Although little recognized in the world at large, in Williamstown it was widely held as canon that two of the early 90's most seminal college bands were All Scrunched Up and The Running Bean. At least, as seminal as mostly-cover bands can get. It was my extreme privelege to bang on drums for both of these influential bands. I also managed to salvage a few of the advert posters for gigs that we did, so I thought I'd procrastinate awhile and throw together a little history page for all of the probably... 7 or 8 people who'd appreciate it.
Except where otherwise noted, I'm giving the credit for poster art to Mike Bruce and Chris Gainty.
There's supposed to be an umlaut over the n, but I haven't figured out how to get that in html. All Scrunched Up was born one night in a bonding activity in my freshman entry. The original lineup was Ethan "Thos" Smith on bass, Mike Bruce on lead guitar, "Euro" Mike Weisberg on rhythm, Pete "Cap'n Rock 'n Roll" Kirkwood on vocals, and me. We didn't have a microphone for Pete, so we bought one at Radio Shack and pumped it through a guitar amp.
We played AC/DC, REM, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Mary's Danish, Police, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, and some other stuff too. Spiritually, we were heavily influenced by Spinal Tap, which kind of becomes clear from our first poster, whose captions read: "If you don't come, you should be made to smell the glove", "I believe virtually everything I read", "We don't say it, in fact we don't actually mean it, but it should be quite clear", "If I said it once, I've said it a thousand times: first Clambake then All Scrunched Up", and of course: "This one goes to eleven." Left to right are Pete, me, Thos, Euro Mike, and Mike.
The debut performance of All Scrunched Up
Later that year we ran into serious fashion and personality conflicts with Euro Mike, who left the band sometime in December. He has since been sighted not sitting on $800 jackets and finding new Mikes to play with.
Thos entered his sexual prime as he turned 18 and got really smashed.
We tried to keep it together when we got back to campus the next Fall, but the seeds of destruction had already been sowed. You see, Mike and I had also been playing in The Rubber Band that year, and its demise (due to seniors graduating), left its excellent fretless player, Denis Gainty, looking for a band. The three of us hooked up, took on some new people, and formed The Running Bean, which sucked up most of our musical energies, thus leaving Mike and me pretty tapped out for the Scrunch, which decided to disband. This action caused Mike to be wrongfully put on Prospect House's "Shit List", and garnered him several death threats taped to his dorm room door by Pro House's president, Chris "Dude" Colburn, a huge All Scrunched Up fan.
Life went on, and the Bean rocked. The people we took on were Jason Howland on keyboards, Baird Jarman on vocals, and Denis's brother Chris on second lead guitar. We played Phish, Allman Brothers, Beatles, Phish, Led Zeppelin, Little Feat, Phish, Santana, Doors, and, oh yes, Phish - basically anything you could sink a couple of really long, wailing guitar solos into, along with a few originals.
Yes, I really did play in a pickup. It rained, and my drums slid.
Editor's note: As evidenced by the "unmistakeable wit and boldness of line underscored by the subtle blending of compositional elements", this poster was created by Denis. Thanks to alert reader D. Gainty for pointing this out.
We considered an extended tour of Canada during the Gulf War.
During this time, everybody in the band began to really dig my Denis-appointed stage name, Mr. Spiffy. So much so, in fact, that the band began to bill itself as Mr. Spiffy and the Running Bean. Here's the story of Mr. Spiffy.
We also parted company with Jason sometime in here. He was an excellent keyboardist, and had an amazing supra-tenor voice, but was way over-committed activities-wise, and Running Bean practices seemed to be fairly low on his priority list.
this was our last gig with Baird, who decided (quite rightly) that on the whole we
were more interested in long, masturbatory instrumental jams than in a lead singer with a
good voice... kinda like Phish, strangely enough. Man, we played a really wailing version
of Lizards that night. Unfortunately, Denis took it upon himself to do most of
the singing now*, although sometimes he'd let Mike, who has a really good voice, sing. I
almost sang LA Woman at a gig once, but it never quite happened.
* Editor's note: We have been informed by a concerned party (consisting primarily of Denis) that "I am a damn good singer and everybody says so." We therefore apologise profusely for use of the term "Unfortunately", and offer as consolation the fact that the original writer has been sacked, knowing full well that even this measure cannot begin to make amends for the intense hardship, sleighting, and trauma caused to certain parties by the above phrasing.
I think this gig was for charity - we didn't make it a habit, tho.
So all of these gigs were during the band's first year together. Our second year brought some unexpected changes, when Chris got in a really bad auto accident. We were all really spooked, and our fat guitar sound was gone. Eventually we took on a new keyboardist, Erik Ostram. I don't think I can adequately describe Erik, so I'll only make a rough stab: he was very cool, very strange, slept very little except during CS classes, lived on chips and salsa, and was a LambdaMOO grand wizard. He had the uncanny ability to challenge you to determine whether or not he was actually playing anything on stage.
Although I don't have any posters, there's one gig from the Bean's second season that stands out in my memory for three reasons. First of all, the day of the gig, I had checked into the campus's infirmary, unable to keep anything down other than water. The guys set up my kit for me at the gig, and a half hour before the gig, Mike came to pick me up from the infirmary; we brought a bucket. The muses smiled on me, since I didn't yak at all during the show, and actually played reasonably well.
The second thing about this gig was that Mike's adoring fans showered him with extra large men's boxers, which he proceeded to wear on his head (he had requested women's panties, but men's boxers were as close as they were willing to come). Wish I had a picture of this one.
The third amazing thing about this gig was that Denis talked its sponsors into paying us $200 more than they intended to. I really think Denis missed a calling in arbitration.
Anyway, Denis and Mike graduated at the end of that year, and Erik transferred out, so the Bean was no more. It was a hell of a good time while it lasted.
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