From the BandCamp re-issue notes by Cliffy:
“February 17, 1993 (it was a Wednesday) was the first time I went to Mike's house to record some of my songs. That was almost 28 years ago. This 5 volume set covers the period from that Wednesday through the time period that we have, thus far, considered the official starting point of the band.
Listening to all this stuff has brought back a ton of memories. Working on it all has been both challenging and rewarding. Much of this material is better than I remembered it being.
In 1993, I was listening to the Gin Blossoms, Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub, Soul Asylum, etc. Mike was heavily into the Cure, Sonic Youth and Nirvana. My writing, as well as Mike's contributions at the time, definitely reflects that. We weren't a band yet. We were simply two guys recording songs I wrote. It would be almost a year before I asked Mike if he would be interested in doing a proper band. From there, it was quite an adventure finding more guys to round out the team.
These recordings showcase our development in a major way. They also, surprisingly to me, show the songwriting to be quite good right out of the gate. I remember that thrilling feeling of being able to listen to recorded tapes of songs that I had written.
Across all 5 volumes in this set, you'll find us searching for our sound…the one that would truly move us. I remember really liking this material at the time, but once we had a full band together and started working through the songs we had recorded, it became clear that the material wasn't what we were looking to be as a band. When Mike brought in “Rock 'N Roll Girl” in late summer 1995, we knew instantly that we had found what we were looking for. So we just threw everything away that we had and started over from scratch.”
An older story of the band (from MySpace I think?), with some incorrect details:
The Huntingtons originally formed under the name Cricket in July of 1993, with Cliff Powell (vocals & guitar), Mike Holt (guitar), Mike Kepka (bass guitar) and Luke Keneske (drums).
The guys only played 5 shows together before the lineup was rearranged. This time, Cliff Powell stayed on vocals and guitar, but Mike Holt took up the bass guitar, Luke Keneske and Mike Kepka left the band and Mike Peirce joined to take on the job of the drums. Still named Cricket, these guys began their first studio recording in California, engineered by Randy Rose.
In the spring of 1994 Cricket was receiving regular airplay on WKDU, the radio station of Pennsylvania's own Drexel University. The station's playlist made it's way to the now defunct R.E.X. Music. An R.E.X. employee found the playlist and contacted the band through the deejay who had been playing the band's song. They were then asked to send in a demo of their material for label consideration. Several months after sending in the rough-mix-only demo engineered by Randy Rose, they received a call from the same R.E.X. employee who was now leaving R.E.X. to begin his own record label. He wanted then to sign with his new label and on September 10, 1994 Cricket became the first band to sign with Flying Tart Records. Their rough-mix-only demo was good enough to land the band a 5 album recording contract.
But then, the lineup changed again, with Cricket adding another bass guitarist named Marty Shneider. Mike Holt switched back to guitar from the bass guitar, but the rest of the band remained at their previous posts.
With this, the third lineup, the band went back into the studio to do some more demos with Chris Colbert. These demos didn't turn out too well, however. Flying Tart Records had hoped to put out these recordings someday, but now that The Huntingtons are no longer on that label, this will be impossible.
Soon after this recording, Marty Shneider left the band and Mike Holt took over lead vocals while retaining the role of bass guitar, Cliff Powell played all guitars, BGVs, and some songwriting. Mike Peirce stayed at drums. With this lineup the band started to lean towards a more punk-oriented sound.
The band was to begin recording their first album in early 1995. But, several huge blunders by the label prevented them from recording then and they were told that they would record soon. It would be another year before the band would finally be allowed to record their album. They recorded Sweet Sixteen in February 1996 (but it wouldn't be released until June of the same year, after the band was forced to change names).
In early 1996, Cricket began getting pressure from the estate of Buddy Holly for using the name Cricket, since there had already been a band called The Crickets. The band willingly changed their name, being as they hated the old name anyway.
