East River Pipe is the guise of singer/songwriter F.M. Cornog, who began recording his melancholy one-man pop on a Tascam 388 mini-studio in his apartment in Astoria, NY. Born in Suffolk, VA, and raised in Summit, NJ, Cornog followed a difficult childhood with a series of jobs in a carpet warehouse, a greenhouse, and a light bulb factory. After a longstanding bout with alcoholism and an emotional breakdown cost him his job and left him homeless, Cornog hit rock bottom; while sleeping in a Hoboken train station, he met Barbara Powers, who eventually became not only his girlfriend but also set up the aspiring musician with recording equipment and his own label, Hell Gate.
Fatalistically dubbing the project East River Pipe after imagining a connection between his music and the raw sewage dumped into the local river basin, Cornog began issuing home-recorded cassettes like 1990's Point of Memory and the following year's I Used to Be Kid Colgate before he and Powers raised enough capital to press several hundred copies of a single, Helmet On. After the record won Single of the Week honors in Melody Maker, East River Pipe was signed to the legendary British independent label Sarah Records, which collected much of Cornog's previously recorded material on 1994's Shining Hours in a Can.
After signing to the American indie Merge, East River Pipe returned in 1995 with the critically acclaimed Poor Fricky; three of its songs were covered by Lambchop a few years later, for its album Thriller. Mel followed in 1996, trailed three years later by The Gasoline Age. In 2003, four years after Cornog's return to New Jersey (and the subsequent release of The Gasoline Age), East River Pipe released Garbageheads on Endless Stun. A three-year gap followed before the 2006 appearance of What Are You On?, again on Merge. Cornog's seventh proper album under the East River Pipe moniker, We Live in Rented Rooms, arrived in 2011. ~ Jason Ankeny