WOUNDS BEGINS - 1997-1998 by Dan Keech


I started in a group called Wounds, with Mickey Free, Shields, Jones and Chris Freeland. As a very young kid, Straight Outta Compton and Licensed To Ill had inspired me to rap, but Blowout Comb, Return of the Boom-Bap and Enter the 36 Chambers were our big inspirations as teenagers.

There were no laptops or phones around on which to make the beats. Our first beats were just live takes of us playing instruments into a cassette eight track. Our school had a computer lab with some MIDI sequencing programs. A kind teacher gave us a key to the computer lab and let us learn the ropes. As we got a grip, the beat-minded guys among us graduated to the Zoom ST-224, the SP-202 and eventually the MPC.

As we developed, we became early adopters of art rap. We had no knowledge of other people who were doing similar things across the country. The weirdness in our style came from being exposed to things like US Maple and Storm and Stress. Rap came to us through the TV, radio and The Source, and this was just our spin on the music we grew up hearing.

PUNK ROCK RAP - 1999 by Dan Keech

Wounds was not dialed in to what was going on in Baltimore hip-hop at the time. Our oldest member, (Chris Freeland) was a big part of the Baltimore indie / punk scene, so we mostly played indie rock shows in basements, warehouses and clubs. Baltimore bands like Charm City Suicides and Invert took us in as one of their own.

Rappers at the punk show wasn’t an established archetype at the time. It seemed clear that we couldn’t just stand there and rap for people who may not even like rap. We were all skilled MC’s, but the main focus of our live show was to get wild and outpunk the punks. We would do whatever we could to break the ice. If we could get naked and climb on speakers and still rock the mic right, we would consider that to be a tight set. Our shows could be either a rowdy party or an absurd confrontation.

WOUNDS MAKES MOVES 1999-2000 by Dan Keech

We released two cassette EP’s and a self-titled album. When we finished our full-length, I knew we had something real. We had tried our hand at all kinds of music since we were tiny kids, but suddenly rap was the only reality. I felt like we were MC’s and that proving ourselves to the world as MC’s was the only thing that mattered.

We played in DC, Pittsburgh and NYC, all while in high school. I spent much of senior year booking a short tour for us. A week after graduating, we hit the road. Going from math class one week to a rap tour with my best friends the next week was a happy moment.

The tour highlights were playing with Grand Buffet in Pittsburgh, and rocking for a packed, hyped-up Brooklyn crowd. The other shows felt pretty bleak and ridiculous, but I was amped just to be in the mix.


After our tour, it was decided that Wounds would not continue on the DIY route. I was sad, but I didn’t know how to argue that driving around the country to rap for 15 crust punks would lead us to greener pastures. I couldn’t point to people who had achieved success doing it our way. The indie-rap hustle existed, but not the way it does now, and not in the world we knew.

It was deemed that albums, not shows, should be our new focus. It sounded okay, but it didn’t pan out like that. We went in five different directions, and things slowed to a crawl. We kept playing occasional shows, but the hope that we could really get in gear as a group started to fade.

DOGG AND PONY - AUGUST 2000 by Dan Keech

I had been working on a Height album for years, but I had to no solid plans to release it. Coming off this first tour, I realized I was alone in wanting to go full bore on this touring MC gig, and that it was time to go out on my own.

Right after the Wounds tour, Dogg and Pony, an NYC comedy/art/rap group made up of Isaac Ramos and BARR, invited me to go on tour with them as a guest MC. I was flattered to be invited to join this group I loved, and I was thrilled to get right back out on the road.

I was the rookie of the tour. They were good to me and I learned a lot from them. While on the road, I showed them my solo songs and they offered to release my album on their Dogg Pony Records.


That fall, I quickly banged out my first album with the generous help of the Wounds crew, Grand Buffet, Plural, Dogg and Pony, Zach Poff and Rob Girardi. I had arrived at a powerful style, and the Wounds Team producers had done so as well. Growth is exponential at that age, and we all knew a lot more than we did the year before.

Dogg and Pony sprung for Frankford Wayne (who had mastered MC Lyte, Kool G Rap and countless others) to master the record. Of all my albums, the one with the most high-end mastering is the one where the vocals were recorded on a TASCAM eight track. I couldn’t have been more happy with the end result.

FIRST HEIGHT SHOW - FALL 2000 by Dan Keech

In the middle of the mixing process, I went to NYC to do my first ever solo show. It was at The Cooler in Manhattan, with Dogg and Pony, The Rapture, Black Dice, and Avery Tare and Panda Bear of Animal Collective. The Dogg and Pony guys snuck me on to the bill at the last minute.

Looking back, it seems insane that this was my first show, and that I was able to get on that bill. I did a very short set and I completely lost my voice during the last song. My set was perhaps not ready for prime-time, but I was glad that it happened.


In November, I went on a six week tour with Grand Buffet, which Lord Grunge and I had been booking since we met on the Wounds tour. It was the longest run either of us had attempted. We did four weeks on the east coast, then flew to San Francisco and did two weeks on the west. We got shows anywhere we could… bars, houses, a high school cafeteria, a prospective students night at a college… If a bill was already full, we would ask if we could show up and play a few songs between bands. At the time, having no equipment was novel, and it made it possible to jimmy our way on to bigger shows.

Grand Buffet was incredible. I was touring with them right as they were blossoming into an unstoppable live act. We would be billed as separate acts, but sometimes I would just do a few of my songs during their set and leave it at that. I barely knew how to perform as a solo MC. My songs were tight but my set was less than dynamic, and it was better in small doses. I learned a lot by watching them every night. By the time we got to the west coast, I had put together a somewhat stronger solo set.

In GB, I met two people that were like older brothers. I admired them. (and I still do) They weren’t at all caught up in fitting into any scene or playing a part. They just wanted to do what they were driven to do, in front of anyone who would listen. They treated me as if I was cut from the same cloth. They knew what I was trying to do, because they were doing it.