A Smaller Life

When we reformed in 89 it took awhile to gel, we hadn’t played together for over 6 years.

Lisa Davis was playing bass. Tim, Lisa and I all played well together. She was a good bass player but she sometimes overplayed.  She also had a tendency to play in the wrong key. It took Paul awhile to get used to it as well. By the time we recorded Mr Spine and the Brush in early 1990 we were a band again. There were problems with Lisa though, her antagonism to Paul and I as well as the end of her relationship with Tim eventually led us to Joe.

Joe’s bass playing was more aggressive than Lisa’s and he wrote as well. We always needed songs. He and Tim had played in a couple of bands together and seemed even more locked in than Tim and Lisa. I didn’t really connect with him musically. From what he said later on he found my songs simplistic and boring. As with Mark, he had his own band as well so he was “doing  us a favor”.

As I said earlier Tim played more with the bass player and less with me unless my guitar so ruled the rhythm he had to. At the end of his time with the Midgets his playing was telling me he was quitting, very hard to play to or with.

The first time Tom played with us was the Ricky recording sessions of 91. It was a revelation to me. A very different drummer than Mooney, much straighter, not as loose, but he left more space and was just as unique. He was also Mallon the producer so rehearsals were a lot more focused. When Tom became our permanent drummer we also added Erich on the bass.

Erich hadn’t played in a band for awhile and had never played bass in a band. When he first started playing with us he didn’t have a bass, he played Tom’s upside down as he is left handed. I think that at last we had a bass player who melodic sense and originality is totally Toiling Midgets.

The final addition of Mark Sullivan was Tom’s idea. On all previous Midget’s recordings I or Paul had played whatever keyboard part, mostly me. Tim and I had done a couple of rehearsals with a keyboard player Tim knew after Paul and Aaron had quit and before he left for Amsterdam, it was not good. With Mark it was very different. It was like you found that thing you didn’t know you were missing. A whole new layer was added and we became the Midgets we still are.

I have been playing with Paul for over 30 years. Holy shit Batman. When we weren’t playing together I always missed his guitar on whatever I was doing. In this inter web age we have been able to do gigs 1000 miles apart. When we play together it is the Midgets. Without either one of us there is no Midgets.


Yes we took them when we were younger. Yes we were stupid but that was our choice. No they didn’t cause the band problems (well some) but they sure didn’t help. Our reputation probably far out distanced our use. We were hardly unique in this respect. Drugs can also teach you some things, good and bad. Some of the lessons are harder than others, like stop. This lesson is the one that kills people most often. So kids, don’t do drugs.

                                                  My Smaller Life

  I have played in the Midgets for 21 of the past 33 years. We formed in 1980 as an instrumental band and that will be how it ends when we are all gone, some of us already are. I have never been able to make a career from the Midgets even though this band is my life. We never toured the whole country let alone anywhere else in the world. Our records never came out when we were still playing those songs, sometimes not even the same band. Some have never been released. This, at least, we hope to rectify in the next few years.

I have always thought there was never a band like us. I could be wrong, just a personal conceit, but I have yet to hear a band that combines our songwriting and execution. I know there are a lot of instrumental rock bands now. They tend to do the same kind of song over and over from what I’ve seen, arpeggiated quiet jam bit then everybody play the big heavy riff. Again, I’m probably wrong.

It’s all I know how to do, the thing I do best, a life’s work and the reason I’m here. I’ve got no choice. Thanks for listening to the sound we make.

                                                        Craig Gray