SHAWN SCALLEN

They often say, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

A similar question would be, “If you played in a punk band in the 90’s and Shawn Scallen didn’t take photos of you, were you ever really in a band?”

This photo of Ralph and Roy is from a Franklin show we played in Ottawa, Ontario on our first trip across the Canadian border. You know, fake recording papers, etc. to sneak into the country.

MIDDLESEX COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Since I don’t play in bands regularly anymore, I’m not really sure about the availability of places to play shows. Meaning, I’m sure that it’s difficult to get shows anywhere, especially with the sheer volume of bands in the universe these days, but are there numerous places to play if you could or were allowed to play?

It seems like there are more these days. In Philadelphia alone, I can think of a whole slew of places where bands could put on a spectacle…all fully licensed with real sound systems and established methods of promotion.

When we were playing in The Random Children it pretty much seemed like there was no where to play. The few spots that did have shows were temporary at best and often, just held one off shows where someone found a spot where the owner didn’t really understand what they were getting themselves into. The Montserrat on South Street was one of these locations for example.

However, we did get lucky meeting a fella named Dave who went to school at Middlesex Community College. He booked shows there at the student center and would continue to invite us up to play when we were in Franklin. The shows were always fun and poorly attended. C’mon, it was a Community College in Middlesex, what would you expect?

Dave was a swell guy. Wonder where he is now.

ASTIR-FEW DEMO

I guess bands have always sort of been like gangs. You picked a gang (or the gang picked you) and you never strayed. Sure, there were other gangs you liked to hang with and you played shows with those gangs or did split 7″s or toured together, but your gang was your family.

I’ve never really understood the person who plays in multiple bands. I always sort of felt that if you were in a band, you give everything to that particular band. If you didn’t, you were cheating on the gang and the gang had every right to knock you upside your head. I guess the issue to me was which is more important, the individual or the whole. I always preferred the whole.

Of course, that’s not saying I never strayed.

Fracture was a gang we liked to hang with. In fact, we pretty much did everything together. I’m sure I’ll get to more about Fracture in the future because, they really were great and together, we went through some amazing experiences.

After Fracture broke up in 1995, playing their last show at the First Unitarian Church before Chris, their singer moved to Bellingham Washington, the guys sort of took a rest. Atom Goren, one of their guitar players became Franklin’s unofficial manager/mascot and the rest of the guys got into trying their hands with new gangs.

Jesse, the drummer from Fracture had been playing with his sister Carly on bass and their friend Justin on guitar. They had a sweet little gang starting. They needed a singer. Jesse and I had become very close from the Franklin/Fracture days and I think at the time I was going to Carly’s house every Tuesday night to watch 90201 and Melrose Place. So, it seemed logical to give it a whirl.

We named the band Astir-Few, the combination of two flowers and practiced weekly at Carly and Jesse’s parents house out in West Chester. We recorded this demo with Mark Scott, the other guitar player of Fracture who had set up an 8 track, home recording studio as his Mom’s house.

Astir-Few lasted only about a year as I recall. We played a handful of shows and even did a short tour of the North East. We never officially released anything, and the only other recording of the band was a recording we made with John Chriest of Lungfish down in Baltimore. John was a great guy but had no idea how to record a band like ours. The recording he did was horrible and I think I recorded over it years ago to hide it from the world.

This demo recording seems to be a much more accurate example of the gang. That’s Jesse at the end of Interchange. One of my favorite raps ever.

Rio

If I Never

Valentine

Interchange

RANDOM CHILDREN AT J.C. DOBBS

Here’s another photo of The Random Children playing at JC Dobbs. Unfortunately, I’m not sure who was on the bill for this show. There don’t seem to be any notes with the photo.

This photo was taken by a fella named Max Fisher. He was a drummer and liked grainy photos.

HOW TO GET TO THE FIRST RANDOM CHILDREN SHOW IN PHILLY.

I’m not much of a pack rat. Nor am I a hoarder. However, I do have a tendency to hang onto objects that seem important.

A few posts back, I mentioned the first time The Random Children played in Philadelphia proper. Sure, we grew up only 8 or 10 miles outside of the city, but playing that first show was a big deal. After posting about it, I remembered a little more.

I went to high school with a kid named Haim Koenig. He was, for lack of a better explanation, my punk rock father. Meaning, he turned me onto to such a vast universe of music it was like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Haim was a couple years older than me, and he had transferred into our school system when I was a freshman and he was a junior. I had only started listening to punk music the year before and had only been introduced to the big guns, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Misfits, Dead Kennedys, etc. But Haim turned me and my other close friends onto so much more. Minor Threat, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Dag Nasty, Swiz…the list is endless.

Haim was so cool that he had already passed through all things punk and now had made the jump to being a mod. But he still enjoyed passing quality music onto kids who seemed hip for it. He would make endless mix tapes for me and my friends. The hours he must have spent…sheesh.

Anyway, when we first met Haim, he had played in a band called Grooving Power with a kid named Ralph. We were no longer, “The Tazmanians” and were looking for a singer. Haim brought Ralph to meet us one day when we were practicing and I guess that’s how we met Ralph.

Shortly after Ralph joined, Haim’s new band Mad Planets was playing at the Olde City Arcade. Haim asked our new band Random Children to play that show and I still remember the day at school when he scribbled down the information of where the show was.

Somehow I’ve held onto that small piece of paper. While it’s not much, to be able to post it here is something…I dunno…it’s something special to me.