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Pee Are Eye, See Eee Tag. GOOOOO PRICE TAG!

If you have yet gandered at my discography, you may have wondered, "What is Price Tag?" If you have searched for my name on the internet, you may have seen one of my email addresses is pricetag52@yahoo.com... and you may have wondered, "Why Price Tag?" If neither of those, maybe you saw the article on the left and thought, "I wonder what Price Tag is." I feel it's now time to address all those questions and more. It's time... for the Price Tag story, as retold in 2006...


Price Tag performs at the 1997 South Carolina Gifted and Talented Program's "State Fair"

Price Tag was definitely not my first band. In fact, though I was only in third grade, I had already had two others. The first was created with my sister and Joe (you know both of them, they are recurring folks on this site), and since all of us had last names beginning with W, we called ourselves The W Band. I very clearly remember walking across the street to Joe's house and coming up with songs in his hammock. In fact, before recording, we had four albums completely planned out. Maybe four of the songs were "written," but we had the titles of all of them and who was GOING to write them:

The W Band Songbook

   (click to see the front page)

(click to see the 1st page)

(click to see the 2nd page)    

(click to see the 3rd page)

(click to see the last page)

Our discography was destined to be Dark Fire, Tree in the Deep, Stop Away, and Who and What, but we only began to record some of Dark Fire. I remember walking over to Joe's house with my sister's guitar and my GE tape recorder with the intent to record the album. I even remember what Joe's room looked like and where we sat. What I don't remember... is what I did with the tape we recorded.

The W Band basically never did anything else after that one recording "session." I moved on to another band called The Leozards shortly afterwards. Some random girl in my 1st grade class, Kristen, and I decided we were a band and she came over the afternoon of the last day of class and recorded some improvised music with me and my sister. This tape definitely exists. In fact, here's one of the songs:

That's definitely me doing the vocals and bucket drumming. Do I say, "She was like a shining diamond, like a treasure tropini?" I really don't know. We called this collection of recordings Fordonin, though I don't consider it part of my discography. Strangely, Kristen didn't come back to my school, and The Leozards was finished.

I recorded a lot of myself drumming on buckets, hitting water-filled glasses, and various other things over the course of the next year. I also got a drumset and started taking drum lessons. Long story short, by the time the second half of third grade rolled around, I was MORE than prepared for a new band.


I used to bring my tape recorder all of the time to school and record strange things at recess (most famous one, "I have to pee.") so I definitely would have been taken seriously if I said I wanted to make a band. I imagine I was always talking about music to my friends. I don't really know, but I know somehow it came up in conversation with both Sam Spear and Jonathan Whitaker one day at recess. Sam said he was making a band with Chris Duffie, one of his friends, and he couldn't be in a band with me and Jonathan. We didn't care. Jonathan said he'd be the lead singer, inspired by the great band Green Day, and I'd play the drums and sing too. That's a pretty good combination even compared to today's standards...? Before we had a chance to record or plan anything though, Sam decided he wanted to be in our band after all. He would play keyboard and sing. Awesome. We were ready.

Within a few days, we had written some song lyrics at school and rehearsed them a lot. Notice I said we rehearsed them? This was the first and last time Price Tag rehearsed for years. After this, we just recorded our rough takes and used those as finals. Jonathan kept bringing interesting-seeming songs he wrote... but then would admit that they were actually Green Day lyrics. That bastard! Our first recording session took place in the span of about 45 minutes. We recorded about 4 minutes of music, which when edited made about 15 minutes of music. Jonathan had to leave early so Sam and I recorded an improv piece where I would yell, "Here comes ______!" and that person would play a solo on his instrument. Nice stuff to the max. After recording, we had steak biscuits - Sam's staple food for years to come.

According to Alex from 1996-1998:

edit (v.) - Take a small amount of music (from 15 seconds to almost two minutes) and use two tape recorders to loop the small music onto another tape a few times until it seems long enough to count as a full song.

We felt on top of our game. We played in our third grade talent show (recorded - stuck on our first album too) and started to advertise for ourselves amongst our classmates. Eventually, the time came where we needed to record some new material. Our hits "Nonsense-Noncents" and "Days" could only take us so far. In school, the three of us collaborated on some new music. I also continued to push the bounds with demanding music like... Kitchen Rock, which required guitar and drums simultaneously - something Price Tag was NOT ready for.

After the smooth recording session for these three hits and some other improvised pieces and some more editing, we had a LOT of music. We were definitely destined for greatness... but then, something terrible happened. Jonathan quit. It was then down to me and Sam.

The Alf Phenomenon: With the loss of our third member, I came up with absolutely the dumbest idea. The idea was totally inspired by The Beatles' Paul Is Dead clues. We would pretend like there was still a third member named Alf, but the catch is... it was really Sam. That's as much sense as it made. Example? On our second album, there's a song called "Flaeesi." What's that backwards? I continued to put Alf clues in album covers and lyrics until Sam was kicked out for one album.

Either way, with Jonathan gone, practicing no longer existed; we only recorded. For the rest of our first album, Sam and I switched instruments a lot, and I played way too much harmonica. By the end of that summer, we had our first album complete though... and I called it Connection!


Connection (1996)

Before I continue, I will let you know: this music is not good. We were in elementary school and I only knew how to play the drums, NOTHING else. Sam sort of knew his way around the keyboard, but that couldn't make up for the overall incompetency.


