After Glory Front, the guys lost Karen as their keyboard player and backup/sometimes lead vocalist and went even further into the shoegaze universe. It was primarily their driving influence and they would continue to delve into it for sometime. However, deciding the name Glory Front sounded more like a white-power band they retreated the basement to write more music and select a new moniker. Enter Matt Werth.

Matt was a Little Rock, Arkansas native who I had met when he contacted my band Franklin to participate in a compilation LP. The We’ve Lost Beauty LP would be released on his label File 13 and we were honored as hell to participate. In addition, Matt and his friends put on shows in Little Rock and were willing and able to set up a show for Franklin and Fracture during our 1995 summer tour.

When I met Matt that summer, we instantly hit it off. We spent one afternoon driving around in his parents station wagon and that was the start of an oddly symbiotic relationship between Philadelphia and Little Rock Arkansas for years to come. The following summer, in 1996 Matt would book another show for Franklin and Goodbye, Blue Monday. During that trip, we became obsessed with the game 4-square (another thing we shared in common with the Arkansas kids) and one evening, while playing a righteous game in the parking lot of a grocery store, I played Matt the Glory Front demo. He had recently been accepted into college somewhere in Wisconsin I believe, and was having some dread about attending. However, once he heard that Aspera Ad Astra (Justin, Drew and Mike’s new moniker) needed a bass player, Matt’s eyes lit up.

Matt would end up ditching college in favor of moving to Philadelphia, immediately teaming up with Aspera Ad Astra for many more years.

Peace was Aspera’s first album. While it might sound a little dated and its references may be a bit obvious, at the time, it was a great album that barely hinted at the truly incredible places musically they would go in the future.

Sadly, track 9 on the album, a song called Take It Easy is simply too large of a file to be able to post here. Aspera Ad Astra really dug their slow burn jams.

Taking To Waking

Sick ‘n’ Sad

Step Into Me

This Whim Breathes

Fat In the Eye

Scannin’ Lights

Yellowed Skin



Now, that’s not to say everyone everywhere was playing punk music around Philly in the early to mid 90’s.

Justin Tripp was a fella who hung out with the True High Fidelity boys. They introduced Justin to me and we got along fabulously from the start. Justin was one of those guys that was everywhere all the time and into everything that was happening everywhere. You’d see him at a show, the record store, a party…anywhere and everywhere. In fact, I think we discussed calling him “Everywhere” for a short while but sadly, it never caught on. I think Justin and I really bonded when we worked at a gas station together. He worked the register and I handled the full service pump. I only lived about 2 blocks from the station but Justin lived MILES from the station. But it was no biggie, he was everywhere all the time so it was just another somewhere to be.

Justin and Josh Mills’ younger brother Drew started a band called Glory Front. Justin and Drew were more interested in the shoe gaze bands of the day and had their own ideas about the music they wanted to play almost immediately. The great thing was that, we were all friends. It didn’t matter what kind of music you played…we were all attempting to do the same thing. Make music that seemed to make sense to us.

Justin and Drew teamed up with Karen Usner and Mike Robinson and Glory Front was formed. Of course, they didn’t keep the name for long since everyone kinda thought it sounded like some right-wing fascist band.

They would go on to evolve into Aspera Ad Astra and later, just Aspera. A long running, super rad band that would release some truly awesome music in later years.

Here are two out of three songs that appeared on this demo. Sadly, the last song, a 9 minute long slow burn is just way too big to upload.


Poison Oak