Holy crap it’s April 2016 already!!!

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hahaha… obviously, I haven’t been keeping up with things here, which I apologize for. Between social media and email, I do a LOT of writing, but I often neglect keeping up on my own web site(s). I’d rather be working on music – or getting sucked into dumb arguments on Facebook, it would seem – than dicking around with HTML, so let me do a brief summary of what’s been going on since the IMDICF release.

My solo album In My Dreams I Can Fly sold nicely, but there are still a lot of people it didn’t reach, which I suppose is to be expected these days with the loooong tail. It’s not too late to purchase a copy! Or simply go listen to it since it’s all online, free. The Berends Brothers Band was gigging steadily up through the end of 2013 when I decided ‘this really isn’t what I want to be doing’ and called it a day. I didn’t set out in life to play old cover tunes in bars, as much as I enjoyed a brief revisiting of the past and it was good to concentrate on just pure guitar playing for a while. It was nice to get out and play just to keep playing, but it felt like moving backwards which was making me crazy.

Originally, I wanted to take some time off and come back playing my own music, but as fate would have it, our bass player moved a ridiculous distance away and much like (exactly like) with Mastermind, I wasn’t up to the frustrating search, yet again, for a bass player that would fit and had the musical chops to pull it off (my stuff), so I retreated to the studio to write and record. The first half of 2014 I was kind of moping around, bummed out at yet again being back at square one, but I started writing in earnest by the end of the year. Throughout 2015 I was doing a variety of studio work for various artists worldwide which I wrote about earlier in the News section of this web site, and working on shaping up my own new material.

For Mastermind fans…. 2017 will be the 30th Anniversary of the band and a part of me feels like it would be nice to pick that up again. At least do some reunion type shows, but they would have to be done right. I don’t want to throw something together just to do it. I’ve tossed the idea around with (Mastermind drummer) Rich and a few other folks, but nothing firm has come of it. The other part of me feels like I am not so sure I want to revisit that stuff. Again, it feels like moving backwards and without a great bass player, keyboard person, and proper production, slugging through just to do it would be agonizing. But I certainly haven’t ruled it out.

The Cassette Archives

Which brings us to the present. My musical tastes and interests have also been evolving over the years and given what I have to work with – just me, myself, and I at this point – I am moving back into electronic music which is where I was going before Mastermind became a thing. This brings me to what I really wanted to talk about now, which is both moving forward AND going way back at the same time.

Back in 1988 while we were struggling to get Mastermind off the ground I made another, now lost in the annals of time, cassette-release-only solo album entitled “Life Cycle” which some long-time fans may remember. It was kind of a heavy New Agey thing loaded with synths and a bit of guitar playing, similar in concept to what I’m workng on now. I thought it’d be nice to put that out there again before I put up anything new in the electronic-ish vein, if for no other reason than to show that this has been a part of my musical persona for a really long time. Not just blowing with the winds of change. All that took a back seat once Mastermind started gaining recognition because, you know, playing in a band is (mostly) a lot more enjoyable than staring at a computer screen all day by yourself.

The only problem was… I didn’t have a copy of the album anywhere! Maybe on 10″ reel or DAT, but the tape would need to be baked now, I’m certain, even if the old two-track machine does fire up, and the DAT machine hasn’t worked for years, so I started digging through the piles of old cassettes I’ve had in boxes for decades, looking for a copy. This has taken me in a completely different direction than I ever expected. Something that has now taken on a life of its own…. The Cassette Archives.

What I discovered when I started going through old tapes was a treasure trove of long lost, forgotten material, some as far back as 1975 and possibly even earlier. It suddenly felt urgent to get as much of this stuff as possible into digital format for preservation. As remarkably well as many of the cassettes have held up, I knew they wouldn’t last forever. I also wanted to clear out the drawers and boxes that have been taking up space for so many years. There are, quite literally, hundreds of cassettes I am working my way through and I have to sit there and listen to them which, of course, means hundreds of hours of my time. Many of the tapes are unlabeled, some have one thing at the beginning then something else at the end and who-knows-what on the flip side. The levels are all over the place, so I can’t just play them and go do something else. My full attention is required.

Once the stuff is in the computer it will also need to be restored and mastered into presentable shape. Also incredibly time consuming. One step at a time. This process naturally leads back to the boxes and boxes of old 7″ open reel tapes from 40+ years ago that are the source material, both in my possession and stuff my brothers have. Again, needing to be baked if they play at all. From the TANK days moving on into early Mastermind studio recordings, computer music in Win 98 software. Sadly, the Commodore 64 MIDI files are just lost forever beyond whatever audio recordings there are, which I have found a few of, up to the file cabinets full of more recent CD-R’s. Also in there are quite a few tapes from piano brother David’s post-Tank band “The Name” which I will also get to, as well as tons of stuff from studio clients over the years, but for the moment, Phase One is just getting all the personal cassette stuff reviewed and archived and this is turning out to be a gigantic task. Very much taking on a life of its own, as I said above.

The TANK Archives

Some of the things I’ve discovered are well worth the effort though, to me and hopefully others. There are the original three brothers Berends TANK demo recordings, which Mastermind fans in the know have been bugging me to release for years. Even more fascinating are the live rehearsal tapes including mind boggling cover renditions of ELP‘s “Pirates” and “Hoedown” which, especially considering our ages at the time, are simply incredible. I mean really. The shit is fucking AMAZING, there’s no other way to put it. Oh, and I did find a decent copy of Life Cycle as well!

There are tapes from almost every era of my (and my brothers and associates) musical history, from the original TANK tapes to the next generation Tank stuff with Kip Leming (bass) and later with Rich Harter (vocals) and Bob Delgado (2nd guitar), even stuff with my old college days bassist Angelo Grandinetti when we briefly called the band “Fortress” and then the pre-Mastermind line up with Phil Antolino called “Voyager One“. There are gigs and rehearsals with various bassists, MIDI demo sketches, out takes of Mastermind studio recordings, PLUS a ton of my own electronic 80’s pop-ish songs and commercial TV and film music which is what started this whole ball of wax rolling in the first place. Not to mention the drawers and boxes of VIDEO tapes I hope to get transferred at some point. OMG.

I am doing this both for family and personal reasons – The Berends Digital Archives – but also because there is a lot of great stuff here that the world deserves to hear! On top of all this there are two to three hours of all NEW music I am working on in spurts, some of which is finished, some not. Some of it still being revised. It’s a LOT of stuff. A daunting amount of stuff.

Basically I just wanted to explain that although I’ve been promising new music for a ridiculous length of time now, it will still be a while longer, so hang in there! It turns out taking time off from gigging turned into a good thing because I never had the inclination to go through this stuff before. My ears and brain can only handle so much and that was filled up with band noise. I do miss playing live though.

So… I am a curious and would love some feedback if anyone would be interested in CD versions of say, Tank, for example, or if downloads are the way to go these days. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. I could see maybe a limited run of duplicated discs or something.

OK, I best stop writing and get back to work. I hope to keep things updated more frequently than every three years or so, but who knows!

Thanks for looking in and reading this far.