Christmas 1990 part 1

December 17, 1990

Christmas 1990
various artists cassette
[SDK-2590] color copied inserts (six different designs), 2 1/2″ clear acetate square overlay, photocopied liner notes, on-shell cassette labeling

Part One of two parts

By the end of 1990, a Slamdek mini-community was beginning to take shape. After the successes of Slamdek events such as the Crain/Deathwatch 7″ giveaway and the Earthquake Party on December 3, Zodiac Club owner Dave Ellenberger and his partner Dhebi Barber were interested in doing more of the same type of thing on a regular basis. While settling up the night of the Earthquake Party, Dave offered me the opportunity to book Wednesday nights with whatever kind of stuff he thought would bring people in. As a weeknight, Wednesdays would have ordinarily found the club closed. From Dave and Dhebi’s perspective, any income was better than none. Wednesdays were dubbed Slamdek Nite at the Zodiac, and while the crowds were usually 50 or fewer people, these were amazing, intimate, incredibly fun and interactive shows.

SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas 1990 took the basic idea of Christmas 1989 and expanded it to non-profitable, yet very gift-like, proportions. It also expanded the envelope to include bands whose past and/or future recording plans did not include Slamdek. Only one of these such groups though, had other music readily available at the time. That being King G and the J Krew, whose Snug cassette was on their own label, Hell ’N’Ready Records, and manufactured by SSDigital. Christmas 1990 was a wide open canvas that many people created, and few ultimately enjoyed. For all the effort put forth, it sold only 101 copies. Its 75 minute playing time, color packaging, and on-shell labeling, made production costs virtually equal to the retail price and served as its self defeat. Rather than reissuing its and raising its price after Christmas, other projects took precedence and it had disappeared by February 1991. With twenty-one bands involved, there’s no quick way to summarize the entire picture of Christmas 1990. Its own outrageously lengthy liner notes perhaps tell its story best. Here they are with commentary and lyrical excerpts [in brackets].

“Merry Christmas and welcome to the 1990 SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas tape. Where to begin? Gee. Well, first, there are a few things you should be aware of so that you’ll kinda know what to expect. One thing is that very few of these songs were intended to go together. They’re all here for different reasons. Some because they have nowhere else to go, yet they must be heard; some because they’ll be of interest to followers and friends of these bands; some because they were recorded just for this cassette; and some because members of these bands who want to try something different can use the Christmas tape as an open forum to create whatever they like, and get a response.

“So all these songs for all these reasons have been assembled here as a gift. And above all else they’re here just to be heard. Unaltered and uncensored. They get loud when they want and they say ‘fuck’ when they want, and our free country puts no labels on them to help us decide what’s right.

“These songs will mean something different to every soul whose ears they pass by. And for less than four-cents-a-minute you run the risk of looking at something in a new way, discovering something you never knew existed, or just enjoying yourself. If you work or go to school everyday, there’s a big chance that picking a tape to listen to in the car takes longer than the life-and-death decision you make at every yellow light on the way.

“Songs have no monetary value to the listener, only to the buyer. It seems really unfair to put a $7 price tag on something that costs $2.25 to make. That cheats everybody. Especially the musicians who have given their music away just so it can be heard, and the listener who can only spend so much. It’s not usually funny to charge $24 for a record. Sometimes but not usually. [A reference to a Crain/Deathwatch 7” I put in ear X-tacy for $24.99, which never sold.]

“For these reasons, and several others, the annual SLAMDEK/Scramdown Christmas Extravaganza carries a silly little price tag called ‘two ninety-eight.’ This is it.

“Starting now, you’ll go through twenty-three songs by twenty-one bands. In just over seventy-five minutes, you’ll touch on the thoughts and emotions of fifty-five musicians; fifty-four of whom are from Louisville. No one older than 25. You’ll hear music that’s just a few weeks old, and some that’s just a few years. Dig deep into Louisville, this is its youth, this is its sound, this is its progression. This is its thanks. Merry Christmas.

“The first band is one who debuted as a two-piece on last year’s Christmas tape. Sister Shannon opens side one with ‘Goreman.’ This digital recording was made December 5, 1990 through a mixing board at their practice [the same method used for Crain and Substance as described on page 16]. Now with four members, Sister Shannon is Robin Wallace singing, Dave Ernst on bass, Greta Ritcher on guitar, and drummer Kevin Coultas. Besides this song, their only other release is ‘Romp’ on the Christmas 1989 cassette. Kevin and Dave were in Crawdad who have a limited edition live cassette out called Loaded. Greta and Robin were also in Your Face whose Magenta Bent is also still available. Sister Shannon plans to record soon and have either a 7″ or 10″ out in 1991 with a matching cassette version.

