After I’d been obsessed with Information Society for a while, I eventually started to branch out and become interested in other electronic groups.
It was around this time that I discovered Depeche Mode, and began aggressively buying everything I could find by them – all their previous albums, singles, videos, you name it. CD players were still relatively new enough to almost be a luxury item at the time, and I didn’t have one. I had to buy all this stuff on tape, which was pretty lame to say the least. I had a huge tape rack, full of Depeche Mode and Information Society albums and singles. I tracked down quite a bit of obscure stuff, too – so I had a pretty impressive collection at one time.

During my sophomore year, my friend Jeremy introduced me to a whole slew of new bands that I’d never heard of. He’d moved up to Redding from the north bay area, and had spent his formative teenage years listening to Live 105. We hung out and talked about music a lot, and before too long I was digging the sounds of Renegade Soundwave, Pop Will Eat Itself, Meat Beat Manifesto, Nine Inch Nails, 808 State, Nitzer Ebb, New Order, and others. It was as if a whole world of fascinating new music had revealed itself to me. This was back in 1990, during somewhat of a ‘renaissance’ period of cool dance/industrial type music in the UK. The whole ‘rave’ scene was in full bloom over there, and I remember thumbing through the backs of NME and Melody Maker being mad that none of those groups ever came to the US.
At the time, at least in Redding, nobody seemed to care – or even know – about this amazing new music scene that was in full effect on the other side of the Atlantic. To me, it seemed as if the UK had an inexhaustible supply of unique and interesting groups to check out – but hardly anybody I knew had heard of any of them.
Sure, we had plenty of kids at our school who were into “alternative” music, but they were all pretty much exclusively into domestic, guitar-oriented rock. There were also the androgynous drama kids who only listened to The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Violent Femmes, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and They Might Be Giants. Good music, indeed – but they didn’t care much about anything else. This was also several years before they all discovered Nine Inch Nails and became disciples of Trent Reznor.

In general, the whole music scene at our school was pretty homogenous and stereotypical. Nobody else, it seemed, had ever heard of bands like Renegade Soundwave, Pop Will Eat Itself, or 808 State.

Nobody, that is, except for Jaimenacho.

I had a chemistry class with Jaime during my junior year. He was a year older, so I didn’t really know him. One day I saw him bring in the import CD single for New Order’s Touched By The Hand of God, and was like “Whoa, cool – somebody else likes New Order!”
I went over and talked to him, and he said that he’d gotten it at The Beat! in Sacramento. I was impressed, because hardly anybody in Redding knew about that place. If you were a Redding resident and into cool, hard-to-find imported ‘alternative’ music, you usually had to make a pilgrimage down there in order to find what you were looking for. This was a good 4 or 5 years before Amazon.com, back when finding obscure music required travelling around and doing actual footwork in faraway record shops. Jaimenacho was a kindred spirit, a fellow seeker of good music. We started hanging out and talking about different bands.
A few days later, I came to class with my headphones on. He asked what I was listening to, and I pulled out Renegade Soundwave’s In Dub. I don’t think he’d ever heard them before, so I let him borrow it. We started trading tapes back and forth, and making mix tapes for each other. He had a far better stereo setup than mine (and still does, actually), and taped a bunch of stuff from his immense CD collection for me.
For some reason, I have always been a sucker for any kind of music with a thick, fat funky beat. Groups like Meat Beat Manifesto, PWEI, and RSW were instant favorites of mine, because they made cool music that catered to this desire in plentiful amounts. These guys pioneered new sounds and insanely dope beats a good decade before folks like Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers came on the scene.

Jaime appreciated this music for many of the same reasons, and throughout high school we spent a lot of time driving around town blasting RSW and Meat Beat Manifesto in his car. We were so into the stuff that we decided to try our hands at it ourselves, so we spent the summer stringing together a collection of lame songs with homemade gear, cheap keyboards, and sampled beats. The end result was an ‘album’ of sorts, which unexpectedly became somewhat of an underground hit at our school for a while… but that’s another story for another time.

Yes, all that weird electronic stuff was my music of choice for a long time. Fortunately, I later became interested in better stuff as time went by…