Music Article

''Would You Like Fries With That, Sir?''

Recordings that capture the art of everyday noise

Sven-Erik Geddes wants it known he isn't serving up any scams with the vinyl 45s on his indie label, Planet Pimp. Take Sounds of the American Fast Food Restaurants, Vol. 1. ''Some people have written angry letters and returned their copies, saying 'This sucks. This is just somebody who recorded people in fast-food places,''' he says. ''I never claimed it was anything else. Maybe they thought it would be the theme songs of McDonald's.''

To capture exotic sounds, some producers travel to Mongolia or the deepest parts of the South. Geddes and partner Gregg Turkington venture into territory that's equally scary but closer to home. Fast Food Restaurants (available in indie record stores or by mail order for about $4) is precisely that: recordings of the mundane goings-on (eating, ordering) at KFC, Jack in the Box, and other insta-food emporiums, with intros as dry as an overcooked Big Mac. The ''Taco Bell'' cut, for instance, is preceded by a commentary on ''the fascinating cultural exchange that naturally took place as Americans coast to coast became fluent in ordering traditional Mexican dishes from across the border.'' For Sounds of the San Francisco Adult Bookstores, Geddes -- by day a Bay Area exhibit-display builder -- preserved the dulcet tones of rustling magazines and private sex booths in seedy porn shops.

''It's just an amusing idea,'' Geddes, 30, says, ''recording absolutely worthless sounds. But people seem to think it's funny. I know I do.'' Besides, he adds with a glimmer of seriousness, ''these sounds will be lost to the ages if we don't record them.''

Up next: Geddes is compiling chats with X-Files and Doctor Who devotees for his first full-length CD, Sounds of the American Science Fiction Conventions, while Turkington is documenting airport restrooms. The latter, says Geddes, will be a 45: ''I don't think that's album-length material.''

Originally posted Mar 13, 1998 Published in issue #422 Mar 13, 1998 Order article reprints