[Sister Shannon broke up in February 1991, having never recorded in a studio. This track and the other two recorded 12/5/90 appeared on the Slamdek Singles two-tape compilation in 1992. “This is the place where I lie down, this is the place where I think of you. This is the place where I wander alone, this is the place where I touch your face. Take me back, take me back. This is the place, the place is small. I am the place, I am tall, without you.”]

“Second is Downpour with the only song they ever documented, ‘Defense.’ This was
recorded at Studio 2002 in Jeffersonville (that’s right; the Hoosier State! Hey what’s a
virgin in Indiana? A girl that can run faster than her brothers! a ha ha ha!) But anyway, Downpour is unfortunately no longer together, and this song remains as their only release. Playing on this song are E. Dan Patterson on bass, Andrew Kincade singing, John Weiss drumming, William Greene on guitar, and backing vocals by C. Sprano and S. Rose. John Weiss is now in Sunspring.

[“Break down the defense, tear down the stone walls. No one here is a stone’s throw from perfect, but don’t kill yourself, don’t kid yourself. Security comes apart. Self righteousness turns condemnation, but I want more than a lie. Take a look, turn it down, why? Why? I’ll tell you why. You’re the one who brings you down. You’re the one who tears you down. Who controls your destiny? Who stripped you of your dignity? Who took away your integrity? Left you naked in the city? Is it enough to set you free? When you were a child, unaware of denial, sheltered by your own youth. Now that you’re tall, you’ve built a stone wall, but it’s set up by the truth. Don’t turn away, the stage is real.”]

“Next is Crain whose tune called ‘Drain’ was recorded on 16 tracks at Mom’s [Sound On Sound] in August 1990. Crain is still together and they feature Tim Furnish on guitar, Jon Cook on bass, singer Joey Mudd, and drummer Will Chatham who sometimes sings for the Didjits [at a 1990 Didjits show at the Zodiac, Will was invited on stage to sing a song and the joke began to introduce Will as ‘the singer of the Didjits’]. Crain appeared on a split 7″ given away at the Zodiac September 7, 1990 which was limited to 300 copies (the other side was Deathwatch). Another Crain record or two will be released in 1991 in much greater numbers and larger areas on Woodpile Records. Watch for it.

[Woodpile was Jon Cook’s label that, before its first release, became Automatic Wreckords. Named after an automobile accident from which insurance money paid for the release, Automatic issued a four song Crain 7″, the Rocket EP, in 1991. It contained three more songs from the 8/90 Sound On Sound session, “Monkeywrench,” “Skinminer Pastel,” and “Painful Answer,” as well as an excerpt of a spontaneous jam from my recording at Will’s house, “Nervous Woman Nervous Man.” “You feel it build, it’s something inside you, you know it’s there, it’s all in your pocket, or in your hand. Drill a hole inside your head. Let it spill, spill to your feet. You ask yourself, what is it that is making you, taking you down. Let loose. Cut loose. Escape. Let it drain.”]

“Fourth but not least is Slambang Vanilla. They’re bringin’ it home with ‘Ricky!’ an advance cut off their upcoming 98-song, two-tape set, Sideburnin’. SBV had two songs on last year’s Christmas Fiesta as well as their own tape The Memphis Sessions & A Smokin’ Word LP. ‘Ricky!’ was recorded at 1312 Everett Avenue in September 1990. Entertaining the troops on this hit selection are: Jesus Rosebud on instruments, and Goober The Baptist on instruments.

[At this point, Joey and I had settled on our character names Jesus Rosebud and Goober The Baptist, respectively. The 98-song Sideburnin’ was never completed nor released, though we did actually record fifty songs for it. Yes, fifty songs, bringing SBV’s total works to a total of seventy songs! By now, the joke-turned-obsession was wildly out of control. “Slip me a mickey, or don’t. I get real sicky when I touch ya, you’re so sticky. Go on jump out the window, and cut my grass. Don’t take all day. Make it quickie, Ricky!”]

“Bush as in President, League as in baseball. Next is Bush League. This seven minute epic is called ‘Bain’ and was recorded in an analog fashion at Bush League practice December 6, 1990. Singing is Buzz Scumshit [Buzz Minnick], Rusty Sohm is on bass, Mike Borich is on guitar, and the drummer is Woody Delaney. This song is now their only release. They plan to go into the studio in January, though they don’t have any definite plans to put out a record any time soon. So just swallow this one for now.

