Sunspring – The Sun Cassette

August 11, 1991

The Sun Cassette cassette
[SDK-24] photocopied inserts, dot matrix labels

The Sun Cassette marked Sunspring’s official move from the world of struggling new bands with ever-changing members, to the ranks of those with a defined determination to achieve their goals. We had retained the same members (Hayden, Ritcher, Weiss) since our show at Collegiate in May 1991. And we all seemed to share a common enthusiasm for creating something new, something different yet not a novelty, and taking it places. We were ready to make it happen, but we also wanted to make sure and take the time and effort to make a quality product.

The ten-song, twenty-four minute tape was recorded on a Tascam cassette eight track recorder in four August days. It shares some songs with both the $1.50 Demo and the split 7″ with Endpoint, but has a much clearer, rawer, and more natural sound. The main noticeable difference from previous Sunspring recordings is in the way the songs are played. The Sun Cassette drastically speeds up Sunspring’s pace, and even the slower songs have an overlying feeling of urgency. A list of companies who are invited to sponsor the band, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Waffle House, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Honda also suggests a new emphasis on adrenaline. Sunspring’s massive thank you list tradition began with this

release as well. Recording occurred at my parents’ house, and mixing at the Slamdek House on Bonnycastle Avenue. A second mix was done in November at Jon Cook’s Rocket House downtown where King G & the J Krew were working on Indestructible Songs Of The Humpback Whale. There was also a new Apple Macintosh Classic at the Ritcher household now, and I was finally able to take the right amount of time to use it effectively for layouts. While the inserts were still photocopies, a relatively new Xerox high speed copier had recently arrived at the Kinko’s by U of L. The dark, crisp, clear work of the Xerox 5090 Duplicator can be found in more than half of all subsequent Slamdek releases.

October 18, 1991, Sunspring at Audubon Sk8 Park: Jason Hayden, Scott Ritcher, John Weiss.

Sunspring had very little interest in wasting time or doing things that weren’t fun or over-ambitious. And as ambitious goes, we arranged a six date tour, having only played a total of seven shows in our four months together. The Sun Cassette’s original purpose was to quickly create a tape to sell on that tour. Not only did it serve that purpose, but it held the band over until our Slinky 7″ in February 1992. And The Sun Cassette stuck around after that, staying in print for about two years. The cassette was recorded, mixed and manufactured all in the week before the tour.

Three of its songs were revamped from the $1.50 Demo: “Desert Song,” “Epitaph/Vision” (listed here only as “Epitaph”), and “Implode.” Four others were recreated from another 1990 drum machine demo, the unreleased Honda Civic EP: “Slightly On,” “Spices & Bones,” “Silver Spring” (also rerecorded on the split 7″ with Endpoint), and “Engage.” The other two songs, the band put together as a group: “Incite” and “Mine.”

A secret track was included about a minute after the end of the last song. It came to be called the “Starfish Story,” and is a three minute skit. John Weiss had done some acting in high school at Walden Theatre, so he was a natural for this role. Accompanied by romantic background music and random sound effects, John begins to have a heart-to-heart with the listeners, “Scott’s out of the room right now, so I thought I’d just play with this for a second… We’ve been mixing all day and he wouldn’t let me do anything. I wanted to do backing vocals and stuff but he wouldn’t let me. So while I’ve got a second, I thought maybe I’d tell a story or something. It’ll just take twenty minutes, maybe. We got the time, don’t we?” He then proceeds to share a sincere little story his father told him once. All through the “special” moment he’s sharing with the listeners, John and I had gone back and overdubbed ourselves making stupid noises in the background. “There was this little boy, he was on the beach. He was walking along the beach early one morning. There were starfish washed up all along the beach for miles and miles in every direction. He was walking along and every starfish he’d find, he’d pick it up, and he’d toss it into the sea. He was walking along for a while, when there was an old man, he was on the beach as well. He was watching the boy for a while. He called out to the boy, ‘Boy!’ he said. ‘Boy, you could walk along for the rest of the day. There’s starfish on this beach for miles and miles in every direction. There’s not a thing you could do. You could spend all day, you couldn’t make a difference.’ The boy looked at the old man for a second, then he looked at the starfish in his hand, and he said, ‘Yeah, but to this one I can make a difference.’ And he tossed it into the sea.” Just then you hear a door open, my feet stomping in, and books and things crashing about, and I yell angrily, “Hey! What are you doing in here?” John innocently questions back, “What? Stop?” Then there’s more crashing about and a sound as if the tape recorder has been destroyed, then silence. Not only did many people not realize there was a secret story on the cassette, some even wondered if it was real. But alas, the boys were just acting… they were just acting.

