In the spring
of 1988, the Champaign-Urbana music scene was hopping, it seemed like there
was a show every night, cool national bands like the Flaming
and Thin White Rope
would come through town and play with cool local bands. Record
Swap, Champaign's premiere indie record shop had a musical guru, the
Quaker, behind the counter dispensing the latest and greatest releases from
SST, Homestead and 4AD. Local heroes The
Outnumbered, and Lonely
Trailer put out records, real vinyl records (this was before anyone
had a CD player). A cassette-only label, Trashcan Records, formed by college
DJ Jim Slusarek and booking agent Chris Corpora, put out a compilation of
local acts called Ointment and started releasing full-length cassettes of
bands such as the Bowery Boys (with future Wilco
member Leroy Bach), badflannel
(future members of Hum,
and yours truly, Poster Children. The debut PC cassette was named Toreador
Squat after a type of brown paper bag and sold for the low, low price of
$3, it flew off the shelves, going cardboard (over 30 copies sold) in a
few weeks. The music was recorded on Jim S's four track in the attic/rehearsal
space of the Tugrik House one warm afternoon. Vocals were recorded in Chris'
apartment and during a break Chris brought the band an amazing new type
of food (for Champaign) called a "burrito" from a new place in
town, La Bamba.
Little did anyone know that the tiny burrito shop on Green Street would
expand into the mighty burrito empire La Bamba is today.
In addition to running Trashcan Records, Chris, by sheer force of personality and will, started convincing clubs all over the Midwest to let Poster Children play, and play they did. By the summer of 1988 it was obvious that the next step was to make a "real" record. Iain Burgess, who had recorded Naked Raygun, Big Black, and many other titans of Chicago rock, was contacted via the Didjits (Iain had just recorded their masterpiece, Hey Judester) and a weekend at a real studio, Chicago Recording Company (site of the notorious Ohio Players' Love Rollercoaster session), was booked. The band loaded up their Ford Disco Van (courtesy of the Marshack family) one Friday night and started on the 150 mile journey to Chicago. Unfortunately, a mile or two outside of the lovely hamlet of Gilman, Illinois, the Ford Disco Van decided it had had enough and quietly went to sleep on the side of the road, never to awaken again. Going light years beyond the fatherly call of duty, Rick's Dad drove the 90 miles from Chicago to Gilman to pick up the band and equipment and deliver them to the studio in time to begin the recording of what would become the bulk of Flower Plower. Fifteen songs were recorded live on Saturday and mixed on Sunday, total charge $1500. "Who's going to buy me my next beer?" was Iain's rallying cry and Chris, more often than not, was assigned the task. Returning home with master tapes but no record label or van, things looked a bit grim and Shannon decided his future was not in rock but in school. Brendan Gamble (later of Moon Seven Times) was recruited to be Drummer #2 and the touring continued in a 1984 Oldsmobile Overheater and a 1982 Honda Rustomatic...