[Months after the release of Christmas 1990, I learned that the track ‘Bain’ is not actually seven minutes, but rather was two songs played back to back. The second song which appeared on the cassette was ‘Close.’ They did record at Sound On Sound in early 1991 with temporary drummer David Pajo, released two seven inches on Better Days Records, and fizzled out of contention in 1993.]

“The sixth song is an earlier version of a Spot classic than the one most people are familiar with. The song is ‘Paving Your Way’ and was recorded on 8 tracks at Sound On Sound in August 1987. Playing on this song are Breck Pipes on guitar, Mark Ernst on drums, Chris Scott on bass, and vocalist Joey Mudd. There are no current plans to release the tape Go, Or I’ll Kill You! from which this song is taken. Their Proud cassette was released in April 1988 and will return to shelves this January. Jeanette Howerton, you’re first on the list!

[Jeanette Howerton was a mail order customer who had ordered the Proud cassette in the summer of 1990 when it was temporarily out of print. Her order was held for many months until it was finally filled the following year. Go, Or I’ll Kill You! contained the entire August 1987 session as well as a compilation of jam box recordings from Spot’s first practices and shows. It was finally released on cassette in April 1991 in a very limited edition and sold for 98¢. “When you pay the church, pay the priest. You’re paying for your soul to be released. Money hungry evangelists is what they are. Stealing your money so they can buy a car. Paying is paving your way. Give me some money, you’re sure to go to heaven. If not, you’ll burn in hell. Oh, well.]

“Pope Lick is a solo project by Drew Daniel who has been in Cerebellum and Crain. This song is called ‘Is That The Easter Bunny?’ and is best when your parents are home and you turn it all the way up. It was inspired by a scene in a movie where some passerby asks a gifted artist that painful question, ‘Is that the Easter Bunny?’ But as the story goes, we find that to be a big negatory. No. It’s not the Easter Bunny at all. Additional drums in some parts are played by Matthew Sussman. Except for about forty cassettes that Drew gave away, this song is only available here. It was recorded on 4-track during summer 1990 and mixed to DAT in August at Slamdek.

[Drew compiled a 90 minute cassette of a wide variety of styles of music he experimented with on his weathered and beaten 4-track. While mixing the songs at my parents’ house, he had to hold the 4-track’s power adapter cord in a certain position for it to operate. It ended up taking several days to mix all of the material. I then duplicated forty copies of it which Drew gave to friends before he went away to school in California.]

“Number eight is brand new Hopscotch Army. The song is called ‘Sundown’ and was mixed to digital from 16-track at Studio D in November 1990. It’s off an upcoming EP expected for spring. If you’re familiar with Hopscotch Army at all, you’ll notice that this is the first song they’ve ever recorded without keyboards. They had a live song called ‘Anesthesia’ on the Christmas 1989 Buffet, and a successful 12 song cassette and CD in August 1989 called Blurry. Playing bass is Scott Darrow, the guitarist is Jeff Goebel, singing and playing acoustic guitar is Mark Ritcher, and Dave Hoback is the drummer.

[Studio D is actually DSL after it moved from Juniper Hill to Jeffersontown, but before the name DSL had been officially chosen. The upcoming EP mentioned was Belief which came out in August 1991 on cassette and CD. Danny Flanigan had left the band and Jeff Goebel was brought in on guitar, making Mark the singular front man, and providing the group with a more unified sound. “Cold like morning, dark like night. Teeth are sinking, take one last bite. Wind’s a knife splitting bones. With heavy steps, stifle the moan. Rain falls hard on the dirt it pounds. Shaking air, the siren sounds. Boiling burns, like ice and fire. Reflex dull through mist and wire. I can see the sunset disappear. Somehow I know the end is near.”]

“Lettuce Prey is next with a song called ‘Undermine’. It’s a live cassette recording from the Red Barn in October 1990. Recorded off the mixing board, it’s monophonic! Lettuce Prey will be recording at the Zodiac on off days and is making plans for a release also in the spring. Playing on this song are Lionell Andrews on guitar, Mitchell Douglass singing, Richie Griley on bass guitar, and master drummer Brett Hosclaw. ‘Undermine’ is the only Lettuce Prey that you can get as of now.

[Lettuce Prey never got around to releasing anything before their demise in 1991. “I see there’s nothing new, I keep it all inside. It’s just my special way. You think you know me well, I’ve got you eating out of my hand. Before you know it’s too late to take advantage of my position. Feed you my dreams, things you can’t have. Still you never understand the mind of a selfish man. You can curse me, go on, curse me. But all stays the same, you can’t stay away.”]

