The bad part of the tour was that I never got the CD’s I was out there trying to promote. I was told that the label was having trouble making deadlines and that I would be mailed the CD’s a week into the tour. A week became two weeks, and so on, and the CD’s never came.

Despite this major setback, they got the album out in December, and did a good job of spreading the word. There was no press, but they were just such good movers and shakers, and they talked that album up to anyone and everyone. Over the years I’ve gotten emails from people in France and Japan that somehow got a hold of that album.

FALLING BACK - 2001-2002 by Dan Keech

After this intense period of touring and recording, I was back in Baltimore, without much direction. At the time, I felt like the tour had failed, in that I hadn’t got my album heard, and I hadn’t really made an impression on people with my less than polished set. A lot had happened in a short period, but I didn’t know what it had all meant, and I felt like I was back at square one.

I had cultivated a rap style, but somehow my experience had rendered it obsolete. My abstract yelling style had fit me like a glove, but suddenly that was no longer my voice. That exuberant, yelling teenager wasn’t me anymore. When I dig back through my four-track tapes from this time, I see that there were hundreds of attempts to break out and find myself, but it took a lot of time and a lot of false starts.

I kept playing solo shows and I did a small tour, trying to fight through my confusion. I gained a little confidence as a performer, but I still felt directionless, and eventually I took a break from playing live. Maybe it was a time to reflect and not a time to hustle? Maybe I was just depressed? It’s hard to say. I never stopped writing though.


During this blue time, I was invited to drop some guest verses on Cex’s Tall, Dark and Handcuffed. Three of my verses made the album. Cex, Mickey Free and I even got to rap on a track with Craig Wedren of Shudder To Think. (a long time favorite of mine) I was still confused about my style, but I was forced to come up with something.

I felt like nothing I was doing was going anywhere, and then suddenly I’m on an album that’s being reviewed in Rolling Stone. It was a good reminder to keep my head in the game.

BACK ON THE BALL - WINTER 2003 by Dan Keech

I played no Height shows throughout 2002. Shields had never stopped sending me tight beats, and I was slowly figuring out how I wanted to rap on them. Eventually, I began to feel like I was making headway. In winter of 2003, I played a show and premiered some new songs. There was an insane blizzard happening and no one really showed up, but it didn’t matter. As soon as I started, I felt like I went from being lost to knowing who I was and where I was going. Things kicked into high gear.

I HAVE A GUN – SPRING 2003 by Dan Keech

Shields and I kept working around the clock all winter, and Zach Poff and I recorded and mixed the album in the spring. Barring a few loops by Mickey Free, Jones and me, Shields did all the production on the album. He also sang on three tracks. I rapped in a way that was worlds more literal and linear than my older rhymes, in very plain language. After six years of trying to rap like Ghostface, this was a big change.

The release party for the album was a dream come true. My early years of Height shows were just practice. There had never been a Height show in Baltimore that was truly awesome. On this night, we packed the Talking Head to capacity and people went wild. Lord Grunge, Mickey Free and Plural rounded out the bill and killed it. .

I did a two week tour to support the album. Nothing about the tour was encouraging, but it didn’t matter. I still felt like I was back on the right track.

BOW AND HEIGHT – 2004 by Dan Keech

My pal Mickey Free (called Bow ‘n Arrow at the time), had returned to Baltimore, from NY. In 2003, he had put out his first solo album. He was on a similar path to me. We shared an ambition to tour heavily, so we began to team up and perform as Bow and Height. We put together a set that combined our solo songs with new collaborations.

Our show went beyond what either of us had done individually. We were in the same place in our music lives, and we knew and believed in each other’s music. It was an ideal duo while it lasted.

We toured with Grand Buffet, Dan Deacon and Oxes. Some of those acts (Grand Buffet, Oxes) had advanced to playing bigger clubs with guarantees, and others (Dan Deacon, us) were still playing in basements and dive bars. Our set seemed to have a broad enough appeal to work in many different situations.

I had hoped Bow and Height could progress into a full-fledged group that released albums, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He lost faith in the touring rapper hustle. We made some good songs together, but they ended just coming out on my own releases. By December of that year, I was back to touring as a one-man show.

BIG BEASTS TOUR – WINTER 2005 by Dan Keech

Dan Deacon and I set out on a 57 day US tour. Dan and I had toured together twice already, but this was our most ambitious mission to date. We booked shows in a field, an alley, restaurants, record stores, and more. We would do anything to avoid having an off day.

The first month was a pleasure cruise, but things came to a halt when we stopped at a rest stop near Fresno, California and we saw transmission fluid leaking out of my car. My transmission had gone up, and the car was toast.

Dan was determined not to cancel any shows. I flew home, and he did 19 days of the tour by Greyhound bus. Mickey Free volunteered to join the tour and drive us for the east coast shows. We met back up in Pittsburgh and did the last leg as a trio.

RAW BEAR – FALL 2005 by Dan Keech

I booked two tours under the name Height with Raw Bear. The idea was to imply that it’s Height plus whoever else I wanted to bring. This was sort of the proto-type version of Height with Friends. I brought Jones as my DJ, Mickey Free as hype man and PT Burnem as a special guest.

The name didn’t stick, but this was a good arrangement in that I could bring these dudes and do our collaborative songs, without pretending that we were an unchanging unit.