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(Parts of Cerberus Shoal are now Big Blood , Fire on Fire and dilly dilly.)
Cerberus Shoal formed in the fall of 1994. Caleb Mulkerin had relocated from his native South Portland, Maine to Boston in order to join Chriss Sutherland and Thomas Rogers who were both attending universities in the area. All three were fresh from the American high school system and aspiring to begin a new way of life as well as a musical group. At that time, the fourth member, guitarist Josh Ogden, traveled weekly from Falmouth, Maine to Boston for rehearsals. The group played its first show in March of '95 at the renowned NYC punk space ABC No Rio. Working through the do-it-yourself punk scene of Ebullition Records and "Book Your own Fucking Life", this first incarnation of Cerberus Shoal released a self-titled 12-inch record and toured the U$A through the summer of 1995.
In the latter part of '95 the second incarnation of the group formed with the arrival of Kristen Hedges from Columbus, Ohio. Hedges took the place of Ogden on guitar. Within the next six months, the singles "Lighthouse in Athens Part One and Two" as well as the full length CD "And Farewell to Hightide" were written and recorded. Philadelphia's Tree Records released "…Hightide…" in the summer of '96, which also included the newest member, New Jersey native, David Mulder playing piano, organ and conga. This seemingly complete group toured throughout the summer only to lose Hedges who returned to Ohio come fall.
Once again, the group was left shorthanded and new material had to be created. So during the fall of '96 the four piece wrote "Breathing Machines" and "Never a Solution." The latter was never officially recorded though a version of the former was recorded live on air at WMPG in Portland, with artist/conceptualizer Tim Folland on vocals, and released by the band as a cassette single. "Breathing Machines" also appears in a different version on "Crash My Moon Yacht". Cerberus Shoal continued to tour mainly as a four piece, though Folland would at times accompany on vocals, visuals and groove tube, through that fall, winter and into the spring of '97.
In May of '97 Cerberus began collaborating with another Portland-based group called tarpigh. The two groups along with two other Portland musicians, Shannon Systems and Dave Jonson, agreed to work on two soundtracks for Tim Folland's abstract shorts, "Elements of Structure" and "Permanence". On a Sunday in the middle of May they recorded at the Cerberus Shoal house (Tank 28) with volunteered equipment and time from engineer/producer Steve Drown and local pro audio dealer Fraser Jones. While watching the films, the group improvised the twenty-minute "Elements of Structure" and the thirty-minute "Permanence". As a result of the project's success, a bond was created between tarpigh and Cerberus Shoal. The music also proved to stand on its own. Though there was never any intention of releasing the music separately from the films, it was decided to make a record out of the soundtracks. In the fall of '98 the California-based label Audio Information Phenomena released the soundtrack record "Elements of Structure/Permanence".
Just weeks later Cerberus was about to depart for a six-week summer tour when Mulder took his leave. So again Sutherland, Mulkerin and Rogers were stranded with music written and ready to go but one player short. The three were desperate and therefore resorted to testing their newly formed friendship with tarpigh by inviting them to hit the road for the summer. Though the notice was incredibly short, two weeks to be exact, Thomas Kovacevic (guitar, oud, zamponya and vocals) and Tim Harbeson (trumpet, keyboard, shakuhachi and accordion) were able to uproot their lives and join the caravan. Eric LaPerna (conglomerate, percussion), the third member of tarpigh, was not able to join the tour, but his spirit was in the van as this new Cerberus Shoal left to tour the U$A.
So whether it took place that fateful night in South Portland or somewhere on the road, perhaps Arkansas, Cerberus Shoal and tarpigh decided to join as one. That summer tour ended around the middle of July '97 and upon return a new six-piece began writing and rehearsing. This group went on to tour and record for approximately three years, making music as art, expression and a way of life. Three records were written and recorded: "homb", "Crash My Moon Yacht" and "Mr. Boy Dog". The first was released by the Baltimore-based label Temporary Residence in December 1999, the second was released in the U.S. by Maine's North East Indie and in Europe by France's Pandemonium Records in September of 2000 and the third by Temporary Residence January 2002. Currently though, all three records reside comfortably on North East Indie.
Regardless of the band's "success" and due to the usual pressures placed upon musical groups, this six piece could not continue to tour together, tarpigh made their split and a new touring group had to be assembled. So in the winter of 2000 Sutherland, Mulkerin and Rogers solicited the help of artist/musician Colleen Kinsella, bassist and vocalist Erin Davidson and writer/conceptualizer Karl Greenwald to help create a strong new live show to be presented in the upcoming spring. In May 2000 this Cerberus Shoal toured the East Coast U$A successfully proving that the new bond would last. They followed this with a month-long West Coast U.S. tour Finally, as a climax to the year; the group did its first European tour that fall. This two-and-a-half-month-long adventure consisted of 11,000 miles of driving and thirty-six shows in thirteen different countries. It also proved to further solidify this new working relationship. Immediately after returning in December the group recorded a CD single containing two new tunes "Garden Fly" and "Drip Eye". North East Indie continued its support by releasing the single just in time for a month-and-a-half U$A. tour, which took place the spring of 2001.
