CHIMERA DEPOT was formed in 1984 by Tim Gilbert and Jeff Schissler, then students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From the start, the pair focused on Gilbert's original songs, layering harmonies on top of melodic but raw Rickenbacker guitar -- a kind of signal flare to 1990s Seattle grunge.
In its short but eventful life, Chimera Depot issued two 7-song EPs. "Wahbi-ka neesh" arrived in 1985 and "Loft" landed shortly before the group's dissolution in spring of 1987. Engineered by Steve Marker at Butch Vig's Smart Studios, Marker and Vig went on to produce Nirvana's "Nevermind" before forming the band Garbage. Both EPs sold thousands of units and garnered college radio airtime.
Throughout its life, Chimera Depot sustained an intensive tour schedule. This fueled EP sales, but also made it possible for the band to show up in the studio and lay down all the material in two or three takes; each EP was recorded and mixed in a matter of two nights.
In the early '90s, Gilbert and Schissler formed a new band, Angels of the Himalayas, this time with Gilbert singing lead and Schissler playing bass and arranging backing vocals.
When the Angels disbanded by 1992, Gilbert went on to become a fellow and instructor at Johns Hopkins, and later an executive at a software firm serving higher education. Schissler pursued a successful career in video and interactive media, and manages production for a major consumer products company.
We played what I would call an aggressive schedule of about 40 dates per year. We were all full-time students in engineering, biology, literature and graphic arts. One of us had a wife and a baby. So it was no small feat to get four 19 year olds to consistently show up at the same place at the same time.
There are countless stories of fantastic gigs of almost impossible to believe crowd reactions, along with a couple of dismal, doomed evenings. But consistently, people were happy, danced, listened and came out in all kinds of weather to see us play the smallest, 40-watt clubs to some pretty nice venues and festivals.
The bass player was a classical pianist and jazz guy, so he played the fretlass bass as a kind of pastime. The singer and I loved REM, Pistols, Church, Jam, Dream Academy, Billy Bragg, Lloyd Cole, all kinds of stuff that was not mainstream in those days (circa 1980-1984). We were punk fans who knew how to get about halfway to punk in our sound, that's really the long and short of it. We liked melody and story. So punk was really fun but we wrote what people called then, folk-rock, which was really alt rock or grunge.
Guitars: Telecaster and '67 Rickenbacker 6-string, Fender twin (original tube amp), handful of pedals (chorus, overdrive, never used 'em right); plus old Gibson acoustic time to time. I bought the Rickenbacker for $100 from a guy living in his mom's basement who needed to buy tools for work. I recall both of us being so happy about the deal both ways; after 20 years in the business world, it is still the single most satisfying transaction I've ever had buying/selling something.
The bass was I believe a Gibson, but may have been some unbranded fretless bass. I never really loved the sound until I heard it in context of demo tapes.
The mics were always the Shure SM-58, the howitzers of bands that play live hard and often.
I think Mike got his drums from a garage sale. They were white plastic, cheap but worked fine when you hit them with a stick. He spent his money on the Zildjian symbols...but his beautiful young family always came first, which is exactly what he should have done.