Saturday, December 8, 2007

From the cutout bin: Summercamp - Pure Juice

It's time for a new feature here at Tied to the '90s: From the Cutout Bin, where we dig up old CDs that have been forgotten for whatever reason and can now be found in the dollar (or quarter) bin at your local used CD store (if your community still has a used CD store).

First up, Summercamp and their only album, Pure Juice, released in April 1997. These guys came out of the surprisingly-varied Santa Barbara scene, which also produced Ugly Kid Joe, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Nerf Herder, Lagwagon, Dishwalla, and Sugarcult and were together in some form or another for a decade before Madonna made them one of the early signings to her vanity label, Maverick Records. Actually, that may be one reason why these guys aren't around anymore; Madge herself set the bar a little high when (in early 1997, mind you), she claimed that her new signings were better than Oasis (seriously; check it out here)

Not to be cruel, but I have no clue what Madonna was talking about. These guys sound absolutely nothing like Oasis; it's very, very typical mid-'90s alt-rock, distorted guitars with melodies influenced by late-'70s power pop. Think Dishwalla or the Posies, but a little more generic.
Their single "Drawer" went top 40 on the mainstream rock charts and top 25 on the modern rock charts, but the album never charted (Wikipedia says "Should I walk away" went top 10 in Japan). They played the Lollapalooza second stage in '97 (the year it tried to go electronica with Orbital, Tricky, the Prodigy and the Orb on the main stage), then toured with Tonic, did a couple of festivals in Europe and Japan, and dropped off the face of the earth.

So what happened? This article from February 1999 says the band had gone into a studio in Santa Barbara to record a follow-up with producer Gil Norton (Feeder, Foo Fighters, Pixies, Jimmy Eat World, etc.). Another website claims they subsequently recorded in LA, New York, and London, replaced their drummer, and were doing more recording with Bon Jovi's producer. The album was scheduled for fall '99, then fall 2000, but nothing ever came out, not even in Japan. Their Myspace page says they broke up in 2000.

Lead singer Tim Cullen has put out a solo album, toured Japan, and done some work with Bad Astronaut and Sugarcult. He's currently in the Playing Favorites with Marko from Sugarcult and a couple of guys from Lagwagon. Guitarist Sean McCue has played some shows with Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket and also has a solo album.

Here's a video of the band playing the Fuji Rock Festival in 1997:

This wasn't a bad album. It showed some promise, and their sound was quite similar to bands like Stroke 9, SR-71, and American Hi-Fi who got pretty big a couple of years later. Maybe Summercamp was a little before their time.
Check out their one sorta hit, "Drawer," which sounds a bit like Superdrag:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That Drawer video was directed by the same woman who brought you Billy Madison, CB4, Half Baked... and Crossroads. Also, apparently the MmmBop video. Oh, and her husband is Mike D from the Beastie Boys.
-Dawson's Dad