Two months after the close of Slamdek, the final release cleared the tower. Just like Kinghorse’s Too Far Gone, Sunspring’s very posthumous Orange was created years after the group broke up. Orange, when coupled with the Poppy CD, theoretically compiles Sunspring’s entire back catalog and then some. Theoretically, that is, because there are a few holes technically preventing the two discs from being a complete discography.
The very first Sunspring release, the $1.50 Demo, is nowhere to be found on either disc, nor is “Love Somebody” from Written In Rock, or “Eastern Parkway” from Action Eleven. But while Orange slightly lacks in completing the other half where Poppy left off, it excels by including several Sunspring tracks which were previously unreleased and others from non-Slamdek releases. At the time of its release, 22 of its 25 tracks were out of print, making it a valuable, if not essential, resource for Sunspring material.
Orange is basically a compilation of two previous releases, The Sun Cassette and Action Eleven, plus two songs recorded as Diet Sunspring, and two songs recorded at what is referred to as the Last Session.
The Sun Cassette is presented in its entirety, including John Weiss’ secret track, “Starfish Story.” There were two mixes of the original Sun release. The first mix was done at the Slamdek House just after we recorded it in August 1991. The second was done at the Rocket House in November 1991. The Rocket House mix is the better of the two, it’s the most common version, and it’s the one that appears on Orange.
Ten of Action Eleven’s eleven tracks appear on Orange. The missing track, “Eastern Parkway,” was not really a song, but rather a short montage of street sounds I recorded from the Schuster Building apartment I shared with Chad Castetter in the fall of 1992.
In June 1992, John Weiss was in England studying Shakespeare. In his absence, Jason Hayden, a drum machine, and I played a show and recorded six songs under the name Diet Sunspring. John Kampschaefer manned his Tascam cassette eight-track recorder for this project. The two songs we finished and mixed, “Astronaut” and “Diet Zero,” were included on 3 Little Girls Recordings’ first Aftereffects Of Insomnia compilation cassette. I had intended to mix and include the four other Diet Sunspring songs on Orange. But in January 1995 when John Kampschaefer and I got together to mix them, we found that Jason and I had never finished recording all the tracks. The unmixed songs had only the drum machine and bass tracks. The four unfinished recordings were, “Mine,” “Roberts,” “Loaded” (a Crawdad cover), and “Slightly On,” all of which were notably rearranged from their original with-drummer versions.
The Last Session took place at DSL when Forrest Kuhn and Jason Thompson were in the band. It was July 20, 1993, just before our last tour, and we recorded four songs. Two of them were for a Subfusc Records double seven inch compilation, How The Midwest Was Won, which was released that fall. Those songs were “Civic VX” and “I Don’t Like This Anymore.” The other two songs were intended for split seven inches. The first was “Love Somebody,” our Rick Springfield cover for the split with Endpoint. The other was an untitled instrumental for a split seven inch we were doing with Rodan on which the two bands would trade vocalists. That record got buried when Sunspring broke up and Rodan took off on several whirlwind tours of Europe and the United States. I returned to DSL in November 1993 to mix it as an instrumental for a Shakefork Records 10" compilation. I titled it “Claudia Schiffer” and sent it off. When I tracked down the DAT in Chicago over a year later to compile the Orange master, the tape quality had deteriorated to an unlistenable degree. DAT’s do that a lot. They’re really temperamental little pieces of crap. The version of “Claudia Schiffer” that appears on the CD was taken from a cassette recording I made of the DAT after mixing it in November ’93. There was another mix of “Claudia Schiffer” on the same DAT (“7-a-Side Mix”) which was usable, but it had lots of crazy effects and was less representative of how the song actually sounded.
The creation of the Orange CD was a last minute whim a few days before the Sunspring reunion show at the Brewery Thunderdome, December 30, 1994. John Weiss, Jason Hayden, and I got together, hung out for a while, practiced once and played ten songs, opening for Endpoint’s last show. A few days before the show, the idea hit me that this would be the perfect (and probably last) opportunity to get some of the early Sunspring stuff onto CD. I made several hundred little cards that basically pitched the nonexistent CD in the same personalized, pre-ordering way the Metroschifter LP had been created earlier in the year. I figured that on the night of the show, there would be over 2,000 kids of the “target demographic” in the same room, and if about 10% of those kids were interested enough to send in eleven bucks, we’d be in business. Of course, John at ear X-tacy also pre-bought a bunch of ’em, as did Mike Bucayu at his new Blue Moon record store. And when the order deadline rolled around, January 30, 1995, the cat was in the bag. My personal life was far from the bag, however. So all things considered, it took me another month and a half to shoot the cover photo, get the master tape compiled, finish the artwork, and get it all sent off to Midwest in Dallas who manufactured the discs.
I labored over the title for the CD for an entire day while working on the advertisements for it. My first instinct was to use one of Whitney Marlowe’s other names, as her nickname, “Poppy,” had given the other Sunspring CD its name. She had recently changed her name to Tennyson Epping, so Tennyson would be a logical title for Poppy’s companion disc. But as Carrie Osborne’s boyfriend, it might not have been such a smart move for me to name another CD after her high school buddy. I knew I wanted the CD to have an Atari 2600 theme, so it was almost named after my favorite game, Megamania. Then I started thinking of names we almost called other Sunspring records. While working on Action Eleven, I almost changed the name of the band to Louisville, so that was a candidate, and the Slinky 7" had a host of alternate titles such as Anatomy of a Murder and Orange. I was sick of worrying about it so I went with Orange. Later, I decided to somehow incorporate the title into the Atari 2600 theme. Looking at a bunch of Atari cartridges, I used the Macintosh to create label designs and packaging for a fictitious game called Orange. I spent a lot of time working with colors because I didn’t know whether or not the CD packaging was going to be in color. That would all depend on how many orders came in, which I wouldn’t know until nearly the last minute, and I wanted it to look as realistic as possible. Carrie helped me out a lot one night by letting me “borrow” about six hours’ worth of Macintosh time and color printouts at Kinko’s when I was fine-
tuning the designs. After relabeling River Raid, Fishing Derby, and some other Activision games with labels of the fictitious games Sunspring, Field Hockey, and Orange, I put the cartridges in a dusty box with some other cartridges and shook it up. When the games were realistically beat-up, I took about 30 pictures of them stacked on top of my Atari with other games. In fact, the Megamania game pictured on the front cover is fake, too, which I made so it would look more consistent with the other fake games.
The CD’s arrived in the third week of April, a few days before Kinghorse’s return to the stage. I quickly personalized all of the inserts on my dad’s laser printer, and got them assembled. I alphabetized the discs and took them to the big show at the Grand Theatre in New Albany. The Kids could just come up to the table, state their name, and pick up their disc. About a quarter of the folks who ordered Orange were at the show, and were pleasantly surprised to get their discs that day. The following day, Hilary Newton and I hand-delivered about forty more CD’s to local addresses we recognized or could easily find. Personally distributing the discs at the show and door-to-door saved me over $200.00 in postage. What other record labels do you know of offer personalization and home delivery? The entire pressing of Orange was 1,000 units.
bass/vocals on 22
Extra special thanks to: our families, John Kampschaefer, John Timmons, Mike Bucayu, Carrie Osborne, Scott Broadhurst, Stacey Urban, Peter Havranek, King G & the J Krew, Endpoint, Michael Quinlan, Tennyson Epping, faculty and students of Louisville Collegiate School, and all Sunspringers, without whom this would have been impossible.