Fear Of Smell

August 8, 2009

Letter From Sam

Filed under: Fear Of Smell — Jon K. @ 9:28 am

So I sent off a letter via ye olde post office, because at the time I  couldn’t find a way to e-mail Sam McPheeters, and I thought if I sent something through the mail it might actually grab some attention. Everyone gets e-mail requests for you to do stuff. I did include my e-mail in the letter, although I realize now a scan of a letter would’ve been more appropriate. Taped to a blank cover would’ve been even better… ah the benefit of two years. So a week or so after the birth of the first version of the blog this popped up in my e-mail.

Jon –

Thanks for the letter. Interesting blog. The second, normal pressing of “Fear Of Smell” was 1,441. I’ve estimated 1,000 for the first pressing, since I didn’t keep very good records in the early 90’s. The idea for the covers was ripped off from the Teenbeat band Sexual Milkshake – I’d seen one of  their handmade album covers at Wharton Tiers‘ studio – and I think my original intention was to have the entire first pressing packaged with the FOS stencil framed by a loop of xmas tinsel. One afternoon in my basement cured me of this idea. If I remember right, the covers were glossy, not the inverted matte stock Ross Ellis offered, and the spray paint beaded up and ran. The staples holding the tinsel came loose and gouged up the vinyl. The Israeli gas mask I’d bought for indoor painting fogged up and caused panic. I made 30 or 40 of these covers and gave up. So I had to fall back on individual packaging.

Not having the mental wherewithal to do the simple math (one thousand covers divided by six weeks before tour divided by me and three friends equals me doing six covers a day, etc), most of the records sat around for months without artwork. I don’t remember if blank covers were decorated in the van or not – I can recall at least three other tours where my incompetence forced bandmates to do free manual labor as we drove from town to town. I do remember that at one point I simply gave up and shipped a couple hundred to Kent McClard with a magic marker. 95% of the covers were done by other people with no direction from me. As punishment, my name will be forever tied to the smutty drawings of vague acquaintances and strangers.
In 1998 I thought I’d correct this blemish by making some nice art for the 2nd pressing cover. But, in another fit of incompetence, I wasn’t able to find any studios that still used 1/2″ tape decks, so we just mastered the CD off the vinyl and hoped that the pops and scratches wouldn’t be too audible. The pops and scratches are quite audible. Vermiform’s fourth release (the Rorschach LP) gained the label instant credibility; “Fear Of Smell” was all about squandering that credibility with extreme prejudice. It is far better to be typecast as a wacky weirdo than as an Angry Young Man.
I had to paint my garage today, so I fished around in one of my 40 pallets of unsold CDs and found a copy of the comp. It’s not bad a bad record to primer drywall to. But then I put on N-Star Please, which is a much better record to paint to. They should have somebody do a blog about that record.


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