This was a problem though. It was only two days before all information for the upcoming album, Sweet Sixteen, was to be mailed to the record company for promotion and distribution. The band had to come up with a new name fast. But all was not to be lost. Mike Pierce knew of a housing development called The Huntingtons, and the band thought it sounded like a cool name, so was to be new name of the band formerly known as Cricket.
|1995||Joe Christmas Playing on the Stereo|
|1995||One Side Has Covers, The Other Side Doesn’t|
Cliffy - Vocals, guitars, bass on “Alice & Bill” and “Yugo”
Mike Holt - Drum machine, bass, vocals on “Alice & Bill”, additional guitar on “When I Say Goodbye” and “New”
Mike Still - Vocals on “If They Said” and “Kinison”
Album tracks recorded August 13-17, 1993
Bonus tracks recorded February 17, 1993
“It's a mellow album that relies heavily on late 60's singer/songwriter presentations. Guitar solos are right out of the Neil Young/J Mascis school of rock. The bonus material is all from the February 1993 sessions.”
Cliffy - Vocals, guitar
Mike Holt - Drum machine, bass
Recorded July 23-26 & October 3-4, 1993
“Here I have morphed almost completely into a more melodic version of J Mascis. I'm affecting his voice and even word pronunciation throughout. It's an embarassing element of this album, but still the songs here are really good. ”
Cliffy - Vocals, guitar
Mike Holt - Drum machine, bass, vocals/guitar on “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Recorded Spring 1994
“The last of the drum machine two-man band recordings finds us with some of our best material yet. Gone are the J Mascis vocal affectations as I am letting my natural voice fly freely throughout…. Of note is that “Miserable Sometimes” is the song that our long time “man in our corner” Scott Hatch played on his radio show at Drexel University which led to our first record contract (Flying Tart Records)”
Cliffy - Vocals, lead/rhythm guitar
Mike Holt - Rhythm guitar, harmony vocals
Mike Kepka - Bass
Mike Pierce - Drums
Luke Kenenske - Drums on “Another Love Song” and “More #2”
Recorded live in one take on July 6, 1994
Except, “One Two”, “Another Love Song” and “More #2” which were recorded sometime in May 1994.
“This was our first attempt at recording on the 4 track with the full band. It's a pretty straight forward live recording, all done on a single day. There are a few songs not previously recorded that make an appearance here. Additionally, our first attempt at covering Lifesavers' “Jet Plane” is here as well as three songs held over from my Sunshine Junior days.”
Cliffy - Vocals, lead/rhythm guitar
Mike Holt - Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Marty Schneider - Bass
Mike Pierce - Drums
Recorded live in one take on February 25, 1995
“2 years and a week after Mike and I first got together to record finds us making another single day live recording on the old faithful 4 track tape machine. Here we are trying to turn our songs into punk rock. We had yet to abandon our material in full, as we are trying to simply make the considerable material we had work in the environment we wanted to be in. The abandonment would take place in just a few more months. One truly new song called “Dad” makes an appearance as does a better version of “Jet Plane.” Blood gets new lyrics and becomes “Homer” (I don't understand either title), “Colour” gets reworked into something resembling Green Day's “She.” “Wrapped Around You” and “If They Said” get similar Green Dayesque treatments as well. Of note, are the bonus tracks… our first ever Ramones cover (complete with slightly incorrect lyrics) and an “oh so punk rock” Stryper cover (“Reason for the Season” sung with the lyrics of “Makes Me Wanna Sing”). This recording is interesting as you can clearly hear that we were heading straight for the punk rock sound that we would soon find ourselves embracing fully. It just took the willingness to truly start over to get there.”
Cliffy - Vocals, lead, guitar, rhythm guitar
Mike Holt - Rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
Marty Schneider - Bass
Mike Pierce - Drums
Luke Kenenske - Additional vocals on “We Got the Beat” and “Ghetto Minds Make Skinny Skins”
Chris Colbert - Lead guitar on “Summer of '69”
Recorded, Engineered & Mixed by Chris Colbert
Recorded April 1995 at the Strand Theatre in Marrieta, GA
Mixed June 1995 at Neverland Studios in Nashville, TN
Recorded, Engineered & Mixed by Randy Rose
Recorded and Mixed July 1994 at Rose Studios in Riverside, CA
“Two months after our Joe Christmas Playin' on the Stereo demo, we haphazardly packed our gear in a U-Haul trailer, hitched it up to my car and drove to Marietta, GA with our friend, Luke, to record our first album. At this point, we had been a signed recording artist for more than a year, and, with all of the home recording we had done, we were chompin' at the bit to record a proper studio album. Our label had recruited a producer we all knew and highly respected to work with us, Chris Colbert. They also secured a place for us to record, sleep and gig at, the Strand Theatre.
