Monday, October 20, 2008

July - April Twentieth


Who better to speak on behalf of July than Ms. Kate B.:

Most teenage girls today wouldn't think it, but in the pre-Alanis days of the early 90s, when a strong woman in music meant Janet Jackson or Madonna, or maybe Pat Benatar (which was on occasion mistaken for Kate's vocals?) a band with a woman singing about taking charge of her life and wreaking havoc on those who wronged her was, apparently, a revolutionary thing for some of the female audiences who heard us -- or at least that's what I heard at shows, especially the few times we played away from the band's house. The sad fact was that very few bands in the Notre Dame family had female singers at all, and those who did generally opted for a sweet and gentle delivery. So when July appeared on the scene, we turned some heads if only for the sheer novelty of it. And personally, I think the time was ripe for women to be getting up and demanding attention, on stage and in general, which is something that happened a lot in the early and mid 90s, especially in the punk and indie scene. Still, I don't see July as a chick rock band, even though I tried to sing it that way. I was amazingly lucky to start off playing with a group of amazingly tight and talented musicians who could craft powerful and catchy tunes that could stand up to my novice singing and songwriting. What I lacked in stage presence, those guys made up for in strength and ability, and if I had it to do again, I would have just done more of it.

Here is the official story: Prior to coming together as July, Ernie C. (bass), Ted K. (drums) and Justin M. (guitar) had played with another singer as Grope for Luna. Two weeks after starting to practice with Kate B. on vocals, we played our first show at the "Farewell to Bush Bash" at Stonehenge on the ND campus, which consisted of four songs. Not so great with names, we played our second show as Freezehead, and Kate also vetoed Sweep the Leg Johnny as a potential name (we'll let the history books weigh in on that choice) before we settled on July as a name.

In practices, Ted's drums were so loud that the other instruments had to be turned up to match, so the boys usually never heard the vocals until it came time to play live with a proper PA. I think the balancing act between an art-rock guitarist, a jazz drummer, a riot-grrl singer, and a Fugazi-loving bassist produced something really special and unique, if very much of its time. Or, to quote Joe C. from our entry in Maximum RocknRoll's Book Yr Own Fucking Life, "A great great grindy power pop punk kinda sorta thing with PJ Harvey-esque vocals."

April Twentieth was recorded live at Dalloway's Coffeehouse on, natch, April 20th, I think 1994. Rommell DD is taken from a Richard Brautigan poem. The cassette was released on the Rent To Own label as RTO5.

listen/download:


see also:
July on MySpace

12 comments:

theodore said...

a big thanks to kate, for taking the time to write this one up. and thanks also to chad s., for lending me his copy of the cassette.

senatorhatty said...

I haven't missed college this much in a damned long time...

doug said...

This remains one of my all time favorite campus band albums. "Canvas" was the second campus band song I specifically remember trying to figure out on guitar (the first being Chisel's "Looking down at the Great Wall of China...").

July always sticks in my mind as one of those great bands that just never had enough time. And now I can listen to them on the subway. Yay!

Kate said...

sure, but did you ever manage to program "canvas" as a cellphone push-button ringtune?

doug said...

Hmmm...good point.

(Also, I had forgotten about my old phone and its "Great Wall of China" ringtone.)

JMitchell said...

i think i could remember the chords to canvas if only I could find my flannel shirts... I do remember it was in 'drop-d.'

senatorhatty said...

Aw man. I am still WEARING the flannels I wore in college!

doug said...

I can still play "Canvas" on guitar. Without flannel shirts, even!

Julie McCoy said...

Justin-- when you were in SF, I gave you my only copy of a bootleg I made from one of your last shows in 1995. By any chance, do you still have it? I have great regret that I never made a copy for myself.
And Kate, I fucking LOVED Bunny.
I am listening to it on my iPod right now.

Julie McCoy said...

I'm listening to "Lie" on my iPod at my desk as I type. I can feel the hair standing up on the back of neck. Nostalgia.
God, Notre Dame was a fucked up place.
But there were some really joyful moments. And watching you guys play at Dalloways was one of the highlights. Thank you all again for these songs.

JMitchell said...

Julie-

I imagine that tape exists somewhere (I don't throw things away....) but seeing as how the last 25 years of my life are sprinkled throughout various garages & sheds in Los Angeles, it will have to re-surface own its own. Hope all's well - Justin

Marc said...

I still have my April Twentieth tape. I want to say I bought it at an "Acoustic Cafe" at Lafortune? Alas, with no cassette player, glad to find the mp3s here.