Slambang Vanilla – Video Hits Volume One

January 17, 1991
Slambang Vanilla
Video Hits Volume One videocassette
[SDK-1800] color copied inserts, Disney-size VHS boxes

Slambang Vanilla
Video Hits Volume One videocassette
January 17, 1991
[SDK-1800] color copied inserts, Disney size VHS boxes
In modern times, utilizing the advantages of ordinary common sense, whenever conversation turns to Video Hits Volume One, the word that comes to mind more quickly than any other is why. Why go through the time and effort of compiling music videos for the least popular “band” on a label whose owner can barely pay his rent. But for Joey and me, anyone who asked logical questions about our “clients” (a.k.a. alter egos) Jesus Rosebud and Goober The Baptist, quickly got glared at as if they were insane for asking. Anyone who doubted the “success” of any Slambang Vanilla venture obviously had
absolutely no fucking idea what they were talking about.
For these reasons, and because a jet pack had been attached to the joke-turned-obsession engine, and because I was working in the Chenoweth Plaza Red Giraffe Video store (with scenesters Lee Fetzer, Christi Canfield, Amy Guyton, and Michelle Tupper), Slambang Vanilla’s immanent debut into the picture tube format was the next logical step. Not Endpoint or Hopscotch Army, who had both sold bunches and bunches of units, but rather Slambang Vanilla who racked up sales of a whopping 34 copies of their debut cassette, became Slamdek’s first (and only) “act” to put out a video.

Certainly, in the numbers department, no one was surprised or let down by the way Video Hits Volume One “performed” on the sales charts. That is, sales of the “ground breaking” Slambang Vanilla video release tallied up to a mesmerizing total of 8 units (one more than 7, one less than 9). Though, just as with their Memphis Sessions cassette in 1989, more than twice that amount were given away. Perhaps as many as forty units were actually produced. And in true form, virtually no one who knew Joey or me in this era escaped being subjected to the fifteen minute “program” of masterful video editing. Unfamiliar, recent friends have continued to be tormented with it by seeing the box sitting there, simply being curious, and asking, “What’s Slambang Vanilla?” “You had to ask, didn’t you?”

Video Hits Volume One contains three “concept” videos, interspersed with video segments accompanied by portions of eight other Slambang Vanilla songs. One of the full length songs is “Pixagogo House Remix Baby” from The Memphis Sessions, while the other two, “Dragonfly Prayer” and “Birth of the Goober,” were advance tracks from the 98-song Sideburnin’, which had then been about 1/4 completed. “The Colonel’s Secret Recipe for Rock…” is the subtitle scrawled in Joey’s beautiful chickenscratch across the back cover.

I had a full size VHS camcorder with an on-board editor. Nearly all of the video was shot, edited, and compiled with this camera. The only video footage that the we didn’t shoot ourselves was a short compilation of NASA disaster films. This sequence depicts twelve rockets exploding shortly after lift-off accompanied by the track “Burnin’ Up the Sides.”

Above, title screen from the opening sequence. Jason Noble (left) getting KO’ed by the Baptist at Highlands Kroger from “Pixagogo House Remix Baby.” Below, “Dragonfly Prayer” with Middletown Bigg’s under construction in the background and “Pixagogo House Remix Baby.”

The box opened to expose an inside panel with liner notes, and a videocassette labeled with an SDK vinyl sticker. The liner notes were on the inside of the clear box and read, “TeleDEK Pictures Presents Slambang Vanilla! Video Hits Volume One.” TeleDEK was a combination of “Slamdek” and “television,” and used only on this release. “This fifteen minute preview of heaven bestowed upon you consists of the following pleasures,” followed by a program listing. The credits across the bottom read, “TeleDEK Pictures Home Video, A Fuckyougoddammit Communications Company – Dispensed generously to the people of the world by SLAMDEK/Scramdown.”

Considering the means by which they were created, the concept videos are pretty good. Most of the editing is fairly clean. Scenes generally change with the beat. And the visual portions that are directly linked to the music all match up accurately with the sound. Video Hits Volume One, was of course, created on a whim and took about two weeks to shoot and compile. Within another week the packaging was finished. ear X-tacy was then located in Tyler Park Plaza and couldn’t sell videos because of part of their lease as Blockbuster Video’s neighbor. Most of the videos were therefore sold hand to hand, and a few through the mail. Dozens were given away free or at cost, which was about $4.00.

