Like so many other bands, the history of The Earaches begins with the demise of another band before them, The Castros. It was the forming of this band in February ’97 that first brought guitarist/singer August Henrich together with drummer Alan Wright. On the cusp of getting a recording deal, the band imploded due to tensions between August and dual front man Dave Goff in May ’98. Along with bassist Meredith McGuire, Dave and Alan decided to continue on as The Infernal Three, leaving August (who had founded the band) on his own.
Not being one to sit still for very long, August began getting together with drummer Jeff Showlund and longtime friend, guitarist Mark Stobie, “just for the fuck of it” in July ’98. The goal was to have fun drinking as much beer as possible and playing high octane rock and roll. Early gems from that period were ‘Egg Boy’, ‘Garbage Chile’, and ‘Don’t Need Your Love’. Around October of that year they decided to ‘become a band,’ and began the long and arduous search for a bass player. Finally, in December, Joe Kilbourne showed up and fit right in with the drunken slop-fest that they dubbed The Reckless Bastards.
Just as the band was getting started, August was diagnosed with Hodgkin ’s disease after doctors found a fist sized cancerous tumor in his chest. Determined to continue on the band rehearsed and wrote songs through the next six months of his chemotherapy. He was still going through treatment when they played their first three shows. It was at the third of these shows (at Gibson’s with The Valentine Killers), that Alan Wright showed up, concerned about August’s condition. The two buried the hatchet on the spot over a J on 2nd Ave and renewed their friendship. In June ’99 August was declared to be in remission and the band soldiered on. A few months later they asked Alan to be their manager, and he readily agreed.
By the end of ’99 Jeff Showlund was playing drums with another band, The Zombie IV, who got an offer to play in Japan for a month. In the meantime the band asked manager Alan Wright to fill in, since they had an upcoming spot opening for Seattle punk icons The Lewd. After the first rehearsal with Alan, a more schooled drummer than Jeff, the rest of the band knew they wanted him to join. By the time the month was over The Zombie IV’s Japan deal fell through but Jeff decided to move on anyway and Alan became the new drummer for The Reckless Bastards. This second line-up continued on for over a year until spring 2001. Just as they were about to record their first demo at Egg Studio, founding Bastard Mark Stobie left abruptly over differences of opinion on recording techniques.
After impressing the band by jumping right in at his audition, guitarist Zak Schneider joined in April 2001. At that time the band was looking for a new moniker to reflect the changes in membership, but Zak damn near insisted on being a Reckless Bastard, so they kept the name. With renewed energy the band went into Egg Studios in Seattle to record their demo at the end of the summer. On September 10th, they recorded and mixed an amazing 11 songs in as many hours with Johnny Sangster. They woke up exhausted and elated the next day, but their joy was immediately made bittersweet by the attacks of 9/11. Alan wasted no time in circulating the new demo, sending out over 300 self made copies to prospective labels and press. One of the songs recorded at that session was a cover of ‘The Girl In The Car With The Glasses and The Gun’ for later release on a tribute to seminal L.A. synth punks The Screamers. A few songs from that demo also ended up on a compilation in Croatia, and yet another song was used for a super limited 7” vinyl comp. in France.
While the good press began to trickle in, labels were mostly unresponsive, save some encouragement from The UK Subs and Eric ‘Oblivian’ Weigel at Goner. Undeterred the band went back into Egg in March 2002 to record nine more songs, this time saving the mixing for a separate session. Again, Alan went to work and sent out over 100 copies of a three song demo from this session. This generated even more positive reviews and that summer they were offered a spot on the landmark Dirtnap Records compilation, ‘Dirtnap Across the Northwest’. The publishers of the independent quarterly Carbon 14 were next to offer the band a spot on the 7” vinyl ‘Untamed Music’ EP with their cover of The Droogs classic “Set My Love On You” included with issue #22. Shortly thereafter the music end of the Carbon 14 Empire, Steel Cage Records, agreed to release an album by the band in spring of 2003. When the band started talking about going back into the studio with Tim Kerr to make the album they were stopped short by the label who insisted on using the original demos from both sessions.
In the fall of 2002 August walked into practice one night and jokingly said “I wanna start a band called The Earaches.” Everyone had a good laugh about it, but two days later they all came back to practice and unanimously decided to change the name from the Reckless Bastards to The Earaches. The change came just in time for the “Dirtnap Across the Northwest” compilation and “23/Screwtop Wine” was the first official release under the new name. In the spring of 2003 Steel Cage Records released the first full length Earaches album “Fist Fights, Hot Love”.
The album’s release put more attention on The Earaches from both the press and local clubs as Alan’s tireless promotional efforts lauded the band even more praise internationally. While managing to get airplay around the states, in Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, and France, they were largely ignored by local radio in Seattle. They turned their frustration into music and wrote their anti-corporate radio anthem “Fake Radio”, which ironically became the first Earaches song to hit the Seattle airwaves upon its release.
