Compelling, melodic, harsh and mild in a seamless blend, they used industrial rock sounds to play melodies that alternated between simple beauty and emotional attack; all with slow, steady, careful timing, the way Carol Nooan and Groovasaurus have sometimes done. Their lyrics sometimes felt like stories told slowly, and their long instrumental bridges were often layered with tribal sounding percussion and guitar melodies that sounded almost Turkish to me. Occasionally they would strip all of that out and show that their melodic strength and compelling writing still worked without all of the texture.
Through it all, the front man, John Eye, had our eyes. Shaved head, painted, no shirt, he writhed on stage and off, climbing the poles and pipes, twisting and turning. Almost a decade later, I still have images of him hanging from the ceiling, or climbing the railing off stage, all mixed up with my memory of the music. I think his ego was glowing white in the darkness, and he knew where to project it.
At the time, they had only one album for sale, titled Sky Clad. I only wish I'd thought to buy more than one copy. While no mere audio recording can convey what it was like to see them live, this CD has remained one of my favorites ever since, and it has been sadly out of print for almost as long. I've used it on mix tapes and played it in my car, and more consisnently than for any other recording I have (not counting funny novelties), people ask about it.
What happened was that, not long after that show, the band imploded. Through unofficial channels, I hear that John Eye and the other band members couldn't figure out how to work together - whether or not it would be all about him. And it turned out that One of Us is all about him. Christian Gilbert (guitar), Alex Milne (bass), and Dave McFarland (drums & percussion) left, teamed up with singer Leah Chandra, and formed Reflecting Skin. That's where you can hear those Turkish sounding guitar solos now.
John Eye got a new band, and kept the name. I've seen them a couple of times since. Last night at Dark Sky, they played Song of Cannonicus, from Sky Clad. That sent me thinking about the old and new One of Us. John Eye's voice is still the same, and though he has hair now, and hasn't been as flamboyant in recent years as he had been at that show, he's still got ego to project into stage presence. The songwriting style is similar, and some of the old songs come back. They've got similar melodies, but the industrial rock aspect of dominant now, and there are fewer twists. I still enjoy their music, and their shows. I miss what they were, ten years ago.