1992 books-on-tape packaging of The Sun Cassette.

The first day of the tour was a packed Louisville show at Snagilwet opening for Kinghorse, Face Value, and Evil Twin Theory. These 300 or so people were the largest crowd we had played for. In addition to the stack of Sun Cassettes, we also had a big batch of t-shirts for sale. In our first eleven shows we earned a total of $60.00, but at this show we got paid $50.00, and sold loads of shirts and tapes adding another $350.00 to it. It was a shocking, yet reassuring way to start off the tour.

The tour took us three boys (in my Honda Civic Wagon with a rooftop luggage carrier) to shows in St. Louis with Jawbox, Helmet, and Dazzling Killmen; then to Omaha where we played with 411, Bamboozled, and Say No More; Iowa City where we played with a bad band called the Halo; to Lincoln, Nebraska with Schlong, Nuisance, Say No More, and the Yard Apes; then to Chicago for Billingsgate’s last show with Guage and Dickey Mo.

The Sun Cassette sold 313 copies over about a year and a half going in and out of print. Around Christmas 1992 it was repackaged into the books-on-tape style packaging. It finally went out of print for good in spring 1993, just before the Poppy album was released. The songs from The Sun Cassette then remained out of print until it was included in its entirety on the Orange CD issued in 1995, long after the band’s break up in 1993.


Side one:
Slightly On
Desert Song

Side two:
Spices & Bones
Silver Spring
Starfish Story [not listed]

Photographs by Breck Pipes • Thank you: Moms and Dads, Joey Mudd, Kendall Costich, Jay Robbins, Kim Coletta, Jane Morrow, Greta Ritcher, Eric Schmidt, Sean McLoughlin, Betsy Porter, Will Chatham, Breck Pipes, Melissa Middleton, Takayuki Tsuji, John Timmons, Jon Cook, Chris Layton, Tim Furnish, John Causey, Scott Bryant, Sean Garrison, Christi Canfield, Kim Kinko’s, Heather Cantrell, Lee Fetzer, Keith Allison, Karen Sheets, Ken Burton, Jason Noble, Rob Pennington, Kari Alford, Robin Wallace, Chad Castetter, Samantha Feldman, Tishy Quesenberry, Susanne Butler, Duncan Barlow, Impie Baby, John Kampschaefer, Jon Smith, Sissy Davis, Hopscotch Army, Layla Smith and Carrie Osborne (for the food), Simon Furnish, James Canty, the doctor, Erica Montgomery, Todd Johnson, Crain, Marcy Berns, Kelly Kemper, Mitch Osborne, Carrie Newman, Dave Cook, the Nation of Ulysses, Primal Urge, Kinghorse, Bikini Kill, Paul Curry, Dave Wagenshutz, Tim Moss, Ryan Cooper, Katherine Rieber, Scott Broadhurst, Curtis Mead, Becky Hornung, Thad Hornung, Audubon Sk8 Park, Jim Kocian, Mark Corbett, Jason Petrick, Mike Brown, Mike Fitzer, Shut Out, Permanent Death, the Fund for the Animals, Buzz Minnick, Mike Borich, Joe Malone, Rob Roles, Pat and Burke from Disdain, Dave Baker, Dave Barmore, Tet, John Toombs, Eric Ronay, Pat Benatar, Dan Sharp, Bernard (for never giving Jason a raise), Ashli State, Endpoint, Todd Cook, Mark Denny, Richard Vier, Joe Hennessy, Bill Greene, Dan Patterson III, Downpour, Bill W., Dr. Bob and friends, Andrew Buren, Brian Brooks, Franklin Fuchs, Guy, Chris, Fred Fischer, Don Stokes, Big Deal, Darren, Playful 8, Jason Crivello, Nate Brown, Elizabeth Beeson, Scot McAffe, Lydia and David, Rob and Tracy, Liz, Dybbuk and Branden, Todd Lambert, and last but not least Susan Leach. • (always hold true)