September 19, 1989
cassette & DAT
[SDK-1] color copied inserts, clear acetate labels with gold embossed printing
Slamdek’s eleventh release was the debut cassette by Cerebellum. The band set forth to tear down cliques and barriers that were beginning to form in the Louisville punk scene by presenting themselves as nothing more than a band. A flyer handed out at one of their first shows read, “Cerebellum is a band. Let’s not try and figure out what kind of band Cerebellum is, and just accept us for what we are – musicians with a cause. No labels tonight, or any night, please. We want you to accept the bands for what they are – bands. Enjoy them for what they are without ignoring their cause. Do not ignore.”
“The sheet of paper in front of you is for you to read, and to give you an idea of what the cause of the band is. It contains not lyrics, but meanings of each song. We have done this in order for you to get a better understanding of Cerebellum. Read, listen, dance, enjoy…”
Cerebellum formed during the summer of 1988 after the breakups of Spot, Able To Act, and Lead Pennies. Spot brought Joey Mudd (vocals and metal) and Breck Pipes (guitar) to the group. Lead Pennies brought Will Chatham (drums) and Jon Cook (bass and vocals). Tim Furnish (guitar) joined after leaving Able To Act. Drew Daniel (metal and vocals) was added later, after Cerebellum had already begun performing. As a six piece, Cerebellum did a lot of instrument swapping and was famous for the ridiculous amounts of time they spent on stage between songs.
They tried to shift emphasis in the Louisville punk scene from being tough and textbook punk, to expressing emotions and speaking the truth. Music seemed to hold a
deeper place in the hearts of this band. It seemed to be much more important that the message in the music was genuine and sincere, rather than just a good message. It showed in everything from their common enthusiasm, to the unconventional instruments they used. It wasn’t unusual to see refrigerator coils, steel jugs of bleach, or traffic light covers on stage alongside the amplifiers. Joey Mudd wrote a short biography of the band in February 1989. It ended with the line, “We’re playing music we feel.” There were more words continuing that line, but he scratched them out to leave it at just, “We’re playing music we feel.” This one simple sentence summarizes what Cerebellum was about perhaps as well as any could.
The Cerebellum cassette also seemed to summarize what Slamdek aspired to be about: a total group effort put forth by people who all wanted to achieve a common goal. Three members of the band, and members of their families, were directly involved putting together the cover artwork. The typesetting was done on an early Macintosh at the Furnishes’ Everett Avenue home, then printed on a laser printer at (Tim’s younger brother) Simon Furnish’s school. Their mother, Denise Furnish, made a photostat of the type to reverse it to white on black. Drew and Joey put together the colored cover design. And Tim selected the photos for the inside.
When it was all nearly ready, Tim, Joey, and I made the pilgrimage to Kinko’s on Hurstbourne Lane to have the color copies run. The page was laid out with the front and back of the cassette insert laying side by side. In doing this, after say, a hundred copies had been run through the color copier, those prints could be turned over and fed through again. An identical copy could be made on the back of each, which could then be cut into two hundred (first-generation copy) cassette J-cards.
As it turned out, printing a design which was almost solid black on two sides of the sheet tended to make the finished product fairly heavy. Because of all the black ink on both sides of the sheet, the Cerebellum tape covers had a weighty, glossy feel. Almost like thick, glossy paper would feel. And this flabbergasted those in the Endpoint camp who had campaigned so heartily for heavier, glossy paper.
March 2, 1989, Cerebellum at Juniper Hill:
Will Chatham, Breck Pipes, and Joey Mudd.
For the cassette labeling, I stole an idea from one of my SSDigital customers. Mark Miceli, a local new age keyboard artist, self released a cassette called Je Suis, and had me do the duplication. Mark’s cassette labeling was amazing. Instead of having paper labels or on-shell printing, he had clear acetate die-cut labels printed. The lettering was then stamped into them with gold foil. The embossed impression it gave was a reflective, metallic look. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the looks of these totally blew away that of the Endpoint tapes. However, that was not the intention. Oh, well. Over the years, through the abuse that punk rock cassettes take, they didn’t hold up too well. After hours of baking on hot dashboards, Cerebellum labels would wrinkle, and eventually make the cassettes difficult to fit into car tape decks.