Slambang Vanilla played a total of two “shows” while they were together. One was acoustically on a Slamdek Nite at the Zodiac, January 16, 1991. This was an all acoustic night at which Simon Furnish, Dewey Kincade, and Lunge Engage also performed acoustic sets. The performance was interrupted about halfway through as the crowd of about fifty moved into the back room of the Zodiac Club and gathered around a television set. There was already an uneasy feeling in the air and everyone had been listening to eerie news radio reports on their way to the club. President George Bush came on television and announced that our country was declaring war in the Middle East. “The liberation of Kuwait has begun,” he said. The air in the Zodiac Club that night was frightening.

A second Slambang Vanilla show was scheduled for the Slamdek Nite of March 13, 1991. A videocassette release party, two months after the release. This show was billed as the Slambang Vanilla Orchestra, and featured Jesus Rosebud and Goober The Baptist trading off on guitar, bass, and vocals. Jeremiah (Kevin Coultas) on drums, Loverbones (Breck Pipes) on trumpet, Mark Ritcher on the PolyMoog synthesizer, and Jeff Goebel on banjo. The opening act was the Magic of Will Chatham. Will had practiced magic for years and performed at parties, city events, Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, you name it. Additionally, Will was one of SBV’s biggest fans. The telephone poles were flyered like crazy for this show. An average show would have normally used about 100 flyers. The Slambang Vanilla Orchestra show used 300, many of which were huge, multi-page flyers which had to be assembled on the pole. On the day of the show, when we all arrived at the club, Dave Ellenberger and Cary, the sound man, obviously didn’t want to have a show. They made excuses on why the PA didn’t work and wasn’t able to be fixed for the show. It was cancelled.

In late March, the “band” was stripped down to three members and changed their name from Slambang Vanilla to Muffin. Muffin was Jesus Rosebud, Goober The Baptist, and the bearded Jeremiah. The only show Muffin ever played was at Will Chatham’s birthday party, April 20, 1991. For a relatively uninterested audience of about twelve people, Muffin played a collection of nine hits from Sideburnin’ and The Memphis Sessions. The amplifiers on Muffin’s stage (in front of the Chatham’s fireplace) had copies of Video Hits Volume One stacked on them. Will faithfully watched the entire show.

Muffin broke up some time during the summer of 1991. Scott and Breck moved from 1312 Everett Avenue into a house at 1919 Bonnycastle Avenue with Greta Ritcher and Robin Wallace. This became known as the Slamdek House and became a practice space for Sunspring and Rawhide, a post-Sister Shannon group of Greta and Breck on guitars, David Ernst on bass, Rodney Bell singing, and Jon Causey on drums. The house also hosted a New Year’s show on December 31, 1991 at which Crain, Sunspring, and No Comply played. Within a few months of settling, Robin moved out and Joey moved in. Then Joey moved out and Will moved in. In March 1992, while I was on tour selling shirts for Jawbox and Shudder To Think, everyone moved out. And moved my stuff back out to my parents’ house in Middletown.

LINER NOTES:

Videocassette program:
Nitro Intro
Rock’n’Roll Metal Epilogue (Television Edit)
Dragonfly Prayer•
Pixagogo House Remix Baby•
Dragonfly Prelude (Video Edit)
Naturalist Pithouse (Cable Version)
Birth Of The Goober•
Burnin’ Up The Sides
Pleasure Chest
Hot Sassafras
Fishin’ For Love Baby (Credits Edit)

•=full length concept videos

Drums on “Dragonfly Prayer” by John F. Kampschaefer. Guitar on “Rock’n’Roll Metal Epilogue” by B. Loverbones. Additional furnace cover on “Pleasure Chest” by Mark Denny. Special thanks to John F.K. and Susanne Butler for additional lyrics in “Birth Of The Goober.” 1991/Color/VHS/-Monophonic/Not Rated.