Here we get into the dusty memory bins. Be warned.
While starting a band was always one of the most critical of goals, so was the attempt to create a music community or, if you will, a scene. You see, my friends and I were raised on the legendary towns of Washington, DC, New York, NY and San Francisco, CA. Each boasting their own undeniable stamp on the underground music community. For a city like Philadelphia, our home, to fantasize about creating our own music driven subculture where like minded people could entertain and realize their own creative fantasies was a nebulous yet incredibly important past-time. Sure, having a band was great but what good was it if all you could do was play your friends basements for only your friends?
To succeed, the scene had to grow. It had to absorb and then it had to expand.
For that to happen there were two very important components required outside the primary necessity which of course would be bands. The other two? A venue for those bands to play consistently where the bands could congregate and other individuals (curious about the congregation) could join and a way to then, once the seeds of creativity were sown, document the creations those bands spilled forth. In other words, a record label.
As suburbanite bands such as Random Children, Fracture, Public Descent and others migrated into the city, we were able to befriend urban oriented bands like Dyzrythmia, Invid, Prometheus Trashed, Mad Planets, and many, many more. Bands? We had that covered.
We had a venue. Besides the house shows that would happen, all ages shows were happening regularly at JC Dobbs. Venue for congregation? Check!
And lastly, we had a label. Sure, it wasn’t very impressive but Elbohead had proven that it could document and release recorded material of locally established bands.
As you can see, the pot was well seeded and germinated. While not as impressive as other community driven music scenes, we could have pride in our little sub-set here in Philadelphia. It was something to nurture and grow and more importantly, it was ours.
After the Random Children/Mad Planets split 7″, Elbohead decided to continue on in the realm of split 7″s. The reason? Financing mostly. Because we had no money, we had to rely on the bands themselves to somehow fund portions of the project. Two bands have more money than one and so split 7″s made a lot of sense. But, romantically looking back, one could also say that split 7″s helped cement an even closer notion of “community”. The bands shared the release so its success or failure was shared with a larger group. Everyone could participate.
For the second release, we knew that we wanted Dizrythmia involved. We had met Jamie Mahon through Ralph (I believe they might have gone to school together) and he was one of the first folks to be there at Dobbs during the shows. He was a fella who looked a little metal, a little punk and was all heart. Just a great, kind fella. He played bass for Dizrythmia and a more metal unit called Invid. Both bands quickly became regulars playing shows at Dobbs and so it was a logical decision to say, yep, they should be up next.
Here’s where it gets even more confusing. I don’t remember who was originally supposed to fill out the second side of the split 7″. Logically, I have to assume Invid. Or, perhaps it was supposed to be another band. I simply can’t recall. What I do remember is that ultimately I was told a band from New Jersey called The Guttersnipes would be filling out the second side. I was a bit upset when I was told that one of the bands that would appear on the release was not a band from Philly, nor a band I had ever seen play before, nor a band I had even met. It seemed wrong to me and contrary to the nature of the community goals of our new scene and the label in general. But of course, I was 16 and rather immature.
However, to avoid any sort of hassle, we said sure, let’s just get on with it and this 7″ was born. Once again, the cover was printed at the lovely little offset press shop at the top of my street in Oreland. The inserts were printed via High School lunch breaks with the library xerox machine and we decided to go with red vinyl for the release. Fancy, right?
Thanks to our existing in the modern world, I was able to ask Shawn Kilroy, former co-singer for Dizrythmia, to give his thoughts on this slab of vinyl. Take it Shawn:
Punk was already old music by the time I started playing it. So, we weren’t doing anything really cutting edge musically, but we did step up, declared ourselves, and had fun doing it.
This time in my life was about finally getting out of my neighborhood. There were only about 10 punks in my part of town, so a bunch of us skated together and then eventually started playing music together. One of them was Jamie Mahon.
I was a homebody, and he was a man about town. When he went to art school, he seemed instantly plugged in to all these different weirdos who had bands. I got a big ass car, so we were able to start getting around town and playing at these people’s parties. We played basements, backyards, warehouses, brick playhouse theaters, abandoned houses & VFW halls. Dobbs on South st even put on some Sunday afternoon all ages shows that we stomped each other at. We played a New Years Eve Party at Julian Buchannan’s mom’s house in Southwest Germantown with The Random Children. It was fun until the local thugs crashed through the front windows like SWAT and started kicking our asses.
Jamie said that The Random Children had a record label called ELBO HEAD, and wanted to put out a split 7” with this band The Guttersnipes from Vineland. I said hell yeah! The label was even gonna spring for colored vinyl!
We had never recorded with anything other than a boom box and I wasn’t good with a 4 track yet, so we had to go to a “real studio” to record. We ended up at a place called The Sponge Factory. Now of course, it’s artist condos, but then, it was a shitty old warehouse in a scary neighborhood. We were multi tracked onto a ½ inch tape machine by Steely Dan/Deadheads who were inhaling “smart drugs” whatever they are.
The songs are ‘Together’ and ‘Lines of Greed’. Both tunes were ska/punk hybrids Influenced by some of the East Bay bands of the time, like Operation IVY and Crimpshrine & Plaid Retina, as well as more mainstream stuff like The Police, The Clash, and The Go-Gos. I wrote the music for Together and our drummer and singer Erik Gasiewski, and Lauren Perez, who were dating at the time, wrote the words. It’s a sappy, needy teenage love song. It’s cute! Jamie wrote the music for the other track, Lines Of Greed. I wrote the words. A band called Lines Of Oppression had allegedly “stolen” a gig from us, so being petty like I was, I wrote this victim piece about it being all about money. So jive! I later became friends with all these dudes and they were really cool and nice. Live and Learn, I guess! I sang the number like New Values era Iggy, so I was well impressed with myself.
Well the record came out and The Guttersnipes side was about on par with ours in terms of quality, but the style was more in the Ramones, Misfits, Johnny Thunders neighborhood. I liked it quite a bit.
We played a bunch of shows together to promote it. This was fun time period. Very eye opening, and filled with new experiences and ideas about what was possible. And punk as fuck.
So there you have it. I don’t believe I ever did see The Guttersnipes play.
To Russia With Love