Hopscotch Army – Belief

August 11, 1991

Hopscotch Army
Belief cassette & compact disc
[SDK-23] 4-color process-printed inserts, on-shell cassette labeling

Hopscotch Army experienced a rough but rewarding new beginning after Danny Flanigan left in February 1990 to further pursue his music in solo acoustic performances and with his band, The Rain Chorus. He also “did a little time” before that actually got underway. Hopscotch Army replaced him on guitar with Jeff Goebel. The band naturally dropped Danny’s songs from their repertoire and guitarist/keyboardist Mark Ritcher took over the full-time duties of singing.
Initially the band lost a good deal of its following by losing half of its songwriting force. But continuing the band after Danny’s departure ultimately proved to provide the group with the more unified sound they had needed for a long time. Belief demonstrates the versatility of that sound within its short eight songs. Jeff, Mark, and bassist Scott Darrow all contribute as songwriters playing off each other’s styles, while drummer David Hoback holds it all solidly together. The band’s sound and attitude became much simpler, less drastic, less over-the-top, and significantly more unassuming.
And while the internal battle of trying to be two different original bands was over, they were still trying to appeal to two separate audiences, both as a cover band and as an original act. This continued to become increasingly harder to achieve, became a bigger strain on the members, and as a result, Belief took a considerably lower profile than its predecessor.

Hopscotch Army was in a comfortable position to change and they tried several things. Covering a heavy metal song by “ball bustin’ guitar rocker” David LaDuke, was one that caught their audience off guard. In another experiment they had Sunspring play right after them at a June 1991 over age Snagilwet show. We ran all our equipment directly into the PA, having no amplifiers on stage, just a drum set. Hyperactive bassist Jason Hayden wore a skateboard helmet, and within two songs the packed house had cleared out.


Hopscotch Army 1992 (clockwise from top):
Mark Ritcher, Jeff Goebel, David Hoback, Scott Darrow.

Hopscotch Army recorded another complete eleven song album, These Shallow Hours, in the time between the release of Belief and the departure of David Hoback in the summer of 1992. Kevin Coultas replaced Dave and played live shows with the group while they were mixing the album. They continued to write what was perhaps their most cohesive and inspired material while Kevin was in the band, but never had the opportunity to visit the studio to record with him.

During their last year, they ended their business relationship with manager Gary Deusner. Nat Grauman, who had been their photographer, among other things, was brought in to book and manage the band. They wanted to lean more towards the audience for their originals. This meant, in so many words, that the fewer shows they played as a cover band, the less money they would be making. This is probably one main reason the band was less active in their later days and their presence less known. The long overdue idea was finally sinking in that it was better to not play at all, than to play covers. Even if it meant getting real jobs in the normal work force, or just going broke.

Kevin quit in the spring to join Crain, which prompted the demise of Hopscotch Army. They played their last show May 8, 1993 at the Butchertown Pub. And These Shallow Hours never saw itself released.

Scott Darrow and Jeff Goebel retreated to Florida for several months after the break up of the band, before returning to Louisville. Kevin’s association with Crain ended relatively soon as well. Mark Ritcher continued writing songs on his own, and began putting a new band together in the fall of 1993. Coincidentally enough, Scott and Jeff joined the new band which was initially called Whale, then Whale USA, then Superstar USA, then Cooler.

Belief was the first Slamdek release to be fully designed on a Macintosh computer. I put it together mostly on the Macintosh Classic at my parents’ house. The Classic was a black and white Macintosh, and Belief was printed in four color process. I guessed at or estimated most of the colors, and then took it on a floppy disk to the Furnish home in the Highlands, on several occasions, to verify and fine-tune the way it looked. The Furnishes had a nicer, color Mac which they were gracious enough to let me use. Denise Furnish (the mother) recommended a business acquaintance of hers at Image Printer in Bluegrass Industrial Park to assist me.

When something is printed in full color, four color process printing is the most common method. Four color process can make millions of color combinations by using varying amounts of four basic inks: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The most important lesson learned during the production of Belief’s artwork was “superblack.” Mrs. Furnish showed me how to make process printed blacks look deeper, thicker, slicker, and blacker by adding a 20% to 40% screen of cyan into the black area. This is one little bit of valuable information that can make the difference between something that looks professional and something that looks “local.” The process of making printed materials from a Macintosh disk was all new to me.

While Belief took a much lower profile than Blurry, and sold fewer units, its value to the label and to me as a learning experience of the basics of the printing process from Macintosh, was immeasurable. Belief sold 556 cassettes and 486 compact discs.

LINER NOTES:

Side one:
Sundown
Souls
Belief
Looking For You

Side two:
The World
Anesthesia
Rain

ChurchThanks be to these people who help it all go around: Gary Deusner, Mike “Stand,” Georgeann Stewart, Dawn Hill, Maria Lindsay, Mary and Allan Ritcher, Wendy and Kenneth Hoback, Bernie Goebel, Stewart Neff, Guy and Denise Furnish, Far Out Music, Mom’s Music, and everyone else who lends us equipment and forgets about it.

Scott Darrow, bass
Jeff Goebel, guitar
David Hoback, drums
Mark Ritcher, keyboards and vocals

Produced by David Stewart and Hopscotch Army. Engineered by David Stewart. Recorded in Louisville at DSL. Mastered in Nashville by Glenn Meadows at Masterfonics. Edited for CD by Benny Quinn. Photographs by Nat Grauman. The way it all looks by K. Scott Ritcher.