Painful Reminder's music has been described as "what happens when folk singers go bad". The combination of acoustic guitar and soulful lyrics hail back to folk rock, but with a more progressive feel, darkly realistic subject matter, and pounding chorus lines. The songs range from the entertainingly lively and bitter to the bleak and subdued.
"One Way Ticket: Songs to Slit Your Wrists By" is now a collector's item, available only in digital format. (We ran out of spray paint for the tops of the CDs.) More polished versions of almost every track are found on the later release, "World of Filth and Sin", as well as far more premium liner notes.
In 1997, Ben performed at a party, ending with "I Only Wanted You For Sex", a song he wrote on impulse one day using some of the few chords he'd ever taught himself. He broke a string on a guitar that didn't even belong to him (you can hear it on the recording, right at the end), but received spectacular crowd response. Paul was recording the show, and released "Sex" as an mp3 which then proceeded to travel over the internet far and wide, across the Georgia Tech campus and beyond. (We still sometimes hear about our songs making their way to college campuses quite far from our alma mater.) It became a regular occurrence for Ben to run into people around campus who said, "Oh, you're the guy who did that song!" So he kept writing them, Paul started playing bass with him, and after recording a few more songs we had an mp3.com page that attracted a fair bit of traffic.
We began to receive unsolicited requests to play parties and festivals, sheerly by word-of-mouth. Among them was a show at Under The Couch (which every good Georgia Tech band should play), and then in Christmas of 2001 we recorded an album in the student-run studio there. Paul had been engineering live sound for the various hardcore bands that would come through (including Poison The Well, Stretch Armstrong, Bane, and Death By Stereo), had produced a studio recording or two for local musicians, and felt ready to record an album even if it meant kicking his then-roommate Ben out of bed (a place chronically-depressed people tend to be loath to depart) once a day faithfully to rehearse with Omar Wooten, a talented drummer and nuclear engineer who has since departed us to go finish his thesis playing with radioactive things at Los Alamos Laboratories. We rehearsed four hours a day for the first week of Christmas break, then spent about three interminably long days in the studio recording it all. We went home for our token family appearances on Christmas day, then Paul was back in the studio perfecting the bass lines and mixing it all down.
Even when the master was finished, the CD's release date was pushed back again and again because of the insane trials of attempting to print the liner notes ourselves. We figured anyone who buys a CD in the age of free filesharing is really paying for the packaging, but we didn't want to get burned dumping a huge investment into a large commercial press run. After a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and assistance from Jonathan "Atari" Chaffin at Schlock Horror Design, we had a slick-looking package, including black-bottomed CD-Rs burned on our home computers and then spray-painted black on top (without even screwing up anyone's slot-feed CD players -- and believe me, it would have happened by now if it were going to happen), and eventually, files for the liner notes that even the morons at Kinko's could manage to print without screwing it up too many times. All we had to do was painstakingly cut them out of the paper by hand with a razor blade, fold them with loving care, disassemble each jewel case, and put everything in. It's about as DIY as you can get.
After selling more than 80 of these (again, sheerly by word-of-mouth -- there never was a CD release party), we finally graduated, each saw what a joke the career of a "computer scientist" could be, and in the summer of 2004 ran into a solid drummer who could pick up Omar's sticks and run: Philip, who spends his days waiting tables when he really wants to beat on things. We re-formed, made some more CDs, put a press kit together, and decided to see what happens if we play real gigs for a change. We were packing houses pretty consistently for about half a dozen gigs. Then Ben moved away to Iowa City, and that's that until a new lineup can be put together.