The demon child C.o.E. was first spanked into consciousness on july 4, 1988. In it's history, Course of Empire has released three albums, one cd5, one 12 inch single, four videos, and has completed numerous tours of the U.S., carving out its own small space in the pantheon of gothic/industrial rock.
The origins of the group go back to the television studio at S.M.U. in Dallas where guitarist Mike Graff and original drummer Anthony Headley were studying film. Short on cash,the two took to producing ambient videos, a low cost alternative to film which some deemed to be a new art form at the time. The two created music for their own videos, and soon were being asked to contribute to projects by other students and film professors. From these ambient experiments, Graff and Headley grew into rehearsing more "rock" oriented music after hours, upstairs in the University's T.V. studio.
Vocalist Vaughn Stevenson was a drifter from North Carolina who had taken part in various musical projects around L.A. before making his way through Texas in search of musicians for something new. While browsing the stacks at the Metamorphosis record store in Dallas, Vaughn noticed a flyer advertising a band needing a singer. In December 1987 Graff, Headley, and Stevenson began rehearsing.
bassist Paul Semrad was working as manager of the Inwood Theater, a local art-house
cinema. He was previously guitarist in a group called the Twang Popes, which had
played a few gigs at the Theatre Gallery,
being offered a show opening for Three on A Hill, the
During this time, future C.o.E. 2nd chair drummer, Chad Lovell was working part-time as a video editor. He was well-known in the local metal scene, but had recently quit his previous cover band, cutting his hair and giving up music altogether.
In Jan. of '89 the band witnessed a performance by the Kodo drummers of Japan. This show influenced their future direction. Adding Chad Lovell as the second drummer in March 1989, Course of Empire became a five-piece.
C.o.E. shows were more geared towards performance art. During a song called "Thrust",
the band passed large oil drums and sticks out to the crowd, inviting the audience
to take over control of the show. When the audience was able to grasp the concept,
the song would change directions spontaneously as audience members drummed along,
introducing new rhythms. A Free-form
When the "drum thing" failed; however, it failed miserably. Sometimes the experiment degenerated quickly into drunken chaos, and remained there. As crowds grew larger, the oil drums got passed around like beach balls, turning into four-foot metal-rimmed projectiles. Many older fans still have facial scars or chipped teeth to show for their audience participation at early C.o.E. shows. At one particularly violent party held at the old "Theatre Gallery" space, so many drums were being thrown into the air that one actually hit a one-ton air conditioning unit suspended from the ceiling. As it swayed above the heads of audience members below, the band was forced to stop the music, imploring everyone to "stop throwing the drums."
After the show, ambulances gathered outside the venue as record company personnel qathered around the band. This was the end of the "drum thing" but the beginning of the band's recording career for a major label.
Course of Empire already had a self-titled album out on Alan Restrepo's local independent label, Carpe Diem. Engineered by David Castell, and recorded largely from and in a mobile recording truck, the album was a post-industrial epic which traversed many different genres of music. On tracks like "Ptah!" and "Thrust" sound effects and experiments in stereo betrayed band members' hidden desire to be filmmakers. Yet two tracks, "Coming of the Century" and "Sins of the Fathers" made it into rotation on George Gimarc's burgeoning alternative station 94.5 the EDGE.
Following the T.G. show Anthony Headley was relieved of his drumming duties, and C.o.E. signed with ZOO Entertainment. After remixing and remastering the Carpe Diem album, it was re-released nationally in Jan. of 1992. The band made two tours around the U.S. in support of the record with drummer Kyle Thomas borrowed from Rev. Horton Heet's band filling Headley's chair.Upon returning to Texas, Kyle Thomas left the band and the foursome began work on the 2nd album, "Initiation".
Once again produced by David Castell, the band worked to solidify a more unified sound. The album, recorded during the Waco seige, was a descent into the psychology of paranoia. Obsessed with rumors of conspiracies and secret societies, C.o.E. searched for sonic, if not drug-induced gateways to the spirit world. The album contained no less than three hidden tracks. The first, "Running Man" could be accessed only by scanning backward before the beginning of the opening track, "Hiss." Another song "Tomorrow" was hidden amidst the grooves of amplified microscopic chaos called "The Gate." This acapella solo by Stevenson could only be heard if the listener pushed the mono button on his amplifier, summing the tracks which were recorded 180 degrees out of phase.
During mixing of the album, Pop Poppins drummer Michael Jerome visited the studio and was convinced to join the band.
The single "Infested" was released and the band hit the road again, touring with bands such as Prong, Machines of Loving Grace, Sister Machine Gun, and Engines of Aggression. The remix of "Infested" contained horn samples from Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing." The track was a minor club hit, influencing other swing/industrial remixes.
C.o.E. returned to Texas and began the formidable task of building a recording studio
in which to record a new album. Utilizing new digital recording mediums "Telepathic
Last Words" is the result of two years worth of work. Produced by John Fryer
(NIN, Gravity Kills, Love and Rockets etc.)
for an Aug.'96 release on ZOO records, the band set about preparing by sliding some
advance tracks to Redbeard, an influential DJ at Dallas radio station Q102. Needless
and the story continues......