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FW Weekly ...In His Own Time

2 1/2 years after Funland's fall, Peter Schmidt is through hanging around.

By Brian Blair

JULY 20, 1998:  New bands suck.

Which is not to say any new variation of music is bad or that any newly formed group doesn't have the potential for greatness, because that's not the case at all. The fact is that virtually every band to take up instruments had a period in the beginning when they weren't gelled into a cohesive unit and were in essence a couple of musicians trying to figure out where their music was headed. The saving grace for new bands is that they are allowed to endure this period in obscurity because no one is paying attention to them, yet. As the music finds its course, audiences find the band.

The same is not true, however, if the band contains someone who has already built a following. In that case, the spotlight is on from the beginning.

No one is more aware of this than Peter Schmidt. As the vocalist/guitarist prepares to release his new album, Love or the Decimal Equivalent, he knows that his one-man project, Legendary Crystal Chandelier, will spend some being compared to his former band, Funland.

"I feel like there will be a lot of people paying attention at first and if it doesn't immediately pay off, people will go, 'Ah, yeah, he can't do it again,' " Schmidt says. "But, I'm not interested in doing anything again."

Funland, however, wasn't just anything. The three-piece group, which also featured guitarist Clark Vogeler (now with The Toadies) and drummer Will Johnson (now with Centro-matic), had a strong hold on the area music scene. The group's better-than-average, guitar-intensive power pop got them signed to Arista, which released an ep, Sweetness, in 1993. After requesting off the label, the group went to record The Funland Band on local label Steve Records in 1995. A year later the band split, with each of the three members heading in different directions.

"Funland was cool. I loved it and I'm sure the other two guys loved it, it was where our three personalities intersected," Schmidt remembers. "But, we each had big chunks of our personality that we didn't get to use in Funland. It was pretty much just where they met and I wanted to explore those parts that didn't intersect with someone else."

With Legendary Crystal Chandelier, Schmidt is able to explore those areas. By turning down the guitars and creating music that is subtle and simplistic, Schmidt has turned the focus to the heart of the songs, their lyrics. In the toned-down setting, Schmidt's lyrics about waiting for something that he hasn't received have resonance, although Decimal Equivalent begs for a guitar led pop song like Schmidt has proven himself so capable of writing.

"I didn't want as much guitar. I didn't want it to be as much of a rock thing. I didn't want to bold people with loudness," Schmidt says. "It was just a focus on songwriting."

Decimal Equivalent has been a long time coming. After the Funland split, Schmidt decided to take time off and decide what he wanted to do next. After six months, he emerged to play a New Year's Eve show and then went home to sit for another five months before deciding to record. In May 1997 Schmidt officially began the process of making an album. "Everything that could go wrong from that point on has started to go wrong and has continued to go wrong," Schmidt laments.

In an attempt to devote full attention to recording, Schmidt quit his job and began living off savings. An unnamed accomplice who was to help out by editing the album on computers proved to be less than reliable. "One of the main guys that I was supposed to work with had some equipment problems and some flaking out problems," Schmidt says. "It kept stretching on and on, and the next thing you know it's six months later and we hadn't even started."

As a result, Schmidt decided to go it alone, with Matt Pence (Centro-matic) adding his assistance. Although the two knew nothing about editing on computer, Schmidt bought the necessary equipment and the duo began learning how to use the new technology. Recording that should have taken a month lasted 3 1/2 months because the pair "didn't know what the hell we were doing." By the time the album was completed last March, Schmidt had gone back to work and was short on time to put into putting the finishing touches on elements like the cover artwork. What could be explanations for lack of progress may also be excuses for work that may not have been approached with the usual dedication that bands put in when recording. One local music insider claims that Schmidt was "dragging his feet." That's unknown but Schmidt admits that he was growing tired of the process in its final stages."By the time we were ending it, I was so sick of driving out to Denton every day, and I was so sick of the fucking album that I just wanted it over with," Schmidt says before adding with a laugh, "That's not necessarily the best attitude to have."

Although much of the music recorded was performed by Schmidt and Pence, area musicians Brandon Curtis (Captain Audio), Doni Blair (Hagfish), James Henderson (Dooms U.K.) and Jeffery Barnes (Brave Combo) added their work to the project. An album of guest musicians, however, creates problems in playing the music live because Schmidt currently has no band to back him. Initially he thought that each show would be a collection of guests but found that trying to find time to practice and play a show proved near impossible. Schmidt is now considering finding musical hired guns to play what they're told because, no matter how many people are on stage, this is a one-man show. "I've been in two bands now that were democracies and that's great," Schmidt states. "I loved it but now I want to do my thing."

Musicians with ability and no desire to express, ideas please form a line to the right.

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