You can learn a lot about the progression of Chisel's sound just by listening to the three Gern Blandsten releases. Half of the Nothing New collection is songs written and/or recorded during the South Bend years, and a properly sequenced listen would allow you to hear the way their songs grew from melodic hardcore influenced by the likes of Wire and Superchunk into a broader sound that incorporated ideas from The Jam and The Who. A significant factor in the style change is the lineup change that occurred over the summer of 1992, when Chris Infante left the band following graduation and Chris Norborg took over on bass.
For your education and entertainment, today we offer you two early Chisel recordings, both featuring Infante, Chisel's "jogging, neurotic, dateless bassist at that time," according to John Dugan. One side features an eight song demo recorded in February 1991. John says:
We borrowed this guy Ken's four-track and recorded a bunch of tunes and then i mixed them down in the same night, all in the dorm (Stanford Hall).The demo features two versions of Bob Lind's 1966 song "Elusive Butterfly" and five originals. Only two of the originals, "Invoking the Muse" and "Sunburn," were still regular parts of Chisel's live set when I first saw them in October 1992, and only the latter survived past the South Bend years. "Pornomental" is a brief instrumental that closes out the tape and features liberal use of a wah pedal. "Another Song" (which I've also heard called "Another Stupid Love Song"), "Floor," and "Solace" are the remaining tracks, which show the band in its earliest stages. The general impression is one of a talented band still trying to figure out their own sound.
We also did an Irish instrumental with a flute on it, but I don't have that anymore.
On the flip side of the tape is "the soundboard tape of a live set at Earth Jam—an environmental event at Stepan Center—in its entirety," according to Dugan. He adds, "It's a pretty energetic performance... with cover tunes [and a] weird soundboard mix." A number of the songs from the Stanford Hall demo reappear here, as well as "Listen," which later became the b-side to the Swamp Fox/Spike single. Over half the set is covers, including selections such as Nirvana's "Sliver," Operation Ivy's "Knowledge," Minor Threat's "Salad Days," and Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker".
Chisel - Stanford Hall Demo and Live at Earth Jam