Indie rock is a small world where artists, fans, booking agents, public relations people, label figureheads, etc. are loosely and sometimes intimately connected by just a few degrees of separation. Once upon a time in the ‘90s, a scrappy, Pixies loving, indie-trio from Northern California collided with Dayton’s musical movers and shakers in a way that left both challenged and changed. Like most rock and roll back stories, this one had tremendous ups, and serious downs that left the band defunct, and little more than an interesting part of the indie rock puzzle and a brilliant piece of Dayton’s musical mythology.
Ghettoblaster spoke with two former members of indie-rock trio Shove (bassist Mark Kaiser and vocalist/guitarist Jen Schande) about their Dayton connections, brushes with The Breeders, and Dave Doughman’s mustache (just kidding). Below is part one, Mark Kaiser’s account of crazy times with some of the Gem City’s most celebrated bands.
Writer’s Note: California native Mark Kaiser began his obsession with records and the people that make them at an early age. Before the end of his teenage years he had toured the country extensively with his band, Shove, and was waist deep into the music industry quagmire, releasing records on his fledgling Omnibus label, which would later serve as the jumping off point for The Shins, Mates Of State, The Intelligence, was the label home of young James Murphy’s Speedking and many more. After more than a decade of playing bank account and babysitter to 20 and 30 something music makers, Kaiser put an abrupt end to Omnibus, joined forces with long time musical and artistic collaborator Jay Howell (whose cartoon Sanjay and Craig debuts on Nickelodeon on May 25!) and began Mt.St.Mtn. (Mount Saint Mountain), an art and recording project dedicated to limited vinyl releases and printed works which continues to this day. A professional art director and graphic designer by trade, Kaiser continues to play in bands from time to time. Some of his past endeavors included Gift of Goats and Mayyors.
How did Shove get together and how was the band inspired by Dayton’s musical exports?
Jen and I have known each other since we were small. We both jumped feet first into music in the mid-late ‘80s around Jr. High. We were huge Pixies fans, and were naturally head over heels for the Breeders once Pod dropped, right around the time we started playing together.
In high-school we’d sneak off to L.A. to see them play (once with Unrest, once with Yo La Tengo). Jen made a habit of hanging out to chat with Kim and crew, who usually hung out in the back of the venues after each show. This continued into our early college years, as Shove solidified as an actual band and we started touring a lot.
What originally brought Shove to Dayton in the ‘90s?
Around this time, probably our freshman year of college or so, GBV blew up and Jen was a super fan. That probably was the origin for us getting to Dayton the first time on our first U.S. tour (we were about 19 at the time).
We met the Olive Records twins and Mike Justice, probably through MRR “Book Your Own Fucking Life,” and through that first show or two met most of the Dayton scene that were around at the time (Tasties, Nostromo, Brainiac, Swearing At Motorists, Lazy, O-Matic and a ton of younger pop-punk bands like Something Gay, etc.). It’s a city full of townies (a lot like Sacramento) and when something’s going on, everyone seems to come out, even the old timers.
Who introduced you to everyone?
Dave Doughman, the ultimate connector, took us under his wing from then on and introduced us to anyone and everyone – including Kim. We ended up playing and touring with Swearing At Motorists over the years, and always found a solid home in Dayton. Through Dave and Mike Justice we were introduced to Trader Vic, his shop and his Simple Solutions label.
You guys did a song for the GBV tribute he released, right?
We were one of the first bands to confirm a track for the GBV tribute record he was planning (with lots of big names from that era). Unfortunately it took years to finally release and it didn’t come out until we had broken up 5+ years later as a CD only, a bit after the momentum had gone. We donated a track to an Olive Records 7” comp too, I think that came out after we split as well.
There was a connection between you guys and The Breeders too, right? What happened there?
Dave Doughman had introduced us to Kim and the Amps line up of The Breeders in Dayton one Summer when we came through on tour. He later went on tour with them (so did Neil Blender, more on that later) and invited us down to see them in Santa Cruz and again the next night at this ill-fated SF show with Primus on New Year’s Eve. Everyone was chafed about how insane the brodie-filled Primus crowd was, heckling and throwing fireworks on stage, so we bolted back to the legendary band crash-motel, the Phoenix.
The hotel was letting in bridge and tunnelers for NYE, paying big bucks to party with whatever overwhelmed rockers were staying at the joint that night (I remember meeting the Descendants). We got drunk, jumped in the pool fully clothed and continued to break glass and wreak havoc (one of the other Breeders roadies had to go to the ER on acid after a backward fall through a planter).
It’s going to get fuzzy, but I have fond memories of sliding the handrail into the pool barefoot with Neil, and dancing to Eek-A-Mouse who was playing in the hotel lobby. Jen, myself and the rest of our party crashed in Kim’s room. The next morning, The Breeders’ booking agent set them up a last minute show at Slim’s in SF to make up for the Primus thing, Kim insisted we opened and we did. It was a truck-ton of fun, our biggest show to date at that time. We had a show at a big community center in Vacaville the next night (always packed to the gills, one of our favorite place to play), and Kim and Neil rescheduled their flights so they could come see us again.
That Summer we toured the U.S. again and ended up visiting Kim at her home while she was booking their next tour, she added us to some shows in Pacific NW where we were going to be on the way home anyway. More fun times.
Her house was insane, packed with records piled on top of records, framed gold records underneath laundry piles, original prints from the first Pixies covers (a print of the photo used for Come On Pilgrim was getting warped in her bathroom, she offered it to me and I forgot it).
(Look for Part 2 with Jen Schande later this week!)