In 1981, David Kauffman and Eric Caboor met at an open-mic night in the basement of a Methodist church in Echo Park, Los Angeles. They liked what they heard from each other, met up a few weeks later and decided to work together. After a period of recording in a makeshift studio in Caboor’s backyard that his father had built, they threw together their “darkest and least viable works”, paid $3000 to have 500 vinyl pressed and released it on their own label, Donkey Soul Music. About half of those copies went out to radio stations hoping to get some air play but only two got back to them, one in Alaska and the other in Nova Scotia.
Although they would reunite later in the decade and produce a couple of albums as The Drovers, they both gave up on their dream of fame after realising that it “demanded certain qualities and it became increasingly obvious that they had none.” Thankfully, after 30 years, Songs From Suicide Bridge was re-released by Light in the Attic. It’s one of a number of labels which digs up old forgotten gems, remasters them and puts them back out there.
Its main inspirations came from both men being naturally quite solitary individuals, along with their shared frustration with the music industry. The title certainly doesn’t deceive, with the album being all about themes such as depression, despair, alienation and isolation. Which is probably why they liked it out in Alaska and Nova Scotia. As Eric Caboor said in an interview earlier this year, it’s basically an album that asks the question: “Is life worth it, or should I just bust a cap in my head?” For the photograph used on the album cover, they drove out to a bridge in Pasadena where over 100 people had committed suicide since it was constructed 70 years earlier in 1913. Some of the songs do sound like they’re about to top themselves, but its the honesty that makes the album such a great listen.
Its austere sound is perfect for the feelings that it evokes, but it’s also likely down to the fact that it was recorded in Caboor’s backyard, using whatever equipment they could afford at the time. The sparseness and bleakness of their recordings give it such a great feel, being driven mainly by acoustic guitars and vocals, but there’s also some piano and mandolin thrown in on a couple of tracks. It isn’t all glum either, featuring moments of energetic strumming and some glimmers of hope. The album also doesn’t sound like it was recorded in the early 1980s, being suited more to the early 1990s. The vocal style in particular is reminiscent of the likes of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and others of that era.
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk, Blues
Released: 1984 (Original Release)/5 May 2015 (Reissue)