Art for Starters Is a Startup Operation That’s Barely Gotten Started

Living with an addict destroys you.

Either you shut down emotionally to weather the shitstorms or you erupt like Vesuvius because someone has relegated you to secondary status, behind the drug of choice.

An addict only has to keep falling and the world sympathizes with his co-dependency. But how about no dependency? How about being saddled with someone who always disappoints, never comes through for you, and blames you for all his/her own inadequacies? Not so much sympathy there. So you second-guess yourself, you lash out at ghosts, but mostly you seethe, knowing that while your little thrillseeker always has the welcoming arms of a fix to run to, you ultimately have to work out all their shitty deeds alone.

Art for Starters: Drugs ruined their favorite people.
Andrew Hammerand
Art for Starters: Drugs ruined their favorite people.

Details

Art for Starters will play CD-release parties on Friday, April 10, at Art One Gallery in Scottsdale and Saturday, April 11, at Sweet Cakes in Mesa.

It's that sober-bordering-on-insane outlook that informs every note of Art for Starters' ambitious debut, a double CD titled Drugs Made My Favorite Bands, Drugs Ruined My Favorite People. It's a record that its author, David Jensen (late of Before Braille, a beloved Arizona band that imploded in 2005), needed to make for his own survival but not one that he was ever 100 percent sure he would share with the public. After mixing the album in a marathon 28-hour session, Jensen moved his possessions into storage, and he and his wife pulled up stakes and spent six months teaching English in Korea.

A chance catch of a particularly incandescent set in Scottsdale suggested that maybe there already was an Art for Starters CD out there in the universe. And Jensen's car trunk had bundles of 'em shrinkwrapped and ready to go. Not ready to release its record just yet, the band instead sold bundles of CDs from the members' various previous groups, rubberbanded together, at the Art for Starters merch booth.

Sitting at a round table with Jensen, drummer Chad Martin, bassist David Marquez, singer Ashley Taylor, and keyboardist/singer Ree Boado (guitarist Brad Cole was in Tucson) at Martin's home, Art for Starters seem more like a family than any band you've ever known. The mutual-support-society vibe might also be sickening if it weren't genuine and heartfelt.

Everyone's best face forward could also be a reaction to the tension that usually exists in group dynamics, where at least two sides of musical direction are tugging for control. But here, everyone is more than happy to follow Jensen's lead, because he leads by following. For a guy who played nearly every note of the two-disc set by himself, or with the help of producer Bob Hoag, he is totally amenable to whatever musical contributions other members want to make.

This idyllic working situation was barely imaginable in the dark days after Before Braille's demise. "Yeah, it was painful. A lot of it was business stuff, but it was also that we had gotten so close as friends and it got a little nasty," says Jensen. "I actually wanted to get away, but I also had a lot of Before Braille debt, so I got a job in 2006 as a night watchman and I could work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And I still had the Before Braille van. The job entailed watching equipment and tractors. People would come to steal tools, that kind of thing. So in the van I had a laptop, a guitar, and a computer mic, and I wrote the record pretty much that way.

"Initially, I wasn't sure that I wanted to be in a band or even play music for people again, but the only thing that felt good was playing those songs," he says. "The recordings were pretty bad."

"Quality-wise, not songwriting-wise," Martin corrects him.

Jensen smiles, thanks him, and says, "The songs came together, so I said, 'Hey, I should record this.'"

He first recorded a slew of songs acoustically with Jason Corman at Bumbles Bounce Studios and later recorded the electric version at Flying Blanket with Bob Hoag. No band was in place, but drummer Martin was tapped early to come in and keep time.

"Chad came in to save the day a few times," says Jensen. "There was a song called 'Disquiet Trembler' that Bob didn't like very much and didn't want to record; he wanted to throw it out. But he said, 'I give you a day to find a drummer and track it.' So I called him up, he tracks it in 90 minutes, and now Bob likes it. Chad was in Batter the Drag, so he's used to playing weird time signatures."

He's also used to being in tense band situations, which he was not interested in reliving.

"I've always been the business guy in almost all my bands," says Martin. "Once I got out of Fivespeed, I decided I didn't want to do that anymore and just wanted to play for fun, if the chance came up. In this project, it's great to just play for the pleasure of making great music, and not have to deal with the undue pressure of trying to 'make it.' Some kind of hippie crap like that."

Art for Starters have had some false-start lineups thus far, but things started to solidify with Martin and Cole, both Fivespeed alumni, on board. "Since I was in BB, it was kind of a dream to be in a band with Fivespeed guys," says Jensen. Bassist David Marquez, an inescapable presence on the downtown music scene, slotted in comfortably and stayed on. Not surprisingly, it was the females of Art for Starters who received the more unique invitations.

