of 1991 brought yet another lineup change, Poster Children was again a trio
with Rick, Rose and Bob. Touring continued and new songs were written but
after spending the previous year as a four piece there seemed to be something
missing. The search was on for a new guitarist and Rick's brother Jim was
recruited. Also around this time, ML Compton was appointed band manager.
ML had met Poster Children while on tour, managing Thin
White Rope, and they had struck up a great friendship, one that lasts
to this day.
In the summer, the band went back to Steve Albini's basement for a day and recorded four songs: an original, "It's True" for a Teriyaki Asthma single, "Isis" for a Bob Dylan tribute, "Mary, Mary" for a Monkees tribute (which thankfully never saw the light of day) and "Down in the Desert" by Thin White Rope for a split single with TWR playing their version of Eye. Also that summer, Rick and Rose started the label Twelve Inch Records to release Fillet Show, the debut CD by Hum. Over the years the label released music by Steakdaddy Six, Love Cup, Dis, and Salaryman.
Twin/Tone had temporarily worked out its financial difficulties and Daisy Chain Reaction was slated to be released in the fall. Chicagoan Bill Ward offered to do a video for the new record and the song "Chain Reaction" was selected. Bill filmed some live footage at a Metro show and afterwards convinced everyone that the video should be of If You See Kay instead. He was, of course, right. Filming continued at a train yard in downtown Chicago and at the band's rehearsal space in Champaign, which had been decorated with a tiki backdrop from local party suppliers Dallas & Co.
With a new record in stores, the band decided a full tour of the United States was the next logical step. Unable to convince their bosses to give them a six week leave of absence from their programming jobs, Rick and Rose made the leap and put in their two weeks notice, bought a giant used Dodge van and headed West with Jim and Bob. It was great adventure: Playing the Rapid City Days Inn for a bunch of junior high school kids. Meeting a former Champaign resident and her son in Missoula, Montana and hearing tales of the local 60's scene with REO Speedwagon and Irving Azoff. Getting the van repaired in a Seattle parking lot by a mysterious itinerant mechanic. Bob announcing he was quitting the band at the end of the tour while there were still 5 weeks left to go. Getting not only a floor to sleep on but a show in Pensacola from a fellow musician playing across the street from the San Jose show. Sitting in a club in Texas after a show watching the If You See Kay video on MTV and the patrons cheering. Playing Chapel Hill with the original lineup of Seam, no one knowing that within a year, Bob would be their drummer. Driving for what seemed like hours through a dark, swampy forest to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and playing for an unexpectedly large and enthusiastic crowd of Fort Raleigh historical park workers.
While on the road, a call came in from Ellen: "The Buzzcocks have asked Poster Children to open for them for two weeks in the Midwest!" It was exciting news for everyone, especially Rose, who had spent her formative years listening to Singles Going Steady. The shows were amazing, playing to huge, receptive crowds and then getting to watch one of your greatest influences live up to all expectations and burn down the house each night. Bruce Reiter, Champaign soundman extraordinaire, was welcomed into the van to ensure that the sound was perfect, a job he would continue to perform for the band over the next few years. Highlights from the tour: Watching the dance floor of St Andrew's Hall pulse violently up and down under two thousand pogo-ing feet while the Buzzcocks performed. Bowling with Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle and Steve Garvey at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha. Mike Joyce (former drummer of the Smiths who was drumming for the Buzzcocks at the time) being tackled by a rabid Smiths fan onstage and falling backwards off of the stage during "I Believe." Rose officially being declared punk rock by Pete Shelley.
One other thing happened during that fateful fall of 1991- the whole world changed. Nirvana's Nevermind had been released the same week the band had set off for tour, everyone liked it and two weeks later, while doing an interview on indie beacon KUSF, the DJ asked if there were any songs the band would like to hear. Bob suggested "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the DJ gave him a weird look and said "we're not playing that, it's on the top 40 station!" No one could believe it. Poster Children had been getting visits at shows from a few major label representatives ever since Flower Plower came out and there had been many discussions about whether or not being on a major label would be a good thing for an indie band, it hadn't hurt Sonic Youth at all but on the flipside, it seemed to mess up Husker Du. Nirvana was seen as a test case, if they did OK with their Geffen record, maybe a major label wouldn't be so bad. This, however, was crazy. Overnight it seemed like any band of scruffy college types was set upon by every A&R scout in the business, and Poster Children were no exception. By the end of the year, 15 labels had expressed interest in the band and a bidding war was brewing.
As 1991 came to a close there were mixed feelings in the band. Daisy Chain Reaction had been a great success, getting positive reviews and college radio and MTV airplay but on the other hand, Twin/Tone was having a hard time keeping up with demand and some fans were unable to find the record in stores. The tour had been amazing, with receptive crowds of 10 to 1000 but Bob had quit and no one had jobs to go back to. Once again, Poster Children faced a new year unsure of its future.