“The tenth would be the Rain Chorus, recorded December 5, 1990 at Snagilwet, their second show. This one is called ‘Michael’ and is also a cassette recording off the mixing board. The Rain Chorus is shopping for a record deal, but have not recorded as of yet. They are: Dony Erwin on bass, drumming is Cary Shields, and Danny Flanigan is singing and playing guitar. Guest saxophone on this song is played by Reid Jahn.

[The Rain Chorus evolved through some member changes an eventually released a cassette and CD, Sun Over Rain, on their own label Ensemble Records in 1993. After the Rain Chorus split, Danny Flanigan’s song writing went on to be showcased in Danny Flanigan and Greathouse, who released a CD on Ensemble in early 1995. “Please don’t tell me it was all a lie. I remember you saying, one way or another, you were gonna win the fight. Now I can’t believe my ears, and won’t believe my eyes. Is it true what mamma told me? Michael, have you lost your mind? When it rains it pours, Michael.”]

“Side one ends with Endpoint’s ‘Endpoint Outro’ which is a digitally recorded practice tape from December 1990. It is one of six songs on this cassette that was recorded just for the purpose of being here. Endpoint has a seventeen song cassette from June 1989 called If The Spirits Are Willing which is still available. They recently recorded a 9-song LP in Cleveland for Conversion Records. In A Time Of Hate will be out nationwide on vinyl, cassette, and compact disc in January. Among other things, they’re sponsored by Vans and will be touring with Shelter next year. Guitars are Chad Castetter and Duncan Barlow, bass by Jason Hayden, Lee Fetzer on drums, and vocals by Rob Pennington.

[This was an instrumental track with the only vocal being Rob’s announcement at the end, ‘Merry Christmas, Louisville. From Endpoint.’ The vinyl on Conversion came out about eight months behind schedule in August 1991, the cassette several months later, and the CD didn’t make it until the following year. ‘Endpoint Outro’ was included on the Slamdek CD reissue of If The Spirits Are Willing in 1994.]

“The second side opens with a new band. Just as the Back Doors salute Jim Morrison, and Stairway to Heaven revive Led Zeppelin; let us introduce the 7 Seconds tribute band: 7 More Seconds. This song is called ‘In Your Face’ and appears here as 7 More Seconds’ debut recital. The legend is recaptured by singer/drummer Lee Fetzer, guitarist Duncan Barlow (back vocals), bassist K. Scott Ritcher (back vocals), and guitarist Chad Castetter. Since 7 Seconds broke up, the door is wide open. Anything is imaginable. It’s a digital practice tape, December 1990.

[This could be candidate #2 for the joke-turned-obsession department. To this band’s dismay, the break up of the real 7 Seconds was apparently a rumor. However, 7 More Seconds did play a January 1991 show at the Zodiac Club and recorded the same night, and possibly set a record for turn around time between recording and release. The line up changed a little and, for their cassette, the band members took on the last names of the 7 Seconds members on The Crew. “You wanna be the way I am but you can never understand. You shave your fuckin’ head and turn your back on your best friends. It’s not just in my head it’s in my heart, and if I can give a fuck, you better start. So, use your head, be aware, give a fuck!”]

“The thirteenth song is a pre-Cerebellum jam box tape of a song that’s either called ‘Ditty’ or ‘Grimace’, depending on who you ask. It’s from April 3, 1988 with Tim Furnish on guitar, and Joey Mudd on bass. As a six member band, Cerebellum’s 5-song cassette came out in September 1989 and is still available. They broke up in May 1989, and four of the remaining members now comprise Crain.

[The song was listed as ‘Grimace’ and was an instrumental with a drum machine.]

“Song number fourteen is a Joey Mudd solo project called Lunge Engage. This song is a four track recording from April 1990 by the name of ‘Ode To A Chick’. At this point there are no definite plans for studio work or a Lunge Engage record. This song is the only release to date, but there may be some live shows to go with it. As mentioned above, Joey now sings for Crain.

[Joey played two great shows as Lunge Engage on Slamdek Nites at the Zodiac, December 26, 1990 with Lettuce Prey and Sunspring; and the very moving Acoustic Slamdek Nite, January 16, 1991, (the night George Bush declared war) with Simon Furnish, Andrew Kincade, Slambang Vanilla, and a very un-acoustic Kill The Man With The Ball. Joey never released anything other than this song under the Lunge Engage name. “I bounce back with a single throw. Touching the sky is my highest achievement. My goal is to penetrate the crust that bounds my flight. Cut it. Burn it. Break it.”]