The Crazy Cat Walks at Midnight (1996)

The next school year, fourth grade, proved very important for Price Tag. We recorded our second album, The Crazy Cat Walks at Midnight, very quickly, but Price Tag was about to change...

Chris Duffie, the one Sam originally formed a band with in third grade, was in our class in fourth grade, and we definitely needed a new member. Sam and I were in the middle of recording our unfortunate Halloween album, Boo!, when Chris joined. Strangely, Chris and I continued making music for the next few months without Sam.


Boo! (1996)

Peace (1997)

Chris and I became fast friends. He had a similar background in music to me, and since Sam had to switch classes when they brought in a new teacher, we were the only two that had easy access to each other. Together, we finished Boo! and created a terrible Christmas album called Peace. Chris initially joined as guitar player to fit with my drums and Sam's keyboards, but I had been playing guitar for a few months and I was actually better than Chris. Sam also took a lot of interest in the drums, and Chris found himself right in the middle, semi-capable of playing either. At this point, the roles switched. I became the main guitar player, Chris the second guitarist and occasional drummer, Sam the drummer (when available). With this huge change in Price Tag, more planning was necessary when writing the music. I crafted a retarded set of musical symbols and tried to write music in traditional notation for our band. The second was a failed idea, but the first stuck.... and sucked.


Symbols for music-making


Symbols used in music


Trying to write real music

By the time the three of us finally played together, about 3/4 into the fourth grade year, we suddenly sounded a LOT better. I was obsessed with Jimi Hendrix, and we were surprisingly moderately able to play some of his music. It was also around the time Sam and I had formed the band a year before, so we celebrated our first anniversary by planning an album entitled, 1st. It took a few months before we started recording material, partially due to how popular we became around our school. We played on our school's TV show (though we played Purple Haze, argg), and then a concert in front of over 2,000 people for the South Carolina Gifted and Talented Program's "State Fair." By the time we were ready to record, we wanted a keyboard player...


Early cover for 1st. Notice the "ALF" on the left.

We started speaking with Lindsay McPhail, a girl in our fourth grade class who was known for playing the piano. She seemed very interested in playing with our band, but by the time we had the details all worked out, it was summertime!

Some of Price Tag's ideas that never came to fruition

Weird cover, strange idea. I guess this idea came about when I decided to have our albums all be what was on the price tag that our name came from...? "Paying the price of... The Animal of the Sunken Ship," doesn't have that sort of sound to it. I would have liked to see what we could do with this though...

Our third album is not called "Halloweenies," and Chris and I never made an album under the title "Air Conditioner." I really don't know what we were thinking when we typed this

I remember coming up with ideas for this movie, including starting off on a wintry planet (Empire Strikes Back?) and having someone's hand come off due to frostbite (or by Darth Vader's lightsaber?). Half of this was done with marker, the other half with MS Paint on my Windows 3.1 computer at the time. Why did I put Jimi Hendrix on it?


Click for larger picture

An album completely based on the nine planets? That sounds exactly like one of my ideas. Never happened though.

Not yet giving up on the idea of making a movie... here's a movie set in space!! The only difference is, there is a script (or at least the first three pages) for this one and it's a musical! It's absolutely horrible. There was no way I knew how to make "jazzy" music then. No way.

That summer, Price Tag played a concert during a two-week art program and got paid $30.00! Also, we invited Lindsay up to the stage (she was in the program) to play with us for our last song and Chris walked around the audience with his acoustic guitar. We were masters of entertainment. We recorded a lot of Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival that summer, with a little original music to boot, and eventually put together the mish-mash of recordings into 1st.


1st (1997)

Though the next album in our line sounded much different, it was a logical extension of 1st. We had started recording some material onto a karaoke machine so we could use microphones (up until then, we had used my GE cassette recorder with built-in microphone), and I got a 4-track cassette recorder before we were finished. Also, Chris decided he wanted to play the drums full-time, so I allowed him to kick Sam out of the band... Why? I don't know. After finishing our next album, Shofuda (Japanese for Price Tag), full of more original material (though Purple Haze was recorded MANY times for it), things started to go downhill...


Shofuda (1997)

After performing at our elementary school's Fall Festival, Lindsay quit the band. Also, after a few more months under the new band name New Clear NRG (Nuclear Energy, get it?) and then Toadstool, Chris and I had difficulties. He kept saying he was gonna quit and then change his mind. Eventually he did... Price Tag was dead.


But there was one kink in the death of Price Tag: we were scheduled to have another concert at that art program for a second year. Chris, now officially NOT my friend, said he'd still play, he just didn't want to be in the band. Sure, buddy. That works. I talked to Sam and told him the whole story, and he was more than happy to rekindle that old Price Tag flame for another show and maybe even a few albums.

With my sister helming the keyboards, Sam and I got to work on our next album, Toadstool (guess where that came from), which had a lot of new material with some covers of ELP and Shawn Phillips. It didn't take too long to record, and we played our show that summer.


Toadstool (1998)

We stayed under the radar for a while, that is until sixth grade came to town. We were going to different schools, but I tried to keep the Price Tag spirit going. We cranked out one more album, Funktified, in a month or two and played quite a few more small concerts, but we realized that we were milking a dead horse... Price Tag had to be shut down.

Of course, a few more "unreleased" collections came about, like Price Tag: Live and From the Vaults Vol. 1, but Price Tag was done. For good.