During January of 2004 the band went into August’s home studio (Flying Dog Studio) and laid down tracks for 20 songs in one afternoon to demo out the new album. With help from close friends they paired it down to 16 songs and made plans to record in April. They flew underground legend Tim Kerr in to produce alongside Johnny Sangster for four days at Egg Studios and recorded 15 songs in a haze of debauchery. On Friday June 11th, Tim returned to Seattle to watch the band play the night before mixing. This would be the last Earaches performance with Alan Wright, and sadly, his last performance ever.
The next morning, Saturday, June 12th, 2004, as the band were about to enter the studio to mix their second album, drummer and manager Alan Wright was found dead in the home of frontman August Henrich. Recently separated from his wife and tortured by personal demons, he had hung himself in the early hours of the morning. Despite their overwhelming grief, horror, and anger, the band couldn’t afford to cancel the studio time with Tim Kerr and with heavy hearts they decided to continue on with the mixing session that day. They also decided on the spot that they would continue as a band. In good hands with Tim and Johnny calling most of the shots, the band spent the next two days mixing their second album with tears in their eyes. At Alan’s funeral August smoked a joint and played the classic folk song “Today Has Been a Lonesome Day” as a fitting farewell and one last opportunity “to get high and make some music together”. A month later a memorial party was thrown and the band was joined by many of the musicians Alan had played with over the years.
As they searched for a suitable replacement the band worked hard to finish details on their 7” single “Freedom Fries”. Pressed by local promoter and DJ Brian Foss for a recording of the anti-Bush song, the band cut it themselves at August’s shortly before Alan’s death and convinced Steel Cage to put it out. As a result of seemingly endless problems with the artwork the single would not be released until after Bush had already won re-election in November of 2004, making it relevant for another four years.
In September 2004, the band’s ad and prayers were answered by Steve Jones, a Seattle native with a lifetime of drumming experience who also ran his own recording studio, Big Sound Productions. With the addition of hard hitter Jones to the lineup the band became more disciplined and their live shows tightened up considerably. They also became more focused on the business end and made plans to tour in the spring.
In April 2005, the band’s second album, “Get The Revolution Out Of Your Head”, was released and they embarked on their first, somewhat ill-fated, tour of the west coast. Bassist Joe Kilbourne broke his thumb on the second day of tour, but labored through six more shows before going for surgery. Upon their return to Seattle they were happy to find that local station KEXP had begun to pick up the album and were giving it lots of airplay, ultimately making it to #6 on their Northwest charts. Both the tour and the airplay gained them further recognition and they continued to have a successful year playing better and better gigs, including a live appearance on KEXP.
The Earaches began the first few months of 2006 working on material for their third album, but in March long running tensions between bassist Joe Kilbourne and the rest of the band came to a head and he departed. Just six weeks away from tour the band was lucky to have Oni Timm from Four Easy Pieces fill in. His proficiency made the transition easy and brought the entire bands playing up another notch. They set out on a fairly successful ten day tour with label mates the Jukebox Zeros in April and Steel Cage released a limited run split 7” with both bands to coincide. The Earaches side, featuring a live version of ‘So Deep’ from their on air appearance at KEXP, would be the first release to feature new drummer Steve Jones.
Upon returning from tour the band began rehearsing material for their upcoming album with Oni, who volunteered to stay on board for the recording. In July 2006 they began laying tracks at Steve’s studio, Big Sound Productions, producing themselves this time around. They labored for most of the summer, with August passing out on the studio couch as Steve mixed well into the night. All the blood, sweat and tears paid off when their third album on Steel Cage Records “Time On Fire”, was released to critical acclaim on Halloween 2006. This release would garner them even more local airplay and the album finally made it to #2 on KEXP’s Northwest charts, beat out only by national act The Decemberists. “Time On Fire” would remain on the KEXP charts for 16 weeks, during which time they made another successful on-air appearance.
Upon the demise of his other band, Four Easy Pieces, In February of 2007, bassist Oni Timm agreed to join as a permanent member after filling in for nearly a year. His addition solidified the bond that had been forming and made for the strongest line up in the bands long history. The band is embracing it’s ‘never say die/high octane’ philosophy like never before and feel that the best is yet to come. Since the release of “Time On Fire” The Earaches have been busy balancing choice local gigs with personal business. Work on their fourth album and another tour is currently underway.
~ Fizzy Lipton, Minister of Propaganda
The Reckless Bastards:
6/98 – 12/98 August Henrich, Mark Stobie, Jeff
11/02 - 6/04 August Henrich, Zak Schneider,
Joe Kilbourne, Alan Wright
This song was released on the album “Fist Fights, Hot Love”
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