Crain & Deathwatch

September 7, 1990
Crain & Deathwatch
split seven inch
[SDK-9790] photocopied covers and inserts

In one of a half dozen attempts to reunite the ever-veering musical paths childhood friendships had taken in their young adult lives, one 1990 summer afternoon found Jon Cook, Duncan Barlow, and I putting together an idea. While cleaning up the Zodiac Club, the idea began to form as a show at which Crain and Endpoint would both play. Putting both bands on the same bill would attract a large and diverse crowd by combining their two draws. To make the event even more memorable, we would make a Slamdek cassette single for the show, with a song by each band, that would only be available at the show. Soon enough, the idea grew and grew until the three of us ended up at KT’s Restaurant. With all of us becoming very excited about the whole thing, it turned into a Crain/Endpoint split 7″. And then it turned into a Crain/Endpoint split 7″ that would be included in the $6 admission price, for the first 300 kids through the door. Most shows were $4 or $5, which was relatively steep anyway, but hopefully the bonus of a free 7″ would attract an even larger crowd. The working relationship we had all developed with Zodiac Club owner David Ellenberger, would make this possible. I had recently moved out of my parents’ house in Middletown to an efficiency apartment at 1312 Everett Avenue in the Highlands. Because of this, the money Slamdek had available was limited, and no huge risks could be taken. David and I worked out a plan to pay Slamdek for the records first, with money from the door, then pay the bands. Everyone agreed in making sure the records were paid for first.

Crain had recorded eighteen songs at Sound On Sound in August. Their contribution to the seven inch could be easily taken from these recordings. Endpoint was scheduled to record their In A Time Of Hate album at Mars Studio in Cleveland for Conversion Records, also in August. They could record for this seven inch at the same time.

When Endpoint arrived in Cleveland to record, however, the circumstances were uncomfortable. Endpoint didn’t have the money to pay to record extra material for the seven inch, and Conversion’s Dennis Remsing wasn’t prepared to spend studio time and money for them to record something for another label. As a result, Endpoint returned to Louisville with nothing to offer for the Crain/Endpoint 7″. Because it would take a few weeks to get records back from the pressing plant, time was running out. The project seemed doomed.

Duncan devised a way to make it work. Endpoint’s previous incarnation as Deathwatch had recorded a demo at Artists’ Recording Service on Barrett Avenue. The lo-fi material from this session in February 1988 had been preserved for posterity on a normal bias cassette tape. Hardly master quality for a release, but it was punk. Duncan chose three songs from the cassette, which we then transferred to DAT in my apartment.

Crain’s side ended up being “The Fuse,” sung by Drew Daniel and adapted from a Cerebellum song; and “Proposed Production,” sung by Joey and later rerecorded for the Speed album on Jon’s Automatic label. The Deathwatch tracks were the original, lewd version of “Wool,” plus “Dignity” and “Ignorant Downfall” (incorrectly listed on the 7″ label as “Invent a Law”) which had both been recorded as Endpoint songs on If The Spirits Are Willing. We also added about a one second sampling of each song from the upcoming Endpoint album to the end of the 7″. This track was titled “Album Preview.”

Tim Furnish did the cover layouts, lyric sheets and label designs on the Macintosh. He put them on a floppy disk and had them printed out at Comp-Art on South First Street. I sent the master tapes and label designs off to QCA in Cincinnati. On September 5, 1990, two days before the show, word came that the records were ready. Jon accompanied me in my 1976 AMC Pacer for the 100 mile ride to the pressing plant. Since time was short, they opted not to do a test pressing. After arriving at the pressing plant, we went into a mastering reference room to hear the seven inch. Once in there, an elderly woman took the record from a stack. It was in a plain, white sleeve with ballpoint pen scrawled on it, “5) 10:54 AM. No Test. 9-5” She placed it on the turntable. After all the anticipation, Slamdek’s first vinyl sounded wonderful.

Tim had taken care of getting the covers and lyric sheets copied at the Kinko’s by U of L. When Jon and I arrived back in Louisville, we went to Everett Avenue. My apartment and Tim’s parents’ house were about a block away from each other. An assembly party soon commenced. Tim and his brother Simon brought Julie Purcell, who joined Jon, Crain drummer Will Chatham, John Kampschaefer, and myself in the assembly line. It was a simple process of folding the lyric sheets, folding the covers, coupling them with the records, adding a ten item Slamdek catalog, an ear X-tacy coupon, and sliding them into the poly sleeves. Outside of the assembly party, Joey and Duncan had each been individually hanging up several hundred flyers for the show. Sister Shannon had been added to make it a three band bill. By the following day, all 300 records were ready to go, and Bardstown Road had been flyered wall to wall.

