Sunspring – Action Eleven

November 17, 1992

Action Eleven cassette
[SDK-29] photocopied covers, books-on-tape long box with inserted 8 page booklet, laser printed labels

In August 1992, after two of Sunspring’s three members quit, the only logical move should have been to end the band. I immediately began writing and recording new songs on a Tascam cassette eight track recorder with an Alesis drum machine. In the Schuster Building apartment I shared with Chad Castetter, September 1992 was filled with indecision and new beginnings. I had a new job at ear X-tacy, was driving a dying 1976 AMC Pacer, experiencing emotional difficulties with Carrie Osborne, whom I had been dating since June, and my once-solid friendship with Joey Mudd was fading.

With a mix of beginnings, endings, and complications, the songs I wrote and recorded were generally loud, uneasy, angry, heavy, catchy, and distorted. As compared with previous Sunspring material, these songs were heavier and simpler. Without the bass melodies Jason Hayden had provided, the sound was much more focused on the guitar. I had several names for the band I was planning to form to play these songs. For several weeks I mulled over what to name the new band. Rather than doing what (in retrospect) would have been best, naming the band Action en, LG&E, or Louisville, I kept the name Sunspring and formed a new group with it. The easiest way to go would, of course, be to name the new band Sunspring, a name that thousands of people were already familiar with. Unfortunately, it was a Catch 22, because the new band was not the Sunspring those thople knew.

In the down time between when the band broke up and when I started writing songs, I first tried to combine Sunspring and Sancred. Using the name Sunspring, I anmer Adam Colvin, bassist Scott Bacon, andtarist Steve Goetschius, pracand I ticed three times. Our set included songs native to both bands. The two week experiment didn’t seem to be the right thing to do, however, and everyone walked out of it on good terms. Sancred went back to being Sancred, and I went back to square one to begin writing new songs.

“Thank you, shoppers!” October 3, 1992, Sunspring at Oxmoor Center: Jason Thompson (behind column in white hat), Forrest Kuhn, and Scott Ritcher (in black hat).

By the time I had finished a set’s worth of new material, I had also located members for the new band. Drummer Forrest Kuhn was still interested in giving it a shot, having been asked before Jason Hayden quit. And my friend Tony Cox said he knew a guy named Jason Thompson whose favorite band was Sunspring and already knew all the old songs. It was true, and Jason Thompson soon joined the band on bass. Even though the new members are not on the tape, Sunspring’s Action Eleven cassette came out after the “new” band had already played out together. Our first show was a shaky acoustic performance in the center court of the Oxmoor Center shopping mall as part of a benefit for Rock The Vote. The six-song set we played there October 3, 1992, included a mix of new and old material, and came less than two months after the last show with Weiss and Hayden. We basically played before we were ready because we thought it would be cool to play inside Oxmoor, and we figured that opportunity was pretty rare. Other shows followed about once a month as we practiced and repracticed, struggling to live up to the high expectations we faced by calling the band Sunspring. Nonetheless, we were eager to take actions, get everyone’s attention, bury the old Sunspring and grow into our own right as the only Sunspring. We even hung the same Coca-Cola banner behind us on stage. The idea was to just continue as if no member change had occurred. The old Sunspring had been planning to record an album in the fall, and that schedule was unwisely attempted to be adhered to. Action Eleven was released about a month and a half after the Oxmoor show, tagged with the subtitle Beatbox Demos For The Album, to get people familiar with the new songs. Strangely, though, only two of Action Eleven’s eleven songs ended up on our twelve-song album, Poppy. The band’s live set also leaned toward about 50% older material as well.

The new band recorded together for the first time November 30, 1992, at Sound On Sound. We did four songs during this session: “First Sip Of Coffee” was one of the last two songs Hayden, Weiss, and I wrote together; “Diet Zero” was translated from a Diet Sunspring song; “Revolving Door” and “Roadburn” were both from Action Eleven, and the band version of the latter appeared on the 1992 Christmas tape. All four of the songs from this session later ended up on the CD version of Poppy. “Roadburn” is coincidentally a song about the final Hayden/Ritcher/Weiss Sunspring tour.

Our first plugged-in show was at Tewligans for a Thinker Review benefit, October 30, 1992. We ended our set with cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Telephone Man, a new band consisting of Matt Ronay, Tim Houchin, and a drum machine, opened the show.
Sunspring continued working and eventually our numbers exceeded those of the band’s previous incarnation. I kind of felt like the numbers meant nothing if the fire wasn’t there. But we kept on, and I kept hoping it would click. In January 1993, we became one of the first outside bands to enter DSL studio, where we would record Sunspring’s only full-length album.

