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1990

By the start of 1990 Poster Children had been playing shows around the Midwest for two years. During that time Chris Corpora, the band's booking agent had struck up a friendship with a fellow booking agent Ellen Stewart who worked out of the offices of Twin/Tone Records in Minneapolis. Ellen had taken a liking to the band and had been talking them up to the folks at Twin/Tone. That winter, after a show with Babes in Toyland at the Uptown in Minneapolis, Twin/Tone approached the band, offering to release their records. The band jumped at the chance, after all, this was the label that had been home to the Replacements and Soul Asylum.

Unfortunately, Mike, Drummer #3, was on his way out, so it was time to find Drummer #4. The available drummers in Champaign had been tapped out, so Chicagoan Bob Rising was welcomed into the band. Bob had drummed in Snake Train with future Pumpkin James Iha and was a member of Repulse Kava. Rehearsals began immediately to finish up songs for the new record. The plan was to record demos at Steve Albini's house in the spring, go on a short tour, and then record the album with Butch Vig in the summer. When Butch heard the demos recorded at Steve's, he asked why PC were bothering to record with him, Steve's stuff sounded great. The band agreed and plans were changed, the album would be recorded with Steve at Chicago Recording Company in the summer. But before that was to happen, the band's first tour out East had to be planned. Chris had moved to the big city and didn't have time to organize a tour so he asked Ellen Stewart to help out and over a decade later, Ellen is still arranging the band's tours.

Everybody took a week's vacation from work and packed into the minivan for their first tour of the East Coast. In Philadelphia, Rose convinced the Khyber Pass that they should feed out-of-town bands for free, something they had never done before. Bob made faces at a New Jersey police officer while driving down the Turnpike, resulting in the first pullover for the band. The whole week was built around one special show in New York. When Thin White Rope had played Champaign, PC opened, TWR liked what they heard and asked the band to play with them in New York. After the show, a guy came up to Jeff, said he was from Rolling Stone and asked for a copy of Flower Plower. Jeff gave him one for free, which everyone else thought was crazy, this was New York, people would say anything to get a free shirt or record. A couple weeks later, Jeff was vindicated when a small blurb by David Fricke appeared in Rolling Stone: "Just when you think there are no more surprises in this rock critic game, along comes a pleasant shock like the Poster Children from Champaign, Illinois..." It's amazing how a such a small thing can make such a difference to people, all of a sudden Poster Children were a "real" band, not a bunch of collegiate goofballs. It was something your Mom could tell her friends, "they were in Rolling Stone."

Returning to Chicago Recording Company after two years armed with a modest budget from Twin/Tone, the band was able to spend a luxurious four days (spread over two weekends) in the studio with Steve Albini. Again, everything was recorded live with vocals added later, although there were some studio shenanigans. A lemur call from a nature video found its way into Space Gun. Bob and Steve spent at least an hour fixing a single snare drum hit on Pointed Stick with a new fangled invention called a "sampler." Jeff's guitar was put through what was called the "Van Halenizer." After mixing Freedom Rock, Steve played Carvers with the same settings and everyone agreed the mix was perfect so it was finished. On the first pass at a vocal on Thinner, Stronger, Rick blew the second line, yelled in frustration and Steve said it was great, and started to go on to the next song. Luckily someone intervened and a second take at the vocals was allowed. Perhaps the most exciting moment was when Aerosmith arrived to record Rockline, the radio call-in show, in the studio upstairs. Steve furiously began fiddling with the phone system trying to get a tap into the show (which was live) until someone came down and put a big piece of white tape over the phone saying: "Do not touch!" Bob was able to get to Aerosmith and tell them his favorite joke at the time: "What's brown and sounds like a bell? Dung." Brad Whitford replied with "How do you get a nun pregnant? Fuck her."

With Daisy Chain Reaction recorded, a Sub-Pop single of the month on the way (with two songs from the DCR sessions), and a brewing buzz from Flower Plower and touring, things seemed to be going perfectly. And that's when it all started unraveling. At the end of the summer, Rough Trade USA, which distributed and helped finance Twin/Tone (and a lot of other indie labels) went bankrupt. All of a sudden Daisy Chain Reaction wasn't coming out in the Fall of 1990 as planned but was on hold indefinitely until Twin/Tone could put together new sources of money and distribution. Rick then disappeared to Indonesia for two months to work on a flight simulator. By the end of the year the band was in a state of collapse.