Notes on the 2000 CD re-release of NOT!:
Right on the heels of their third lo-fi masterpiece, Checkmate, tensions within ROQUE reached critical mass. Überprodusser Cat Mayhugh had a polarizing effect on the very chemistry of the band, literally splitting it in half, as Fried, Speranza, Walsh, Preheim and Goff butted heads with songwriter Cody Weathers over the direction the band should take. Weathers favored a slicker, studio approach “It just seems like when you’re selling the number of albums we were, and you’re seeing producers and executives get fat off our songs.... it just seems like our recording budget should go from dozens of dollars to hundreds of dollars.” The other members of the band passionately opposed this notion. Said guitarist John Speranza, and avid devotee of the teachings of American microtonalist Harry Partch, in a gollumesque hissy growl, “Oh yes, I very much enjoyed working with Mr. Mayhugh. I looked forward to working with him again, and perhaps broadening my use of homemade instruments, such as my pedal rubber-band guitar, refrigerator box clapomatic rhythmizer, and transcontinental goo noiser.” However, Weathers threatened to void his contract for mere pennies on the peso, and so it was decided that the band would be allowed to fulfill album four of its 35-album deal with the first of many “greatest hits” collections, re-recorded entirely in-studio. Colby Goff reportedly burnt his guitar and stormed off into the backwoods near Breckenridge, CO, never to be heard from again. But the band played on.
Despite being played almost entirely by members of Level 42, this album really set the tone for future ROQUE/Flip Nasty studio ventures, featuring a thicker guitar sound, more elaborate vocals, and a free-spirited whimsy of arrangement.
The 9-song original album featured the most successful singles from Roque and Roll and Separate Ways as well as two previously-unreleased songs. On the 2000 CD re-release, these original songs have been augmented by 5 other songs: Shadows was originally on the basement side of As Rome Burns, as was Raggedy Man. Asylum was a demo for Checkmate that never ended up being recorded, but did find its way into the score of the 1992 play The Flower That Shattered the Stone, an alternate version of I Won’t Bite (original version on As Rome Burns) as performed by The Union Street Jazz Choir --who originally commissioned the song-- is included with Cody dueting with SJ Hasman, and finally, a demo for Dreamscape (recorded in preparation for 1996’s Archaeology) rounds out the bonus tracks, a song frequently cited in interviews as the turning point into Cody’s current harmonic system, written around the time of NOT’s recording.