In 2002 the band toured the U.S. twice and began a split CD series, in cooperation with North East Indie. The new series began with "The Whys and Hows of Herman Dune and Cerberus Shoal" as an attempt by the group to align itself with like-minded artists from around the globe. The first installment paired the group with the Parisian band Herman Dune whom they had initially met during their 2000 Euro' tour. Then came "The Vim and Vigour of Alvarius B and Cerberus Shoal". This time the group convinced Alvarius B (Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls) to partake in dual of versions. So instead of being a straight split, like the first installment, this features each participant covering one the others songs. Bishop does his rendition of "Ding" a twenty-minute acoustic dirge while Cerberus Shoal covers two Alvarius B tunes from his 1996 LP. The third installment "The Ducks and Drakes of Guapo and Cerberus Shoal" was snuck out of Maine in the spring of 2003 and featured the most abstract Cerberus music yet coupled with the brooding heaviness of London's drum and bass duo Guapo.
Amidst the flurry of splits and touring the group managed to record, with the help of North East Indie, two full-length records during 2001-2003. They were simultaneously released, in the fall of '03, representing the whole of the music written, to date, by this incarnation of Shoal. The official record "Chaiming the Knoblessone" was recorded by engineer/producer Scott Colburn of Sun City Girls fame. The shadow record, "The Bastion of Itchy Preeves", was recorded by long-time recording partner Steve Drown. As an end to this write, record, release boon that the group and North East Indie were pounding out, came "The Life and Times of the Magic Carpathians and Cerberus Shoal" the fourth split in the series. "…Life and Times…" was released also in the fall of 2003 and represents a collaboration based on long distance track swapping and the development of music over time and space as the Magic Carpathians live and work in Poland. In a finale to the flurry all three new records taken on a three week eastern U$A/Canadian tour.
After the fall 2003 tour Tom Rogers, due to life circumstances, had to take a break from the band routine to join a family routine. Though indefinite Rogers's absence is severely felt throughout the remaining group. But without too much time passed in comes long time friend, central Mainer and drummer Tim Morin. Chriss and Tom had grown up with Tim and they had managed to stay in touch during the nine years after school. Tim had been playing in various "Rock and Roll" groups between New England and England. Destiny played its part and thankfully placed Tim within the confines of the Blue House (Tank 28) at just the right time. Tim stepped up to fill the Rogers shoe legacy. Then, to keep in line with tradition, a tour was booked and all new material was written. The group took it's new rhythm man to the U$A with a seven week coast to coast tour including two sold-out northwest shows with the Sun City Girls. The tour turned out to be a beautiful trip solidifying once again yet another incarnation of Cerberus Shoal.
Returning home safe, sound, sad but smiling the group reorganized and planned its next outing. The summer proved to be a time for further writing, rehearsing and recording. In the quick break between inactivity and activity Sutherland and Mulkerin, with the help of Jim Begley and Paul Agnew of North East Indie, managed to re-mix and re-master the very first Cerberus Shoal record, the 12" self titled LP. This "Rosetta Stone" of the catalog was released in the fall of 2004 as the group hit the American road for a month long east of the Mississippi tour.
Once returned and after the X-Mas break Cerberus Shoal headed back in to the recording mode to get down the music they had been touring with since the spring of 2004. Again they would call in the services of Seattle's audio wizard Scott Colburn. While renting out a warehouse studio in Portland, Me. Colburn and CS immersed themselves for a rapid fire three weeks. The result would be the 11th full length "The Land We all Believe In".
Rehearsals very quickly ensued as the groups long awaited return to Europe was being planned for April until June of 2005. After approximately 5 years Cerberus Shoal landed in Amsterdam to begin a 31 show Euro tour which took them all the way from Poland and Eastern Europe to Spain, the UK and every country in-between. It was on this tour that the group shared stages with old friends the likes of Guapo, Herman Dune and the Magic Carpathians as well as meeting Kim from Monotreme Records in the UK solidifying a relationship that would secure the European release of "The Land…" almost one year later.
Upon the early June return a month and half break took place to allow the haggard travelers some normal time. The US release of "The Land…" was set for Oct. and tour planning began. The late summer and early fall were spent rehearsing and in preparation for one of the most intense US tours in the groups career. So… on Oct. 14th Cerberus Shoal embarked on a 42 show in 50 days US tour which again took them to each corner of the country. It certainly was a "do-z", complete with hair raising van rides and lots of late night tom foolery. "The Land We All Believe" was released by NEIR in Oct. and CS attempted to bring the record to every citizen there within the land they all believed in. Successful? Relatively speaking, of course…
On Dec. 4th Cerberus Shoal returned to home base quite weary and beat to hell. That ole' land was rough and unforgiving whether believed in or not. What happened out there will certainly take a few months if not years to understand as it's still happening continuously and forever within the hearts and minds of those involved.
Though a complicated and unfinished story, its basis is in the pursuit of original/artistic music as a way of life. All the members, past and present, have provided very key influence on this ever growing and maturing group. In its hometown, all over the USA and Europe Cerberus Shoal has remained true to its agenda of using music as a medium to connect with people and spread heart and mind ideas. Read more on Last.fm
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