Still Reeling; What’s Left Of The Organ

2 Feb

Jenny Smith and Katie SketchThe term “the day the music died” still exists despite the fact that if you were to conduct a survey of 20 somethings and teenagers on the street, they would probably be completely unable to tell you where it came from. Much less who was on the plane when it crashed. Though I do love Buddy Holly something fierce, my own personal recollection of music sees 2006 as a far darker year than 1959.  No, there wasn’t a catastrophic accident that robbed me of my favorite musicians, but the sheer number of bands that simultaneously imploded did seem to look something like a pile of bodies at the time.  Especially in the realm of queercore; the punk genre that had only just picked itself up from the end of the Butchies in late 2005, would loose virtually all of its surviving hero’s before the years end.  

First, and possibly hardest, was the announcement on June 27 that Sleater-Kinney were taking the dreaded “indefinite hiatus.” That was quickly followed on August 4th, by Death From Above 1979 confirming they were split up for good. Then Matson Jones, one my favorite up-and-coming Colorado bands who had consistently out done themselves at every turn, announced their “break” as well. That fall we started to hear rumors, that were later confirmed, of Le Tigre going on hiatus. As if that weren’t enough just before the year was up The Organ proved to be the final nail in the coffin.

On December 7th visitors to their newly redesigned site were greeted by “we are sad to announce that we’re breaking up. We want to thank our friends, fans, and family for all the support you gave to us. Thank you. – Shelby, Jenny, Katie, Debora, and Shmoo.”  The Organ’s breakup hit particularly hard, largely because discography wise they were a very young band, and one with a vast amount of accolades to boot. In addition to that they had been hard at work recording a follow up to their debut full length “Grab That Gun” for the better part of a year. So it was, to say the least, a rather shocking and unwanted announcement for the fans.

© Sarah Bastin

It wasn’t until recently that I was able to dig up any more information on the subject. What I found was a rather depressing interview with lead singer Katie Sketch about the state of the band and herself at the time of their demise, and what prompted the release of the EP “Thieves” over 2 years after the fact. The cause of the former, as told by Sketch, was not terribly titillating or shocking, it was in fact the reason most bands implode: burn out. As for the later: record industry drama, what else.  

Label issues or no, listening to Thieves one cant help but hear the energetic “Fire in The Ocean” and its compliment, the beautiful closing track “Don’t be Angry” as both a hint at what was to come and an apologetic swan song.  Despite from its haunting melody and moody lyrics, two classic Organ features, “Don’t Be Angry” is also one of the most stunning recordings in the bands history, as well as it’s greatest departure.  A track that, as someone who has long followed their genesis, I am glad to have the chance to add to my music library.  

Still, to be a music fan is to know that the bands you listen to will one day break up, one way or another, and if you’re lucky, go on to make more music with other people. In the case of Sketch ongoing issues are preventing her from recording any new material for her recent project Mermaids, most likely because they view her as the commodity of the band.

“I’m arguably bound by contract. […] It’s seriously debatable and is being debated and has been for the last two years. I like to think that I’m not, and they like to think that I am. And that stress alone, honestly, keeps me from sitting down and working on music. I have no control over my own career.” – Katie Sketch

Other members of the band are having less trouble putting out new material. Guitarist Debora Cohen, whose solo work is the closest to The Organ’s trademark sound, has been recording a demo EP as Lovers Love Haters, and bassist Shmoo has been putting out new tunes under the moniker Die Cowboy Die.  As to whether or not we will ever again have new recordings of Katie Sketch’s stunning voice, the signs are unfortunately very unclear. What we do have in the meantime however, is a live recording of Mermaids preforming in Toronto last year. If this band ever does manage to make it off the ground they will be something to look out for that is for sure.

One Response to “Still Reeling; What’s Left Of The Organ”

  1. Christian February 5, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    The candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long…

    This post expresses the same sadness I feel about the end of The Organ and the frustration of Sketch’s future career. It’s sort of therapeutic to read, so thank you very much.

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