Friday, July 17, 2009

Fuel - Seven Bands from Athens, GA

Here is the download: Fuel - Seven Bands from Athens, GA

This is the Athens I remember from my high school years, when I would drive up there at the ripe age of 16 or 17 and wander around the town for awhile, eat some pizza, not get into any shows as I was underage, and instead stand outside the 40 Watt peeking through the open door at some of these bands onstage. The 40 Watt is great for that, as you can see the stage directly from the open door, and I remember the doormen used to be pretty lax about keeping the door wide open for the entire show. I saw an entire set by the Fleshtones once this way.

The bands on this compilation just barely preceeded my enrollment at UGA, and stint as an Athens resident, but they are possibly the reason I decided to move up there in the first place. Unfortunately, by mid-1993 most of these bands had broken up, so what can you do. Luckily, the bands on the Refuel comp were in full swing, so I timed that one perfectly. This comp has the best of the best from Athens during the 1991-1992 time period. You have some early "smelly old cat" era Hayride, before Ballard Lesemann joined the group, you have the best songs Roosevelt ever produced, you have Five-Eight before they became national college rock superstars, you have Bliss which was originally my favorite band of the comp, and you have the mighty Jack-O-Nuts, which is one band here whose legend has grown exponentially with time.

I originally knew Hayride through the band Finletter, which was a high school band I played in with Kevin Sweeney's brother Brian. These guys were mainstays in the Athens scene for years, and still play out occasionally. Sometime after this comp and their initial Smelly Old Cat album, they were signed by Capricorn Records and released the classic Elfin Magic album, later Ghostmeat released their third album Curses, and there is even a Curses 2 out there. These guys are amazing musicians and make great music, but for some reason never seemed to get the national attention like Five Eight. The guys in the band are music geeks and have always been involved in several musical adventures, and I remember hearing a story about Kevin Sweeney and Kyle Spence touring with J. Mascis and the Fog as guitar/drum techs and playing the best classic rock songs as the opening cover band for the tour, which I'm sure was incredible.

Much has been said about Roosevelt on this blog, so I will move on.

I don't know much about Thorny Hold, except that I remember seeing their name on a lot of flyers from this era, and there seems to be some Youtube footage of them playing their last show at the classic Club Fred in Athens.

Five Eight was at least initially the big breakout band of this era in Athens. I can remember their album "Wierdo" being their big breakout album when I was in school, and touring the country playing to huge crowds everywhere. Chocolate Kiss played with them at the EARL around the time the Good Nurse album came out in 2000, and they were really nice, but then took all the door money for themselves. Funny guys. They are still playing shows, so check your local listings and see some classic Athens greatness for yourself.

Acid Lake was my favorite back when this came out. Later on I met Andy Baker as part of Chase Park Transduction studio, but I never talked to him about how much I was into his old band. I also love their band photo, totally mid-80s Dischord vibe from these guys. Later on Andy played in the bands Servotron and The Glands, and recorded pretty much every great local band out there.

I am definitely not the authority on Jack O Nuts, as like most bands on the comp they were at least one generation before, so I'll keep it rather compact here. I knew of them as a great noise rock band of the early 90's Athens, and that the singer Laura Carter was in the BBQ Killers, my favorite band of the Athens Inside/Out time period. I also remember that she passed away back in 2002, and that she is sorely missed. You can check out more on Jack O Nuts as well as the BBQ Killers here and here.

Update: Stuart Voegtlin from William Carlos Williams wrote a great article on Laura Carter in Stylus magazine here.

And here is a music video from 1994, and a beautiful live performance from 1993 at the Masquerade opening for The Fall:

I also know very little about Magneto, except what appears on this compilation. Larry Tenner played later in The Germans and The Lures, but maybe you can leave some comments and fill in the blanks here.

Here is a strange little comic by Chris Purcell that was included in the packaging.

You also have to love the essay about the C&S bank machine in the liner notes. I will try to get Refuel out next.


  1. Thorny Hold...holy christ, one, the guitar face, two the bass...sweet lord that bass, and three, did i detect a china boy cymbal?

    yep, that sounded like athens alright.

    where's "the king must die" cassette compilation when you need it?

  2. Right here man:

  3. five-eight is probably still together...

  4. In the '90s the Variety Playhouse used to have local band shows fairly often. I got to see Bliss there a couple times. Bliss was my favorite band on this comp because I went to high school with Joe Rowe. Joe and I were both in the Tucker High School band, and even then he was an amazing drummer. At the time I was playing trumpet. I probably wouldn't have started playing drums if it weren't for Joe.

    My cover band in high school played a concert at St. Pius ("The Coffee Concert") with, among others, a band called A. Ditch, which later became Hayride.

    You mention Brian Sweeney in this post. I'm pretty sure his band played the same St. Pius concert, but I can't remember their name.


  6. Hey Stuart - thanks for the great article! I posted a link to it in the Jack O Nuts section. Also, I had that BBQ Killers LP when I was in high school, but now can't seem to find it. I'll have to go on a hunt around town like you did.

  7. Frank MacDonnell, from Magneto, is still in Athens. He played with Hugh and Keith from the Martians in National Anthem, I do believe, for a minute, as well as played with the Glands for minute.

  8. Larry Tenner is now the layout/pre-press dude at Flagpole and has been for almost a decade. He started playing in a band again recently but the name escapes me.

  9. Brian Sweeney played 2 Coffey Concerts at St.
    Pius (the concerts were named in honor of
    Mike Coffey, R.I.P., a student at Pius). Brian
    and Pat Muecke and another guy were called:
    Jive Bunny. Hayride played in the 1st and 2nd
    Coffey concerts - or maybe they were A Ditch
    then - the Black Crowes (formerly named Mr.
    Crow's Garden) also played the Coffey concert
    and were useless then too.

  10. You left out some sonic treats such as Fuzzy Sprouts, Waylaid, Reprisal (first death metal band from Athens?), Lager Head and Porn Orchard.

  11. Hey Dvergar - thanks for the reminder. I also posted "The King Must Die" compilation on the blog awhile back, which has Fuzzy Sprouts, Reprisal and Lagerhead:

    As and have both done Porn Orchard posts recently, I will leave Porn Orchard alone for a bit. I do remember Waylaid, but I don't think I have anything by them at the moment. Thanks for the heads up!

  12. Frank MacDonnell played a suprise show with the Glands earlier this year.

    The Glands will be playing the grand re-opening of the GA Theater in August as well.

  13. Magneto put out a full length CD around 92/93 - it was pretty good, very much in the same vein as the stuff on FUEL.

  14. Saw jackonuts at greshams disco/garage for the 1st time in '92. Laura was a one of a kind. Always loved Magneto, believe i Saw them with 5-8 at club fred(?). Always been a sucker for 3- piece bands. They HAVE to rock. Lagerhead was another local fave. From the 1st show of theirs i saw, when the bass player was spewing (too much lager?) for a good portion of the song they were playing, without missing a note, i knew they had talent and were my kind of music(ians). Athens in its prime.

  15. Magneto was my favorite from Athens. Would go see then every chance i got '92ish.