Tuesday, January 10, 2006


*Update* - Good piece in the National Review on the same subject. And that's the last time I'll ever use the phrase "good piece" to describe an NRO column.

Via this post over at Planetsocks, I just got some horrible news. Bryan Harvey (not that Bryan Harvey), former lead singer of the Richmond rock band House of Freaks and his family were found murdered in Richmond on New Year's Eve.
Harvey, 49, and his family were discovered after Johnny Hott, formerly the drummer for the defunct band, arrived to attend a New Year's Day party and discovered the house was on fire. Firefighters called to the scene discovered the bodies. Local news outlets reported that the victims' throats had been cut and their bodies bound.
Suspects have been taken into custody. Two 28 year old guys who are also suspected of murdering three more people about a week later. The motive, as I initially suspected is robbery. Just random chance.

House of Freaks was Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott. That's it. Those two guys. They were signed after playing a gig somwhere, and I vaguely remember reading the story (I think it was in the LA Times) where the A&R guy said he couldn't believe the sound was coming from two guys with no bass.

They released four full lengths and an EP over the course of their career, and later formed Gutterball, a college radio supergroup which also featured Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate and Stephen McCarthy of the Long Ryders.

They've always been sort of special to me because I first heard them when my brother would play their albums around the time I was in the sixth or seventh grade. My freshman year in high school I had a cassette with a recording of Camper Van Beethoven performing on the late Dierdre O'Donahue's show on KCRW. At one point in their set, Dierdre played "Cactusland" from Monkey on Chain Gang, and the more I listened to it, the more I liked it, and eventually recorded my brother's record. Sophomore year in high school I bought Tantilla the day it came out. I had to ride my bike down Rosemead Blvd. to Moby Disc on Colorado to get it. A couple years later, the released their EP "All My Friends", which was soon followed by the full length Cakewalk. After they'd kind of faded off of even my radar, they released Invisible Jewel, which I finally picked up on ebay not even a year ago. "White Folks Blood" off of Tantilla even holds the distinction of having a spot on the first mix tape that my buddy and I made to listen to on our way to San Diego to play in hockey tournaments, which still stands as maybe the best one we ever did (all told, we have probably 14 hours or so of those tapes). If you go to Amazon, you can buy Tantilla with the six tracks from All My Friends as extra tracks.

They weren't anything groundbreaking. They played pretty strightforward rock music. But they had really smart lyrics, with all sorts of symbolic references that were really cool for a high schooler just starting to learn enough to pick up on those sorts of things. Lyrically, a lot their stuff tied back to their Richmond roots, with songs like White Folks Blood, Family Tree, and Big Houses all revolving around the Civil War and Antebellum South. It seems hard to believe that "40 years" from Monkey on a Chain Gang, which was written in rememberance of the 40 year anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb was written 20 years ago. Dark'N'Light in New Mexico was another song from that album that touched on the same subject.

Anyway, this is really bumming me out, and I'm probably going to be listening to these guys non-stop for the rest of the week.

When I lay down my head
Bound for heaven or hell
After all said and done
Please remember me well

You can dance on my grave
You can ring out the bells
You can drink to my health
But remember me well

Sing a soldier's lament
Hear the stories he tells
If you all shed a teaer
Please remember me well

When my ship's going down
And the band plays its knell
And the mast dissappears
Please remember me well

In a hundred years hence
With the worms I will dwell
When I'm gone from this world
Please remember me well

You can dance on my grave
You can ring out the bells
After all's said and done
Just remember me well

May Bryan and his family rest in peace.


Pinko Punko said...

Thanks Seitz for posting this. It is possible that the local newspaper has a online obituary guest book in which you can sign in. You could leave a link there.

RimaJoy said...

thanks seitz, and for your visit to and rememberance at my site. love to the Harvey's

ht said...

seitz -- found your page while i was over at the 3bulls site. imagine my glee when you had posted a house of freaks song for the 'song of the day'! and then when i read the news -- just horrible. your post here is wonderful, and reminded me of being a house of freaks fan growing up in the san gabriel valley. i too remember asking my mom to drive me over to the moby disc off rosemead blvd to get the latest house of freaks albums, and i'm not sure what kind of music fan i'd be if i hadn't discovered deirdre o'donoghue's radio show on kcrw. but alas. may the harveys rest in peace.

Seitz said...

Yeah, that's the same Moby's. We must have lived pretty close to each other growing up.

Kate said...

I just found out about this, all these months later. I guess that it's just as well; if I had known then, less than three weeks after my father died, I'd probably have ended up in a psych ward.

I had the honor and pleasure of knowing Bryan during his Dads days. Take everything good about him that you've ever heard and multiply it by 10. You might be approaching what a wonderful guy he was. I think about him (and Kevin, Davind, and Mike) a lot. This has me reeling.