I have to say that I have been waiting for this day for a long time now. Every time I would listen to this album (which is always in heavy rotation) I would say to myself that someone needs to put this record out again, but on vinyl. It even got to the point to where I considered doing it myself. I was willing to go thousands of dollars in debt with loans in order to pay Sony the rights reissue it. Now mind you I never even got to the first step in that process. It was more or less a recurring dream I would have.
However, I’m glad someone beat me to the punch because I would much rather spend $16.00 than the ungodly cost it would have been to re-release this 90’s gem. This is a record that I have shown many friends, some of them got really into and several leaned the other way. I first go into this band through Quicksand for obvious reasons. A friend of mine I was recording with at the time put on this record and I was instantly hooked. Later on I searched all over the internet for info about them and didn’t find too much. Thankfully a few days later I opened up my inbox to find the entire discography including pre-production demos and live material.
It’s a shame that the band never really popped off. The LP is up there with Slip, and Meantime if you ask me. Had they gone onto do something more would they have seen more success? Maybe, but maybe not. I think the nostalgia with me is that nobody has heard this album. It was lost in the shuffle during the late 90’s when every band was trying to sound like the Deftones, Quicksand, and Helmet. Which is funny because this is that sound executed perfectly by members of some of the above mentioned bands.
The album is being pressed on 500 copies of vinyl. The colorways are clear (out of 100) and Grey (out of 400). Pre-orders are now available so grab your copies now before it’s too late. I was serious before when I said that this is one of the best post hardcore records from the 90’s. Get into it now before everyone says its their favorite record. Below are a couple videos of them performing live that have surfaced there way to the internet in the last year or so. Enjoy!
You originally were living in Salt Lake City, when did you leave there and move to NYC and how did Handsome come about?
I grew up in Salt Lake City, and lived here until I was 23. I decided to move to Brooklyn to pursue music in 1994 after touring the country with Into Another. Richie (the singer from Into Another) offered up his old apartment and helped me find a job in the city. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I left Salt Lake. About two months after arriving in NY, I met the legendary Pete Hines at a party. We had a conversation about his then current band, Handsome, and their singer troubles. At that point, they were searching for a new vocalist and I expressed interest in auditioning. I believe they had been a band for a year or more before I came into the picture.
Had you known the other guys in the band prior to trying out?
No. I met Pete in Salt Lake a few years earlier when he came through with the Cro-Mags on tour. But, I don’t think he remembered meeting me. I was just an eager kid from Salt Lake looking to join a band. I think I was an appealing candidate to them because I wasn’t a jaded New Yorker who’d been in a thousand bands.
How did the record deal with Epic/Sony come about?
We started playing shows around the city pretty quickly. We played Brownies, CBGB, pretty much any club that would have us. We were a really tight, heavy band with a lot of melody to offer. I think the musical genre mixing made people curious about us. Plus, the ex-Helmet / Cro-Mags factor definitely drew attention from industry types. Also, the climate in the mid-90’s was pretty much a feeding frenzy of A&R people signing new bands. Before long, we had Michael Goldstone taking us out to dinner and talking about a record deal.
Were you all writing as a collective among the band? How prepared were you before going into the studio?
After I officially joined the band we spent a lot of time working on the material they had already written. The band had, what seemed like, dozens of songs before I joined. They had recorded demos with other vocalists. I would get together with Peter or Eddie and retrofit my lyrics and melodies to their songs. However, not long into that process we started writing fresh material as a band. At that point, we really started to sound more and more like our own band and not an amalgam of former bands. By the time we went to the studio, we were extremely prepared. Pete and Eddie finished the drum and bass tracks in two days. They were at the top of their game.
How was recording with Terry Date? Was he your choice or the labels decision?
