Continuous Audio Transmission...


Continuous Audio Transmission's journey has not always been continuous...

In 1986, Wayde Cooper and Jeff Smoots, while attending the same high school, met in a classical guitar class. Jeff, who at 16 already knew what he wanted to do with his life, found a kindred soul in Wayde. Wayde was himself a teenage guitarist who could learn a new scale as quickly as you could show it to him, then come back the following week and play it faster and better than the person who taught it.

Jeff and Wayde started writing and recording songs together while still in high school, using Jeff's dad's reel-to-reel four-track recorder and a bunch of other borrowed equipment. They didn't know what they were doing, but the fun they had while working together left a lasting impression.

Then came the first gap of time between them; but it would not be the last.

During this stretch of time, which ended in 1991, Jeff was in several bands that played around Seattle, and achieved not only his first commercial release in a compilation album, but also a written accolade in Guitar for the Practicing Musician, an international magazine. Wayde experienced similar achievements during this time as well.

In 1991, the musical team of Wayde and Jeff were reunited the first time when Jeff joined a band that Wayde had formed, called Axis. It was comprised of Wayde, Jim Beseda, Dave Beardsley, and Nick Valenzuela. Jim was a physically towering student who could play full classical pieces on his bass, complete with chords and two handed tapping. Dave was a party-animal percussionist who beat the drums with energy. Nick was an emotional singer who didn't hide behind the music.

Jeff's first impression of Nick was that he talked a lot, but could he sing? Jeff's question was answered the first time he heard Nick belt out an Axis song. He didn't sing like he was in a rehearsal, but as though he was performing in front of fifty thousand people. Jeff was shocked by his projection, emotion and sheer power. Thinking about Wayde's gifted songwriting and playing, Jim's technical excellence on bass, Dave's drumming and Nick's vocal intensity, Jeff had a feeling that he wanted to be a part of this compelling ensemble. He asked if he could join the band and they said yes.

Jeff joined Axis just as they were finishing up their first album. He came in just in time to add backing vocals and keyboards to the tracks. It was intended as a way to get gigs around the Seattle area, and that's exactly what it accomplished. Axis thrived at a time when all the members of the band felt invincible, as if anything were possible. They were sure that rock stardom was only weeks away.

Beginning in 1991, Axis played many seedy taverns and rock-n-roll dives around Seattle in a musical roller-coaster ride that still carries vivid memories today for all involved. They finished rough tracks for a second album, but internal restlessness and various pressures to grow up and start "normal" careers brought the band to an abrupt end in the summer of 1992.

Then came the second gap of time between them; one that would last nearly twenty years.

Many seminal events took place during the years after Axis broke up. For the rest of the 1990's and most of the 2000's, Wayde released several solo albums full of award-winning guitar music, and Jeff did the same. Both followed similar paths on their own, but for different recording labels. Both became masters at their craft, not only in playing guitar, but in many other areas, such as music production itself. Their paths did cross occasionally and briefly in musical ways, but nothing stuck between them. That is, until 2009.

Dave Beardsley somehow found Nick Valenzuela online, which was no small accomplishment at the time, since Nick is notoriously protective of his privacy. Dave mentioned that Jeff had uploaded some old videos to YouTube of Axis performing live at a long-since-closed-down rock club. After checking out the videos, and being flooded with wonderful memories of the great times he had experienced in the band, Nick found Jeff's web site online and contacted him. They began an exciting conversation that spurred Jeff to contact Wayde, who joined in; all of a sudden it was as though no years had passed at all.

At that moment, the interminable gap of time finally came to a close.

They moved very slowly on purpose, discussing everything possible about what they wanted to do in the reformed band. They resurrected old songs, wrote new ones, and talked some more. In 2010, they began their unique Internet-based recording process, which was unimaginable the last time they had worked together. Going from analog tape recording in an expensive professional studio in 1992, to digitally creating even better sound in your own house almost two decades later, was something akin to magic.

Personnel was different this time around. Jim Beseda had tragically passed away in 2006 at the age of 36. Dave Beardsley was an extremely successful employee at Microsoft, who also had his own worldwide consulting firm, and although there was some interest, he ultimately didn't have the time to be involved in the project. This left just Wayde, Jeff and Nick.

Again, the technological wonders of the 21st century came to their rescue. Besides playing guitar all those years, Wayde and Jeff also had become proficient at drum programming and bass playing, talents that came in quite handy for their numerous solo projects. Thus there was not really a need to add other musicians to complete their new project. All that was left was to come up with a name. As their musical history together was somewhat of an exercise in irony, they thought that same irony should be framed by their band name.

Continuous Audio Transmission was born.

Long Live The CAT!

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