Emo was at least half marketing. Split Lip was a band that didn’t display the musical genre signifiers but were sold to me and the rest of the kids as such anyway. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that endeared me to the mid-nineties was that ‘emo’ was a tremendously loose umbrella under which so many bands of different styles and sounds were grouped. It was a really exciting time because things weren’t homogenized- every scene had a distinctive sound, like when punk was first blossoming here in the U.S.
Split Lip were a band that stood under the umbrella because of their words, more than anything else. With lyrics like ‘I’m just an honest man/with his heart in his hands’, where else was the band gonna stand, you know? So what if their music wasn’t terribly crazy- blue-collar up-tempo guitar rock that might have had punk or hardcore as like a third cousin seen every three years at a family function. It didn’t matter. The sound was still raw and, yes, emotional enough so that the driving rhythms and sounds acted as an effective vehicle for the delivery of the heartfelt lyrics, which kids all over the country dutifully copied into their fanzines or onto the back of spiralbound notebooks at school. They weren’t so screechy and out there that they were hard to get into, but had enough of an edge so that no one would consider them pussies.
A few miscellaneous notes about the band:
-I was first exposed to them through Norm Arenas’s excellent fanzine Anti-Matter (which was later just called Anti-). Norm and Doghouse Records included a one-sided 7” of ‘Uniontown’ in one of the issues of the zine, which then prompted me to go out and find the full length (Al Quint from Suburban Voice used to include 7”s in every issue- Al, we miss you!).
-Split Lip changed their name to Chamberlain (the name of one of the songs on Fate’s Got A Driver), then re-recorded the vocals and re-released the album. I only heard the re-release a few times, so I don’t have clear thoughts on whether the change added to or subtracted from the strength of the record (anyone wanna burn me a copy?).
-Chamberlain went country shortly after the re-release. I bought the single on which they changed genres, thought it sounded like grade z John Mellencamp, wiped my ass on it and threw it off a bridge. Again, though, if anyone wants to burn/send me a copy of The Moon My Saddle I’d be happy to reconsider the ass-wiping.
Ed/Pub:LMPowered by Sidelines