a good week.

original-logoThat Monday I felt really good.  I felt even better when I came home for lunch that day and found two packages – one from a band called Godspeed, who were part of the Jersey Shore scene that was spawning a lot of sludgy, dirgy bands that wouldn’t be out of place on C/Z or Amphetamine Reptile Records.  I had read a review of Godspeed that called them “equal parts Black Flag and Black Sabbath,” and thought that sounded pretty cool to me.

When I asked a few people about them, the prevailing opinion was that they were the best band in that scene, which included Monster Magnet, Daisycutter, Glueneck, Nude Swirl and a few other bands that were emerging from the southern part of the state.  Godspeed had released a 7″ on another local indie called Heat Blast Records that was well-received.  My letter, which was printed on an inkjet printer with the horrific-looking, amateurish logo you see above, explained that we were a new label looking to release a compilation of Jersey bands, and that I’d heard good things about Godspeed and would love to hear their demo.

The letter Godspeed sent me was hand-written by their guitar player, Tommy, on the back of the letter I had sent him.  I wish I still had the letter, because it was a very friendly, polite response.  Included with the letter was a cassette tape labeled “Godspeed – Child Bride.”  The letter explained that the band had one song recorded and available for us to use – their other recorded songs had already been released on the Heat Blast 7″, but if I wanted to use “Child Bride,” I was more than welcome to it.

The second package was from a band called cuppa joe.  I had read about them in the EC Rocker directory – they were from Trenton, and described themselves as “indie pop.”  I had written them the same letter I wrote Godspeed (and a ton of other bands, actually), and they responded with their demo tape – aptly titled “demonstrations.”  

I hopped in the car to head back to the office, and popped in the Godspeed cassette.  It was brutally heavy (for that kind of band at the time, at least – today it would sound tame, but in 1992 it was as heavy as Helmet, who was the heaviest band I knew), well-recorded, and loud.  I played it twice – it would stick out like a sore thumb amidst the other music we were going to include on the record, but it would also be a nice bridge between the indie stuff and the metal stuff.  

cuppa joe couldn’t have been more opposite.  The 8-song demo was, essentially, acoustic-oriented indie rock with a heavy focus on lyrics and melody.  It reminded me a lot of They Might Be Giants with its lyrical wit, but the music itself resembled something that might be found on SpinArt Records – very pop-oriented. 

What I liked even better about cuppa joe was that although the music was well-produced, it wasn’t meticulous.  There were mistakes all over it in the technical playing – from vocal harmonies that were slightly off, to clunky guitar notes, missed beats and drum fills that didn’t fit.  It was a home-spun tape from a band that was more interested in documenting a song than they were in playing it perfectly – from listening to the tape I got the feeling that they would leave in a guitar track if it played the chorus with a lot of emotion, even if there was a sour note somewhere.

It wasn’t like the sour notes stuck out in a glaring way, but they were there.  In my mind, though, they made the music seem more authentic – it was definitely an indie rock tape, and would fit well with what we were trying to do.

When I got home that day, I added cuppa joe and Godspeed to the “excellent” pile.  At that point, we had Melting Hopefuls, cuppa joe, Godspeed, Rosary, Eternal Vision, and Planet Dread confirmed to be on the record.  Shadowbox and Footstone were on the bubble while we waited for more demos to come in.

At that point, Rich and I decided two things:

1) Ten songs was going to be enough.  

2) Our own music would not be included.  Since the record was becoming more of an attempt to document a scene at a point in time, and we were not part of that scene, it would be disingenuous to put our own music on the record.

Here’s a cuppa joe song from the demo tape – “french toast”

~ by Al on January 16, 2009.

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