Once upon a time, in the State of NY in the city of Saratoga Springs, lived 4 strapping young lads. Casey and Johnny had been friends since the 5th grade, Pat and Reuben friends (I think) just as long. Casey, Pat and Reuben had been playing instruments for some time now. Casey and Reuben on guitars, and Pat on the Drums. Little Johnny was left behind. He quickly took up the bass and began playing jam songs with Casey. The idea began floating around between Casey and Johnny about starting a band, but they needed a drummer. Pat and Reuben also were looking to start a band, but needed a bassist. Then the idea struck them, why not combine the 2 groups into one super band! And so it was done, Casey and Johnny, Pat and Reuben became Johnny Stem Cell’s Liberal Collective.
Our first endeavor was the recording of our first sample 'album.' Casey's guitar Teacher, John Nazarenko, offered us an opportunity to be guinea pigs for a studio class he taught at Skidmore. We gladly accepted. We then began to throw some songs together for this 'album.' We ended up with 4 songs, Say it Aint So by Weezer, 99 Red Balloons the Goldfinger version, our own variation of I Wanna be Sedated by the Ramones and finally Moon over Marin by the Dead Kennedys. The recording took one instrumental session for the base of each song, then one session for touch ups and vocal recording, and then came the final day where we began mixing. First we started at Skidmore then we took the operation to Naz's house and finished everything up there. ROCK! We had recording experience. Next came set building time for our first 'show.'
We played in Casey's basement for our friend Courtney's birthday party. We had our set list, which was rather extensive. It included the 4 songs we recorded on our 'album' along with Roots Radicals, Ruby Soho and Old Friend by Rancid, In Bloom by Nirvana, Riot and Police Truck by the DKs, Freeze up by Operation Ivy, Where have you been by Reel Big Fish, and finally Burnout and Hitchin’ a Ride by GreenDay. Most of us rocked that gig pretty well, except Reuben who we began to notice wasn’t learning the songs. This came to a head at the basement gig when Johnny reached over and unplugged Reuben’s guitar during 99 Red Balloons (which he didn’t know for the recording either). After our set the band had a talk. Later Casey, Johnny and (reluctantly) Pat, decided that a test must be administered to see if Reuben had what it took to stay in the band.
That test came when Casey scheduled our first real gig for April of 03', band night at Temple Sinai. We used the same list we did for the basement gig with one addition, Maxwell Murder, a bass solo song by Rancid, which was used as an encore. The importance of this test was raised even more when we were invited to play as live entertainment for the Post Prom Party at the Saratoga City Center. So it was settled, if Reuben didn’t know his songs for Band night, wed go trio for post prom. Lots of work went in to planning band night, hard nit-pickety practices trying to get every detail covered. Reuben was progressing and we thought we were in the clear, unfortunately we were wrong. Band night came and we played Headline with 2 other bands, The Annoying Customers (which has now been redone with a new bassist and some other little additions) and Radio Act (now known as Roan and have gained a lead singer). The show was great, save for Reuben's little screw-ups. Normally they would be acceptable but the fact that we had been together doing the same songs since before new years made us seriously doubt he’s band-playing ability. He was a great guitarist mind you, but just not what we were looking for in terms of commitment. Later that week, we broke the bad news to him in school; he left in a huff and hasn’t really conversed with the members of JSCLC since.
And now we had to prepare for the Post Prom because we thought this gig would be HUGE! We experimented with the new trio and realized some songs needed to be ditched. We got rid of In Bloom (which was Reuben’s solo song: just for the record he almost missed his solo at band night) Riot, Say It Aint So (one of our best songs) and some others, longer ones that required multiple guitars. We were as set as we were going to be. That night Casey and Johnny took their girlfriends Sari Gardner and Lauren Chambers (respectively) out to dinner. One thing lead to another and these things pissed off Johnny almost to the point of not playing that night. After all that work and preparation for this gig we thought might be big, Johnny almost quit right there. THE only reason he decided to stay was because of Pat, who put in just as much work as the other but didn’t deserve to get screwed over like Johnny thought Casey should for the 'exchanges' made at dinner. The gig itself almost didn’t get off the ground for another reason, technical difficulties between us and the DJ (who’s set up we were going to use as our PA). Once that was fixed it was pretty smooth from there. The panties flew during ‘99 Red Balloons,’ ‘Where have you been’ was OK even though we only had one guitar for it, and we even tried to cover Reel Big Fish's ‘Beer’ by having Pat listen to it (which he did only a couple of times). In the end the only great part about the gig was Johnny's improv for MAX, passed that we were tired, cranky and starting to realize things may not work. After this Post Prom, this 'version' of JSCLC never met again. (Johnny and Casey settled their dispute as well)
The summer marked jamming a lot with no set band. Pat was away all summer working at camp (when he got back he was drafted by The Annoying Customers) so while Casey and Johnny played around with sounds they did it with a new drummer, Marc Montano. The kid was amazing. After 3 sessions we got together and started writing originals to jam to. Casey had "Hole in the Snow" and we came up with other ideas hoping they would fly. Our goal was to eventually play Ska, so that’s how we wrote our songs, empty for horns.
Shortly after we began Jamming hard core Naz heard about our new band and told us he would record whatever we wanted in exchange for yard work. We took him up on it and did a recording session in August of 03’. 3 songs, Beer by Reel Big Fish, Hole in the Snow, Casey’s original, and Brain Stew by Green Day. School began and not much happened in terms on the band. Every once in a while we'd get together and jam a little. This got redundant and we wanted to work on SKA! ENTER: CARTER HARRIS! Plays 3 different kinds of Sax and was just what we needed to begin working on our goal. Unfortunately not much more happened once we got Carter. Casey had Drama club and Carter and Johnny belonged to the Saratoga Crew Regime... team.
Things slowed until new years when Casey sprung on us that we had another gig to play! Band night 04! Which was to take place on January 24. We had less than a month to get our shit together. We didn’t want to go all covers like last time so we tried to pump out some originals. Johnny came up with "NEGATIVITY" one day after school. Perfect! A metal song one original down 3 to go! Not the case, NEGATIVITY was over 7min long and had several odd time signatures, which proved too difficult to learn in the month’s time we were given. Sacrifices had to be made and NEGATIVITY was one of them. We decided to go with a jam song instead, Scorpion Petting Zoo, a slapper- Funk song written by Johnny, took NEGATIVITY’s place as our ‘Lengthy, Musically inclined’ original tune. We played it for 15 min straight one time at a practice each with our own inprov solos. The clock was ticking! We had less than 2 weeks till band night and no set list! We agreed more sacrifices had to be made, only 3 originals, SPZ, Hole and "the Mellow Tune" a jam song we wrote one practice and Casey put words to. The list came out like this, Beer and Skatanic by Reel Big Fish, our swung version of Enter Sandman by Metallica, hole, mellow, Pop rocks and Coke by Green Day, our StemCell classic, 99 Red balloons, SPZ and an encore of Beer again. Short but sweet list that got the job done. Carter got his singing and sax-ing in and we all rocked out before the metal-heads came on and did their thing. All in all band night 04 was a lot of fun. Which brings us to the present, we’re currently working on a plethora of ideas for the sound we want, which may include more horns, maybe not. But! Still the Stem Cell story does continue.....