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Biography

It 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.

Shortly 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 keyboards.

Recording 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), Established 2000.)

The 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.

The 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.

Both 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 musical content.

A 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.

After 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.

Between 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 and keyboards.

No 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 years later.

A 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.

During 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".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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