After we successfully launched Elbohead Records (and by successfully launch I mean we managed to order a rubber ink stamp with our logo and address on it, that’s about as much success as we had) we immediately got to thinking about what was next. Logically, a record label has to release records and thus Random Children Nursery School 7″, Fracture was up.
Fracture had gone thru quite a few line-up changes in their short time as a band, but by this time, Fracture had settled into a line-up that would last for a decent spell. Chris singing, Jeb playing bass, Jeb’s brother Rob on drums and Atom playing guitar.
After their experience recording at Jim Femino’s, “House of Pain” recording studio, and a further development of their sound they opted to record a new bunch of songs for their 7″ release.
Once again, I handled the artwork on this 7″ (I was flattered to be asked to do it). Fracture wanted the cover to look like one of our favorite candies, Fun-Dip. I’m not sure why our gang was so into Fun-Dip but we used to eat a lot of it and oftentimes, snort it like cocaine. That, was NOT intelligent. The guys handled the art for the double sided insert and the donuts for the record itself. That’s Atom’s truly remarkable artwork gracing the one side of the 7″. He had a knack for drawing a one eyed, one foot monster-looking thing that, to this day, he’ll draw just to disgust me. The fucker. Here’s an example of it right here. I asked Atom to draw a new one for this blog entry:
The cover was printed once again at the little print shop at the top of my street and our big advancement on this release was using more expensive, fancy paper for the cover. The lime green paper (which was lighter than we would have liked) was textured and just felt more impressive. We only ever printed 300 copies of this record so if you have a copy, consider yourself one of the elite!
In fact, the other day a fella contacted this here blog about this 7″ asking if I (or any of the fellas in the band) might have an extra copy lying about. He’d love to get his hands on one…so boys, let me know!
In addition, when looking at the artwork, take note of the incredibly stupid catalog number on the 7″. You will notice it is |-i|4. Somewhere I think Greg and I thought it would be cool to catalog our releases using ridiculous math statements that didn’t actually mean anything. All of the Elbohead releases used them. Stupid…I bet Greg had nothing to do with the idea at all, actually.
I asked Atom and Jeb to give me their memories on this record as well since my recollections are spotty at best. Here’s what they had to say:
JEB BELL: I can’t honestly remember much of this time at all. I find it hard to believe I was in 11th grade when this was recorded. I don’t much remember how the chemistry quite worked … Before Fracture I had never written a song and I guess this 7” is a hallmark for me cause it represents basically the first songs I wrote on a bass. Before Fracture I played bass in bands only because I just flat out couldn’t play the guitar as well as Dan Goldberg – who was just very prolific and, I think, quite talented at a pretty young age really – and it wasn’t really until about this time that I began to own that instrument I guess I would say. I don’t recall much ever thinking about writing a song, nor really caring about writing a song until I wrote Aspirin Feelings on the guitar which not only became the first Fracture song, but really served as the impetus to create a new band – which would after a few iterations be the Fracture that ended up recording this 7”. We recorded – if we should insist on calling it that – Aspirin Feelings with Jim Femino for a demo and Atom seems to remember recording it again during this session although I admit I can’t remember. (Has anyone mentioned that the original band name was Compound Fracture and later shortened, probably only after a few days, to Fracture and was because Paul Stefano slide tackled some kid in Gym Glass and that kid ended up with a compound fracture. I didn’t see it, but it was all the talk at our local Taco Bell.) This record captures a special sort of musical/teenage naivete – I don’t even know what to call it – but it’s best summarized by the young dude you’ll sometimes see rolling down the street with an amazing collection of oxy-moronic/mutually exclusive styles about him – say a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt and a Grateful Dead hat. Adam and I had basically formed a blood-pact based on what was a late-night (probably around 8:30 PM) revelation when we were in EARLY high school that Cigarettes were amazing (“I can’t believe people are allowed to smoke these things while driving!”, we marveled).
This lineup of Fracture was much less collaborative than those that followed. It was for me, probably not unlike being the nightshift manager of a Hardees in Scranton. Managing to get a one-legged motorhead that listens to Rush and Steve Miller when he’s not fixing up his ’71 Chevelle and a death metal jew scientist obsessed with Ed Gein, babies and the Geto Boys to – with very close approximation – play the music I wanted to play was something. Seriously, it’s pretty funny the disparity we were working with here. I’m seriously impressed when I hear my brother playing drums on this record given how old we all were at the time and the fact that I spent pretty much every practice trying to get him to play faster with less ride cymbal. SBM was the first song Atom wrote (or was allowed to write) for us if I remember correctly. The country music sample came off a country music mix tape I bought at a rest stop somewhere for some reason I don’t remember. For the insert I cut the elements Francium, Actinium, Thallium, Uranium, and Rhenium out of the Periodic Table of Elements in my 11th grade Chemistry book to spell in cut and paste lettering “Fr Ac T U Re” for the insert (f)artwork – which I was truly proud of for probably no less than 4 reasons. The 7” is out, and pretty much forgotten by the following year when the girl who has my old Chemistry book comes up to me one day in 12th Grade and tells me that Mrs. So-and-so wants to see me and how no one can figure out why I would be motivated to extract those particular elements from the Periodic Table.
