[A HISTORY WORTH REPEATING: 1992-1999]

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      [.]   [summer, 1999]

  Elsinor 1.0 was exported and upgraded to the Seattle-era version. Some data translations were lost in the transfer, and lots of tables had to be modified/created, but for the most part we were able to get things back up and running, while services resumed listening for connections to port 666 for queries on the rock and the roll.
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      [.]   [spring, 1999]

  Allisyn and I drove out to her friend's house in the outskirts of town to make use of their letterpress to make the covers for the initial 500 All-Time Quarterback CD sleeves. We had to lay them out in the sun to dry as we pressed through the stack, and it took the better part of the day. Exhausting as it was, when it came time to do another batch we opted to instead just have stickers made and spent the equivalent time playing Scrabble.
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  We loaded our equipment through the fish-throwing section of Pike Place Market to play at one of the Sub Pop Mega Mart's inaugural Saturday Matinees. We were to do an Elsinor Showcase. The store was packed to witness Phil Microphone at his best: keyboard in his lap, acoustic-yet-miked guitar across his chest, delay pedal and kick drum at his feet. He generated more noise per capita since J Mascis appeared on the Jenny Jones show.
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      [.]   [winter, 1999]

  The guys from Puritan flew up from L.A. for a weekend of shows. Watching them pick up their guitars as checked luggage, I decided that this was a definite rock star moment, like the Beatles landing in America, or Dylan selling out. I tried to imagine what excited public in the terminal was thinking as they saw these four young lads shuffling through with their duffel bags and guitar cases, but the only thing I could think of was, "Hey, isn't that Oasis?"
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  We had just returned from Seattle following the DCfC/Hydra/Puritan show at the Crocodile the night before. I was stepping up on the porch when I heard a noise behind me. I turned to see Ben driving his Subaru up onto the front lawn. He got out, opened the back door, and pulled out a full sized rubber trash can, which he then proceeded to fill with several bags of ice and cheap beer. He smiled, got into his car, and pulled away. Two hours later, we commenced with the Elsinor BBQ, which was notable not only for the celebrity turnout, but also for Kelly Huckaby's friend Rocko drinking, by his own count, 52 beers while maintaining a lucid, marathon monologue about gender relations.
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      [.]   [autumn, 1998]

  For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to get the Something About Airplanes CDs manufactured sans packaging. We probably saved ourselves a couple of bucks, but had to spend an entire weekend in our living room, with all the Death Cab guys, Terry and Paul, Josh up from Seattle, Coax the Cat shedding all over everything, assembling the suckers. I remember sitting around listening to Bedhead's Transition de Novo and Josh making fun of the drummer for lack of enthusiasm. Of course, if I had Barrett (This Busy Monster) as my drummer I'd probably say the same thing.
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  When it came time to master Ratcheting, we knew that we wanted to include Jay's novel with the CD. Unfortunately, the fellow doing the mastering didn't know how to do enhanced CDs, so he figured out a way to make the PDF show up as Track 1 on the record. Thus, Track 1 does not exist, and the album proper begins with Track 2. Which would be fine and dandy, except for an unexpected side-effect: putting in the CD, one would either get 6 seconds of dead silence for Track 1 or, for those with older CD players, 6 seconds of excruciatingly painful noise as the player tried to read the PDF file. Without alternatives, we kind of hoped listeners would just mistake it for a Sebadoh album and continue listening. (Jay thought the CD players were just harsh critics of his literary ability).
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      [.]   [summer, 1998]

  Ben decided to take it upon himself to mix Ratcheting. The song Shakespeare's Fingernails still needed a drum track but we didn't feel like going through the process of recording it, so we set up a makeshift drum set in the bedroom where the studio equipment was set up and played the drums live as the song was being mixed to DAT. There is no recorded instance other than that of the drums for this track, so if we are ever to remix it for some reason, we'd have to do the drums over again.
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  In an early version of the Elsinor Catalog, we referred to Appleseed Apart as Eric Gaffney's alter-ego, which is obviously a homage rather than a cheap attempt to cash on on an obscure indierock reference. Ahem. Months later, we received a letter from Mr. Gaffney asking that we send him a complimentary copy of "his" tape.
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  My part time job at the time was delivering copies of the Echo to the lands of Skagit and Whatcom counties. One of my stops was Anacortes and so I stopped in at the Business to see if I could get any information on the local music scene. I had heard a tape called Mostly Clouds and Trees that was out on KNW-YR-OWN records, so I asked the kid behind the counter if he had any extra copies. He got all excited and said, "That's me! I'm Phil". And he pulled out a handful of tapes- Tugboat, XRay Means Woman, Karl Blau, pretty much the entire KNW-YR-OWN catalog. He showed me the back room where the tape deck mountain was, and where he had begun his experimental tapes that later became Tests.
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      [.]   [winter, 1998]

