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 (Mark Kaiser and Jen Schande) about their Dayton connections, brushes with The Breeders, and Dave Doughman’s mustache (just kidding). Below is part two, Jen Schande’s account of crazy times with some of the Gem City’s most celebrated bands.
Writer’s Note: Jen Schande cut her teeth with San Francisco queer band Boyskout as well as ‘90s indie act Shove (whose second album was recorded by James Murphy) before a series of impressive releases with a band by the name of Schande. Her 2012 effort Songs for and Inspired by Valencia: Chapter 19, earned her comparisons ranging from Cat Power to P.J. Harvey to Marnie Stern. However, her most recent project, This Is Thunder grew out of a transatlantic bond and concrete desire to create together in spite of geographical boundaries. Jen Schande and France’s Nopse were fortunate enough to hash out demos in Nopse’s apartment and build the stormy, emotional foundation that ultimately culminated in their eager, oft-ominous debut EP, the bulk of which was recorded by Monte Vallier at Ruminator Audio in San Francisco. It will be self-released on May 28.
What originally brought Shove to Dayton in the ’90s?
The first time Shove played in Dayton was in 1995. At the time we toured whenever we could, long weekends, short weekends, any chance we could get really, and we spent out Summers going across country as that is when neither Mark or I were in school and we had more time to spend on the road. I used to book all of our tours and I remember really wanting to go to Dayton since, as a 20-year-old, it was like a dream to go play in the city where bands I really loved and was influenced by came from. The Breeders and Guided By Voices were huge in my world, so in a sense Dayton was like an indie rock Graceland. Thanks to Mike Justice who, at that time was working at Trader Vic’s, I was able to book Shove our first show in Ohio. I remember calling Trader Vic’s because of a number or address I saw on the back of a Guided By Voices 7″ released by Simple Solutions. I thought if I reached out to a small, local label they could help an unknown indie band from California book a show. Mike answered the phone when I called, we got to talking and started to develop a friendship which would later lead to really cool opportunities for Shove, aside from really fun shows to play.
Our first show was at the Sub Galley and we played with The Know Nothings and The Tasties. Both bands were so fun and so good! That night would prove itself to hold a bit of foreshadowing as a couple of years later I would go on to date Jeremy Apland and play music with PJ Paslowski (both from The Know Nothings). We actually had so much fun we came back I think like 10 days later to hop on another show just so we could hang out in town again. This turned out to be the humble beginnings of a sweet, sweet love affair between Shove and Dayton.
Shove covered GBV for a tribute that may or may not have been released. What is the story behind that?
Shove covered “Melted Pat” and I remember the recording of that song really well since I had just had my wisdom teeth pulled a few days beforehand and my face made swollen look emaciated. We recorded it in Goleta, California with our friend John Lyons (whom we would later name Shove song after), and I remember being so excited thinking it was like the biggest deal in the world. Giddily excited, puffy faced and with a moth full of gauze (a lovely visual I know, I’ll let you sit with it for awhile) we recorded and mixed Melted Pat in a couple of days and then anxiously mailed our cassette to Simple Solutions. Obviously this was not the most ideal timing for recording, but we had a very brief window to get it done so we recorded during a break from school when I just happened to be getting my wisdom teeth extracted. One of the benefits to not being a “vocalist” and more being someone who, ohhhh say hits the right notes out of luck more than anything else, the gauze wasn’t much of a handicap and we were able to get done what we needed to. I remember teaching myself the short guitar line/melody for the song and feeling so accomplished after figuring it out. It’s funny now, but at that time I felt like King Shit of Fuck Mountain figuring out a guitar part to one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. Seriously, like arms in the air Rocky style set with a theme song and everything.
The compilation, called Blatant Doom Trip was eventually released, although much later than anticipated. Simple Solutions had a limited amount of CDs pressed and I think now your best bet at finding one is used on Amazon or eBay or something like that. There were loads of great bands on the compilation, some really well known ones too, so it kind of blew our minds to be included among them. Especially as Sonic Youth and Superchunk fans, to be on the same album as Thurston Moore (Male Slut) and Mac McCuaghan (Portastatic) was, if I may, totally fucking rad.
Did you actually live here for a while?
Indeed I did! From March to Novemberish 1998, I lived in Dayton – well on Dorothy Lane in Kettering first then I moved to High Street in Dayton a few months later. At the time I smoked, erm, shall we say generous amounts of weed, so living on High Street gave me a cheap laugh pretty much constantly. I was young, I was stoned, it seemed funny at the time…..ahem, moving on……
I had graduated college in January that year and spent February travelling around the country visiting friends and just exploring places I had never been to before. I was mainly on the East Coast but I stopped by Dayton to see some friends as Shove hadn’t been through in awhile and I honestly really missed it. The amazing benefit of the Shove-Dayton love affair was getting to meet, know and make friends with people from the handful of times we played there, so hanging out in Dayton was almost like a homecoming of sorts. I was at a point in life where Shove had called it a day so I was not in an active band, I was finished with school, was single, was jobless and as a result I had the extreme luxury of taking life where I wanted. I had enough in my bank account to either go home and flounder around for a bit or to start paying rent and build new adventures. I went for the new adventures route, which was short lived but definitely lived up to its name sake. As can happen with youthful abandon I wasn’t leading the healthiest of all lifestyles during my time in Dayton, so with some amazing friend support from Jay (Shove) I wound up moving back to California with the intention of getting my shit together. Sorting myself out wound up taking much long than planned, and was an unfortunate process to say the least, but that’s not really the point….the point is that yes, I did live in Dayton for awhile. (Note to self – learn how to answer questions succinctly….)
