April 22, 1988
[HAHX-1724] color copied inserts, dot matrix labels
With such a mixed reaction to a lot of the subpar quality of material on the Christmas cassette, Jeff, who was becoming an increasingly bigger fuel for Slamdek ideas, and I, made a decision. Dorian Grey material, while there was plenty of it, would be a poor choice to release. As fun as things were, there’s only so long you can put out music that nobody is particularly interested in. Conversations went on and on, and eventually it was decided that Slamdek would not release anything else that wasn’t recorded in a studio. Furthermore, we decided it was time to act like it was a real label and actually try to sell some tapes. Our first choice for a band to really “start” Slamdek off was Spot.
Spot was a young straight edge skatecore band that had its fans but wasn’t necessarily respected by the old scene. To the old scenesters they were a bunch of little kids, but to Jeff and I they were awesome. To our surprise Spot was interested and went into Todd Smith’s 8-track home studio within the month.
Four months later, April 22, 1988, Slamdek had its second beginning with the release of its first full-length, studio produced, real-life punk rock tape with full color inserts and printed lyrics. I took a copy of the tape to Middletown’s new super Kroger where Spot singer Joey Mudd worked. He could not believe how good it looked. The old scene was shocked, too. Those little kids did this? The Proud cassette simultaneously established Slamdek and Spot as a new group of people who were serious about bettering the Louisville punk rock scene and taking it beyond the city’s limits.
Summer 1987, Spot performing at a skateboard contest at Gardiner Lane Shopping Center: Breck Pipes, Mark Ernst, Joey Mudd.
Spot had recorded ten of these same fifteen songs before. During 1987, they had visited Howie Gano’s Sound on Sound Studio under the guidance of Mike Bucayu who ran Self Destruct Records. Their song, “Proud,” was to be included on an upcoming
compilation 7″ called Louisville Sluggers, which eventually was released in May of ’88. The four-band 7″ also featured Fading Out, AYCD, and Mike’s band Solution Unknown.
Improving the quality of the scene was nothing new to them. Joey and Jon Cook had been doing shows in Jon’s mother’s basement for a while, and their organization Positive Youth For Unity (PYFU) set up shows elsewhere, too, and tried to get new people involved.
In April 1988, at age 18, I got a $3,000 small business loan to import a digital audio tape (DAT) recorder. DAT was a very new technology at the time, and as a result of its ability to make better-than-CD quality recordings, DAT was a very gray market. That is, it wasn’t quite illegal as no laws had been passed against it in the United States. But it also wasn’t accepted as a viable recording format yet since a debate was raging in Congress over it. In the pre-DAT years of Slamdek, cassettes had been copied one by one from another cassette master tape, or high-speed duplicated by Kentucky Sound. With the arrival of DAT, each cassette could be made directly from a DAT master, the equivalent of the original studio reels. The improvement in sound quality this makes is amazing. You can tell the difference even in your car with the wind blowing. And just as a little side item: the main company fighting DAT’s sale in this country was CBS Records. CBS had proposed putting a CopyCode chip in every DAT recorder to be sold in the US.
June 4, 1988: from “Pioneering Indies Have Plenty to Celebrate” in Billboard.
This chip would prevent the DAT machine from making direct digital copies. You see, if your friend bought a Miami Sound Machine CD for $17 and a blank DAT cassette is $8, why buy the CD when you can have a perfect copy of it for $8? However, in many tests it was found that the CopyCode chip actually degraded the sound quality by fractions of degrees. This made DAT recorders with the chip less than perfect and therefore not nearly as desirable. Before the chip could be redesigned, Sony, the world’s largest manufacturer of DAT recorders, bought CBS Records. During this acquisition, CBS magically forgot all about the CopyCode chip and DAT recorders are now in every recording studio in America.
Capitalizing on some of the hype about DAT, a handful of Spot Proud DAT’s were put together. This little stunt found SLAMDEK/Scramdown its way into a June 4, 1988 Billboard article about independent labels. A total of nine copies of Proud on DAT were sold. Later releases by Cerebellum, Endpoint, and Pink Aftershock were also simultaneously issued on DAT. One copy of Endpoint’s If The Spirits Are Willing was sold to a mail order customer in New Jersey. Other than that, the DAT versions were ultimately good only for their novelty. An 8-track tape version of Proud was made in 1989 just for fun. It may have been the world’s only digitally mastered 8-track tape.
In the production credits to Proud, someone named Cubby Cleaver is listed. One night Joey decided that Todd Smith should be called Cubby Cleaver. The joke went on for months with Joey constantly referring to Todd as Cubby until it eventually found its way into the credits of this and several later releases. The Spot tape also marked the first cassette to include partial artwork done on a Macintosh computer. The Kinko’s on Fourth Street near U of L was where it happened. They didn’t even have a color copier then. The Macintosh work was done on very slow, very
black and white, very small Mac II’s. The pieces of type were then cut with scissors and taped on to a paper original. The color copies were done at the Market Street Kinko’s, which was then at the corner of Seventh Street. The cutting and folding of those copies took place at my parents’ house while I was running cassettes one by one off the DAT master. The tapes were sold at shows and at Ken’s, Mother’s, and the old ear X-tacy next to Great Escape. Over the years, going in and out of print, it sold over 300 copies. Different later versions of Proud in 1989 and 1990 included extra tracks: “Proud” (Louisville Sluggers version), “Skate For Fun” (acoustic), “Falling” (live), and radio style interview cuts. The last printing of the Spot tape was a late 1994 reissue that commemorated eight years of Slamdek and benefited the second season of the Slamdek Field Hockey Rockers.
Back up vocals by Spot, Tim, and Todd. Produced by Dave Taylor and K Scott with Spot. Recorded and engineered by Cubby Cleaver and Todd Smith at Cleaver Productions, January 1988.
Thanks to: P.Y.F.U. (RIP), Crisis, Deathwatch, Substance, Able to Act, Solution Unknown, S.F.F., Charlie’s Pizzeria (RIP), Soulside, Jon Cook, Tim Furnish, Duncan Barlow, Brett Hosclaw, Ric Hopkins, John Furse, Mike Bucayu, Dave (Ind.), Todd Lambert, Mark Denny, Tiffany Tronzo, Pat McShane, K Scott and all the fine folks at SLAMDEK/Scramdown, Louisville Brotherhood (Yo bros!), wool, the Bums!, 2 Guys + 1, Jami Lewder, Dave Ernst, Tammy, Christi Canfield, Wendy Hawkins, Doo Wop, our parents, all the Louisville bands past and present that we didn’t mention, everybody who has helped and supported us over the years. Thanks!
Todd Cook, guitar
Mark Ernst, drums
Joey Mudd, vocals
Breck Pipes, guitar
Chris Scott, bass
Plays on both sides:
Take Off Your mask
Open Your Eyes
Dressed In Black
I Hate Cars
Paving Your Way
Skate For Fun
Live and Let Live