Friday, February 29, 2008

Make the Collector Nerd Sweat (Part 2)

Ok, so it was two days instead of one. Sorry. Hope no one's day was ruined.

So as we were slowly selling off the Groundwork/Suspended Animation splits, we were readying release number two, the Soulfish 7". I vaguely recall that at one point we were discussing a Soulfish LP -- though whether that was intended to be the second release, or instead a release after the 7", I don't remember. We may have actually advertised that it was "coming soon" -- this is one of the first times I've ever wished I kept my back issues of MRR, so that I could check the ads.

Soulfish was Daron's band -- he sang, with Luke on guitar, Steve on bass, and Dave (Groundwork's guitarist) on drums. They'd been around in some form or another since before I moved to Tucson and knew any of the guys, but name- and lineup-changes kept them from ever really getting into a groove until Dave joined (as a fill-in, I think, but he became permanent).

They were in something of an odd place, I think. Through friendships, they were forever linked to Tucson's straight-edge scene, though they weren't a SE band and didn't have anything close to that sound. They were what's generally called DC-influenced, though at a time when that scene was going more angular and art rock, they were more full and melodic. An enormously talented band that somehow never found the right audience in our city.

I think the 7" was either recorded twice, or recorded then heavily tweaked on a second studio visit. I was in for the first/only session, ostensibly because I was going to learn how to "produce" -- I think my sole contribution was asking "so what does that knob do?"

For the second release, we upped the pressing to 1,000, which was probably a mistake. Not having Xs everywhere, Soulfish didn't have the automatic audience that Groundwork did, and I'm not sure whether MRR even reviewed it (this was the notorious period when the magazine was making controversial judgment calls on whether records were punk enough to be reviewed, leading to Alternative Tentacles' silly "Banned from MRR" t-shirts), so they took a long while to get out. Part of this was our over-optimism about how the DIY record market worked -- we figured that people would be lining up to distribute and sell the singles. No such luck.

It was a pretty package, though -- we splurged for blue-gray marble vinyl, and higher-quality covers (with art by No For An Answer's Gavin Oglesby and my brother, in some sort of weird kind-of collaboration that I've forgotten the details of -- I really shoulda kept a journal back then). It looks pretty nice even now.

After the single came out, Soulfish went on tour (I remember it as being ill-fated -- but again, no details. I used to have a really great memory, I swear). I ran GT Records while they were gone, in the Revelation Records style of the time -- I'd get an order, wait freaking forever (I was getting increasingly distracted by college, college girls, and beer), then send it out.

And that lack of interest kind of indicated the forthcoming end of my association with Ghost Town. Daron and I had some sort of falling-out -- again, I don't remember any of the details, and given my various early-1990s insecurity problems, temper problems, and sarcasm problems, that's probably just as well. I don't think there was any formal ending to me and the label, I just drifted away and was replaced by someone else. All for the best.

Years later I saw Daron here in Atlanta -- I showed up at a performance of his then-band Delegate, who were fantastic. Whatever decade-old silliness had come between us was forgotten, and we had a hell of a good time. Last I heard, he was in NY and doing a new musical project, which I really should look up.

After I left the label, one more release came out in 1994 -- another split 7", this one between the Weird Lovemakers (a band that actually gained something of a following) and A Band Called Moss, my little brother's band (making him, I think, the only person other than Daron to have a hand in all three Ghost Town releases). But by then I was pretty distant from the whole scene, and only got a copy because of the family connection.

So that's that. The tale of big dreams that didn't quite work out -- but also produced some of the only tangible memories of a fairly important time in my life.


Brushback said...

That is kind of a cool sleeve...

Brushback said...

Oh, and I do remember when MRR was getting paranoid, and started drawing lines over what was punk and what they'd cover and so forth... their reaction was identical to the situation they were reacting to. Bunch of hippies, really.

gsdgsd13 said...

I seemed to start reading MRR at just about the time when it became a mess of silly, humorless, self-referential controversies. The "what's punk" review law, some flap about Ben Weasel using the word "balls," other subjects of similar global import. (I can actually think of more -- horrid to think that I'm still devoting brain cells to these subjects, nearly 20 years later.) Man, I'm glad I don't read that any more (though I do, of course, miss the Dan O'Mahony columns).

Daron said...

Well well, this is making me so nostalgic. A friend of mine just sent me this link and I have to say I think Greg has summed all this up nicely.....I'll only add a couple of side notes for old times sake.
First, the Soulfish (what a terrible name BTW I really don't know what we were thinking the day we came up with that, and it certainly didn't help us connect with an audience must have been a Soulside ref or something) 7" did get reviewed in MRR and I believe it was a decent review even.
We also began recording an LP that I think all of the tracks were completed on except for the vocals. I've even given some thought to finishing it but I'd have to find it first....I have no idea who has those tapes but it would probably be fun to listen to.
As for our tour in support of the 7" I can easily say that was the best and worst 8 weeks of my life up to that point (see jawbreaker's "tour song" for the gist) and I can safely say it changed the course of my life. I recently reconnected with the Gtr player for Soulfish, Luke Cammack here in NY and we have been hanging out pretty consistently again which is crazy and awesome. Much like bumping into Greg in Atlanta...(I still tell the story of the Dark Horse Tavern as one of my all time best tour stories ever.)
My wife and I have even discussed writing a screenplay about the Soulfish tour. You always see the story of the band that makes it after struggling for years but what about the band that just falls apart? I think of it as "Stand by Me" meets "Almost Famous" or something. Could be good, or really really bad.
Anyway quick update on me, I live in NY now but am about to move to LA and I own a company that does music for TV commercials (take that Downcast) I continue to make music of my own but not in a band at the moment my stuff is here
If you are interested in Luke he can be found here,

gsdgsd13 said...

Hey, good to hear from you. I should have sent these links to the few old Tucson people I still can contact (you, Britt, Brendan) but... I'm lazy.

One of the things I was trying to remember was the various pre-Soulfish names -- I remember Guernica, Third Stone Out... Soup? Were there more?

Glad to see you show up, and glad Luke's around. I'll stop by and check out the Zetamale stuff.

Gavin said...

I still have a tape Daron gave me of three songs recorded after the first record. Great songs on an abysmal quality cassette. I would love to see the unreleased stuff come out. I felt they were about to become an amazing band and really looked forward to the next record. That name always came off (to me at least) as an inside joke that never really translated.

Anonymous said...

A play on solf├Ęge, (i.e. do, re, mi, fa, SOL, la, and ti)

Anonymous said...

Because 'The La's' was already taken...

Shackman said...

Very fond memories from the audience side of the DPC