A new campus band CD is on the way
by Pete Dedman
"Somebody said the music was not good enough to play"
--"Green, Red, and Blue" by Brian, Colin, and Vince
Well, apparently somebody was sorely mistaken. Not only is good, original music being produced here at Notre Dame, but the music scene has developed, especially over the last year, into a rich and diverse assortment of bands ranging from punk to folk to jazz. Two years after the WVFI Jericho Sessions were released, a new CD [Incubus 1993], sponsored by S.U.B., is in the works, documenting the present campus music scene through the work of 16 bands playing their own original material.
The bands are as diverse as they are talented and have all played a major role in creating a vibrant music scene at ND. The CD will feature popular and established groups such as Dissfunktion, Chisel, The Sister Chain, Brian, Colin and Vince, Palace Laundry and Victoria’s Real Secret, as well as younger bands fast on the rise, including Grope For Luna, Bother and Bovine Solution. Rounding out the playlist will be Mr. Head, 2-10, the Porkchoppers, Emily Lord, Access Denied, XYZ Affair and a jazz group, Thee Accent. The CD, as of yet without a name (though an accompanying booklet has been designed by Peter J. Pultorak), is due out soon after spring break, according to co-producer Steve Sostak.
"There’ll be a final mixdown of all the songs on March 10. Then we’ll take the masters down to the Sony plant in Terre Haute, and, if all goes as planned, we’ll have it out a couple of weeks after break," Sostak said. Sostak, who is also the lead singer for Victoria’s Real Secret, has found the work as producer to be easier than expected. He added, "Most of the real work was already done by the end of last semester, thanks to [co-producer] Ryan Hallford," who is on a leave of absence this semester.
Hallford was also instrumental in the success of Acoustic Cafe, which has been taking place regularly in the LaFortune basement each Thursday night for over a year. Acoustic Cafe features an open-mike setting, which allows for musicians to experiment and try out new songs before a live audience. "Especially with Acoustic Cafe, Ryan’s been very instrumental in trying to push original music," he said.
Joe Cannon, lead singer and guitarist for Mr. Head, credits the recent success of an original music scene on campus to certain artistic fountainheads. "A few very original, talented and active musicians have sparked a large interest in creating original bands/music, especially among the younger students," Cannon said.
Ted Koterwas, assistant producer for the CD, is more specific in giving credit where it is due. "I think the success of Brian, Colin and Vince really opened up the way for original music being accepted more readily." Koterwas, who plays drums for Grope for Luna, added, "Joe Cannon has been something of a powerful original musical force as well."
The rising acceptance of original bands on campus has also been spurred on by the success of St. Mary’s Dalloway’s Coffeehouse. Each Wednesday and Saturday night, the Coffeehouse, charging little or no admission, had presented full-length shows by acts featured on the CD such as Brian, Colin and Vince, Chisel, Mr. Head, the Sister Chain, Grope for Luna and Bother, as well as brilliant performances by other bands such as emiLy, and most recently, Severinsen.
As opposed to Acoustic Cafe, Dalloway's is a forum for bands who have already proven themselves to perform in a full show setting, when an optimum number of people can be expected to come. On Saturday nights, while the rest of campus is partying themselves senseless, the Coffeehouse draws 100 people on average. "I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its success," remarked John Dugan, drummer for Chisel, whose performance at the Coffeehouse in January drew 175 people.
With such live successes, stated Dugan, "there‘s obviously enough interest out there for original music." Dugan hopes that the success of the new CD will result in organizations getting more cooperation from the Student Activity Council, in terms of being able to get smaller bands to play at Notre Dame, "so that our campus bands can get a chance to play with them. This will give these bands more exposure to playing live, as well as a chance to get their name passed around the larger music circuit," he said. Last fall Victoria’s Real Secret opened for They Might Be Giants and Chisel will open for Velocity Girl on March 31 in the LaFortune Ballroom.
For many, though, just the CD itself is a huge accomplishment. Everyone involved expects this compilation to enjoy more success than 1991’s Jericho Sessions. As Cannon described, "Yeah, this should be better. The idea behind this is campus bands. As a result, almost all the bands are very well-known. Jericho Sessions, on the other hand, was originally meant to be a sampler of acoustic acts, and there ended up being more of a hodge-podge of musicians just recording for the sake of contributing to the CD. At the same time, (former WVFI station manager) Kevin Flaherty’s work with The Jericho Sessions was indeed seminal."