Action Eleven sold 233 copies, and was in print for about eight months. Its songs were
reissued in 1995 on the Sunspring back catalog compilation CD Orange. The total circulation of Action Eleven’s songs is therefore somewhere around 1,250 units.

One panel of the booklet was written by Layla Smith and called “10:30.” It did not correspond with any of the songs, but extended the theme of many of them, “I walked outside this morning and took a breath from the day. The chill in the air got caught in my throat and choked me for a moment. I opened my eyes to cast my sight out onto the colors of fall, but it was too soon for change. I felt my face against the breeze of the new day and realized nothing held me. I stood by myself again, but alone for the first time.

January 1993, Sunspring practice at the Kuhn house:
Jason Thompson, Forrest Kuhn, Scott Ritcher.

“Some cars that drive by look over at me out of habitual curiosity but there is no acknowledgment. I get into my car and the stale smell reminds me of a bad habit. I’m faced with the remnants of my life that clutter the floor. A few tapes, some gum wrappers, a little change, and a crumpled piece of paper with his name on it. They remind me that this is all a part of me and the course of my life. Seated amongst the things I’ve had, lost, and wanted.”

The booklet also included this disclaimer: “Sunspring’s Action Eleven is a Louisville-only release. No copies of it will be sold to distributors like most Slamdek releases are. Additionally, it will not be available in the long box with this booklet after the Sunspring LP is released in early 1993. So tell your buddies to get it now because this is the advance tale of Action Eleven’s short life. For our out-of-town friends who think they can get in on what’s going on here in Louisville, it is $6.00 postpaid direct from Slamdek.”

Before John Weiss and Jason Hayden left, the group received a letter from Break Even Point Records in Italy offering to release a Sunspring LP. The label had previously issued a super lo-fi live Endpoint 7″, EP2. So, at first, we sort of laughed at the option of being on the label. However, when the band was forced to start over with 2/3 new members, it seemed like a much better idea. I wrote back to Guiliano Calza of Break Even Point and accepted his offer. But from that date in the fall of 1992, the role that the European Sunspring album would play, eventually changed back to relatively less significant by the time it was actually in print, a year later.

One of Action Eleven’s songs, “Ground,” was a cover of the good song Joey Mudd performed on Slambang Vanilla’s The Memphis Sessions (that is, “good” whereas the other Slambang Vanilla songs were all jokes). Sunspring played “Ground” live twice, once when Joey was unsuspectingly in the audience at the Machine, but we never recorded it as a group. Another track, “I Don’t Like This Anymore,” became one of my favorite Action Eleven songs, but I was never pleased with any recording of it. A band version of it was recorded for a Subfusc Records compilation in the summer of 1993, which I didn’t care for that version, nor an acoustic version recorded in September 1994 by my next band, the Metroschifter. I’m not really sure why it, as well as more of the other Action Eleven songs, weren’t on Poppy.


Side one:
Revolving Door
I Don’t Like This Anymore
Once In

Side two:
Days Before
Ten Eighty Three
Carrie Osborne’s Song
Eastern Parkway

K. Scott Ritcher, instruments and vocals
[not listed in booklet]

Action Eleven is especially dedicated to Joey E. Mudd, Carrie E. Osborne, and Layla L. Smith.

Thanks to all Sunspringers, Jay Robbins, Kim S. Coletta, Billy C. Barbot, Tar, the fuckin Valvoline kids, Timothy R.D. Moss, Matthew M. Ronay, Chadrick E. Castetter, Timothy R. Furnish, Leevanhook Fetzer, Jon Cook, Giuliano Calza, Duncan B. Barlow, Edith M. Hendren, Robert Pennington, Kyle J. Noltemeyer, John X. Timmons, Katherine C. Fritsch, Kendall A. Costich, Christopher Higdon, Rebecca Fritsch, Christi D. Canfield, Jason E. Hayden, John A. Weiss, Hopscarmy, Wiffie G.L. Ritcher, Chicago Gauge Rock Band, Jon M. Smith, Stepdown, Omaha’s Own Ritual Device, Chuck Olmstead, Michael #1 Jarboe & Kill, mom and dad Osborne, and LG&E.

Written by K.S. Ritcher, except “Ground” by J. Mudd, and “10:30” by L. Smith.