There was a connection between you and The Breeders. What happened there?
We were very lucky enough to play with them twice- the first time at Slim’s in San Francisco and the second time at a venue whose name I forget in Portland, Oregon….something to do with the moon or Luna….Anyway, the first time we played with them was just a really, really cool gesture on Kim’s part. They were in San Francisco to play a New Year’s Eve show (this was for the 1996 going on1997 NYE), and our friend Dave Doughman was doing sound for them. Dave invited us along to hang out at the shows they were doing in Santa Cruz and the NYE San Francisco show as well, and who were we to say no? I remember bringing generic brand beer, it literally just said “Beer” on the can in this standard stylized font and thinking that was really cool. Silly….
Anyway, my friends Miriam, Dani and I were hanging out at the Phoenix Hotel (SF’s quintessential rock hotel) and noticed Kim, Carrie and Kattie (from Real Lulu, who was playing with them at the time) stuck in the rain waiting on a cab to get to their soundcheck for the NYE show. Since waiting for cabs in SF is its own separate rung of hell, I offered to drive them to their soundcheck and as a thank you Kim asked if Shove wanted to open for a show they were doing at Slim’s a couple of nights later. Never having heard us, and I’m going to assume not expecting much of us, it was just a really nice offer. After doing everything we could not to shit ourselves, and thankfully for all involved succeeding, we said yes, played the show and The Breeders really liked us. Yet another boost for the Shove-Dayton lovefest. I remember calling my mom from a payphone backstage (remember payphones? That worked?) just on absolute cloud 9….it was definitely the biggest show Shove had ever played and the circumstances couldn’t have been more amazing. A couple of days later Kim and a couple of people they were travelling with rented a car to drive up to a town east of San Francisco called Vacaville to come see us play again. I still can’t really wrap my head around how unexpected and how cool that was. You expect your friends and if you’re lucky your parents to be stoked on what you do, not necessarily one of your favorite musicians. But yeah, that happened, and it was awesome.
When Shove was in Dayton on tour a few months later, we hung out The Breeders again and in the process realized that our bands would both be in the Northwest at the same time. They asked us to play with them in Portland and so that is how the second show came to be. The venue was really big, and I remember having to put a lot of effort into not nerding out like “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god….we get to play here, holy shit, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”. A. Lot. Of. Effort. The show offer was so very, very cool of them and such an amazing experience for us. We were so young, and so unknown, so to play shows that were in big venues, let alone with a band we adored and that had influenced us, was kind of unreal.
When I lived in Dayton, I wound up playing music with Kim throughout the summer. We had bumped into each other at a bar, I want to say the Southern Belle but that might be false advertising, and she had mentioned they needed a bass player and that we should hang out and play sometime. So we hung out and I was learning some Breeders songs on guitar, both old and new – I am admittedly an extremely shitty bassist, there’s no getting around it. As it would turn out, our playing together was extremely short lived (I never played with her outside of her basement , and was never on any recordings or anything like that), but it was a really fun time and significantly memorable to say the least. I was 23 and definitely didn’t predict that was how my first year out of school was going to play out.
During that time, I was still writing songs with my Shove bandmate Jay with a band called Bead Arithmetic (which would later feature Dayton locals PJ Paslowski of The Motel Beds and Jennifer Bockrath). Jay was still living in California at the time but he came out to visit for a couple of weeks and Kim recorded our demos, which was really fun and really nice of her. To this day, I still think those songs are among the best I will ever have had a part in writing. I was on fire with inspiration, and Jay and I were able to write and create together so seamlessly, with such ease…it was just the right place and time for great songs to be born. Unfortunately nothing was to become of the demos, but all is not lost as one of those songs made a resurgence last year, funnily enough. Last year I released a soundtrack album, 19: Songs for and Inspired by Valencia- Chapter 19, and the leadoff single “Nice Fez” was one of the songs I had written in Dayton and recorded in Kim’s basement. I had forgotten about the song for years, but when the opportunity to write music for the Valencia film arose I thought it would be cool to bring back a song I had written in the late ‘90s since that’s when the memoir takes place. I revisited a tape I have of the Bead Arithmetic demos, listened to “Nice Fez,” and realized redoing that song would be so perfect for the film that reworking it was a no-brainer. Funnily enough, the Valencia film is premiering in San Francisco on June 21, so reliving this memory is complete perfect timing!