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16 comments
Terrible Animal
Terrible Animal

Hi. It's David Jensen. I've never taken any 12-step program or even partaken of drugs or alcohol, but I'll take a step I apologize to you, "abracadingdong" for whatever I might have done to prompt you to copy/paste your posting around the web. (I've been told this same post exists elsewhere.) Anyway, the inspiration for the album "Drugs Made My Favorite Bands, Drugs Ruined My Favorite People" came from experiences I had with ex-bandmates, but more so with other friends and family members. The author had similarly difficult experiences, clearly evident by the way he wrote the story. Drug use can be very destructive. This was the first record I wrote and recorded on my own, as all my previous experiences were with Before Braille. It was a personal and rewarding experience. I hope people like the record as much as I do, and I love Jason Corman, Bob Hoag, Chuckie Duff, Spencer Reed and other friends for their investment and help in the project. And thanks to those comments above that defend me. If you know me, you know I just try to make an honest effort and enjoy making music. -david

p.s. finished the final two before braille albums right after i completed the art for starters record, if you wanna check em out. :)

art luvrr
art luvrr

I was also prompted to come defend art and idealism. Our society is obviously on the slippery slope! Like Sarah Palin, Joe Arpaio, Miss California, Glen Beck, and Mesa's Mountain View Highschool; Big D will always be crucified by these agnostic anarchist stoners! You haters have no respect for those with moral authority. Rock on AFS! Cannabis is for pussys!

Evan K
Evan K

Crazy comments in here, it's pretty astounding. I thought I'd add my 2 cents. I can't comment on Dave's personal life, habit, or temper, but I applaud what he is -- an artist. When you've been at it as long as he has, you know the music is a reflection of his passion, not a pursuit of greed. I find his music both reflective and aggressive, but always passionate and honest. Frankly, the AZ scene is fortunate to have such a prolific denizen, expressing a unique, eccentric artistic vision.

And if you pick up the AFS 2-disc don't think MADE rocks, you're obviously dead.

A.I.
A.I.

What do personal attacks have to to do with the music of the band, Art For Starters? This isn't the Jerry Springer show. It's a music review about a local band. Gossip does nothing for the music scene and makes Phoenix seem very provincial. Let's stick to the music, please! Anonymous cowards (i.e.-Abracadabradingdong) need to go back to kindergarten and re-learn the basics about social graces before they attempt posting on an adult message board for those of us who are actually interested in up-and-coming bands or artists in the Valley of the Sun.

Lover
Lover

I have known Dave for YEARS, including the Before Braille years. I have had quite the opposite impression of Dave than the false portrait painted of him in the 2nd comment. Whenever someone really stands for something and has integrity and values and sticks to them no matter what, it is bound to bring out opposition from those dealing with their inner demons. Jealousy is a horrible thing, and that is all I got from the 2nd comment. Dave has gone above and beyond to help ANYONE who EVER needed a helping hand. He has your back no matter what, and makes every fan feel important. He always has. He is an extremely positive person to be around. He and his wife are just great people. He is an amazing musician and has a LOT going for him. I am proud to say that Dave Jensen is my friend.

I'M A FAN
I'M A FAN

Art4Starters is everything and more than just a start! With complex lyrics layered with irony and hidden meaning, this rock band is famously unique with the perfect fresh approach that is FINALLY the kind of "Art" Zonies have been patiently waiting for. If you thought Before Braille was something special, visit an Art4atarters show. Like Before Braille, the lyrics and vocals are cutting edge and NOT anything like the run of the mill lyric factory CRAP that stink up the "popular" air waves. With the addition of the two kick A lady Vocalists, this band, in my opinion is on its way 2 the big time!

Oh and for the baby rants in two other comments I read, I like to call BLUFF! Especially the one who amusingly called Dave a,"self absorbed perpetual teenager". LOL! That is a good one considering that the person who wrote the long winded juvenile comment is most obviously the immature child! Personally, I smell a stench of extreme jealousy with an unmistakable odor called envy! Pathetic and just plain sad!I'd just like to make sure that I end on a good note so Art4Starters and specially you Dave......I"ll turn this one over to you!!!!!MAGIC!

fan of dave
fan of dave

It is obvious from the 2nd comment that someone got their "feelings" hurt by the truth in Dave's lyrics. How pathetic that you have to speak so cruel of an man that only cares for the safety and success of his friends/family than he does anything else. My advice -- grow up and be a man -- just like dave. As for his music, it has always carried the deep meaning spoken of by a true artist. He is true to himself and those around him. I am indeed a FAN!

Ryan
Ryan

Dave was in my design class. Pretty cool guy. Hella nice to everyone. This article was a little confusing though. From what I gather, Dave's new band is saying the opposite of what those retarded comments were about (the ones the crazy person who wrote that in that big long 2nd comment). Also, I know Dave doesn't party, that's probably the only thing I find boring about him. It kinda sounded like the writer said he does at first, but I read it again and it sounds like the writer was talking about his own experiences and how they compare to Dave's old band, Before Braille. --In case that clears anything up for anyone.

