Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shatterproof - Slip It Under The Door
(MCA, 1995)

When Paul Q. Kolderie (owner of famed Massachusetts recording studio Fort Apache) was given his very own boutique imprint label of MCA records, one of the first bands he chose to sign was Minneapolis' Shatterproof. The band, which was originally named Hovercraft but was forced to change its moniker following a lawsuit from Eddie Vedder's wife who had a project of the same name, married jangly power pop with swirling indie rock guitars - or what they liked to call "a chunk of sad guitar noise". MCA/Fort Apache Records released the band's debut, "Slip It Under the Door", in 1995.

"Slip It Under the Door" received production from Polara frontman and fellow Minneapolis-native Ed Ackerson, as well as Fort Apache's Paul Q. Kolderie. Fort Apache had begun as a small studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but quickly found its way onto every one's radar after bands like The Pixies and Radiohead recorded landmark albums there - prompting MCA to offer the studio an imprint label opportunity. Unfortunately Fort Apache records folded almost as quickly as it formed, leaving most of its bands without a record label by 1996 - including Shatterproof, who had just recorded their followup to "Slip It Under The Door". This second effort, "Splinter Queen", went unreleased for years until 2007, when Catlick Records finally released the album, which is currently available at the Catlick Webstore.  Shatterproof split up not long after the dissolution of Fort Apache records, with members going on to form Lunar 9 and Landing Gear.

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Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Great post! You have no idea how hard it's been for me to find anything about Jay Hurley's old band Hovercraft/Shatterproof. I was a great fan of their work back in the '90s.

Hovercraft's '94 EP, Been Brained, is an absolutely perfect pop-rock album, one of those defining alternative-grunge moments that encapsulated the Minneapolis music scene. It's always been among my absolute favorites, enough so that the "Shatterproof" album felt like a letdown. I think Been Brained worked much better by only having five songs. Each song stakes its own terrain, and the result is a flawless album.

Been Brained was successful enough to earn Hovercraft "best unsigned band" status. So you can imagine the disappointment at how everything went down. The spat over the name proved to be the knockout punch. And then the Fort Apache label went bust almost the day after it opened. Hurley and company were pretty much stuck in limbo.

I don't know how hard it is to find Hovercraft's Been Brained online. You may have to lurk around Minneapolis CD stores until you get lucky. What I really ought to do is put my mp3 files online. It's a fantastic album and one of the great highlights of the 1990's. Take that, boy bands!

Jeff said...

I'm right there with you Daniel. I just came across this blog post and love Been Brained as well. Luckily, I have a copy.

The Bipolar Drunk said...
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The Bipolar Drunk said...

I'm a Minneapolis native and played in a band around town in the mid-90s. I remember Hovercraft/Shatterproof being one of the better guitar bands around at the time. I still own my CD copies Been Brained and Slip It Under the Door and have had Been Brained on heavy rotation on my iPod lately-- hence the reason for my visit.

Both records still hold up very well, IMHO, and stand out among the records produced in Minneapolis back in the 1990s.

It seems we reached the high-water mark for guitar/noise music back in 1997 or so, but who knows what the future holds. Maybe the next My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth is toiling away in a garage somewhere, as yet unknown...