“The next one is a live tune from King G and the J Krew’s Sung double album EP release party in August 1990. Sure, it’s digital. Although they’re a rap group, this is a thrash cover of an old commercial called ‘Did I Do Something Wrong?’ Their 89-minute debut cassette is still available from Hell ’N’Ready Records. Kicking out the jam are: King G (G-Man/King Mellow-D), J Kool J (M.C.E.T., M.C.2-Ripe), J-Ax (’Lectric Lick Master Lett), Kool J Kool (M.C. Diogenes/J-Sonic), and, of course, the legendary Secret Weapon! Guest drummer is Todd Osbourne. While they’re now broken up for schoolin’, King G and the J Krew plan to return with something devastating as soon as they’re educated.

[As you’ll see it develop later in the book, King G and the J Krew could easily take the cake for the joke-turned-obsession file. King G was Greg King, Kool J Kool was Jason Noble, Secret Weapon was John Hawpe, J Kool J was Jeff Mueller, and J-Ax was Alan Lett. The group evolved into King Kid International, which later became Rodan. “Hold it down I just got home. Can’t you see that I’m on the phone? Isn’t it enough that I work all day? I should have some time to get away. Dishes, diapers, dirty rags. Bosses, bills, and nag, nag, nag. Shut up, kid, you’re in the way. I’m so mad I could slap your face.”]

“Sixteenth by a long shot is the straight edge up-your-ass gospel of Kill The Man With The Ball! They’ve quickly become the most hated and feared hardcore band that Louisville youths have ever witnessed. The song, ‘Christmas Straightedge,’ is a remarkable taste of their evil and hard stance against alcohol, drugs, sex, and unseasonable tree pruning. Kill The Man With The Ball is: XCauseyX drums, XHaydenX guitar, XFetzerX bass, XBarlowX vocal assault, and XCastetterX guitar. This digital recording is their only example.

[What was wrong with everyone in late 1990? Was the Louisville scene trying to pioneer the genre of hardcore parodies? This chapter of musical chairs begins the golden age of Endpoint side bands. This song is sung to the tune of Danzig’s ‘Twist of Cain’. The group played some intentionally annoying shows in which they demonstrated their namesake by turning the pit into a huge version of the elementary school playground game Kill The Man With The Ball. Yes, this really happened. Many times. “Christmas Straightedge in your face! You drink that drink, do that dope. Can’t you see your life is a fuckin’ joke? Do that drink in your basement. You’re the loser of this game.”]

“The seventeenth band is a two-piecer called The Inside of a Shoe. The song they do goes by the same name. The music was recorded in Silver Spring, Maryland in June 1990, and the vocals in Louisville in December. This is The Inside of a Shoe’s only recording and/or release, and they have no plans to record or not to record. Playing drums is Jay Robbins of Jawbox whose first full length album will be released nationwide early next year on Dischord Records. They have a 5-song cassette and matching 4-song 7″ from May 1990 which are both still available. Playing guitar and singing is K. Scott Ritcher who is now in Sunspring. They have a 6-song cassette out called $1.50 Demo of which there are a few left. Sunspring plans to record at Studio D in 1991 and have a release shortly after.

[This was taken from a DAT of Jay and I goofing off, to which I later added vocals. Jawbox’s first album, Grippe, was released on Dischord in June 1991. Sunspring recorded in March 1991 at Sound On Sound for our first release as an actual band, a split 7″ with Endpoint. That record came out the following month on Slamdek. “Overlooked and under cooked. I don’t want to be caught with my guard down. Hit me next time and I’ll have an answer, take a step back to learn a new way. To screw the path, I’ve got nothing to say. Take a thought and make it yours. Grab a goal because it’s there.”]

“No. 18: Deathwatch ‘Invent A Law’. This song was mistakenly listed on the
Crain/Deathwatch 7″ when the song that appeared on the record was actually ‘Ignorance Downfall’. So here it is for anyone who wondered what it sounds like. This was recorded at Artists’ Recording Service in Louisville during February 1988. Off that 7-song ARS tape, only four songs now remain unreleased. Deathwatch later became Endpoint and ‘Invent A Law’ later became ‘Shattered Justice’ which is on the cassette If The Spirits Are Willing. Playing on this are: Rusty Sohm on drums, Jason Graff on bass, Rob Pennington singing, and guitarists Greg Carmichael and Duncan Barlow.

[“Invent, invent a law. See justice in action. Politicians only wishing, put down the kids in the final reaction. Foundation of our nation, invent a law for their satisfaction.”]

continued …