And so it begins... again.
Escape to Anyville hit the streets in 1999 and all was poised to prevail for the Dementia Cookie Box. Steven and Eric organized an experimental 2-man show to see how this new music would translate to a stage presence. The operation consisted of Steven sitting at a drumkit with a microphone and keyboard off to the side. Affixed to the keyboard via duct tape (grunge-galore) were a series of guitar effects pedals that the keyboard was chained through. Eric took on all of the guitar duties with his own series of effects. The inevitable third member of the band, the K-Mart Karaoke machine, was loaded with tapes of Anyville drum loops (just in case the occasion were to arise.) This lone, experimental, garage show was the first and last to be attempted by the duo. Without willing musicians and a proper venue to perform, this 2nd incarnation of the Dementia Cookie Box was not able to properly prosper.
Steve and Eric parted ways and the next few years saw Steven become a musical hermit – buddies at his side were a Dr. Rhythm drum machine and his Tascam 4-track Portastudio. Working mostly out of a walk-in closet, lined with fluffy and stylish sound barriers, Steven put together the follow-up to Escape to Anyville. With every new release, the production sounds of DCB music became more crisp and intentional. The Drum Machine Tapes were no exception. This 7-song EP would serve as a demo in the fruitless search to find new cookies to help paint Steven’s vision on stage.
Purchased used at the Doo Wop Shop in Lexington, Kentucky, this machine was Steven's friend during the drummerless days of the DCB.
What once documented Steven's early acoustic ballads for Love Spawn's Lament had now become his main studio rig (coupled with effects pedals and a K-Mart karaoke machine.)
Coming off of the emotional high of Claw, feeling the power of performing in a rock band with an actual following and buzz, Steven couldn’t help but adjust the sounds of his own music to a more intense and dark atmosphere. This new vibe was apparent on Escape to Anyville, but took full-form in its aftermath. It was also during this era when Steven fulfilled drumming duties for a Lexington-based, gothic-industrial project called Broken Halos. This exposure to new audiences undoubtedly effected the direction of the DCB around the millennium.
Between 2000 and 2002, Steven began honing in on his production skills, and developing new music for the Dementia Cookie Box. Shine: The Black Rays of Day came to fruition, and would mark the most professional and polished DCB release to-date. Steven had acquired a computer that would run multi-track software, and ushered in the days of the DD Clip Pro! With new power comes new responsibility, and it wasn’t long until the new production sounds coming from Mutt Studios were being noticed by other local talent.
A basic meat and potatoes multi-tracking DAW. Easy to install and run on Windows machines, this was the software that helped teach Steven the ways of sound engineering. Mutt studios used this software from the early 2000s up until around 2008, when Mutt became Harvey's Head studios in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Steven then trained himself on Apple's Logic Pro, which he still uses today.
Steven was drumming for another Lexington-based group called 8 Miles to Midway during the early 2000s. Performing at local shows put him in contact with other bands in the area that were in need of demos. Steven already had his makeshift studio set up in the basement of his grandparents’ house for DCB operations, it seemed only logical to invite others to partake in the proverbial party. Producing records for other bands with other musical styles also helped Steven learn more about the craft and manipulating a wider variety of sounds.
Around early 2003, Steven was involved in an automobile accident. Driving home from work he was rear-ended. Sitting at a red light, with his foot on the break, the impact shoved him 54 feet through the intersection. As it turned out, the driver had fallen asleep on pain pills. After many days of recuperation and rehab for whiplash injuries, Steven replaced his vehicle and used the remainder of an insurance settlement to purchase new sound equipment. He was finally ready to launch his own business – something he had been wanting to do since attending business school at Sullivan University in 1998. The aptly named Dozing Lady Records was born.
Designed by Barry Corman around 2003, this logo would find itself on many Dozing Lady Records releases over the next decade; Not only Dementia Cookie Box releases, but other bands who came to Steven for CD and DVD replication services while he attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
For many years, the Smashing Pumpkins had been a huge influence on Steven, his music and his image. To this day he still tells people that, “Billy Corgan taught him how to sing.” After Shine, Steven contracted writer’s block with DCB music. He had gone back to school to pursue a degree in education, and didn’t have as much free time to devote to writing. However, during his stint at the University of Kentucky, Billy Corgan started a new band called Zwan. This new Corgan music was more poppy and less intense than later-days Pumpkins records. Again, Steven was inspired by Billy’s new shenanigans and decided that a new project was exactly what he needed to overcome his roadblocks in cookie land.
Based heavily around a spiritual concept and newfound interests in the afterlife (brought upon by having to make peace with the recent loss of his great-grandmother,) Steven put together new songs and a new project called White Debbie. The tale of White Debbie and the Halo Earth can be found HERE. This coming of White Debbie and her attempts to free the trapped souls brought upon the end of the 2nd phase of the Dementia Cookie Box.
(to be continued)