the curious mystery of jettison charlie.
When we lived in the apartment in Lodi, we were able to disguise our address. The “official” name of our street was Marion Pepe Drive. However, the street was informally known as Circle Drive, and the post office would deliver mail to us if it was addressed to Circle Drive. Therefore, we were able to list Dromedary’s address as “50 B Circle Drive” and the mail would get to us, but no psychos could find us (Officer Friendly and psychotic techno-crap aside).
At the new place, there was no such camouflage available – so I had to suck it up and get a PO Box. The Post Office in Boonton was half a mile from the house, but it was still sort of a pain in the ass – unlike Lodi, I couldn’t leave work at lunch and pick up the mail, walk Buca, and have lunch. Since the Post Office opened late, there was really no way for me to ever get there to do any business.
So my mail habits had to change, which really fucked me up. I am obsessed with mail. I think I’ve mentioned that before.
I’m even beyond obsessed. I’m like a maniac. I need to get mail every day – not bullshit mail, or bills, but something significant to open. A demo tape. A zine. A new CD from a friend. Something.
The PO Box lobby opened early most days, so I would swing by the Post Office on my way to work in the morning. But if there was something that was too big for them to fit in that box, or if I got too much mail and the box was overstuffed, I had to wait until Saturday to get whatever it was.
I have holes in the lining of my stomach from going to the PO Box on a Monday morning and getting the little yellow slip that said I had an oversized package, and agonizing for a week, trying to guess what it might be.
It became particularly cruddy at this stage – late 1994, once the PO Box started getting publicized – because we were getting a lot of mail. There wasn’t a day that didn’t bring at least one new demo tape – I’d pick them up in the morning and listen to them while I drove into work each day. The good ones got a second listen on the way home. It was very productive time in the car.
Tying together the recent entries about the internet and the entries about the demo tapes is a man named Bob Massey. Bob was a really nice guy who I met online, in one music forum or another, who seemed to know everyone. Bob played in a band called Jettison Charlie, from Richmond.
At some point, Bob sent me a Jettison Charlie demo tape. It’s obviously pretty likely that if he sent me the demo, he did so in homes that Dromedary might be interested in putting out their music.
This demo tape was fantastic. One of the best demos we ever received, actually.
Here, check this out. This is called “Hitchhiking To Budapest.”
Right? That’s pretty damn good. Here’s another, called “Summer.” Tell me it doesn’t recall Husker Du.
So this demo tape came, and I absolutely loved it. Listened to it incessantly enough that when I dug out the tape last month, I still remembered all the songs, and most of the words.
So why didn’t I put this out? Why didn’t I even try?
Not to sound too presumptuous, of course. Jettison Charlie wound up putting out a full-length CD, on Turn of the Century Records (of all places, TOTC was the small indie where I interned in college, and without a lot of releases under their belt this was a huge coincidence). They did fine on their own, and their members are very successful today in other bands.
But why would I get a demo that I liked this much, and not even try and put it out?
I reached out to Bob Massey last month and re-introduced myself, and had a nice email dialogue with him. He didn’t remember Dromedary (I don’t think) any more than I could remember why we didn’t do anything together. He kindly gave me permission to post music from the demo, but couldn’t give me any insight as to why the demo wasn’t on a round, plastic disc with my logo on it.
I saved a lot of demos. Easily more than a hundred. Today, when I look through them, I can tell you why I saved each one, along with (in the case of the good ones) what we did with them – who was in the band, what happened to them, how far we progressed with each.
All except for Jettison Charlie.
Best I can tell, we were too busy for Jettison Charlie. We had cuppa joe, Mommyheads and Footstone CDs on the horizon, Toast and Gapeseed planned for the New Year. We were working on fleshing out the Schoolhouse Rock compilation, we had just moved to a new apartment, and, umm…
…we had decided to try and have a baby.
That was one of those things that just sort of happened – I was not of the mindset that I was ready to be someone’s father; I was way too irresponsible and young and stupid, but I was also running a punk rock company and I needed to be able to go out every night of the week, travel all over to find new bands, stay up all night doing label work. I was also getting more interested in my dayjob career, where I had increasing responsibilities and was traveling around the country a lot.
At the same time, after the Melting Hopefuls and Way To Go! debacles, I could see Sandy’s interest in the label beginning to decline, and there was no question that kids were part of our longer-term plans. So we decided to give it a shot.
So, best I can tell, Jettison Charlie fell through the cracks.
Which is a shame, because they were damn good. Here’s another song from the demo, called “Toast.”
If I could go back in time, I’d put this out.
After Jettison Charlie, Bob went on to play in Telegraph Melts (absolutely worth a listen), and now plays in the Gena Rowlands Band while writing screenplays and operas. The music for his opera The Nitrate Hymnal is particularly cool.
As for the other members of Jettison Charlie, Chris Adler went on to become the drummer in the ridiculously popular metal band Lamb Of God. Noal Clark is still playing in the Richmond area. According to Bob, they’re all doing very well, so once again, maybe its best that they didn’t do anything with Dromedary.