Originally Released in 2005 on Innocent Words Records (RIP).
The Juxtaposition of Terminus Victor
… a biography
Duality makes for great superheroes and great rock bands.
However, let me backtrack a bit. For the past 15 years the local music community in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois has banded together for a benefit dubbed “The Great Cover-Up”. In years past Poster Children have performed as Elvis and the Who, Hum was Led Zepplin, the Moon Seven Times did Alice Cooper one year and Van Halen another. You get the idea.
“I’m sure a lot of people were, like, whatever, but it was something I just had to do,” Scotty Kimble says.
His band, Terminus Victor, chose to cover Slint in 2004.
Standing in the snow a month later, wearing his omnipresent wool hat and fingerless gloves, Scotty cuts a decidedly Dickensian figure. He half-smiles and, in a barely audible voice, mumbles, “Maybe we should’ve done something else, but, oh, I don’t know…I just felt like I had to try.”
Herein lies some insight into what sets Terminus Victor so far apart (and, by the way, immensely above) a vast majority of the current crop of indie rockers vying for the attention of the punk-pop- “fence-post”-modern set.
Allow me to digress even further. Having spent four decades in the Midwest (and 20 of those years in the music “business”) I have come to realize two of the primary architects of this time zone’s rock music are Cheap Trick and Steve Albini.
Like Albini’s breakthrough rock act, Big Black, (the also drummerless) Terminus Victor explore/exploit the notion of combining man and machine. Human vocals backed by a ferocious mechanical back beat.
The difference being Albini’s ego would not allow him to be anything but cocksure and as cold and unyielding as his Roland drum patterns while Kimble, on the other hand, often seems vulnerable; eschewing logic for gut instinct (Slint? A sold-out venue and the guy play songs only Rose Marshack and seven other people have ever even heard?).
Duality. Only so much can be planned, written in advance. Only so many issues can be rationalized and understood. The passion is not manufactured angst. Unlike the cartoon characters Albini creates Kimble’s songs come from not from his imagination, but somewhere deeper within.
Which brings me to Cheap Trick: brilliant, dangerous, popular, rock deities, rock oddities often melding sing-along melodies with disturbingly creepy lyrics. Gods and Geeks, pretty boys and punks, geniuses and savants. Christ, it was as if a chunk of your high school class were all represented in one four-piece, guitar-rock combo.
Within Terminus Victor the metaphor is even more economical. Guitarist Don King (nattily adorned in crisp, business formal attire) grinds out molar-rattling chords while flailing about the stage like a scarecrow in a twister portraying both the straight man and the jester to Kimble’s post-grunge anti-rockstar.
There have been an assload and a half of popular bands come out of Champaign-Urbana. There have even been a few good ones. I have seen literally hundreds of those bands (and thousands of from elsewhere) and rarely does one give me the impression it is anything beyond what I believe them to be.
Cobain was a kid from Aberdeen who dreamed of rock stardom. Once he was a rock star he realized he just wanted to be a kid from Aberdeen. Dylan was a folk singer who went electric (as well as a Jew who went Gentile and back again). Duality.
Bun E. Carlos and Rick Neilson were a chubby guy and somewhat of a weirdo from Rockford, Illinois.
Steve Albini was a kid who grew up in Missoula, Montana, loved to play baseball and planned on getting a degree in journalism in college.
Peter Parker. Bruce Wayne. Clark Kent. Duality.
Kimble and King, too, remain a paradox.
Which is precisely why they belong on the long list of popular bands…and remain on my short list of good ones.
-- Don Gerard, July, 2005.
Scott Kimble and Don King are C-U's odd couple: Don, clean-shaven and well kempt in a suit and tie; Scott, in grungy black, a wool hat pulled low over his brow, his face scruffy. Visually, the pair embrace the Cheap Trick dichotomy; musically, however, they favor another northern Illinois institution, Big Black. In 2005, the guitar-bass duo was backed by a hostile drum machine (simply named "She"), which added the fitting touch for a band playing industrial rock at a deafening level. Terminus Victor's live show at this time was so intense — loud, bright, heavy on the senses — that it often scared away a good portion of the crowd, many of whom opted for slightly quieter, distant corners of the venue. For those who stuck around for the show, a point was driven home: Terminus Victor did its own thing, bystanders be damned. And by the time Under Surveillance, the band's second record for Innocent Words, came out, they were balancing the propulsive low-end of their music with more melodic leads on guitar and vocals. The record reveals a texture and tunefulness that may have been overshadowed live by the sheer volume of their sets. The Touch and Go influence still hangs heavy on Under Surveillance, but on "A Scream in the Park" Kimble's voice cuts through the mix during the verse to reveal an approachable melody, and King's guitar is more atmospheric than abrasive. "Your Nemesis" is ready for radio airplay (it did get some spins locally) and highlights the duo's capability of penning a memorable chorus. They eventually kicked "She" to the curb and added a human on drums, but for six years Terminus Victor toiled in the trenches as a two-man, one-machine wrecking crew and one of C-U's heaviest bands. –DOUG HOEPKER (SmilePolitely.com