Coz The Shroom
I had heard the name mentioned for years but I had never had real , personal contact with Mr. Shroom. A certain mystery had developed and recently after some initial contact I suggested he convey some of his early experiences for this site. Active for a long, long time his story is another one of the many interesting tales to be told by home tapers all over the world.
my experience with cassettes began with death. at the age of three i discovered my dead grandmother while trying to wake her up to go on our daily walk in the woods. the incident affected my mental health for my entire life. my mother had cassettes of old friends speaking farsi and i used to stay up late wondering how many of those old voices belonged to dead people. everything was death. i was taken to numerous psychologosts. then elvis presley was dead too. isolated from most music by a square dad and mom forty years older than me, i discovered rock and roll and knew from that day on what i wanted to do in life. that same year, 1977, in my psychiatrist’s office, all this death and cassettes congealed into my first expression of music on cassette. i rolled a rubber band across the condenser mic of my panasonic cassette recorder to simulate a guitar sound and crooned snippets of elvis presley songs i had heard on tv. by 1979. i did “radio shows” with friends and relatives, i interviewed guys who talked in funny voices, i made my own “radio show” version of battlestar galactica “in sensoround” on my first boom box. before i had even learned a single guitar chord i was making music with my brother’s guitar and my friend poger cho tapping a microphone as a drum, and calling myself “Coz the Shroom.”
Coz the Shroom was an amalgamation of two nicknames i had picked up in 9th grade. i liked the sound of it. i loved trout mask replica and wanted a name like zoot horn rollo or antena jimmy semens so i formed the mysterious coz the shroom and poger cho and recorded my first album.
that was in houston. we moved a lot.
in new mexico i started playing in my first band, which we all just called “sammy vigil’s band” and we played three cover songs at his family reunion in three rivers by the petroglyphs.
then my dad got a job at bergstrom air force base so we moved to austin. i was still 17 and dropped out of high school to avoid special ed and repeating the 11th grade.
my friends all told me austin was the place for a guy like me to be. the butthole surfers were from austin, sterling morrison and arthur brown lived there, and roky erikson was from austin. even though we listened to the dicks in our little punk rock hang out, nobody told me they were from austin.
at 18 i wanted to be a rock star but had absolutely no money to spend on making music. i spent several months swiping change to collect enough money (probably no more than ten dollars) on radio shack audio parts. cables, y adaptors, a cool reverb unit, etc.,
i took a bunch of stereo equipment and two tape decks and invented my own overdubbing system. in theory, i could now record anything i wanted.
my own DIY label was called cruxshyanx music and had a pseudo-schwastika
i got my mom to pick up extra tapes from target and again scrounged loose change to print artwork. nobody told me anyone else was doing this until i went out and tried to sell them. i figured if i sold them for a dollar each, nobody had much to loose, but nobody was buying, so i decided to single out some random cool looking person and give them a tape.
some heavy metal dude with long hair stood out from the rest of the students on ut campus so i asked him if he wanted to hear my cool music. that dude turned out to be crow from agony column, the coolest metal band in austin that all the underground people loved.
he said he liked what i was doing and informed me that there was “a guy named daniel johnston” doing the same thing.
i bought one of daniel’s tapes immediately to “check out the competition” and i felt like i needed to upstage him if i was to get anywhere. of course when i listened i was humbled. his music was beautiful and unpretentious, i started to find my niche in the scene there in austin, eventually starting my first real gigging band dogfish.
that whole time i thought daniel johnston had done this years before me — it wasn’t until the 20th century became history that i was able to see his documentary and found out he had moved to austin and started home taping the very same year as i did.
coz the shroom 1985
i was very appreciated in austin and i loved being part of such a vibrant and avant garde scene. i loved going to poetry readings and woodshock and recording with chico guidry in the basement of paperbacks plus. without soliciting it, or doing much more than hang out to promote myself my cassette “bride of mars” made the austin chronicle’s 1987 best christmas gifts list, and that fact seems only more bizarre as i get older and look back on it.
through fatalist monthly and the fanzine scene that my girlfriend diana was involved in i found all kinds of avenues to promote my music. it wasn’t long after sending out some tapes and doing collages and fliers that i was turned on to trading and i can’t remember who my first was, but some memorable trades were with moving mantlepiece, max requienez, russ stedman, and baby snakes. i felt a real sense of community, but my competitive nature and my propensity to be an attention whore made me strive to stand out. i decided to be as prolific as possible and released up to four tapes a year. one review said i seemed to release a tape after every meal. bill smog said i probably even thought about making tapes while fucking my girlfriend.
lisa suckdog asked me if i wanted to tour with her and i thought she was the most brilliant artist i had ever seen, so i instantly agreed, beginning a wonderful collaborative journey last endured through the 90‘s
in 1999 i released my last cassette “kissed” and looked forward to the cd age. some kids in indianapolis agreed to put out my first cd and so i traveled there twice to be involved with nick rust, alex kornya and septic shock records.
later i returned to new mexico after drugs and divorce had taken their toll on my mental health. most people my age were boring to me so i hung out with teenaged punk rock kids who quickly became fans, declaring me a lincoln county legend. during this time i went back to alamogordo to finally play the “home town gig” i had always wanted. my first ten years back in new mexico were rocky, and i had some of the most traumatizing experiences of my adult life with some of the snakes that live out here.
i was alone, i felt washed up. i let myself get out of shape and i got so dis-spirited by one ex girlfriend that i barely wrote a song for a year and a half and didn’t return to the peak of my powers until another year or so afterwards. my awesome new wife came out here from mississippi and breathed new life into me. i started dreaming big again, i started really reaching out more to the community i had lost touch with in austin. i suddenly realised that the electronic online release had been killing my ambition. people want music that is art that they can see and touch and put on a shelf or send in the mail. cassettes, to my astonishment, have made a comeback. pretty much throughout my collaboration i thought my only claim to fame would be that i was in suckdog. now i realize that i have my own claim to greatness outside of that. i am currently working on a new tape, but more than that i am living strong and fighting for what is right, and rebelling against the system and putting my feet back on the ground.
i hope you will welcome me back. i’ve missed you.
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