EXCLUSIVE: Unreleased 16 tracks from Zoloft Smile era

It’s been a good year for 16, a band known for writing about bad times. They finally have a steady lineup (for now) and their new album Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds was praised in the July issue of this magazine. So it seems like the right time for 16 to dig into their vaults (or in this case, garages and shoeboxes) to find unreleased material.
Fortunately, what they’ve found is far better than a few castoffs. Decibel received an exclusive peek at three tracks written by 16 more than a decade ago shortly after they recorded Zoloft Smile , perhaps the best (and bleakest) statement in the band’s long career. All have a distinctly Zoloft vibe and sound like they could effortlessly fit on that album.

The songs will be released in August as a 12-inch EP from Last Hurrah Records. If you like 16 chances are you’ve been bummed out before and this beauty will put you in better spirits. And there are no plans to release this in another format for now so this might be your only chance.

The EP was prepared for vinyl by former White Zombie guitarist J. Yuenger. The A side features the three songs below at 45 RPM; the B side features an etching by artist Lindsey Kuhn. You can stream the EP below and preorder Lost Tracts Of Time from Last Hurrah. After the tracks, vocalist/lyricist Cris Jerue shares a few memories about these “found” songs.

Were these tapes/files lost? If so how did you find them?

They were ‘lost’ but I knew where they were. I had the songs on the original reel sheathed in soft gold linen then secured inside one of Ted Nugent’s old gun vaults. That vault was locked inside an empty storage container that only I had the combination to. When I quit 16 in 2003, I tattooed the combination into my arm and went into hiding. No, seriously, I found the CD inside a box in my Mom’s garage when I was looking for some checkered, slip-on Vans.

When were these songs written?

1999 or maybe 2000. It was right around the time Fred (Durst) ruined Woodstock. I was so mad at him.

What were the sessions like?

These would have been the first songs to be used, eventually, for an album after Zoloft Smile if we hadn’t broken up. That’s the way we did it (except for Blaze of Incompetence): record three songs at a time, over a two to four year time period until we had enough material for an entire album. Then we’d tweak, change and fix them in the studio during final mix and sequencing. It’s a really backward way to do it but we enjoy doing it. When 16 reunited in 2007, we started talking to some labels about rereleasing Zoloft Smile with these three songs as a bonus but we couldn’t find anything that we all agreed on. So, we’re going to release them by themselves with Last Hurrah on a beautiful piece of one-sided, colored vinyl and settle the Zoloft reissue later.

What do you remember about these sessions?

It was weird that Bobby (Ferry, guitar) wasn’t there but having Phil (Vera, guitar) and Tony (Baumeister, bass) write without him opened up a new sound for 16 that won’t ever be replicated. That’s why these songs are so unique. I knew Phil could sing so we started doing some back-up vocals too which we hadn’t done before. After this recording, we stalled again when Tony quit and these songs disappeared. We replaced him with a sweet beard named Nial McGaughey and bought a new van as an incentive to tour but we didn’t actually have anywhere to go. After months of collecting dust, I drove it back to the lot and ran away from it. We had to start flying our groupies into town.

Of the three, which is your favorite song?

I like ‘Drink Faster’ because of the tempo and it reminds me of a time when I was drinking screwdrivers and tequila sunrises for breakfast. For 16, it’s pretty fast, fun and it has this inside joke thing in it about Shaquille O’Neal when he was a Laker. ‘Time’ gives me the goosebumps because there are references to my son and me being a shoddy father. ‘Twists and Wrong Turns’ reminds me of the mental mind-fuck that is working at night, staying up all day doing drugs and then going back to work at night.

Are you happy to see these songs being released?

I sure am. I think they’re really good 16 songs that deserve to see the light of day and be adored by multiple people.

Get in touch with 16 here.