Upon arrival, we were notified that we were to play a gig with a two piece rock outfit called Velocipede and a dance rock band called Code of Ethics. We made some under our breath comments and proceeded to unpack all our stuff. The gig was the next night and we were told it would be quite the memorable experience. Code of Ethics were the headliners and their stage setup was enormous, like major label rockstar enormous. Their singer sashayed around during soundcheck holding a small dog. It was all very surreal and we felt like we were on some alien planet. The room was large, the stage was large, but the show was very very small. 10 people kind of small. We were the cold openers and were all set to make the most of it. Showtime had arrived, we got on stage and were ready to rock. I heard the crack of Pierce's snare and proceeded into the riff of our first song (a mocking cover of Bryan Adams' “Summer of '69”). At the exact moment the full band came in, I broke a string. I didn't have a backup guitar. Boom…our portion of the show was over practically the moment it began. Luke came running up, laughing like crazy and saying how it was the most punk rock thing he'd ever seen. We passed the time the best we could for the rest of the show, which consisted mostly of us making fun of everything going on around us. It was all very ridiculous to us and we didn't exactly hide that fact.
So now the time had come for us to turn our attention to the real reason we had made the 12 hour drive and that was to make our album…at last.
Chris Colbert was a hilarious taskmaster…shouting epithets at us to hurry up and rock, then taking breaks and going to restaurants, telling us behind the scenes stories about all the bands we had known and loved growing up. Chris was actually quite kind and patient with us and very VERY good at recording and production. We learned a ton during this experience.
All in all, we recorded a whopping 23 songs, as well as a track that was five straight minutes of Mike locked away in the amp room making his guitar feedback…had to have it in full stereo, so he actually did it twice. Mike walked out of the room all smiles and drenched in sweat. He looked like he had taken a shower with his clothes on. “That was fun,” he said.
After a week with Chris, we packed up our stuff and went home with a rough mix of the sessions in hand. Two months later, we made the drive to Nashville for the final mix. Thinking back, I don't really know why we drove down for the mix. I think we just wanted the experience again and it was awfully fun to see and hear everything we had been working on for the past several years coming together. Plus, Chris was awesome to be around.
The regular album features 18 tracks. We recorded them in the order we wanted them to appear on the album just like we had always done with our home recordings. Brown Cow was chosen as the title for our record after hearing Billie Joe from Green Day sing “how now brown cow” during a live rendition of their hit, “When I Come Around.” Pierce says it was my idea and that he never liked that title. While I have no memory of this, I certainly make no dispute of this account. Every song we recorded with Chris Colbert appears on this 6th and final volume of our Foundations set, as well as one other real studio recording we did with Randy Rose (Mad at the World) in California the year before.
Brown Cow was to be the culmination of everything we had been working towards as a band. However, a month or so after the album was mixed, Mike brought “Rock N' Roll Girl” to practice and everything we had been working towards as a band was discarded overnight. The next chapter of the band had commenced. Until now, we have looked at that next chapter as the beginning of the band. It has taken us a quarter of a century to give the real beginning of the band its proper due. It was a great time in our lives, filled with good songs and an awful lot of dreams. We count ourselves fortunate to have seen so many of those dreams realized.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Cliff Powell: Vocals/guitars
Mike Holt: Guitar
Marty Shneider: Bass
Mike Pierce: Drums
A note on the tape cover indicates that this tape was supposed to be released on Flying Tart Records, but did not happen. Some of the cover songs were released on various Flying Tart compilations.