Working with Terry was a joint decision between the band and the label. It was common for a major label to “shop” you around to different producers to experiment with different combinations. We met Andy Wallace, Keith Cleversly, and Ted Nicely among others. At our meeting with Terry, he expressed some interesting ideas about the recording process, he was a really nice guy, he wanted to record in Seattle, and Michael Goldstone had worked on the Mother Love Bone album with him and they had a good rapport. We liked all of the things he brought to the table, so we chose him to be our producer.
Who were you touring with back then on that album cycle? Were you out full time in support of it?
We were definitely out full-time in support of the record even before it was released. We toured with Orange 9mm, Unsane, Silverchair, Mercury Rev, Corrosion of Conformity, Deftones, Descendents, and Local H. We also spent the summer in Europe playing the festival circuit. I’d come home for a week at a time during that year. It was a great experience.
Listening back to the record now, what are some songs that stand out to you? Any songs that didn’t at the time?
I actually like the b-side stuff like “Spill” and “Closer”. If I were to choose a favorite from the record right now it would be “Going To Panic” or “Thrown Away”. We had a lot of songs that never made the cut. With more work some of those would have been winners.
How did everything come to end so abruptly and were you expecting it to?
The record was released in February 1997, we had a tight tour schedule set up and we hit the road hard. A string of things happened that lead to my leaving the band that summer. Tom Capone quit Handsome to rejoin Quicksand, our booking agent sent us on some ridiculous tours that made no sense musically, Michael Goldstone quit Epic, and finally amid band in-fighting and indecision Epic Records threatened to pull our living stipends until we wrote a new record. This was all in the six months following the release of the album. I felt betrayed and disillusioned by the whole machine and I didn’t feel like the band was strong enough to weather the storm, so I left. After I quit, I believe Pete quit.
Were you satisfied with what Handsome had accomplished and the record you did?
In 1997 I didn’t feel satisfied, which is why I left. I couldn’t bear the thought of heading into another two-year writing and recording cycle with the band. Looking back I feel like we accomplished quite a bit, but I was green and I’d never done a lot of that major label band activity. Handsome is definitely where I cut my musical teeth. I like the record, but I can also hear all of the flaws in the record. It’s like any piece of art that you work on. You often times can only hear and see the flaws.
I have managed to find a few rare b-sides floating about on the internet, were they ever released on anything?
Besides the full-length album, there were two 7” records released. There was a “Waiting/Needles” 7” on Full City Blend Records and a “Swimming/Can’t Connect” 7” on Sub Pop Records. We recorded “Spill” and “Closer” with Terry and they pop up on European versions of the CD. There is a Terry version of “Swimming” that didn’t make the record. And finally, we re-recorded “Dim The Lights” with Michael Beinhorn for radio. I don’t think it was ever officially released.
Fast forward now to 2013. How did the reissue with 6131 come about?
I have a friend named Greg Bennick that contacted me and told me 6131 was interested in a reissue. I’d had a few people contact me about licensing the record before 6131, and truthfully, I had no idea how to go about repressing the record. I would tell each label that contacted me to try and contact someone at Sony themselves as I don’t know anyone up there anymore. I felt like the Handsome record was probably lost in the monolith that is the Sony building, forever. The dudes from 6131 did all the legwork, and now it’s a reality, that’s all I know.
I talk about this record a lot with friends, and what always comes up is its longevity. It really stood the test of time for that era. After the band split up and you all went on to do other things, what did you expect would happen with Handsome? Did you think it would hold up as well as it did?
Thanks! I honestly didn’t think about Handsome much as I moved on in my musical path. I had really great musical moments in all the bands I played with. I always thought Handsome made a classic record for that period that still sounds good. After all, how hard is it, it’s rock music, right? And, we worked our asses off for those three years, so I’m glad it’s held up.
So, now that the album is finally being reissued on vinyl, where do you see this going or turning into? Would you want it to be left to just hat for nostalgia purposes?
I’m afraid for now, the reissue is all that will happen. Everyone involved has moved on and away. If for some miraculous reason we ever played a show, I’d hopefully be there. Ha!