With a basic lineup of guitar, bass and drums, Miracle Room still manages to break the common notion of what a
rock band sounds like. They do this by integrating loops of distorted feedback riffs drenched with echo,
combined with wildly percussive rhythms achieved by using homemade instruments and junk such as propane
tanks, 55-gallon oil drums, steel pipes, water jugs, gas tanks, electric drills, doors, lumber, and countless other
items. The results are brutally dense, fiercely hypnotic songs whose relentless force takes the form of a killer
twister picking up everything in its path and tossing it about in a state of audible chaos.
From the onset, Miracle Room decided that they weren't going to sound and perform like every other rock band
playing in their native Lone Star state. Formed in Austin, Texas in 1985, vocalist/guitarist Stephen Marsh,
bassist Ed Greer, and drummer Rock Savage sought to transcend the musical limitations of their self-imposed
genre. In order to propel the music to a new realm they felt that a certain primal edge was needed that was
infectious to the ear and equally arousing to the eye. They found the answer was right under their noses or,
more specifically, in the junkyard.
"We started off playing conventional instruments intending to steer clear of sounding like traditional rock music,"
explains Greer as he tells how their status as working class musicians with day jobs in Austin didn't afford them
the opportunity to buy new equipment. Scraps and found items that they discovered were just the right price
(free) and helped to lay the foundation of the music. "We generate an awful lot of very interesting, compelling,
and strange sounds by using stuff that others have discarded for not being up to date. I guess what we do is
sort of a recycling project."
"This music tries to step outside consumerism and looks at our culture at a different perspective," Marsh continues.
"The fact that people buy and continually lust after more is kind of a functionwhich they have grown used to. Our
approach has nothing to do with name brands. I get tired of people who will only play this kind of guitar through a
certain kind of speakers. The name on the guitar has very little to do with it when it's all said and done."
Playing live is the groups favorite situation, where songs like "Untitled," from their self-titled Bar/None EP
(engineered and mixed by Hahn Rowe), enable the threesome to explore new subtleties and uncover nuances
in the piece, in which they all play steel pipes. Of all of their songs, drummer Rock Savage says that "Open Heart",
their track on A&M's 'Live at the Knitting Factory: Vol. 1', was selected by the producers "solely because it was
the only one with something of a verse and a chorus." Miracle Room has been a standby at the club since relocating
to New York City in 1988, arriving in time for the club's transition from a jazz venue to one of the country's premiere
bastions of avant-garde and alternative music.
"I love the look on people's faces when i pick up a two-by-four and start playing it--they just don't expect it," Marsh
continues, describing the reaction to one of the many slabs of lumber which they have rigged with strings and
guitar pickups to achieve sitar-like drones. "I'm really inspired by the early blues players and their supposed lack of
technique, which created really deep feelings. For their culture they were playing the shaman with just a washboard
and guitars that were nothing more than a stick with some strings on it."
For a band that once did a show in San Antonio by using a shot up and badly burned Ford Fairlane as the rhythm
instrument, Greer, Marsh, and Savage are constantly experimenting with just about anything they can scrounge up.
Once they took apart a broken piano on stage and played its parts as they demolished it. Their latest project,
which they would like to incorporate into the material on their next release, lies in a large crate which rests
on a hollow log. Marsh is attaching guitar pickups, piano parts, and strings to the crate, and is trying to build
a "show in a box" which, when struck, will resonate and give off howling overtones, drones, and harmonics.
As Miracle Room continue to expand within their own little world, they desire to keep everything low-tech for
creative and visual reasons. Adds Marsh, "We've talked about using drum samples and playing with drum
pads rather than found objects, but in the totality of what we're doing, it just doesn't work well. For performing,
which is basically what this band is about, it's a lot less interesting to watch somebody hit a drum pad than
to see the actual object right there."