  Both the Hydra and Death Cab played their first show in Seattle. It was at the Crocodile Cafe, opening for Harvey Danger. The Hydra decided to divert attention by inviting several friends on stage to make it a more loose, haphazard affair: We had Hydra roommate Smiley doing a shadow puppet act, complete with bedsheet and lamp; Trevor was playing stand up drums and wearing his Pacer Puts Out shirt; DJ Shazzee Clazz was mixing it up with Chris' four track; and Ben's friend Regina was our resident dancer. For some reason, the Crocodile didn't have us back for an entire year.
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      [.]   [autumn, 1997]

  We all took part in the cheesy "submit your band" section of the Rocket, where you could send demo tapes in to be reviewed en masse by the critics at the paper. I think the ratio of fake-to-real bands we submitted was like 10 to 1 or something, but amongst the "real" tapes we sent in was a demo for the Death Cab recordings. One issue later, we saw an ad in the Rocket asking for someone from Death Cab for Cutie to please contact them. It was Evan, who worked at the Rocket and was the one who opened the DCfC demo to listen to. He didn't have time to write a review, but he wanted to contact the guys to let them know how much he liked the tape. Evan turned out to not only work at the Rocket, but also drummed for Harvey Danger, who gave Death Cab their first opening slot at the Crocodile a few months later.
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  Right in the middle of tracking Self-Indulgent Birthday during the Ratcheting sessions, Chris had an epiphany of sorts, walked out the front door, leaving it swinging open, and started walking down the street. We watched him disappear on the municipal horizon, and when he didn't return, Ben declared with trademark goofy enthusiasm, "I call engineer!" So we plugged the microphone into Jay's Gibson amp (yes, that Gibson amp, the one from 1000 Shits), and I re-did my vocals with the 'verb turned up all the way. Chris still considers that the worst moment on the record.
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  During a Pacer song at their house, a line of people walked up and started taking away Trevor's drums, one by one, while another line of people brought in the brand new ones that we all pitched in to buy for his birthday. You've never seen such a mixture of joy and surprise. One of Bellingham's finest moments.
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      [.]   [summer, 1997]

  We drove down to Olympia on a Friday morning for a weekend of guerilla recording at Dub Narcotic with our friend Phil Elvrum. He had been living in the studio so he said we could record with him at night while no one was there. Surprisingly we were able to actually record five songs, given that we were also acting out our indierock tourism fantasies by looking through the K offices, vaults of master tapes, and warehouse. When one of the speakers fell off the cinder block it was resting on and shattered (watching Phil explain that one to Calvin was worth the trip in itself), we ended up mixing the entire session through headphones. Of course, when Chris heard the results he demanded that we let him remix everything, and we ended up releasing it as The Swiss Admiral EP.
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  Being poor musician/students, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves, so we started an indierock kickball league. Every Saturday we would head to the park, Trevor would put local mix-tapes in his boombox, and we would pick teams. Of course, every league has its Yankees, and so it was that Team Pinwheel consistently beat Team Pacer like 50-2 every week.
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  Jay had been corresponding with this really cool band from L.A. called The Burning Sofa No. 10. After trading a few letters, they invited us to come down and play at Ed's going away party, presumably thinking we would politely thank them and decline. Instead, we jumped in my Corolla and drove 24 hours straight, showed up at their house, and played quite possibly the worst show of our lives. The night was salvaged, however, by seeing the Burning Sofa play one of the best shows I've ever seen. This weekend led to a lasting friendship and to Elsinor putting out Puritan's second full length.
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  That's a photo of Ray Chilcote on the cover of the Hydra/Death Cab split 7", taken during his college years (in the expanded picture, there's a poster featuring a tennis-shoes-wearing Robert Smith in the background). We didn't really know how to create cover art, so we took the photo to the only friend we knew who owned a computer, Allisyn Levy. She acquiesced and graciously scanned the photo and added the color, creating probably the most sincere d.i.y. artwork this side of Shrimper.
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      [.]   [spring, 1997]

  While Brian was a decidedly more precise guitar player than Bart, taking apart Jon Spencer solos with acuteness, there was something about Bart's playing that really made me stop and listen. It was like realizing that yeah, Thurston Moore is a great guitar player, but holy shit, Lee Renaldo! So we asked Bart to join Virginia Creeper as our second guitarist.
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  A few months later, Catherine went her separate ways, we became a three piece, changed our name to the Revolutionary Hydra, made a poster, and debuted several new songs at a dorm show on campus. All of this happened in about five hours.
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  The Hydra was playing at the Bellingham Rock City festival which was held in the middle of the day at the campus gym. We all sat in the bleachers and waxed critically about the 15 or so bands who took turns going up on stage and looking uncomfortable. Ben from Pinwheel came over and we started talking about bands and labels and releases. He said he wanted to play something for me in his car so we walked across campus to where he was parked. He started talking about his friend "Chris" who just moved to town and had all these great ideas, and about how "Chris" had listened to the Pacer tape that I engineered and that while "he" liked it and all, the recording quality just wasn't that great- no offense. Then Ben started talking about this little project he and "Chris" were starting called Death Cab for Cutie- all the while I was still trying to figure out who this Chris jerk was. So we get in Ben's car and he plays me an early version of Pictures in an Exhibition as well as a cover of a Smiths song, and suddenly I knew who Chris only was, but who he was going to be.
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      [.]   [winter, 1997]

  I answered an ad that was posted around campus, indicating someone wanted the "worst drummer in Bellingham" for their band. Now, I had heard some live recordings of the 'Creeper, so I knew I was a shoe-in for the part. I jotted down the info. There were two names on the ad- Bart and Brian; I called Brian because his sounded less intimidating.

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      [.]   [autumn, 1996]

  The best way to get a label to put our your unknown band's debut 7-inch? Start your own label. Just make sure you get someone with talent to make the logo. The initial logo we chose to adorn the VC 7-inch was handdrawn in a hurry (we were running out the door to go to Minuteman Press to have the jackets printed). When I look at that logo now, I know what must go through Matt Groening's mind when he watches the Ulman episodes of the Simpsons.
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      [.]   [summer, 1996]

  There's an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that I remember. In it, Calvin really wants a cookie, but he knows that his Mom will deny him if he outright asks. So instead, he asks if he can ride his bicycle off of the roof of the family's house. His Mom of course screams no, don't even think of it, etc. Then he coyly asks, "Well, then, can I have a cookie instead?" Jay and I really wanted to name our band The Revolutionary Hydra, but we knew that Catherine wasn't ready for the idea. So we said we wanted to be called The Well Known Dutch Authors, which she immediately rejected. When we finally came around to the idea of the Hydra, she was on to us and our plan fell apart.
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      [.]   [spring, 1996]

  Jay decided to move to Bellingham, so we could start Virginia Creeper with our friend Catherine. I had found some roommates in the form of these guys I met in recording class- Terry and Paul. They had a band called Jezebel Spirits, but after being asked too many times to play at Campus Christian Fellowship functions, they changed to Five Gears in Reverse, which is named after an Elvis Costello song (this inevitably led to many invites to nerd-glasses-wearing pop music conventions).
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      [.]   [autumn, 1995]

  I was taking a recording class at Fairhaven College, and one of our exercises was to record a band "live" in the studio, the recordings of which would later be used on the local college station, KUGS. One evening I showed up thinking we would be recording another typical Bellingham ganga-band, when these idyllic, indierock prototypes walked in. They put out their cigarettes, set up their vintage amps, and ripped through several fuzzy pop songs with abandon. I went home excited and called up Jay to tell him that I met this band and they were all like, 5'4" and skinny and shit, and they sounded like Superchunk. And they called themselves Pinwheel.
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      [.]   [summer, 1995]

  Jay started a band called the Shore Road Mystery with his friend Brian Willett, and they asked me to play bass. By this time, Jay was a veritable veteran of the local music scene. He had played with Catfood, the Glasspacks, The Full Smell of Pablo; hell, he was even semi-officially in Neutral Milk Hotel (if by "semi-official" you mean he answered Jeff Mangum's ad in the local weekly, met, went to see Smog together, received a tape which would later be known as the Hype City Soundtracks, was asked to give said tape back because it was "the only one," and then never saw Jeff again as he had wandered off to Denver and stardom).
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      [.]   [autumn, 1994]

  Jay, Ray, myself, and Brian (Willett) dressed up in suits and sunglasses and played a Beatles songs at our Dad's wedding. Someone in attendance referred to us as the Blues Brothers. For the rest of the night I couldn't shake the image of Jay getting all coked up and doing belly flops on the dance floor.
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      [.]   [summer, 1992]

  The last time the brothers Chilcote were under the same roof, we taught each other how to play Red Head Walkin' by Beat Happening. We wanted in fact to start a band that was a cross between Beat Happening and Nirvana, typical for in-the-know Seattlites of the day (namechecking Flop was a favorite pastime of ours). This inexplicably led us to name our band Bucksnort and write songs such as I Pick My Nose At Stoplights and Is There Anything I Can Do To Keep You Warm, which was a James Bond tribute. Yup, we were already at level "Tribute" on the Garage Band Cheesometer.
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