Marc
Marc

Weird. I know Dave pretty well. I'm more into hip-hop, so even though I think his band is good, it's not my thing. But, as far as those comments go, it seems pretty inaccurate. He's always lending me a hand with sh*t, and is way cool to me and my friends when he's around. I'm not sure why I'm responding because I don't know who takes anonymous venom/attacks from blogs seriously, but I just had to say something. Dave is real and based on conversations I've had and things I've seen, he just cares about being honest and decent. Shame on those who say otherwise. If you got any wrath (though I doubt it), you probably had it comin. Shape up.

entertained
entertained

As much as I have checked out New Times articles online, I have NEVER witnessed comments like this about an article of a band just trying to do their thing. As much as you people are saying he's "terrible", he must be doing something right considering he's still making music and he is still getting a very strong response. Bad publicity is good publicity, right? Well, at least it is in this case because now I am very curious to see this band and meet this guy. Especially since I just checked out their myspace page and I think the music is awesome. Especially his lyrics.

donnyosmond
donnyosmond

whoa, well said, I couldn't agree more. I have firsthand knowledge of this martyr david dynamic. It's not pretty. Beware current bandmates. Impending self-destruction awaits. Please don't enable this perpetual tyrant. His beginner vocals are as contrived as his message of deceit.

abracadingdong
abracadingdong

To expound upon someone�s brilliant comment above-

Dave Jensen is a terrible animal. I don't know if he's gone through the 12 steps yet, but he's never asked my forgiveness. I was always one of those who thought �oh, he�s just passionate� or �he�s just an emotional guy� when I saw anonymous internet posts attacking him. He is and always will be a victim of his own misdoings, because he relishes being a victim. It�s how he controls us. If you would like to talk about co-dependence, ask those around Dave what it�s like when he loses his temper. How often does it happen? How do they deal with it? They bury their heads and say it�s about the music. They pretend like he�s not a pitiful child who controls his surroundings with big talk of rockstardom and pseudo-ingenuity; a veritable Jim Jones of terrible songwriting. They also, apparently, start doing drugs. This is co-dependence. This is enabling, denying that the problem exists, using unhealthy coping mechanisms, hiding true feelings as to not upset the tyrant, Dave. He more or less asks, �Why does everyone I know get ruined by drugs?� The answer is, because you pitch them an unrealistic lifestyle that is unattainable through music that is as bad as yours is. When these expectations aren�t met, you deal with it through rage, alcohol, and more delusion, while they deal with it through drugs. Are you better than them? Are you superior because you turn to Mr. Hyde instead of a joint? �Oh you�re such a pained soul.� No, you are a self-absorbed perpetual teenager who uses other peoples� pain to feel sorry for yourself, or worse yet, you use other peoples� pain so that others feel sorry for you. What a waste of everyone�s time you are. The pain you feel is the pain that you bring on yourself by alienating those who do not enable you. I do know the 12 steps, and �pretending like you are angry at other addicts� is not one of them. Sadly I do not speak for everyone, but hopefully everyone else will not have to learn how false you are the same way that I, and a handful of others did. Give up Dave, you are terrible.

figurine
figurine

i want to be friends with someone with no dependencies like david! he sounds like such a perfect boyfriend.

David Paul Jensen
David Paul Jensen

I was searching for some old images to make a flyer and ran across this article and thread again. I read this "Abracadingdong" post again. I believe I know who it is now, but I'm not going to call them out. It's such old news anyway. But, there was a particular line in the post that was sooo weird. "It's how he controls us." Huh? Say What? I'm not sure if I should laugh or just feel sorry that I ever gave someone the impression that I was in control of anything. Note to "Dingdong": some dude in a local band who never sales more than a couple thousand records is no threat to you, or anyone else...unless you're a credit card company trying to seek payment for charges placed to support his recording costs. haha! So crazy! How important must someone make themselves to feel slighted by a local music ghost, like myself. The only thing I've ever wanted to do is be in a band, make the best records I could and perform them as well as I can, and hope to get some traveling out of it. Anything else wouldn't even be icing on the cake, it's totally irrelevant to me. "Rock Stardom" might as well be an empty salt shaker. Who cares?

Now...2 years later, I wonder who else feels like I control them? Even my TV remote control gives me the finger and decides not to work whenever it feels like it.

I wish this guy would post again to see if he's encountered some perspective in his life. And whether he has or hasn't, sorry again for "controlling you," or whatever offense I am guilty of committing.

P.S. You know that money you owe me? I could still use it.P.P.S. Thanks again for cool, kind people who posted nice things about me. As annoying as the "ding-dong" post was 2 years ago when it made, I was glad it was made because of all the great and thoughtful things people said about me. Now that stuff is icing on the cake! :)

 
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