Longtime linchpins of the Boise, ID, indie scene, Caustic Resin were often lost in the shadow of the city's best-known exports, Built to Spill. Yet their roots dated back farther, and were also less connected to Seattle. Somewhat in contrast to the dominant sounds of the Northwest, Caustic Resin's music was a dark, druggy blend of heavy metal, psychedelia, and space rock. Headed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Netson, the band favored thick, slow-moving jams filled with torturous vocals and warped noise freak-outs, softened by the occasional quiet meditation or hint of blues. Most media attention focused on Caustic Resin's relationship with Built to Spill -- Netson was a frequent guest musician, and the two bands once combined for an EP release -- but they proved to be a venerable presence in their own right, sticking around for well over a decade.
Caustic Resin were formed in Boise in 1988, and originally featured guitarist/singer Brett Netson (formerly of local punk outfit the Pugs), bassist Tom Romich Jr., and drummer Pat Perkins. They started out playing in heavy metal venues, but were soon gigging with another Boise-rooted band, Doug Martsch's pre-Built to Spill outfit Treepeople. By the early '90s, drummer James Dillion (aka James Manny) had replaced Perkins, giving the group its best-known lineup. In 1993, Netson moonlighted with the newly formed Built to Spill as their charter bass player, appearing on their debut album for C/Z, Ultimate Alternative Wavers. Helped by the exposure and Martsch's advocacy (he cited Caustic Resin as an influence on his own music), Caustic Resin signed with C/Z themselves and issued their official debut album, Body Love Body Hate, that year as well.
Like Built to Spill, Caustic Resin subsequently moved over to Up Records. Their next album, 1995's Fly Me to the Moon, began to break away from some of the metal stylings of their debut, often floating into spacier -- if no less challenging -- territory. It was produced by Phil Ek, who would also helm most of Built to Spill's best work. 1996 saw Caustic Resin uniting with Built to Spill's Doug Martsch for a four-song collaborative (not split) EP, Built to Spill Caustic Resin. Following its release, Netson took the band away from the path they'd been treading, moving them away from BtS to the California-based indie Alias (although he continued to appear as a guest guitarist for BtS albums and live shows).
Caustic Resin debuted for their new label with 1998's The Medicine Is All Gone, which refined their basic blueprint while drawing comparisons to electric Neil Young and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. The group continued to mellow on 1999's Trick Question, a more varied and nuanced effort that welcomed several guest musicians and featured an alternate rhythm section -- bassist Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr., Mark Lanegan) and drummer Joe Plummer -- behind Netson on several tracks. The Afterbirth appeared in 2000, marking the band's third album in as many years, and a return to their raw earlier sound. It was also their last album for Alias; they would eventually return to Up. In the meantime, Netson played and toured with Built to Spill. Finally, in 2003, Caustic Resin returned with Keep on Truckin, which featured original drummer Pat Perkins and split bass duties between Romich and Johnson. ~ Steve Huey