Endpoint and Cerebellum recorded at Juniper Hill for their Slamdek releases during the same set of days. Cerebellum first entered the studio on a cool Saturday morning, March 2, 1989. Endpoint came in the following Saturday afternoon, March 11, as Cerebellum was mixing and finishing up. The two projects were studies in contrast. Endpoint’s was seventeen songs, while Cerebellum’s was five. Endpoint’s had a focused sound, while Cerebellum’s deviated by the song. A party at Karen Sheets’ parents’ house on Friday, March 17 capped the excitement of the time. Both bands played steamy sets in the basement, as Bush League, playing out for the first time, opened. Two live Cerebellum tracks, “Guard” and “Hurt,” taken from Karen’s jam box recording of the
show, later appeared on the 1989 Christmas tape.
One interesting note is that the second song, “House,” contains a tribal/rock drum beat, which, alone for four measures, was intended to begin the song. A problem with the tape reel, however, caused the drum intro to be distorted. This happened during mixing when it was too late to fix. The band decided to omit the drum intro and just have the song start. When Sunspring covered “House” for the 1991 Christmas tape, drummer John Weiss learned the song from a tape of the Karen Sheets show, which included the drum intro. So the original, intended beginning of the song could finally be heard. As fate would have it, though, a recording error on Sunspring’s master DAT clipped the first two beats. This went unnoticed until days after the band had left the studio, after which it was too costly to remix the entire song for the sake of the intro.
Sunspring’s recorded version of “House,” therefore begins just as Cerebellum’s does: straight in.
March 2, 1989, Cerebellum at Juniper Hill:
Jon Cook and Drew Daniel.
For the fourth song, “Marble,” Drew takes a break from rhythmically banging on metal objects, to take the vocal duties. It begins with acoustic guitars, and Drew’s soft, smooth, wide open voice. This makes it a deadringer for the Smiths, and was, oddly enough, written the night before they went into the studio.
The final track is the I don’t feel quite so right and I want to feel better but I don’t know how anthem, “Calm.” Sung by Joey, he always contended that “Calm” was a live experience and should have never been recorded. In any event, the six minute, fifteen second epic which closes the Cerebellum cassette is a testament to the band’s abilities, and versatility.
By the time anyone’s life was changed by hearing the Cerebellum tape, the feeling was ancient history. Cerebellum broke up in June 1989, three months before the release of the cassette. Jon, Tim, Will, and Drew had been working on a new set of songs under the name Crain. During a series of disputes, Breck and Joey ultimately left the group thinking it was over. To their surprise, the remaining members performed the following weekend at the tiny Cafe Dog on First Street at Broadway. A crowd packed the room which crammed about thirty people, and the sidewalk which held another fifty or so. Crain began their performance playing their new songs. Soon enough they broke out some Cerebellum numbers to the audience’s delight, and Joey and Breck’s dismay.
Within weeks, Cerebellum was buried with the formations of Crain and Crawdad. The latter was a straight ahead hard rock band, with Joey singing, Breck on guitar, Kevin Coultas on drums, and David Ernst on bass.
March 2, 1989: Tim Furnish of Cerebellum at Juniper Hill.
In other related business, the Cerebellum catalog number and cancelled Self Destruct 7″ deserve a sentence or two. First, why is Slamdek’s eleventh release marked SDK-1? (Especially considering the releases before and after it are HAHX-1256 and HAHX-1799). Well, before Cerebellum even entered the studio, Jon Cook and I had a conversation. In so many words, Jon wondered why Slamdek tapes had such ridiculous catalog numbers. They weren’t in sequence, they gave no hint of the label name, and there were obviously not 1,256 Slamdek releases. I explained that they meant nothing, they were just there to make it look like something a little bigger than it really as. Jon pretty much said he didn’t want some big, huge number on the Cerebellum cassette. I gave him his choice of the catalog number, and he chose “1.” SLAMDEK/Scramdown had just been picked up by Phonolog Reports, that big yellow index that’s in every record store in America, who had issued the label the “SDK” abbreviation. Cerebellum became SDK-1. This made Jon happy, and was fine with me, too. As it was my favorite release, and remains so today, SDK-1 seemed an appropriate number.
A seven inch single of these same recordings of “Fire,” “Marble,” and “Calm” was also planned before the band recorded. The Cerebellum 7″, titled Sarah Who?, was going to be on Self Destruct Records. However, time delays and disagreements between the band and label owner Mike Bucayu eventually drained his patience, and the record was scrapped. The Cerebellum cassette sold 225 copies.
Plays on both sides: