The local music scene of the early and mid ’90s was really something unique. The bands were not only good, the bands changed the way you listened to music, and if you were a musician, they changed the way you composed music. I was lucky to be in the center of it all: I was the live and local music DJ on WEFT, 90.1FM from ’92-00. A recap of the national recognition our music scene was getting around that time, in no particular order:
-Poster Children were on Sire/Reprise
-Titanic Love Affair were featured in
-Hum signed with RCA
-Menthol signed with Capitol
-Hardvark signed with Geffen
-Moon 7 Times signed with Roadrunner
-Adam Schmidt had a deal with Reprise
-Lorenzo Music Philharmonic (later
LMNOP) had their video shown on Late
Night with Conan O’Brien
-Lovecup was given an offer by CBS
Later on, Braid, Sarge and Castor were also getting recognition nationally.
There were so many brilliantly creative bands, and I won’t attempt to list them all, but some that come to mind are Hot Glue Gun, Honcho Overload, Suede Chain, Jumpknuckle, Bale, Superhero Forehead, Milo, Apostles on Strike, C-Clamp, Corndolly, Liquorette, The Grand Vizars, Grover, Dick Justice, Hushtower, Swoon, Bantha, Orange Whip, Spark, The Bludgers, Steakdaddy 6, 16 Tons, and many more. There was also a strong metal scene, with bands such as EKG, Clockwork Orange, Third Stone, Lovengineer, Test of Fate, Daggagod, Section 8, Deaden, and Hate Choir. Run, do not walk, to find these bands’ music! I have been through so much with the local music scene here, so I am not at a shortage for information, but there is one band that everyone must know about: LOVECUP.
Ask anyone from that era about Lovecup, and you will see instant recognition in their faces. They were highly influential to many bands-Hum among that group. Rather than get into details, it is fair to say that Lovecup’s influence showed clearly when you compare Filet Show to Electra 2000, the difference being that along with Matt taking over on vocals, he got Tim Lash to play guitar, who played a lot with TJ Harrison of Lovecup. The influence TJ had on Tim’s playing, as well as with so many other musicians, was pretty profound. It’s safe to say that TJ is a musical genius, as is Lovecup guitarist Mark Baldwin (many have, knowingly or not been inspired by Mark’s style); the combined efforts of their creative minds started an explosion. Everyone was sure that Lovecup would be the band to put C-U on the map.
At Treno’s (now The Bread Co.), a local music entrepreneur, Sasha Martens, would put on shows called “HUM vs. LOVECUP.” Lovecup would always “win,” meaning more people packed in to see Lovecup than did for Hum. I recall a moment where TJ came outside when Hum was playing and said to my friends and I, “Hey, what are you guys doing outside? You need to go on in and check out Hum too.” So whenever I meet a newer Hum fan, I feel obligated to expose them to Lovecup. Usually, their reaction is very dry, as if to say that they still think Hum is better. Perhaps you had to be there to understand. but at least know that without Lovecup’s influence, Hum would not have had quite the sound they did.
Lovecup really shook the ground in C-U (Literally. They were the loudest band in town). They were the reason I got into the local music scene, and they were the first local band I ever saw, when they opened for Hot Glue Gun in ’91 at the original Blind Pig-I was hooked. They crossed genres and appealed to the alternative, punk, (emo was not “invented” yet-Braid did that later) metal and grunge scenes. It’s about time Lovecup be given its dues!
As a person who’s been involved in the C-U local music scene as a DJ, booking agent, audio engineer, guitarist/singer/bassist and all around fan, I will always hold Lovecup as the most influential band of the C-U scene during that period. The current direction of my band, Triple Whip, is an homage to that era of music.
Santanu is guitarist for Triple Whip (next appearing April 24 at the Highdive). For more information about Lovecup see “The Unofficial Lovecup Site” at http://www.h-u-m.net/lovecup.
seth fein * Contributing Writer
One reason I was inclined to get involved in the C-U music scene was my experiences as a senior at Urbana High School.ˇ This was 1996-97; the smoke from the major label signing spree had cleared and the emo scene was flourishing.ˇ A friend had put out a 7″ of a band called Hand To Mouth (an excellent band) and when I saw her at a Braid show she looked at me, asking, “Where’s your backpack?”
It was comments like these that prompted my band, Absinthe Blind, to join up with three others, all in college and form the Toast Music Collective.ˇ We were more interested in making music than fitting in-silly name, I know, but at the time, we were about as indie as indie gets-we just didn’t sound like we were about to cry at the crescendo of every song.
Each band had a distinct sound: Token was a three-piece groove act infused with G. Love.ˇ Jove was our resident electronic rock group.ˇ Marble, who had more talent in it than just about any band that’s ever played here, was Jeff Buckley meets Cake.ˇ Absinthe Blind was listening to The Verve and made sure that no practice was without a new effects pedal. We got together twice weekly to discuss our ideas for turning heads and making the collective work.ˇ Every decision was democratic and had to be endorsed by every band: in just a few short months, we started accomplishing our goals.
There was never anything less than a packed house at Toast shows, as we rotated the order in which we played and promoted ourselves in new and innovative ways that made flyering look like a joke. For example, in April ’98, Absinthe Blind bassist Mike Zolfo, Beauty Shop frontman John Hoeffleur (he was the bassist in Jove) and myself constructed a 6′ piece of Toast out of cardboard and placed it atop the main kiosk on the quad.ˇ We stood and watched as people noted it from afar and then, as they approached, gazed at gigantic letters that spelled out “BLIND PIG TONIGHT 9PM.” By 1 pm, just before it rained, WICD Channel 15 was on site, reporting on it for the 6:00 news.
Toast stopped doing shows in ’99, but the remnants of the collective can be found everywhere, in C-U and beyond.ˇ Cortisol, Headlights, The Beauty Shop, Sanya n’ Kanya, Jenny Choi and planesmistakenforstars carry members of our loving little group with them today. It was the most exciting time of my life.
Seth Fein is former drummer of Absinthe Blind and the only employee of the Urbana Booking Co.
Kyle Gorman * Music Editor
“[The Quaker] was this older guy-He didn’t have hair on the very top of his head, but he had really long black hair-he worked at a place called Record Swap [now located in downtown Urbana], upstairs, right next to where Murphy’s is: it was all filled with records … I mean, there were no CDs yet. So every Tuesday new records would come out, and we would go to the record store and find out what to buy. Right on the front racks there would be these wooden shelves and they’d all have new records: there would be ten, fifteen or twenty new records. The coolest records would have these plastic sleeves, and they’d have these little stickers, in orange, pink and green, and the Quaker would write record synopses on them. They would always say something like ‘dark, driving post-punk reminiscent of HÅsker DÅ.’ Sometimes he’d have a lot to say, and the dots would go all the way down the record, and you’d think, ‘Oh my goodness, this is probably great.’ It was the first place I ever heard Sonic Youth-“Bad Moon Rising” was recommended-and also things like the Cocteau Twins and Throwing Muses’ first album, which was import only. I discovered a band called the Volcano Sons through the Quaker-they seemed like the greatest band in the world. You’d find out about Mission of Burma there. At the time, WEFT was there-in fact the Quaker had a radio show-but there wasn’t a regular cool radio station; WPGU was still classic rock. So, this was the radio station: the way you heard about new music was that he recommended it-you wouldn’t actually hear the songs beforehand, sometimes.”
As told to Kyle Gorman by Rick Valentin and Rose Marshack. Rick and Rose are founding members of The Poster Children and Salaryman.