From humble beginnings...
In 1995, Steven Baker asked his grandfather to teach him how to play guitar. Paul Tackett brought out a 57-year-old Gibson acoustic that he used to play country music in a band while in the military, stationed in Japan. It had been many years since he last played, but he showed Steven the handful of chords he remembered. A few months later, Steven had a small collection of redundant melodies compiled on a demo tape entitled Steven Baker's Evocative Chronicles.
After this, came a drummer friend from the Jessamine County marching band, Jason Goodwill, and a new demo entitled "Andrea's Calendar." Steven had a high-school crush on a girl named Andrea. Feelings seemed mutual, but whenever he would try to ask her out, her calendar was always mysteriously full. One day during practice, Jason came in and made the suggestion that they switch the name to Dementia Cookie Box. "Why?" Asked Steven. "Because it just sounds cool."
This is the guitar Steven learned how to play on. At the time, it was about 57 years old, and terribly hard to fret. Today, this guitar is over 70 years old. Steven had it refurbished in Nashville as a gift for his grandfather a few years ago. It plays much better these days.
Paul Tackett, trying out his newly refurbished axe. This picture was taken on his birthday in 2011.
For a combined Christmas and birthday gift that year (since Steven's birthday falls in December,) he asked his mother for a guitar of his own.
Stephanie Holt (Arban) came from a musical background herself. She and Steven's father were in a country music band together before Steven was born. She was the singer, and Steven's dad played drums. They had quite a following in their small, hometown, and Stephanie had the opportunity to make it far with her vocal talents. Doing right by her son, she chose not to subject Steven to a life on the road. To this day she still supports Steven in all of his musical endeavours, and for Christmas of 1995 she bought him not one, but TWO of his own guitars. First, a Yamaha Pacifica electric, and an Art & Luthrie handmade acoustic from Canada.
Now that Steven had his first pieces of personal music equipment, it wasn't long before he was able to pave the road for what would be come a 20-year long adventure.
Steven's first, and only electric guitar until 2007. Since 1995, he has only purchased one other electric guitar. It was a First Act from Toys R Us, so that he could keep one guitar on stage tuned to dropped-D and one in standard during touring efforts in support of the No Rest for Heroes album.
A message from Steven's number 1 fan.
After the Dementia Cookie Box split up during the first part of 1997, Steven's artistic talents were split in two directions. Barry Corman had been playing guitar for the DCB, but also writing some of his own songs on the side. Steven recently learned through experimentation that he might be able to play drums. After a bit of practice, the two got together to bang out some new ideas and recruited Barry's neighbor, Todd Burton to play bass. This new project (which remained unnamed until showtime) was a harder rock music that would survive in a playlist today made up of Nirvana, Silverchair and Helmet tracks. Claw was born in the last half of 1997 and would be Steven and Barry's new passion for the next year.
Being the prolific songwriter that he was, Steven couldn't completely give up on his own music, or on the Dementia Cookie Box. He started playing acoustic shows across central Kentucky under the name Love Spawns Lament, and tucked a few tunes away here and there for whenever the Dementia Cookie Box would resurface again.
Steven's mother, coming through for him yet again, helped him purchase a multi-track cassette recorder in 1997. This Tascam Porta-studio 4-track recorder, coupled with his original dual-deck karaoke machine for mixdowns, would usher in a whole new era of music creation and production for Steven and company. Suddenly, and for the first time, he had near-studio quality and control right in his bedroom! With a fresh pack of Maxell type II high bias tapes, he set off to make new demos.
Ideas poured like rain, and every bit of spare change was spent on new tapes. Steven recorded 7 songs (mostly new, with a couple DCB tunes) and compiled an EP entitled "Love Spawns Lament." After this, he used the machine to experimentally record a demo for the Claw project.
With this machine, Steven's creative output doubled, then tripled. Between 1997 and 1999 the music shifted, became more aggressive and would lead to the first full-length Dementia Cookie Box studio album, Escape to Anyville.
Things went strong for Claw throughout 1997 and 1998. Then the boys graduated from high school, and Steven started college that summer at Sullivan University in Lexington, Kentucky. Steven was pursuing a business degree with aspirations of opening a music venue or record store/company or some musical love child of the two.
During his time at Sullivan, Steven teamed up with Eric Marcum, and the two worked together to resurrect the Dementia Cookie Box. Searching for a means for performance as a 2-man project, Steven favored electronic drum loops heavily with these new songs. Influenced by the likes of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, the new album quickly took on a techno-industrial vibe. However, Steven still held true to his 90s alt-rock roots and tracks were peppered in that were reminiscent of bands like Hum, Jawbox and the Flaming Lips.
Steven and Eric completed the record by renting some studio equipment from the local gear shop, and hunkered down in Steve's room for any free afternoon or weekend they could spare. A photo-shoot with worms and rotten fruit, and a trip to Kinko's to run copies was all that was left before officially releasing the first full-length Dementia Cookie Box album. Steven was working at Toys R Us in 1999, and wanted some special packaging - something that didn't look like it came from Wal-Mart. He found some colored jewel cases in variety packs. They separated the cases into the three parts and then reassembled them in a mixed variety of colored parts. Each CD had its own look and with the black and white inserts, the final products were eye-candy to the max. Since Steven had access to a shrink-wrap machine through Toys R Us, he was able to make this a retail-ready release with an official look.
This is the image from the 1999 Escape to Anyville photo shoot that was chosen for inclusion in the packaging for the album.
(to be continued)