When the show rolled around the next day, September 7, 1990, everyone involved knew it was going to be either a huge success, or a major flop. As set up and sound checks at the Zodiac went underway, a plan to efficiently and accurately distribute the seven inches to the first 300 kids was arranged. Each person would be handed an orange, numbered ticket when they paid Dave Ellenberger at the door. They would be instructed to go to a table along the left hand wall of the room, where I would take their ticket, mark it, and give them a record. After the performance, the club would pay Slamdek $2 per record, and the bands a percentage of profit, respectively. The tickets were numbered in the event that fewer than 300 people attended, the club would only pay for the exact number of records given away. Any left over records could be sold at ear X-tacy later, or through mail order. With this system in place and with Sister Shannon set up and ready to go, you could cut the anticipation with a knife. With the $6 door price, there was still that off handed chance that people wouldn’t understand the free record offer, and no one would show up.

Door time was 9:00, and it took a seeming eternity before people began pulling in. Around 8:30 it was like a bomb had gone off, and the sidewalk on Main Street in front of the Zodiac Club was suddenly packed. While minor adjustments were made inside, the steamy, humid air outside was soaking its last bits of summer into the sweaty mob. The heated crowd was getting restless, and soon got hosed down from behind the Zodiac’s iron outer gates. Everybody got into position and the doors were opened.

The ticketing system for the records worked out nicely. To my immense relief, over 500 people eventually showed up, making the pressing of 300 records quite ample. Of course, there were a few punks who tried to reuse their already marked tickets to get more than one record. They did not succeed, but you know, it only takes a few bad apples… 282 of them were distributed to the crowd and band members. Jon saved the first one out of the box, and I saved the sleeveless one marked, “No Test,” as well as nine others. As far as what happened to the other seven copies, either the pressing was short seven units, or they possibly got lost in the confusion. I don’t have ’em, that is, I thought nine extra copies was plenty to hoard. But I will admit that the copy of it in ear X-tacy for $24.99 was mine. Nobody bought it.

Both sides of the lyric sheet had short biographical introductions. The Deathwatch side read, “Death Watch formed in November of 1987 when Duncan, of Substance, got together with Kip, Jason, and Rob of Fist. The four decided to write a new style of cohesive music. This record contains three songs from the first try. This demo was recorded in February of the 88th year of the 20th century. The lineup at the time was: Jason (bass), Duncan (guitar), Rob (vocals), Greg Carmichel (guitar), and Rusty (drums). This demo was one of the many milestones we were to set. At the time this was recorded, the band was trying to produce a raw, energetic, and angry youth sound. Whether or not we accomplished this goal, it is up to you to decide. This is not only the first release from Death Watch, it is a symbol of the long lasting bond between the members of Endpoint and Crain. I think it is safe to say that both bands would like to share their whole past with you, but we are limited to a mere seven inches. We the members now proudly present a piece of our past to the Louisville scene. Enjoy.” Both bands made literary references on their lyric sheets. The bottom corner of the Deathwatch side had an Edgar Allan Poe quote, “Mere puppets they, who come and go at bidding of vast formless things that shift the scenery to and fro flapping from out their condor wings invisible woe!”

Crain’s introduction read, “Crain played its first show June Second Nineteen Eighty-Nine with Drew Daniel singing, Tim Furnish on guitar, Will Chatham on drums, and Jon Cook on bass. The band was formed as a vent for differing musical interest within Cerebellum (Cerebellum broke up the next day). Drew left the band in July and pursued collegiate studies, while Jon sang from July Two to November when Kristen Shelor was added as vocalist. She left in February and Joey Mudd replaced her. Drew Daniel sings ‘The Fuse’ and Joey Mudd sings ‘Proposed Production.’ Thank you. Special thanks to Endpoint.” At the bottom right corner of their lyric sheet, Crain’s literary reference was simply, “Read J.G. Ballard.”

The catalog number SDK-9790, was actually of some significance, for a change. SDK, of course, for Slamdek. And 9790, for the date, 9/7/90.


Crain side:
The Fuse
Proposed Production

Deathwatch side:
Invent a Law (actually Ignorant Downfall)
Album Preview

The Slamdek Record
K Composite Media,