Jun 14 • 2M

50/50 Where It Counts

There were giants in those days

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It barely makes sense to me that the Sebutones album 50/50 Where It Counts came out between Vertex and Man Overboard. It doesn’t sound anything like either of them.

50/50 was a big leap for Rob (Sixtoo) and I from Psoriasis. I guess it makes sense. When we were making it, I had a few years under my belt with the SP-1200, so I had improved a bit as a beat-maker. And Rob and I split production duties. His beats are nuts. We had an aesthetic. We wanted the beats to be menacing and melancholy. We were going for an apocalyptic vibe.

Our philosophy as a group was also more clearly defined. One of our big sources of inspiration was a book called Behold A Pale Horse by William Cooper. We were also listening to Art Bell on the radio. So it’s a weird thing to think about now - given the times we’re living in - but we were pretty deep into the conspiracy theories. It was mostly Area 51 type-stuff we were interested in but when I saw Rob recently, there a bit of nervous laughter when one of us jokingly said, “I wonder if there were any Sebutones fans in DC on January 6th.”

Overall, the album has a sci-fi apocalypse vibe going on. It’s pretty Mad Max-y. Would it be fair to say it’s cinematic? We definitely took inspiration from lots of different movies: B-movies of all kinds, the Theremin documentary from 1993, a documentary about Peter Tosh called Red X, Naked by Mike Leigh, David Lynch stuff… just about anything weird/dark/underground. The album title is taken from a quote from a Russ Meyer movie. 

The production on 50/50 is very dense. There’s a lot going on. It’s packed with ideas. It’s challenging. It’s also very long - well over an hour. Listening now, one thing that stands out is that a lot of the songs have extended codas at the end. Maybe that’s a product of different times. Or maybe it feels a bit unnecessarily long to my ears now because of how short our attention spans have become. So it requires a bit of patience. But I don’t think it ever really lags because the ideas keep coming at you. 

In a previous post I wrote about the first Sebutones album and mentioned how we shot a video for a song called “To Mock A Killingbird” at Rob’s school. This album was also recorded at Rob’s school. We recorded using ATAD technology, which was new at the time and then fell out of favor quickly. I remember that when we were recording and mixing, everything sounded amazing in the studio but when we listened back in other environments, it sounded super-weird. Some elements got lost in the mix. My vocals are a bit low at points. It’s weird. It kinda spooked us out. We thought the studio might have been haunted. 

So now we’re faced with a dilemma. Over the years, Rob and I have both wished we could take a second stab at mixing the album and maybe do some editing along the way. Personally, I’d love to cut it down to 50 minutes or so (not sure if that’s possible). But ADAT technology has been wiped almost completely off the face of the earth! We’d need to get our hands on an archaic machine to get the job done.

There is good news. I recently found a guy who specializes in transferring recordings and files from various old school formats and he says he can transfer the individual 50/50 files for us. So we’re hoping to get back to the album and do it justice soon.

And there’s more good news. All the excitement has inspired Rob and I and we’ve recorded something new. We’ve started with one song, which is completely bonkers. We’ve talked about doing a bit more. I’m hoping to get that out into the world by the end of this year, maybe early next. 

I think the Sebutones made two great albums. We also put on a pretty special live show. I still hear from people all the time who saw us Scribble Jam in Cincinnati in… was it ’98? Seems we blew a few minds that night. After the show, Mr. Dibbs inducted Rob and I into the 1200 Hobos crew. That was a huge honor. It’s still a point of pride for me. I wish Rob and I could have kept it going. Not too long after 50/50 came out, Rob moved to Montreal and then a few years later, I moved to France. We only found ourselves living in the same city again recently. 

Do we have another album in us? I’ll never say never. To this day, I’ll hear something on an old record and think to myself, “that has Sebutones vibes” and I squirrel it away in the hopes. I should say at this point that over the last couple of years, I’ve chipped away at an album project with my #1 record-digging partner Birdapres and it has a bit of that Sebutones feel to it. That album is very close to done. Bird and I call ourselves Double Nice. I’m kinda hoping to have that album ready by September. It just needs a few finishing touches. 

Even if Rob and I never record another album, I think we left a nice little mark. The Sebutones were dope, if I say so myself. I remember once hearing that El-P really liked the 50/50 album. I wonder if that’s true. It would kinda make sense, I think. And I must say that some of Rob’s early tapes - 4 Elements, Return Of The Seeker, Progress - are among the illest ever. Classics, in my mind. Top tier Halifax hip hop. Total brilliance. 

So. The next thing I recorded after 50/50 was an album called Man Overboard and that one was a game-changer. It could be said that it’s the album that put me on the map. It led directly to my record deal. I’ll air it all out for you in the next post.

Until then…