Punishment Room

Release Date: 1992

London May: drums
Theodore Jackson: drums, metal
Dora Jahr: bass, vocals
Robert Hammer: guitar
David Uskovich: guitar

Recording Info: Engineered by Steve Albini

Formats: LP, CD, CA??

Label: Bomp Records (Bomp 4041)

Availability: CD ($10 via Bomp)

Track Listing:

HOD, Death In The Turnstyle, God's List, Splinter, Krank, Gut Bug, Castration Anxiety, Powerless, Plague Bed, Down Where The Dirt Collects


CD version contains Work Makes Freedom 12-inch as bonus tracks: Fee Schedule, Sinner's Prayer, Forensic Interest, Blare, Pillar Of Salt

Release Notes:

Reflections from David Uskovich:

Despite appearances to the contrary, we really had a sense of humor about our angst. The "punishment room" was Robert Hammer's room in the DP house. It was practically a closet off the kitchen. He had to build a loft for his bed just to be able to walk in. We called this the punishment room when we first moved in to that house, in Nov. of 1989.

Another "punishment" aspect of the album was the fact that I was sick with some bizarre throat virus the entire time of the recording. I'd wake up in a pool of sweat every night and my mouth was covered in little white pus- filled sores so I couldn't really eat much because it hurt just to put food in my mouth. If was fucking disgusting. I think I had some crazy fever too, so I was delirious.

We flew Albini to our house to record on Robert's Tascam 38 8-track and then we flew to Chicago to mix at his house on his Otari. I had to redo some of the vocals there since by the time the tracking session was over I could barely talk much less sing (or shout, as the case may be). We tried to respect Albini's wish to be anonymous but of course word got out. I hope our hospitality and the charm of our cats made it worthwhile.

This album also features one of my insane hand-scratched lyric sheet ideas. I wanted to use those scratch-off letters so the lyric sheet would look all rough. Yeah, well that took about a million years. Theodore Jackson came to the rescue and finished up after my hand fell off. "Plague Bed" is probably the oldest Distorted Pony song on record. It was first written in either the fall of 1986 or in the spring of 1987. I think "Down Where the Dirt Collects" was written just a bit later. There are a couple of outtakes from this session. One, "Insatiable Times," which was written in 1988, ended up on the "Smitten" comp. The other is "An Answer," which probably was written just before "Insatiable Times" and right around the time of "Down."

Theodore Jackson plays second guitar on "An Answer." I hope the tape to that song hasn't been lost.

"Punishment Room" marks the debut of London May on drums. London had played with Glen Danzig's Samhain as well as Down By Law. I think a live trap set really kicked things into high gear for us. Up until that time, it was touch and go with the drum machine. If the club had adequate monitors we'd be okay, but if there was only a vocal PA, we were SOL. Plus, Theodore Jackson had a hard time hearing the drum machine over his racket and there's something weird about a human playing real instruments along to a drum machine. Sonically, the the two often don't blend well. In retrospect, I think the metal percussion and live toms sounded best when processed a bit, in order to make them sound closer to the drum machine. To his credit, London wanted to learn our earlier, drum machine stuff, and did a fine job of mimicking that mechanical, martial quality.

Interestingly, the early DP years featured drummers. Dora Jahr and I went through about 3 drummers from '86-88 before going with a drum machine. "Plague Bed" was written with a drummer then later revised using either the Roland TS 505 or R-8. Can't remember.

Another outtake, "Insatiable Times," went to the "Smitten" comp.

Thanks to Mackie MacAleer for her patience as I breathed down her neck about the artwork.