Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meet Ricky Rebel: Demo Tape Cover Letter, 1995

(Click for bigger!)

One thing I always loved about Rick Rebel was his complete indifference to the concept of duplicating devices.  If he wanted to make fifty flyers for a show, for instance, he would simply sit down and draw fifty flyers for a show. I've mentioned before that when Rick said, "I'll make you a tape," what he meant was that he would press record on his tape deck and sing songs (sometimes about you!) into it until the tape ran out. The idea of having a master tape from which duplicates could be made was something Rick had heard of, but felt no need indulge in. One time, for instance, Rick became obsessed with a cartoonist  I vaguely knew named Wayno, and told me that he had sent him a 60-minute cassette of dozens of songs all about Wayno, whom he had never met and knew next to nothing about (I think he just liked the name "Wayno"). I laughed and said that I wanted to hear it, but Rick had already mailed it. "I'll make you another one," he promised, and sure enough, a couple of days later, he gave me a brand new tape of himself sitting in his hotel room the night before and singing an hour's worth of songs about Wayno. I'd love to compare the two versions! He called it The Wayno White Album.*

So above is Rick Rebel's execution of the idea of a form letter ("DEAR ________") to send to record company executives with his recorded-one-at-a-time "demo" tapes. I hate to imagine the dozens of these that must have been thrown away unexamined. My favorite part is at the bottom, where he writes "PS. I also do art," as if that isn't rendered stunningly redundant by the wonderful drawings which crowd the rest of the letter.

I would have signed him.

*Rick also sent mash notes to cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, along with requests for his dirty underwear. Brunetti politely declined. I remember telling him, "No, no, he's serious."


nixiebunny said...

I've only heard of one other audio artist who did that business of recording themselves live once for each customer, that being Daniel Johnston. He only did it because he couldn't afford a second cassette deck to perform dubbing upon.

Peteykins said...


Rick Rebel and Daniel Johnston do share certain commonalities, although Rick's mental state(s) is quite a bit different from Johnston's.

Speaking of which, when I first started posting about Rick, the guy who did the movie "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" emailed me, anxious to hear Rick's music (which I hadn't posted yet). I think he smelled a potential new documentary project.

Once I started posting Rick's cassettes, however, I never heard back from him. I'm assuming his reaction to Rick's ridiculous Satanic song stylings was something like, "Uhhhhh, no."

Comrade Physioprof said...

PLAY TAPE LOUD! While I flip you off with wiener middle finger dicks!