Band of Susans
Q: Where did the Band of Susans get their unusual name?
A: It began as an inside joke (the original lineup contained three women named Susan; see the lineup notes below) and stuck. The band viewed the name as something of an albatross toward the end of the band's career, and Robert has said at least once that if he could go back and begin with a different name, he would.
Q: Did Page Hamilton of Helmet ever play in the Band of Susans?
A: Yes. He appears on the album LOVE AGENDA and on parts of THE PEEL SESSIONS.
Q: How many lineups were there in the Band of Susans' existence?
A: Three. Despite the occasional appearance of people recruited to fill holes during tours, the band had only three formal lineups in its nine-year history, and over half of that time (from 1990-1995) was with the final lineup of R obert Poss (guitar), Susan Stenger (bass), Ron Spitzer (drums), Anne Husick (guitar), and Mark Lonergan (guitar).
Q: What were the official lineups, then?
A: The first one consisted of Robert Poss (guitar/vocals), Susan Stenger (bass/vocals), Susan Lyall (guitar), Susan Tallman (guitar), Alva Rogers (vocals), and Ron Spitzer (drums). Lyall, Tallman, and Rogers left shortly after the first album; Lyall and Tallman were replaced by guitarists Karen Haglof and Page Hamilton, forming the second lineup. Hamilton left shortly after the sessions for LOVE AGENDA, and Haglof left after the subsequent tour; they were replaced by guitarist s Anne Husick (a cousing of guitarist/vocalist Lida Husik) and Mark Lonergan. This was the final official lineup.
Q: If there were only three lineups, why did I see so many different people during the tours?
A: Because many of the members of the band had real jobs that often made it impossible to tour, and thus others substituted for them when necessary. The lineups mentioned above are the only ones that appear on the band's albums.
Q: So just who was in the band and where are they now?
A: Be prepared, it's a long list. In alphabetical order:
Jason Braun filled in on guitar during the final set of tours; he is now playing in a band of his own, the Negatones. They supposedly released a sin gle on their own label a few years ago, although I've never seen it; Robert Poss did some of the single's pre-mastering work. He nows plays (along with his brother) in the Negatones.
Kelly Burns filled in for drummer Ron Spitzer on the last set of tours; he has since returned to school to study art. He continues to drum occasiona lly on various local New York projects.
Libby Flynt filled in briefly on tour after Karen Haglof left and was later permanently replaced by Anne Husick. No telling where she is now....
Karen Haglof left the music field entirely after her departure from the Band of Susans and is now in medical school.
Anne Husick is currently playing bass in the New York band Siberia, among other projects. She has also been playing guitar with her cousin, Lida Hus ik (and no, neither name is misspelled); what will happen with this is anybody's guess. While she was thanked in the liner notes for Lida Husik's latest release FLY STEREOPHONIC, she apparently did not play on the album.
Page Hamilton left BOS to form his own band Helmet, which you already know unless you have been living in a cave for the last few years. Helmet broke up for a while and have recently reformed.
Mark Lonergan works regularly as a studio musician and as a sideman for NYC blues artists such as Bobby Radcliffe. It is possible that he will " ;resurface" as a solo artist sometime in the future. Mark also used to write guitar instruction books for Mel Bay many moons ago; you can still find them in stores....
Susan Lyall left BOS concentrate on work in the theater and film world; she is now a costume designer for major motion pictures and has worked with Jodie Foster, among others.
Robert Poss has been working as a producer for bands like Combine, Tone, and now Skulpey. He and Susan Stenger recently played with Bruce Gilbert as GilbertPossStenger; future appearances in that configuration may or not be forthcoming, as the mood strikes said participants. He recently released two solo cds, DISTORTION IS TRUTH and CROSSING CASCO BAY.
Alva Rogers, since leaving BOS, has continued with what was originally her main focus -- solo vocal performance and writing for musical theater.
Ron Spitzer has largely retired from the music business to spend more time with his wife and child.
Susan Stenger currently resides in London and has appeared in The Brood and GilbertPossStenger. Most recently she was seen playing bass on tour with the reformed Creatures (with former members of Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees). At the same time she continued to be a flutist (her original vocation) for John Cage, up until his death. She has since toured the UK with choreographer Michael Clarke and as the bassist in Nick Cave's touring band.
Susan Tallman returned to the art world upon her exit from BOS and is now an art critic, author, and artist living in Europe.
Q: I understand Robert has done quite a bit of production work since the end of the band. What projects has he worked on?
A: He produced/engineered a record by the New York band Skulpey, which is in limited release on Pedigree Reocrds; he also completed (at the end of December, 1997) enginee ring and producing tracks for an O.O. Disks CD by guitarist Seth Josel (an American who lives in Germany). They recorded pieces by Phill Niblock and Lois Vierk (with the composers in attendance) and also did a John Cage piece and a Jim Tenney piece. Robert has also performed a number of times in New York City over the past year with Phill Niblock (his guitar piece). He has also worked as a producer or engineer for bands such as Tone, Combine, and the Negatones.
Q: Has he been playing guitar since the end of the Band of Susans?
A: O my yes. He played briefly in Nickel Hex, and has continued to do solo performances. On June 12, 1999 he performed a solo guitar and electronics concert in Cologne, Germany. The site was a very special space underneath (in the concrete "basement") of a bridge over the Rhine. Check out the link for mo re information. He also did a peformance regarding the Shape of Sound that was quite interesting. He appears on the album ENCODING BRIAN by David Dramm; for this project he spent two weeks in Amsterdam working with Dramm and the Dutch woodwind ensemble De Ereprijis. He has also released two solo cds, DISTORTION IS TRUTH and CROSSING CASCO BAY.
Q: What were the final Band of Susans recordings?
A: The last official recordings by the Band of Susans were two Wire covers that do not appear on any Band of Susans album. Their cover of "Ahead" can be found on the Wire tribute album WHORE; their peculiar (and uncredite d) deconstruction of "Drill" can be found as the zero track of DUGGA DUGGA DUGGA, an album consisting entirely of covers of the Wire song "Drill."
Q: What ever happened to the projected release of the Poss/Stenger/Gilbert performance LIVE IN MANCHESTER that was supposed to come out on Blast First! in 1998?
A: It was finally released by WMO at the end of May, 2000.
Q: What ever happened to Robert's label, Trace Elements?
A: Trace Elements is still going strong and has just released (as of October, 2002) Robert's first two post-BoS album, DISTORTION IS TRUTH and CROSSING CASCO BAY. You should check them out.
Q: What's the deal with the comparisons to Glenn Branca?
A: Many people have an inexplicable tendency to get Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham confused, perhaps because they were composers working with electric guitars in New York around the same time, and one (brief) member of the Band of Susans worked with him (while others in the band worked with Rhys Chatham in his guitar ensemble). To set the record straight: Page Hamilton appeared in Branca's ensemble before joining Band of Susans, while Robert Poss and Karen Haglof played with Chatham's ensemble (you can hear them on DIE DONNERGOTTER). Since there continues to be some confusion on the issue, Robert wrote a clarification, posted here as of October 1997.