all began in late 1992 as composer/producer James
M. House started to learn electric guitar (age 13)
while living in eastern Pennsylvania. Having grown
up around music with his family, it was no strange
territory. However, it was the endeavors with rock
guitar that lead deeper into blues, jazz, and overall
musical exploration. Notable guitar favorites said
to have shaped his playing most include Steve Vai,
Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt, Frank Zappa, Dave
Mustaine, David Gilmour, and Eric Clapton.
after guitar James started to learn 5-string bass,
citing Flea (from Red Hot Chili Peppers) as a bassist
that first caught his attention. Within a couple
years a move to 6-string bass came with ease following
strong influence from Les Claypool and Primus. His
bass playing began to grow fast incorporating techiniques
learned by everyone from Victor Wooten to Bootsy
Collins. Other instruments were pursued out of personal
interest as well, including drums/ percussion and
came along almost immediately starting with a 4-track
cassette recorder in the corner of James' teenage
bedroom, to a basic 8-track (DTRS) studio constructed
in the basement of his father's house in his mid-teens.
It seemed to come very natural for him to fall deeper
into the subject. Perhaps even more so when considering
his grandfather, Ray Butts, was also a recording
engineer and inventor (working primarily in Nashville,
TN). It would only be a matter of time before James
would start his own studio on a larger scale.
(Squank Sound Studio (Oregon),
concept of Squanky Kong came early with an initial
appearance of the name in early 1994. It spawned
from James House's nickname Squankidonk (skwan'ke'dongk),
or Squanky/Squank for short. Being aware
that there was a professional recording artist already
named "James House" (The James House Band),
he decided early to use his nickname for music.
He settled with "Squanky Kong" almost
immediately having come from the early video game
generation. It reminding of his childhood favorites
Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr.
idea behind a band that explored a range of styles
while staying grounded around progressive/modern
rock was thought about all through the late 1990's.
Something he often called a multi-faced band concept,
where he would play guitar on some songs, bass on
others. Not only allowing for him to explore both
sides of his playing, but for more than one musician's
approach to an instrument be heard in a live situation,
adding to the diversity.
bass and guitar would be mostly done by Squank himself
in the studio to start. While in the future it was
sought that only more unique playing styles would
be done by Squank allowing for any live musicians
with Squanky Kong at the time to partake in the
studio more, adding more diversity to the studio
work as well. To Squank it has never been about
creating a copy of the studio work live, but rather
visiting both sides uniquely featuring the same
self-produced demo tape appearing in 1997 called
"Within the Boundaries" was the first
recordings to officially use the name "Squanky
Kong". This rough tape featured Squank playing
all the instruments.
relocating to Oregon in 1998, Squank continued to
explore studio work while attempting to put together
a live band. Though no situation for a live band
would surface, he went on to recruit a drummer by
the name of Dwayne Taylor to work with through 1999
producing the first Squanky Kong CD called "Just
a Glimpse". This short EP, featuring songs
such as "A Cool Evening Breeze" and "The
Personal Polluter", was also for demo purposes.
It featured only three songs with Dwayne Taylor
on drums, the others being solo instrument or with
electronic drums and keyboards.
the years of 2000-2002 Squanky began using the newly
founded "Squank Sound Studio" to produce
a few groups of songs on the side of other business
and music projects. These were to be more extreme
in the experimental range, he having said the best
material was going to wait till there were more
resources. One group of songs from this period featured
Dwayne Taylor again on drums and included titles
like "Mirror Image", "Predator to
Prey", and "I Want More". Another
group of songs was filled with electronic experimentation
and sequencing (something that is rarely found in
modern SK material). These electronic rooted songs
included "Too Busy to Live" and "Primordial
Ooze". While in fact, Primordial Ooze was actually
the first song made by Squank using computer sequencers
Squanky Kong material was done in the studio again
till a single called "Two-Faced Twilight"
(2004). A rock song where Squank played all the
instruments himself while experimenting with recording
techniques. The song project was setup to experiment
with different approaches to layering instruments
separately during recording (called overdubbing).
It would be this song that would create production
techniques used for making the first album several
compilation CD called "A Brief Trip to Reality"
was released in 2005 featuring a collection of the
better materials recorded between 1999-2005. With
15 songs including: "Mirror Image", "A
Cool Evening Breeze", "Too Busy to Live",
"I Want More", "The Personal Polluter",
"Primordial Ooze", and many more.
2005 attempt was made to seek talent in nearby Eugene,
Oregon area to no prevail. The purpose was to try
and form Squanky Kong Live, ideally with Squank
playing guitar or bass depending on songs with other
players also switching. Since the overall talent
needed was not found the live project was cancelled.
It would be over a year till anything else would
be done with SK. At the end of 2006 the production
would officially begin for the full-lentgh debut
album "Under a Raven's Review".