The story of Sancred’s relationship with the Louisville scene is a strange and checkered one. And in many respects, the Clamato cassette is also curiously out of place among the rest of the Slamdek catalog. While seeming kind of unusual at the time, the benefit that hindsight typically provides doesn’t make much more sense of the situation.
The nine songs that Clamato contains are mostly tracks originally intended for a Lather/Sancred split 12" on Self Destruct. For whatever reason, that record was never created. Lather released their six songs, combined with their self-titled seven inch, on the Self Destruct CD, A Modest Proposal. Sancred’s songs were left with no home. By the time they came out on Slamdek, the recordings were ten months old. The band had ceased to exist about five months after they were recorded, as guitarist Steve Goetschius had gone away to college at Murray State University. They reformed briefly and played a show in January 1994 to coincide with the release of Clamato.
Sancred first surfaced in the summer of 1992 with the song “New Lint” on 3 Little Girls Recordings’ first Aftereffects Of Insomnia compilation. That fall, they put out a six-song cassette as the first release on Scott Walker’s new Counterfeit Records (“Downstairs,” “Water,” “Rejected Signs,” “Stale,” “Deer Season,” and “Backfired”). At the end of 1992, they contributed two songs (“Dead Wrong” and “Empty”) to a self-released seven inch with Concrete. Clamato’s nine songs, while being different recordings, duplicated three of the nine songs the group had in existing releases. Their music was more heavy metal than punk or hardcore, and their vocals were strained, over the top, and, shall we say, out to lunch. The release of the cassette came about when drummer Adam Colvin and I were talking at a show in the fall of ’93.
Obviously, as people went to see the Sancred play when they were together, and the group had a draw, there was somewhat of a demand in the community for the songs to become available. But since the band was no longer together, and the turnover rate in scene members was fairly high at the time, whatever demand that existed seemed to dwindle as the months grew on. And while, in retrospect, it would seem that if there was something unusual about the release that made its existence peculiar, it would be easy to pinpoint or explain. Perhaps it was a combination of elements. It was the type of release that I both wanted and didn’t want for the label. And that became more apparent as the project progressed. Its good points were that all of the material was already recorded, the band wasn’t interested in specific details about the artwork (this allowed me to assemble the cover using their ideas but without them looking over my shoulder), and they were part of another subsection of the Louisville scene that Slamdek hadn’t been too involved in. Its drawbacks were some of the same reasons; they didn’t seem as interested in what the band could do for the product, as what the product could do for the band. As a result, the product died quickly. As interest in the band faded, so did interest in their posthumous release. January’s Slamdek catalog tagged the Sancred cassette with the line, “Coming in March on compact disc,” but when the cassette hardly moved, the CD was cancelled. “The debut and posthumous full-length release from Louisville’s premiere heavy riff three piece.”
The songs were from a Sound On Sound session in March 1993. They were all recorded by Howie Gano. I compiled all the cover artwork on the new Macintosh Performa 476 at my parents’ house, using pictures the band gave me which Tim Furnish scanned at Kinko’s. The cover photos were taken by bassist Scott Bacon at some weird park in West Virginia, or something like that. The printouts were 600 dpi, for a change, and I did those at the new, super huge Kinko’s on Market Street. The books-on-tape longbox packaging had printing on both sides of the inserted cover. That was a new feature of this release. The inside included individual band member photos, lyrics, and a free Sancred/Slamdek sticker. The band was given a bunch of free tapes to sell, in addition to a payment (per their request) of about $90.00 in August of 1994. Nearly all Slamdek bands received an excess number of free units of their releases in lieu of royalties, since the label was typically not in a position to spare any money. Also, an artist could be given say, 40 cassettes, which cost about $100.00 to manufacture, and they could sell those tapes for $7.00 each, thus earning $280.00. Both the band and the label win, because if the label didn’t have any money, the band wouldn’t have gotten anything. But since the label could give the band music to sell, both parties could get what they need. Naturally, it is the label’s responsibility to pay its artists a fair percentage of the money earned from their releases. But providing units instead of cash tends to be the better deal for both parties. The largest actual sum of money any artist ever received was a payment to Endpoint of about $300.00 in the summer of 1992. They also had requested money instead of units as their manager, Andy Tinsley, had amassed a large telephone bill booking their tour.
Clamato lasted about four months and sold a nominal 133 units. Other than documenting the larger part of Sancred’s work for posterity, it did serve another historical purpose for the label. It set off an obvious warning flag that a record label in its eighth year should be dealing in items of a wider-scaled interest. Slamdek seemed to operate on two different levels; that of a hometown, neighborhood label that would release a title knowing of its limited potential; and that of a stepping stone, sending other titles into national distribution for bands that would soon enough leave for larger labels outside of Louisville. The question had to be posed of how lucrative a label like this could be. And furthermore, whether or not the hands that made it work were happy in tirelessly working within such an operation. When the Sancred cassette was released, and when these questions were coming up more often than ever, I was sharing a house at 1233 Bardstown Road with Carrie and Layla. At the time, Carrie and I were temporarily broken up, but her influence on Slamdek as a voice of reason, embodied in an economics major living across the hall, is undeniable. Carrie’s frustration with the way I ran Slamdek was a constant cause for discussion, and usually a subsequent reformation of methods. It would be four months before another official Slamdek release, one that was a long time coming, the CD version of Endpoint’s classic If The Spirits Are Willing. That compact disc, followed by The Metroschifter’s debut LP, jump started the label. The new emphasis on focus, goals, and the common sense approach of running Slamdek with the intention of turning a profit, were all directly attributable to Carrie’s influence.
story takes an even more perplexing turn over two years later. In the
summer of 1995, many former Louisville bands seemed to be jumping on the
reunion show bandwagon. Kinghorse and Erchint and are two that come to
mind. Some of the former members of Sancred were joking around one night
and thought it would be funny to do a Sancred reunion show... but not
practice before it. They went through with the plan, rented the American
Legion Post on Bardstown Road across from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and
added some other bands like Hedge to the bill. Everyone showed up, tons
of kids, including the headliner... without their equipment. Scott Bacon
and Adam Colvin borrowed equipment from Hedge, and along with some friends,
got on stage and made a lot of noise. They played nothing that could’ve
been loosely mistaken for a Sancred song. Needless to say, the kids who
had all paid $6 to get into the show were not happy, and they trashed
the place. Ryan Stratton of Hedge called into the Sell Out Louisville
Style radio program that week to publicly apologize and let everyone know
that they were unaware of Sancred’s plan to rip everyone off. Ryan
was a guest on the radio show the following week and attempted to help
further clarify what actually happened. Several callers still were not
satisfied. And so, allegedly, ends Sancred’s bizarre journey through
Louisville punk rock history. Hmmm.
at Sound On Sound by Howie Gano.