this music is meant to be played LOUD.
January 17, 2005 9:51 PM   Subscribe

If you have heard of the bands Lightning Bolt, Arab on Radar or Forcefield, chances are you've heard of the legendary space known as Fort Thunder - an artists collective in an otherwise neglected part of Providence known as Olneyville -where roughly 100 artists and musicians lived, worked, and held underground music shows. After the demolition of Fort Thunder in 2001, a number of those artists began again in a different space known simply as Oak & Troy. One year ago this month, on one of the coldest days on record, the residents of that fertile creative space were also evicted, this time with just two weeks' notice. But where there is innovative music there are dedicated audiophiles, and last week one of the former residents of Oak & Troy released a 10-CD compilation of some of the best music to happen in those amazing spaces. See if you can pick out the extracurricular projects of members (or former members) of AoR, ff, Dropdead, thee Hydrogen Terrors and Olneyville Sound Station.
posted by antimagnet (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
errr.... "olneyville sound station" s/b "olneyville sound system." me = tired.
posted by antimagnet at 10:06 PM on January 17, 2005

Wow, this is cool, thanks. I love Lightning Bolt, but I'd never heard of these other bands, or this space. Or this story.
posted by greasepig at 11:23 PM on January 17, 2005

never made it to ft. thunder, but oak and troy was rad. you'd walk out from a crazy hardcore show with hundreds of kids and there would be a crazy electronic noise show going on in the hallway. providence knows it good music.
posted by brevator at 5:41 AM on January 18, 2005

posted by bardic at 5:46 AM on January 18, 2005

Wow. Yes. Fort Thunder was an entity. I witnessed it in a peripheral way, making acquaintances / friends with the members of the band Grüvis Malt, which recorded and lived upstairs in the mill building that housed Fort Thunder. They spent 7 years recording at the third-floor Diva Studios, and when they finally were able to move in, they got to record only one more excellent album before the building was demolished to make way for a shopping complex.

Gavin Busath (nee-Castleton), keyboardist/vocalist for Grüvis Malt, who has recently released two solo albums and some web goodies including some really cool music videos and a couple of interesting covers, wrote this piece entitled The Death of Fort Thunder for the Providence Journal. It's a great first-hand account of his experiences.

Their music is amazing, by the way - they have as important a place in recent Providence music history as some of the above bands, and they posess more longetivity. Although obscurity is a death sentence for most bands, Grüvis Malt (who play a blend of jazz, rock, hiphop, latin, and metal, with electronic elements added in - the sum of which they call 'futurock') recieved some attention first from local, and then national audiences via Lakeshore Records, which distributed their first post-Fort Thunder release, ...With the Spirit of a Traffic Jam... (here's the album cover, and here's an iTunes Music Store Link, where you can preview the tracks if you are interested). They have a total of four albums and two EPs, with another album soon to come.

They were decidedly on a different page than the noisecore bands mentioned in the FPP, if only in that Lightning Bolt and co. are about the only types of bands that could actually make Gruvis Malt seem accessible by comparison.

Some of these pages are linked above, but here's the mp3 connections, so as to make a useful contribution to this post (and if you download one track, make it Even the Scars Forget the Wounds, which is a tough mp3 to track down - although it's fine with the band that it's available. They've put so many mp3s online that it is tough to keep track of all of them. Anyhow:
  • The Grüvis Malt store-ish type page, with selected mp3s.
  • Gavin Castleton's audio page, focused on his solo tracks and on certain Grüvis Malt songs featuring his vocals.
  • An archive of links to mp3s on the GM site that aren't linked to from there for some reason. (note: you might want to turn your font size up for this one.)
  • Grüvis Malt and Gavin Castleton on The GM page features tracks that are found on the first link except for the last one on the player, from their "A Correspondence Course in Best Friendship CDR EP", an experiment in which each of the six band members began a recording and then passed it to the next member until everyone had had a go at the 6 completed tracks.
  • Grüvis Malt Fansite #5, featuring live shows and the entirety of their first album Cromagnetic for archival purposes only.
That's really sort of just scratching the surface, there's so much music floating around by GM or including them. They also perform on Sage Francis' "Dead Poet Live Album" disc, as they were the touring band to bring Sage's music to life on their joint "Dead Poet/Live Band" tour. And if you check that first link, there's a link to the singer's new side project, Johnny Classic and the Classic Johns, featuring pop songs made with a gameboy and a nanoloop cartridge (which is also featured on the "Emergency Improv" live tracks on that backdoor mirror linked above).

Oh, and back on topic:

There's also a page about Fort Thunder in the Crimethinc book entitled Days of War, Nights of Love.posted by Embryo at 8:48 AM on January 18, 2005

I wanted to mention also that the title of the piece linked above, The Death of Fort Thunder, was something that the Journal added to the piece, to the dismay of Gavin and of members of Lightning Bolt... as you'll notice, the piece talks more about other things that happened in the Eagle Square mill building than about Fort Thunder itself.
posted by Embryo at 8:52 AM on January 18, 2005

(The original title was, I'm told, "Cold War in Eagle Square".)
posted by Embryo at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2005

And I forgot the link to the must-have mp3, Even the Scars Forget the Wounds, from 1999's Backout Smiling. My apologies. And now back to Fort Thunder.
posted by Embryo at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2005

I was lucky enough to be in Providence for the days of Fort Thunder. Good times and great post.
posted by dame at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2005

Ahh, Olneyville... I live on the West Side of Providence, about a block from where the Armory District turns into Olneyville. I used to know a girl, who I've since lost all contact with, who was big into Fort Thunder scene, and I'm still kicking myself for never having gone down there with her back when I had the chance... I was young, and I didn't know any better.

But I do remember Lighting Bolt driving around Providence in a flatbed pickup truck with two huge speakers, just kicking ass.

The fuckers kill anything that's good, first Fort Thunder, and now Lupo's.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2005

Nice set of links. Great music and good comics too (especially: Brian Ralph, Brian Chippendale, and Matt Brinkman).
posted by safetyfork at 1:39 PM on January 18, 2005

GREAT POST, antimagnet. thank you.
Chippendale also did the cover for Kramer's Ergot #4, which might be the best artcomics anthology in decades.
posted by Peter H at 2:16 PM on January 18, 2005

i have played shows in these places. Neato post!
posted by glenwood at 7:09 PM on January 18, 2005

The Comics Journal devoted an issue to Fort Thunder in 2003. It mostly written by Tom Spurgeon who's archived chunks of it on his site.

Fort Thunder Forever

Fort Thunder Footnotes

Interview with Brian Ralph

Brian Ralph bibliography

Gary Panter on Fort Thunder
posted by peteash10 at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2005

I had the pleasure of being in Providence during the years of Fort Thunder's popularity and existence. It seemed like Lightning Bolt played there every weekend. Oh, and if I am not mistaken there was a dope flea market in the same building.
posted by willns at 11:30 AM on January 20, 2005

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