My next best memory was my first introduction to the most intense tuner the world has ever known. I believe we recorded this 7” over a weekend and likely spent 2/3 of that time trying – in earnest – to unlock the secret enigma that was this tuner. Someone out there will be able to fill me in on the name of it and possibly (?) where it came from, but I believe it had some sort of arbitrary 4-digit number in its name to provide subliminal credibility suggesting advanced technology. It was basically comprised of 1) a plug 2) a box almost the size of a kid’s shoe box 3) a stand 4) a blinking/spinning/back-lit red wheel that was somehow the combination of a radar screen and a magic eye picture. The box was heavy, seemed to have something “springy” in it and seemed simultaneously tough as macadam and fragile as a crystal chafing dish. It was sensitive to agitation. If one were to simultaneously a) play a note b) find the note on a complex chart next to the spinning wheel corresponding to the string one was trying to tune and c) follow the segment of furiously spinning wheel while tuning the string to “steady” the warbling nature of the flashing segment – well – if one were able to coordinate those actions – master in a sense it’s delicate combination of art-science-touch and mystery – one would – according to the owners of the Rubber Groove studio – perfectly tune one’s guitar.
To my knowledge no one in Fracture was ever able to accomplish this feat.
Truthfully, learning to properly tune my guitar took me a really, really long time – I’m not sure I was even doing it properly when Fracture broke up, but I do know that this particular item likely set any development in that discipline into full regression for some time. Through a combination of ironies, coincidences and misfortune, much much later, this tuner would become the only tuner I used for probably 3 years. I find myself wondering where it is now…
After the record was released I remember basically two things. 1) giving them out at a party since they weren’t selling on looks alone and 2) Lance Hahn putting it on his top ten list in MRR which pretty much meant I could retire.
ATOM GOREN: The Jim Femino studio Fracture recording sessions were a rip off that produced very little, but now the four of us (at this point, Jeb, Chris, Rob (Jeb’s brother who had been conscripted to play with us) & me) were in an average of 11.25th grade, and had been playing together for a while. We practiced frequently in Jeb’s parents’ basement and we wanted to put a 7″ out on Brian’s Elbohead Records.
I don’t know how, but local friends/grouches Public Descent had found a gem in the Rubber Groove recording studio in East Falls, a section of Philadelphia a few minutes from where I attended high school. Despite the recording studio’s official name, I recall the fellow Eric Horvitz who ran it, lovingly refer to it only as ‘The Dump’. To enter the studio, one would need to drive into the courtyard of the dilapidated mess of what must have been an abandoned apartment building.
At this point, I was playing the 2nd crappiest guitar that I had ever owned, the Ibanez EX 170, which was particularly exciting to me because it had TWO humbucking pickups AND a single coil. I don’t know which, if any, pickups I actually ever ended up using.
At this point, Jeb played a Fender bass that at one point was maroon. He stripped the paint off (and I think took it apart in the process) and painted it bright green. It looked awesome. (Ed. Note – I have a picture of Jeb playing this bass! It shall be scanned!)
I really don’t know if I’ve heard a record that sounds quite like this – the gated drums, the totally muffled bass…I like it though. I got to use a Marshall 4 x 10 cabinet with a Marshall head at the studio, which was a huge step up from my crappy amp, and Jeb went directly into the board (no amplifier). During mixing, Jeb had wanted his bass to match that of the bass player from Green Day’s bass on their first record. So, we went back and forth hearing Jeb’s recorded bass and one 20 second clip of the Green Day record. The parts of each band’s song we repeatedly listened to were playing the same G note, so regardless of how the bass sounds actually compared, we were convinced they sounded identical. Ooopsies.
Other things of note?
Chris uses the phrase ‘death on a stick’ in 25 Ahead. This phrase was born out of Paul Stefano’s brain and mouth while we drove home from seeing the Random Children open for Fugazi. On Lincoln Drive, a particularly windy road, Paul’s defogger did not work so he was essentially driving blind. I don’t know where the ‘stick’ part of this came from, but I guess we liked it.
S.B.M. stood for Sausage Beef Meat – as during this time, Slim Jims were a regular part of my diet. This would often inspire a chant of ‘Sausage Beef Meat, Sausage Beef Meat, Sausage Beef Meat!’ on nights where we aimlessly drove around Springfield Township.
I’m not sure where the title ‘Patrick Was…’ came from for a song. I don’t think we knew anyone named Patrick.
I still absolutely love to hear the outro to S.B.M. – It was from some weird country music compilation tape that Jeb had. It still is really weird regardless of whether or not Jeb still has it.
I’d explain all of the nonsense on the B side of the record’s label, but I’m pretty sure that warrants an entire post all to itself.
I’m inclined to think that I had something to do with the inscription on the matrix. It reads as follows:
Side A: Rob is a big furry monster.
Side B: Greg is a major demon.
When it was released (I think 300(?) were pressed), we didn’t really sell many of them, though I remember being psyched that we received a relatively positive review from Maximum Rock n’ Roll, which pretty much made my year. I’m pretty sure I remember hearing about a party that future friends Heel Nation hosted in Abington, PA where Jeb and Chris attended and threw a bunch of 7″s up in the air while a band was playing in order to get rid of them. Rest assured, they likely ended
up on the floor and in the trash can.
So there you have it. In a monstrous entry the thoughts on this super rad little 7″. I still think it’s pretty boss but I am extremely biased.
P.S. – Sorry if Atom’s monster drawing haunts you at night…