to create one song per day.
“Maybe you could figure I was a little bit burnt out by then or I don't know. Something went weird,” Case said.
He asked two of his friends what to write the song about and one said, “write it about not being invited to a BBQ,” the other, “write it about a cannibal BBQ.” Case took both ideas. What came out was the morbid story of not being invited to a BBQ and then deciding to eat his friends instead.
“If you like weird then that one might be one that would appeal to you,” Case said of what he calls “easily the most demented song I have ever written by far.”
Other songs that Case has written touch on all different types of music. There's Georgia's Hand, a quasi-love song that has a distinctly folk sound, the mellow pop sound of songs like I Can Not Function and even some a cappella that he wrote while waiting for his keyboard to catch-up with him when he moved to Spokane.
“I was engaged once before I was married. That didn't work out and left me a little bit bitter and
wanting to actually write songs about it but all that I had available was cassette recording equipment so I actually started doing a cappella stuff,” Case said. “I recorded five or six songs before my keyboard was shipped up to me.”
Case started out mixing his songs by recording one instrument then playing the recording while playing another instrument and recording to a second tape. He'd do that over and over until he got it to sound the way he wanted. Then he discovered four-track recorders that allowed him to mix songs all on one tape but there was still the characteristic tape hiss.
When he started recording his own songs four tracks was enough for Case but since learning new mixing techniques that he uses with mixing software on his computer, his songs commonly make use of up to 24 tracks.
“There's part of me that wants to be a purist that only makes it sound like it would sound live but unless I can clone myself like 12 times it's not going to happen,” Case said.
The future looks as calm and content as a warm day on a porch swing for Case in his post Half-Racks career.
“I'm sure that I'll play the occasional solo acoustic show. I've also toyed with the idea of eventually getting together with some of my musician friends that wouldn't mind learning the songs and backing me up to play a 'Glenn Case' show every once in a great while. Honestly, it's just not a high priority for me right now,” Case said in closing.