"The Jericho Sessions certainly paved the way for what's going on with the current CD," concurred John Dugan.
Dugan, Cannon and other musicians who appeared on The Jericho Sessions, have agreed that the recording studios for this effort are far better facilities than those used on the last sampler. Most of the bands have been recording over the past two months at Miami St. Studios in town. The recording process gave several of the musicians their first opportunity to put down their music in a studio environment. Miami St. engineer John Nuner was very helpful in making the process rewarding for the more experienced bands as well as the "rookies."
"For the most part he [Nuner] took direction from the bands, and allowed them to come up with their own sound, the sound they wanted on the CD," said Cannon, who was quite pleased with Mr. Head’s recording of "Weather," their offering to the CD. Cannon also attributed the ease of recording to the fact that "an analog recording was made first, instead of recording directly to digital, so it was a more natural recording process." Mr. Head bassist Dave Holsinger, for whom the recording process was a first-time experience, found himself quite pleased with the outcome as well. "We heard some bands took 9 or 10 hours, so relatively, I found the whole process to be somewhat easier than I'd expected," said Holsinger.
As Bother bassist and Dalloway’s Coffeehouse manager Kelly Daugerdas attested, "It was a lot more work than expected, at times even tiresome, but by the end, we really felt exhilarated." The band is also elated at the success of their recording for the CD, "Kill the Popular Kids,” even before the CD has been released. Their explosive song has garnered enough airplay on WVFI to crack into the station’s weekly Top 20, and thereby warrant mention in the nationally distributed College Music Journal.
For other, older bands, the CD is a chance to document what may be swan songs, as members graduate or leave. For Brian, Colin and Vince, whose co-founder, Brian Muller, transferred to Boston University at the end of last semester, the CD is just that. Featuring the a capella intro, "Yahtzee," the band has recorded "Green, Red, and Blue" for the CD, with astonishing success. "The recording fortunately occurred at a peak for us as a band,” said guitarist Colin Clary. "‘Green, Red, and Blue' is a bit more serious than our other songs but it's really almost beautiful, and I don't use that word a lot; well, I do, I guess, but it was really good," he eloquently added. Later this spring, Clary says he will finish a CD of Brian, Colin and Vince’s last semester together. To be titled Bucket o’ Fun n' Stuff n' Yeah, the CD will feature at least 15 songs from the band.
Whether half the campus knows it or not, the music scene is alive and well at Notre Dame. A large amount of ignorance is due to the fact that many bands play at private parties rather than overcrowded bars, and some people just aren’t open-minded enough to pass up those bars for a show at the Coffeehouse on a Saturday evening. Nevertheless, the campus CD is for all to enjoy, so, as your spring break tans begin to fade, keep your eyes open for great original music that’s been under your noses all along.
-- from the March 4, 1993 edition of Scholastic, Notre Dame's student magazine. The musicians pictured in the article are members of Grope for Luna.
It's funny to have this Scholastic article come back to light. I was a little haunted by it in hindsight - and by hindsight I don't mean sixteen years down the road, I mean a month after it was published. That is, I rued not having spent more space presenting the featured bands in an in-depth way. Although to my mind, Chisel, Brian Colin & Vince and so many other of the acts were by that time household names, that familiarity may have only been present for hundreds of devoted fans on campus. This article was an opportunity to really introduce the excitement of the 'SB Power 90s' scene to the uninitiated thousands. I missed that opportunity a bit, but hopefully the music took care of my understated oversight!
--Pete Dedman, October 2009
1. "Fish" - Victoria's Real Secret
2. "Dream Bar" - Chisel
3. "Angelina" - Emily Lord
4. "Kill The Popular Kids" - Bother
5. "Yahtzee/Green, Red And Blue" - Brian, Colin and Vince
6. "Follow Me" - Access Denied
7. "In The Crowd" - Grope For Luna
8. "Take Me To The Funktion" - Dissfunktion
9. "Peter Pan Syndrome" - XYZ Affair
10. "My Name Is Sky" - The Sister Chain
11. "Weather" - Mr. Head
12. "Smitherman" - 2-10
13. "I Don't Look Back" - Thee Accent
14. "Never Had The Time" - Palace Laundry
15. "Pyramid" - The Bovine Solution
16. "Punch The Clown" - The Porkchoppers